Scarred for Life (Judith)

In 1991, my then 73-year-old mother visited me in Paris for my 36th birthday.
She’d made the long journey from the Dutch countryside by train, and while brewing a cup of tea, I drew her a bath.
Unable to get out of the tub she called for help.
While I’d often seen NIta in the nude as a child, it had been 30 years since I saw her completely undressed.
“Now you’ve seen it all,” she said, no doubt in response to my gaze.
She caught me taking in the slack, creamy skin of her deflated stomach, the nearly hairless pubes and surprise, surprise, her, our, my labia.
Would my body be like hers, I wondered.

A year later I was about ready to give birth.
Throughout my pregnancy I had continued my yoga practice and Jane Fonda’s exercises for pregnant women.
Fonda created the book with a midwife, who in the last chapter warned against the danger of a vaginal breech delivery.
Our breech baby Ariane Eira suffocated, just like the midwife described, during the last five minutes of her birth.
The past nearly 18 years it seems I’ve attempted to keep my stomach round, filling the empty skin, not wanting to view or face the emptiness.
The ten years following our loss I got pregnant four times, each pregnancy ending in a miscarriage.
After a “missed abortion” in 2003, I decided to stop trying to have another baby.
No longer trying to have a family, I focused on what we, my husband and I, had and could have together, just the two of us.
We got a puppy. I remember the moment I felt her heartbeat on my chest, a subtle reminder of earlier loss.

These days I’m working with a personal trainer to get back in shape, I enjoy the rediscovery of a former self.
As the fat burns away and my muscles tighten, the empty belly remains,
Other than that there’s the seldom shared, elongated scar on my perineum, which unlike the scars on my heart, is another visible proof of my motherhood.
My mother and I, so alike in so many ways, except for the daughter she got to see grow up and I had to let go before I could feel her heart beat outside of me.

55 (in November 2010)
6 pregnancies, one birth
18 years postpartum
Collage “Starlight” ¬©Judith van Praag
illustration from Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies


Awesome Husband (Halley)

My husband is currently working on an Art degree and for one of his assignments he had to draw a live person, and that person was me. At the time he drew these it was my first pregnancy and I was probably about 8 or 9 months pregnant. These really helped me boost my self esteem and helped me see how he saw me, I thought I would share them with other some moms.
~Age: 23
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2/2
~Age of children and how far postpartum: 14 months/5 weeks, five weeks postpartum

Sculpture inspired by Shape Of A Mother

Hi everyone,

I wanted to post something a little different. I am a hobby Sculpter and was absolutely amazed to see such confidence, beauty and loving comments on this empowering website. I was feeling rather overwhelmed (in a good way) that something like this is here for all of us women to see that we are not alone. Our bodies are beautiful and it is incredible how much our bodies can stretch, grow and change all to provide the most important thing: life. I wanted to make a sculpture of what a real woman’s body looks like, rather than all of the computerized and airbrushed looking pictures that the media shows. I spent so much time deciding on what body type to sculpt; there is so much variety in our bodies! We are all so different, yet so the same, and that beauty is finally being seen on the Shape Of A Mother. Thanks, everyone, for posting your pictures and your stories. I feel so touched by many of the stories I have read here, and I felt so relieved to see that many other women feel the same way I do. I wanted to post pictures of the sculpture I made since this website is the sole reason why I made it and the source of my inspiration. Any feedback would be very welcomed.

Postpartum 21 and 25 years later – 3rd post (Anonymous)

Original entries here and here.

I have posted recent photos of me twice before, but now I have a beautiful drawing a friend did, from the only photo I have of me pregnant, almost 26 years ago, 2 days before my son was born. I am going to display this in my lounge – my sons and some friends may be prudish but I have no shame and am so proud of this lovely, sensitive drawing he did especially for me.