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Art by Babies (Bonnianne)

stretchies

This is me. Your SOAM host. This was a big deal for me to share. I wrote a little bit about it on Instagram:

I created SOAM almost ten years ago and I don’t think I’ve ever felt as naked as I do right now in sharing this photo. And I’m pretty sure I’ve actually posted a topless picture before! I took this picture a few years ago with my big camera. I thought that doing an almost-macro shot of my stretch marks would help me to see them in a new light. I thought if I could make them into art, I’d find them more beautiful. But when I loaded the photos onto my computer and looked at them, I was shocked. They were so much scarier up close than I’d expected, so much more violent. So I hid the photos away instead of sharing them. After all these years of work on my body image and I’m still struggling. It’s really hard work to love yourself! And yet, almost five years after I hid away this picture, I’m ready to share it. My stretch marks are some of the most intense I’ve ever seen (and you know I’ve seen a lot over the years!) but that’s okay. My stretch marks aren’t my soul. My stretch marks are part of my story. My biography written into my skin. And this chapter is about how I became a mother to two amazing human beings. And that is kind of beautiful.

I have got a ton of really lovely responses. I shouldn’t be surprised, of course. I mean, I’ve known how wonderful this community is for years now. But it still feels a little extra naked for me to share this because I can’t just be anonymous here. And so I’ve been just uplifted by you guys once again. Here are some of the comments I’ve received:

“Seriously as I scrolled by I didn’t notice the poster and I thought it was an art website I follow. I stopped because it was so beautiful- looks like sculptural trees. Truly beautiful.” – Kristina M. B.

“love this so much. I see in this image the strength and fragility it takes to carry and birth a baby. The human body and mothering spirit is truly an amazing thing!” – Lauren B.

“I see an incredible amount of stretch and give that is needed to become an entity that can bear, birth and mold another spiritual being into existence. NOTHING to be ashamed of. Beautiful.” – Amber D.

“Its beautiful to see how our skin is so strong yet so delicate” – Bernadette L.

And a couple that I found really powerful:

“They *are* violent, and a testament to the incredible strength of a woman’s body to create and house new human life. Pregnancy and birth have degrees of violence to them that we do a disservice to ourselves by denying.” – Leah M.

“Oh, honey. Even if your stretch marks were your soul, they would not be something to be ashamed of. They would still show your beauty.” – Heidi S.-P.

And, honestly, she’s so right. I think I was trying to say that they are not my entire aspect, they are not all of me, in and out. They are but one facet of who I am, and they are absolutely important enough to be my soul, aren’t they? My children are parts of my soul and they’ve written on me in love so that no matter how they grow, they will also still always be within reach of my touch.

Categories: 5+ Years Postpartum, Belly, Mom over 30, My Own Ramblings, News, Postpartum, Second Pregnancy, Submissions
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In 2008, at 20 years old, I gave birth to my oldest, Eddie, and I became a mom via emergency c-section. After 38 hours of labor my firstborn got stuck while I was pushing, we were rushed into emergency surgery and he made his entrance five days after his due date at 4:03 am, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, 21 inches long. After having jaundice and a brief stay in the NICU, we got home and began our new life as a tiny family. Two years later I met the man who would become my husband, and our little family grew.

When we’d been together two years, we got two pink lines after a year of TTC and a diagnosis of PCOS, our first pregnancy! We were thrilled! But 8 weeks along we lost our precious miracle, the first of three miscarriages. Then our little girl, Lilly, was stillborn at 22 weeks gestation in August 2013. I almost gave up on the hope of other children all together.

Finally in September 2014 we got two pink lines again. I had a good feeling about this time, I even started having dreams about a baby boy. In December we learned my dreams were right, it was a boy we would be welcoming to our family! We chose the name Alexander, and waited impatiently for the weeks to pass til I was passed that magical 24 week viability – the point at which our son would hopefully be safe even if he arrived early.

The fates smiled on us and Alex arrived full term and healthy! 7 pounds, 2 ounces, 21 inches long, via repeat planned cesarean at 10:15 am on a beautiful May morning. His big brother came right to the hospital that afternoon and held his baby brother, declaring it the best day of his life! The four of us could not have been more in love.

Today Eddie is seven and a half, Alex is seven months old, I’m a month from my 28th birthday, and we are about to move into our first house.

~Age: 27
~Number of pregnancies and births: 6 pregnancies, 3 births – two live, one still, 3 miscarriages.
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 7 1/2 years and 7 months

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Categories: Belly, Cesarean, Child Loss, Four or More Pregnancies, PCOS, Postpartum, Submissions
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I feel like selfies get a bad rap these days. When I was in college (the first time) and taking photography classes, I discovered Cindy Sherman and her whole thing was selfies, although not known by that name. It was her job to take selfies. Frida Kahlo is also widely respected for her selfies. And, of course, these are probably referred to by the more serious name of “Self portrait” but what, really, is the difference?

Nearly a decade ago now I became a part of an online group whose intent was to create self-portraits on a regular basis. Some were silly, some were very clearly serious art, many were somewhere in between those two, and a few were really just the online equivalent of a wave to a group of friends. The group continued on for seven years and I made some of my best friends through my computer this way, but perhaps the most important thing for me was how much I learned about myself.

Too often we hide from the camera. My mom did, especially. She loathed having to see herself in photographs. I made a silent promise to myself that I would never hide from the camera, if for nothing else than for the sake of my kids. We have photos of all of us having fun. Someday they can sit and look through photos and see me and how young I was and they can remember all the good times, I hope.

But to purposefully turn the camera on oneself on a regular basis is a life-changing thing. I learned to see myself in all sorts of new ways. I learned that I could be pretty even when I wasn’t feeling pretty. I learned that I could also be not-pretty and that was really totally okay. I examined aspects of my physical body and aspects of my psyche. I took selfies to express something inside me, or I took selfies just to share an inane moment. Sometimes people on Facebook talk shit about seeing too many selfies, but I love seeing the faces of my friends when I cannot see them in person.


(Some of the selfies I took over the years.)

I think that a lot of the selfie-hate out there is misogynistic, really. After all, women are supposed to be pretty all the time, but they aren’t supposed to KNOW it. If we don’t look perfect, we are lazy and slobby. If we spend to much time in front of a mirror perfecting our look, we are vain. It’s another in a long line of catch-22’s we have to wade through as women. I’m so done with all that bullshit. Hell yeah, I embrace selfies!

So when I designed this new weekly photo project I tried to choose themes that were thought-provoking and body-positive. I also tried to pick themes that could be universal and not specific to just moms who have given birth. The themes I chose don’t have to be taken right now, and they don’t even have to be self-portraits (although you must have permission to post the photo, of course, because of copyright laws), but I think it can be a really powerful movement if you choose to participate. (You can see the themes for the whole year here.)

Besides, I loved seeing all of your faces last week!

winter-ad

This week’s theme is “scars”. I can’t believe that I’m about to quote Papa Roach, but there’s a line in a song that says “our scars remind us that the past is real” and I find that so relevant. We are told to erase or hide our scars, but they are the words of our stories written into our skin and we should never hide our stories. Show us your stories this week. If you didn’t participate last week, no worries at all. Just jump in any time!

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News, SOAM Weekly Photo
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