I found this site 2 weeks ago, and since then Ive been in awe of the women who have chosen to tell their stories and show us their pictures. Im honored to be included in this site, along with you amazing women!

My husband I were married in 2003 and immediately started trying to conceive, never guessing that we would have problems. After 18 months of heartbreaking infertility, we finally conceived our daughter with the help of Clomid. Emma Grace was conceived 2 days before my 25th birthday, and born 3 days before my husbands 25th birthday, and she was the best birthday present either of us have ever received.

As soon as we found out we were pregnant I knew that I wanted to have a med free, natural labor and delivery and we chose a wonderful midwife named Nina who was supportive of our plans. My husband and I studied Hypnobirthing at home and practiced the relaxation techniques nightly and looked forward to using them during my labor and delivery.

On the eve of my due date we went to the hospital and I was induced. I labored med free for 7 hours, using Hypnobirthing and having a wonderful labor experience. Unbeknownst to me, my daughters heart rate was dropping steadily with each contraction and it soon became clear that we needed to get her out. I was prepped for a C-section and at a little past 2am our daughter Emma was born. As I heard her cry for the first time my tears started flowing as well (the first tears of our labor and delivery experience for both Mommy and Baby!). I kept looking up at the surgical curtain, waiting to see her beautiful face, but the doctor just whisked her away to the warmer without showing her to me. Ive always regretted that I was the last person in the room to see the little miracle that grew within me.

A few weeks after we got home I began to experience symptoms of depression, and breastfeeding became a nightmare. My nipples were cracked and bleeding, and nursing my daughter made me cry in pain, yet we struggled through the pain (and mastitis with a 102 degree fever) and continue to breastfeed today. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with disappointment about having to have a c-section, and spun into a severe depression that lasted for almost 8 months. I finally took steps to get better (Im taking Zoloft and am seeing a therapist) and am feeling better than I have in years! Im now able to cope with my feelings of loss and disappointment, as well as the feelings of inadequacy I had after my daughter was born.

I have finally come to terms with the fact that a lot of my depression revolved around my feeling like less of a woman due to the problems I had getting pregnant, giving birth, and breastfeeding. Although absolutely false, for awhile I believed that I was inferior to those who could get pregnant so easily and have a natural, vaginal birth, and those to whom breastfeeding came so easily. Its been difficult for me to accept my body when it seems like my body has failed me numerous times in doing the things that are supposed to come naturally to women. However, I have never been uncomfortable with the physical changes that have occurred from carrying my sweet baby girl. When I was pregnant I adored my curves and even did a belly cast of my 8 ? month pregnant tummy, and I wore clothing to accentuate my round belly. I gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy and lost it all by 2 months PP. The weight seems to be distributed differently now, though, and my belly is not as firm as it once was, but I have no problems with that. I do, however, have a lot of stretch marks that literally popped up overnight during my 8th and 9th months of pregnancy (and up until then I thought Id get away without having any!). I was uncomfortable with them for a long while, but I never hated them the way I hated my incision scar from the c-section. In my mind, the scar was a reminder of all the ways I failed, and its only been in the last 2 or 3 months that Ive learned to accept the scar as a battle wound of all the things I went through to have my daughter.

My stretch marks and my scar are tattoos eternally marking my passage into motherhood, and I am proud of them. They remind me that I have carried a child within me, and that I survived a traumatizing event and the depression afterwards. Most of all, these marks upon my belly serve to remind me that my body has overcome a lot of physical and emotional changes, and that there is no way I have failed in any capacity. My sweet Emma is living proof of my achievements, and Im so proud that I have brought this wonderful being into existence

Here is my belly, approximately 5 months pregnant. I often played Enyas May It Be to my daughter in the womb, because her Daddy called her his little promise. (The lyrics are A promise lives within you now, and Emma truly was our little promise!

Here I am, 8 months pregnant, loving my belly!

My husband kissing his girls. He loved my growing belly and couldnt keep his hands and lips! off of it!

8 months pp, my belly complete with stretch marks and a scar, which I wear proudly!

14 thoughts on “Kierstin

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 6:55 am

    Wow! I love your story and thanks for sharing the pictures. I was scared to death of getting stretch marks while I was pregnant. Then a friend showed me hers: they looked like a tree had grown up the middle of her belly – gorgeous! And your post partum pic! It’s a lotus flower on your beautiful belly! Amazing! I will no longer fear stretch marks!

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Of all of the stories on here, I relate to your experience the most. Not the infertility issues but the expectation of labor and deliver, and the disappointment of ending up with a c-section. (And not just once, but twice.) I actually got to go into labor during my 2nd pregnancy and thought that I’d finally achieve a vaginal birth, but my body betrayed me by not dilating or softening or anything.I feel blessed to have been able to get pregnant so easily and that my girls are healthy… I still feel that void from not experiencing what a woman’s body is supposed to do when the baby’s ready, but it’s gotten better over time. Big hugs!!!!

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story; our L&D are very similar!I too had a very hard time with my failed natural birth which ended in a c/s – twice. There are still difficult days, but I’m thankful that my DD and I made it out ok. (It was discovered that my uterus was rupturing after I ok’d the c/s.)I wish you all the best!

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    Kierstin,Thank you for sharing your story. I too had difficulty conceiving – and ended up having a c-section for a combination of failure to progress and because my son was having dcels during contractions. I felt somehow that I had failed, partly because I’d asked for an epidural at 7 cm and that’s when the trouble started. Then I had difficulty breastfeeding – latching problems, cracking & bleeding, low milk production, etc. I saw a lactation consultant several times and had to supplement, then gave up. Depressed – overwhelmed – inadequate. I felt like shit (a wild understatement). I gave birth to my daughter almost exactly 3 years later – at 40 (!) – and had a totally different experience. I had a doula and a supportive ob, who helped me labor for 36 hours & vaginally deliver a beautiful healthy girl. I still had trouble nursing, but was able to continue with supplementation for 6 months. It was wonderful. A totally different, & awesome, birth experience. If you want to try it different next time, I recommend The VBAC Companion by Diana Korte.Don’t feel bad about the Zoloft, either. I’ve been on SSRI’s for over 10 years…they are a lifesaver. Literally.Best wishes & best of luck to you.

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. And I have to tell you, I’ve had two vastly different birthing experiences and they both had their ups and downs. My first with my son was natural. We did the Hypnobirthing as well, labor was long, but I got through it and my 9lb, 7oz boy was born healthy. But because of his size and for the length of time I had to push, I was left completely exhausted and very, very sore. Even though it had been natural, like I had hoped and planned, it was still difficult and left me unable to sit properly for months! My second child, my daughter was discovered to be breech in the last two weeks before I was due. They tried everything to turn her, painful external versions, and I did all these yoga positions for those two weeks, trying to get her to flip so I could have a natural birth again, but she would not budge. So they ended up doing a c-section because none of the staff had much experience in breech births and I did not want to put my daughter at any risk. The spinal was awful and made me sick later, and I also did not get to see my daughter right away, but I was not left exhausted and not nearly as sore as the natural birth had left me. The birth process did not make the experience for me- it was taking those kids home and being their mom that counted. The way they come into the world doesn’t matter nearly as much as they way you leave them when they grow up and walk out your door!

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    What a heartfelt, beautiful story. I was so naive about breastfeeding when I was pregnant… I was one of those “Oh women have been doing this since the dawn of time, how hard can it be” type people….Doh! I had an extremely hard time breastfeeding in the the first month. My lil wee snapper boy was born with a pretty bad case of jaundice…and as all you mummy’s know they’s got ta pee and poo those toxins out for it to clear… but he just wouldn’t latch on.. he’d get soooo frustrated… so I’d have to try and feed him with the boob then even though I didn’t want to I’d pump and give him a bottle… just so he’d get something to help him clear his jaundice…. eventually after about 3 weeks after the jaundice had gone and I’d stopped confusing him with a rubber nipple .. he seemed to settle in to breast feeding (only to have an ongoing case of the upchucks for about 5 months – reflux!)… now he’s 8 and a half months and it’s only been for these last 3 or so months that I’ve truly enjoyed BF’ing (not wondering if he was gonna spew this feed all over the floor – or me)So, now every time I encounter a pregnant friend (and even though I know they’ve already heard all that unwanted pregnancy advice) the one thing I tell them is … to take a breast feeding class… visit LLL …inform yourself…you might be one of the lucky few that has a newborn that just latches on and ‘goes for gold’… but just in case…Sorry to ramble.. but your post just kind of hit a nerve…I think every new mum goes through some of these feelings of inadequacy and failure to varying degrees… unfortunately you had to deal with the trifecta!PLANTAIN

  • Monday, July 31, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    That picture of your jusband kissing your belly is beautiful!Carrie

  • Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 9:10 am

    I’d like to thank every single one of you who commented on my post; anon’s, Becky, Kristen, Amber, Plantain, Jodie and Carrie, . Your kind words really validated my decision to post my story and pictures, and I am touched by all of your stories. I wish breastfeeding was easy for all of us, but we should be very proud for even trying! It’s so much harder than anyone ever tells you!I now refer to my stretch marks as my lotus flower! :) Thanks for that beautiful imagery, anon!*Kierstin*

  • Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve just read your post with tears in my eyes. My daughter is 10 (11 in October) & your words brought back so many memories. I had to have an elected c-section a week before she was due as she was spinning around inside me & having a fantastic time. If I’d gone into labour & she was transverse the cord could have been compromised so I wasn’t allowed to go that far.I also felt a failure as a mother & as such was DETERMINED to breastfeed. However that didn’t go easily & I lost my milk when she was 3 weeks old. She was hospitalised as she grew too weak to feed. Luckily I went to stay with some friends who helped a great deal. They pumped me full of healthy organic food, cared for her during the night so that I could sleep & even paid for two trips to the massauer. Two weeks later I left & returned home with boobs over flowing with milk & was able to feed her myself until she was 9 months old. I still regret having a c-section.

  • Wednesday, August 2, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Beautifully done.I am so proud of you and your courage! XOXO

  • Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 7:12 am

    beautiful story and photos! love you, sweetie! *hugs*

  • Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    I think that the c-section, regardless of your plans marks a miracle in birth. My Mom was planning on having me at home (back in the day). Luckily she changed her mind because at 25 miles outside of town, if she had gone through with her plans, I wouldn’t be here today. She had to get over the decision she was going to make (and pride) and embrace a decision to have a healthy mom and baby. My brother, born two years later, was also c-section. When I was born they cut open the stomach one way, when my brother was born, the opposite way was cut. Today she has an X that marks the spot of motherhood. Embrace the miracle and decision to have a healthy birth. So many people over the centuries died in childbirth and never got to experience the miracle that you are and modern technology.

  • Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve pretty much been doing nothing worth mentioning. I haven’t gotten anything done today. I haven’t been up to much , but oh well. I’ve just been staying at home waiting for something to happen, but so it goes. Pfft.

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