I am a 23 year old mother to 5 month old Claire. My journey began with the heartaching realization that at this young age, I have fertility problems. Fighting not only with doctors who would help diagnose and treat a young woman with PCOS (polycystic ovaries) but also fighting with myself, with my body- for failing me. I felt cheated… My body was a place of disgust and distrust. Throughout my fertility journey- I had to learn to see it in different light. To be kinder to this woman in the mirror… to learn to love her, because she was going through an awful heartache yearning for her babe.
Moons later, we conceived our first babe… I was shocked and also terribly scared to be happy. So afraid that since it was hard to get pregnant- I expected nothing to come easy… But soon my belly grew, my body stretched and gave way to LIFE.
These images are so many things to me… I feel awfully proud when I look at them, because I see the same woman said and wrote such heart wrenchingly sad things about that body… I see the woman who started learning to accept her flaws. I see a young woman who is happy, confident, and strong… who carried, gave birth, and nourishes this delicious little babe. I see someone beautiful.
At moments, I feel incredibly vulnerable about these images. But I feel like they hold power- and I hope mostly- that they will help someone else to feel a little bit more compassionate towards their perfectly imperfect body.
My story is short, I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant, my boyfriend noticed before I did. I had a rather easy pregnancy, no nausea but lots of heartburn, I started swelling after week 31 and for some reason I had a pretty small belly and started showing at 6 months. In one of our first appointments the doctor said I wouldn’t show a lot because my abdominal muscles were really strong… I honestly don’t know how that happened since I haven’t worked out since junior high and even then it was 70 minutes every week, and I went to great lengths to avoid it.
I ate as healthy as I could, I drank as much water as my shrinking bladder would allow me, I put lotion on once a day, too lazy for more and against all advice I scratched my belly like a madman the last month. I went into labor naturally at 39 weeks and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who was 7 pounds 10 ounces. It was traumatizing, I got an epidural and it only worked on the right side of my body, I could feel everything in the other side, at some point while I was pushing, right in the middle of a contraction
I heard scissors, I was deadly afraid of having an episiotomy and damn right! It hasn’t quite healed yet…
I look in the mirror now and I can’t believe I had a baby, my hips are a little wider and my boobs a little bigger but the rest is the same. I didn’t get any stretch marks and my skin popped right back when I was a week pp, I can’t believe my feet are not swollen and that I can actually see the lower side of my belly, I can’t believe I have my body back, so familiar from my crooked navel to the stretch marks I always had on my butt and my third nipple (which also got darker and bigger, lol)
I hold my baby and I still can’t believe has real, I can’t believe we are over all of the issues we had with nursing, I see how big hes getting and I cant believe its still all me, no bottles, no formula, just me. I was so afraid my boobs would sag, I had thought about nursing him for only a year, then I found out the recommended minimum is two years and I was ok with that and its been such an amazing experience that I think ill just let him wean on his own, even if my breasts end up hanging so low then can sit on my
knees! It will be absolutely worth it.
Pics are me the day i went into labor, me and my little man, me at 1 week pp, me at 8 weeks and my cute little bunny the day we first took him out for a stroll
My husband and I were in the military when we met on a hot summer day during a training exercise and we were both filthy, exhausted, sunburned and peeling; it was love at first sight. I was 19, not quite 20, when I went in for a check-up and was notified that I was pregnant. I just couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t ready for children yet. My not yet husband and I had only been together a few months! Still, it was exciting news. My mother, whom was at the appointment was excited and when we notified my grandmother (she was waiting in the lobby) she about fell of her chair she was laughing so hard. (Nice to know I have such a supportive family.) And my mother insisted that she call my father at work. So it worked out that my whole family actually new before the father of the brand new life that I now knew was growing in that soft secret place deep inside. The pregnancy went very well although I was frustrated that I gained 70 pounds (certainly not a good thing). In fact, it went so well that the only bad thing, besides the weight I gained, was the fact that I couldn’t have chocolate. I couldn’t even stand the smell of it! James Michael was born on a beautiful summer day during a partial eclipse after only 5 hours at the hospital. My mother wasn’t paying attention, and not realizing I was in labor, let me take one of my super hot baths and boy, did that give a powerful kick-start to everything. We were 20 miles from the hospital and my mother wasn’t sure we’d make it in time. The nurse didn’t even believe that James was going to be born as soon as he was and the isolet had been turned on less than an hour before his arrival. My father was also in the room when he arrived. He’d dropped in to say hi, everything got going and he kind of got shoved into a corner. My husband caught James and then he was taken over to the corner for them to check him out real quick. It was my father that got the first real good look at him and it was my father that handed him back to me. I thought it quite fitting that he handed his first grandchild to his first born (He had also delivered me; my mother’s only home birth).
Two days later, the family that now consisted of three journeyed home to settle into our new life. I quickly lost all my baby weight except for 5 pounds but that was still in acceptable parameters for the military so I was happy. If anything I looked better because I wasn’t such a stick anymore. James was only 8 months when our next little one was conceived which was a huge shock because we had planned on waiting a couple of years. This pregnancy didn’t go so well since I couldn’t keep anything down the first three months but I gained much less weight this time, only about 40 pounds. He was due December 8 but I was shooting for December 3 since that was my grandfathers birthday and whom this little one was being named for. Instead, I go into labor late on November 25. The contractions got progressively harder and were nothing I couldn’t handle but I was hoping it was just practice. Finally the morning of the 26 I accepted that I was in full labor and called my husband home from work so we could prepare for the 1 1/2 hour drive ahead of us. This was the day before Thanksgiving and the plan had been that I would pack everything the day after Thanksgiving to drive up to my parents. I would stay with them for the week until the baby arrived but this little one had other plans. I was supposed to be making my Bailey’s cheesecakes for the feast the next day, not laboring to bring a new life into the world! I dozed most of the drive to the hospital, only waking up during my contractions and it was the same at the hospital. I was actually only at the hospital approximately three hours before Charles Adryan arrived in the world. I caught him and he was only seconds old as I cuddled him next to me. He is the most precious gift ever received on a birthday. Yep. I turned 22 the day my little monkey arrived. He looked like a little orangutan with his spiky red hair and his little wrinkly face. We had so much to be be thankful for that year.
So now we were four. I quickly lost the baby weight, except for 5 pounds again; at this time I was 10 pounds heavier than when I first met my husband but I still looked great. Sure, I couldn’t wear girls size 16 anymore and my breasts weren’t quite as perky after nursing but I still had my flat tummy. And then came the news that my state was activating it’s National Guard and I went through the terrifying process of walling myself off as I tried to deal with the thought that I wouldn’t see my precious boys for at least a year and perhaps never again. My husband and I didn’t get along well at this time. He tried to deal with it in his own way but it only served to push me further away. It was on the last night we were together before I left for Texas that we conceived our eldest daughter. It was literally the only night she could have happened since my husband and I hadn’t had relations all month. After about a month in Texas for the training, it was time to get a bunch of nasty shots so they gave all the women a mandatory blood test to make sure they weren’t pregnant. These shots would have seriously harmed the fetus and it would have been best to abort. I was barely far enough along for them to catch the pregnancy and even then they weren’t sure. I had to wait at a holding facility over the weekend for them to do another test. It was positive and I was going home. This pregnancy did pretty well; I was slightly sick at the beginning but not like I was with Charles. I was at the peak of my health and I only gained just over 20 pounds. It was a cold spring day when the doc informed me that I had started dilating and I was confident after my experiences with my first two births that my daughter would arrive in less than two days. Two days later, still in the early stages of labor there was no baby. The doctor, knowing my history started getting concerned so he had me start coming in for ultrasounds every day trying to figure out why she wasn’t dropping down and engaging. It took a further five days for the tech to finally get it at the right angle and they realized that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s throat. That is when my world fell apart again. I had to have an emergency cesarean section. I had not prepared for this at all. I knew from the beginning that I never planned on having one and I really didn’t do much research at all so I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically. All I wanted to do was scream and break things and I didn’t want anyone near me. Instead I lay in the hospital feeling like I was dieing inside while my family surrounded me. My father had talked his boss into letting him come over because it was an emergency section and things could go wrong. Less than two hours after learning why my baby wasn’t yet in my arms, Meradydd Anne Roishin was here. My husband didn’t even have time to make it since he was at home 1 1/2 hours away so it was my mother holding my hand during the procedure. I don’t remember any of it but she says I cried the whole time. It didn’t help that no one thought to show my daughter to me at all. I could hear her crying but I didn’t know if everything was ok or if something was wrong. She was two hours old when they finally brought her to me. I went through about two weeks of depression. I refused to get out of bed, I didn’t wash, I only took care of Meradydd as necessary. I felt like I had been robbed. I had dreamed of a beautiful, birth where I could once again catch the tiny being that I had created when she was only seconds old and hold her as I had done Charles. Instead I had this ugly slash across my abdomen that symbolized everything that had gone wrong. I am so thankful for my grandmother. I was staying at her house until I recuperated enough to go home, which was taking longer than it should have due to my depression. She was an RN and it was she that snapped me out of the depression. She physically hauled me out of that bed and made me take a shower and made me start caring for Deedee (her name is pronounced Meradith but thanks to my father and due to the spelling she has been Deedee since she was only hours old.)
I finally took my my beautiful daughter home when she was three weeks old and now we were five. It took me a long time to accept what had happened. It didn’t help that the doc whom had performed the procedure butchered me and I had the nasty scare to remind me of my emotional pain every day. I was now 15 pounds heavier than when I met my husband but I was no longer in the military. My ETS was only a week after Deedee was born. I also didn’t have the flat tummy anymore. Now that those muscles had been cut, I had trouble doing sit-ups and the flab refused to go away. Now I was even more ashamed of my body because in addition to the stretch marks, saggy boobs, and extra weight, I had a flabby belly with an ugly scar across it. Then I got pregnant again when Deedee was only 6 months old. I wasn’t physically or emotionally ready to have another one and I just wanted to cry but she was on her way regardless. This pregnancy did very well and I only gained about 14 pounds. It was another beautiful summer day when Kathrynn Elizabeth Eveline arrived in the world by c-section. I wanted to try a vbac but since my insurance wouldn’t pay for one (they changed that policy only a year later) I had to have another section. This one I was totally prepared for as I had accepted early on that it would happen. Once again my mother held my hand (my husband literally turns green at the sight of blood) and she also physically restrained me from decking the woman that was giving me my epidural. The daft woman couldn’t place the needle right and she kept hitting nerves; I kneed the poor male nurse that was helping to brace me. She finally gets it in only to snag it with her sleeve and contaminate it so she had to start completely over. That was a completely different experience from my first section; that one I felt only a tiny pinch. My mother made sure that they brought Kathrynn over when she was just minutes old for me to see her because she knew how not seeing Deedee affected me. Because I was so prepared for this one, I didn’t feel robbed at all. I had this tiny, beautiful daughter and now our family was complete. I completely shocked the nurses by being out of bed only hours after the birth and going for a walk down the hall so my husband could help me shower. I was also thankful that the doctor that had performed this section cleaned up the extra tissue from my previous incision so it would make a much nicer scar. My tiny daughter was only hours old when she was christened Kitty and she’s still Kitty to this day. My father was holding her and called her kitty cat. James, whom was just turned 4 only a week previous said no, he didn’t want a kitten, he wanted a puppy.
It’s now almost four years later and so much as happened. For a long time, I still hated my body. But the healing began when I met a very good friend. She’s one of those lovely hippy types that don’t shave and didn’t care how much of her breast people saw when she was feeding her son (he’s only a week older than Kitty). While I still shave, it was she that taught me to accept my body as it is and not care what others think; only what I think. I finally came to see that my body was not something to be ashamed of but to celebrate it’s unique shape because that was what nurtured my little ones. It was their tiny bodies that distorted things and their suckling that pulled at my breasts. I nursed Kitty for three and a half years; I only recently weaned her and I miss it already. So yeah. Here I am at 28 years old, sitting at 155 pounds (thirty five pounds heavier than pre-baby) that won’t come off, saggy uneven breasts, dumpy belly, and all. But my journey has made me who I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And my ugly scar? I have to go looking for it since it’s well hidden under my belly and even then I have to feel for it because it’s almost invisible. My husband says he actually prefers my body this way (not just because there’s more for him to grab) because it gave life to our children. It has been hard explaining to them the difference in their births. Recently my husband used an analogy to explain it. He said the boys came out the front door and the girls came out the front window. They all thought it quite funny. Our children all know about the birds and the bees. They know where babies come from. They have even seen videos of home births as well as a c-section. Nothing phased them. In fact, after the first birth they viewed I was poised to answer so many difficult questions but only one was asked. “Mom, why are babies born naked?” This is my life. I have a gorgeous, caring husband that wants me for who I am and I have four beautiful children that would not be here but for the sacrifices made. That is such empowerment. I can now look at my body with acceptance and pride. It’s pure bliss.
I don’t think I have much to say, I am 22 years old and have three gorgeous sons, Jacob age 5 years, Benjamin age 3 years and Arthur who is 8 days old :-) Here I am with the youngest at 8 days post-partum. I felt incredibly empowered and attractive when I took these photos, and I chose not to edit them at all. You can see stretch marks from all three pregnancies on my stomach, hips and breasts, and surgery scars from the ectopic pregnancy. Also featured are self-harm scars from my teenage years. It took me a long time to love my body like this, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now.
I have been engaged to my fiance for 2 years when we moved out of the dorms and into our first apartment together, less than a month later I was pregnant, about a month later I found out ‘it’ was ‘them.’ I found out I was pregnant with twins at an abortion clinic. I wanted a baby but not at that point in my life, not when I was at the end of my teaching program, not before I was married….NOT NOW…is all I kept saying. When I was laying on the table in the clinic and the lady looked at me and said ‘I detect multiples.’ I cried, for the first time I cried because I knew they were here for a reason. There was no history of twins in my family, I wasn’t doing IVF, and I was only 20! Nothing says that I should have had twins. I felt like it was a miracle.
Anyway, I was happy about my pregnancy and told my parents and family when I was 9 weeks pregnant. We found out at 21 weeks that we were having a boy and a girl! We were super excited. It took forever to figure out their names but we finally chose them: Delilah AnnMarie and Leon Jason Paul and we were thrilled! I was going to school full time while my fiance was working full time.. At 31 weeks along I went to my OB for my appointment and he said ‘you are too complicated for the local hospital, so here are all your records, go find another doctor.’ I didn’t get names to other doctors but it didn’t matter because the next night at midnight while I was getting in the shower my water broke. My fiance drove me to the ER and they sent me by ambulance to a wonderful hospital over an hour away. I stayed there for 5 days while they tested me and tested me. I was borderline gestational diabetic and severe pre-eclampsia. At 9am the doctor said ‘there is no way she is leaving. We’re keeping her here until 34 weeks and then we’re taking the babies.’ At 5pm, the same doctor walked in and said ‘we’re having the babies in the morning.’ I was FREAKING out…to say the least.
My sweet baby girl was born at 8:04am and her little, yet bigger, brother was born 2 minutes later. Delilah weighed 3lb and Leon was 3lb 3oz. I saw them for 2 seconds and then they were ran down the hall to the NICU and they lived there for 48 days. They came home a week before their due date. During that time I was recovering from my c-section. It was brutal!
Concerning my weight and body image: I have never thought I looked good. I hated my body. A week before my twins were born I weighted 299lb…that is my highest weight. I don’t know how much, if anything, that I have lost, but since the beginning of the year I have set the goal for myself to love my body and to get to a healthy weight. I know I have a lot of work to do but I feel so much better since I’ve been eating better. I have been eating little to no junk food, no carbonated drinks, eating whole grains, and low fat, low sugar foods.
I’ve included pictures of me in the hospital, pictures of my belly when I was pregnant (all those pictures I keep off facebook) and a picture of me breastfeeding my son (to show how huge my boobs were) and a picture of me last week trying to get a picture of the 3 of us. That one is the hardest for me to look at, because I look so wide. Anyway, I think this site is amazing and will help me love my body.
Your Age: 21
Number of pregnancies and births: 1 pregnancy and 2 births
The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 10 month old twins
I always felt like I wasn’t very feminine looking – my breasts were small, my body thin… I didn’t feel like a woman at all – until I had my children (2 daughters, now aged 3 and 16 months)… I actually wound up thinner, and with smaller breasts than before children, but I have now found new respect for my body, and it’s purpose! I’ve created two beautiful little beings (and breastfed both successfully), and that makes me as womanly as the next….
38 Weeks with my first….
38 weeks with my second….
Breastfeeding my second….
~Number of pregnancies and births: 3 pregnancies (1x miscarriage at 7wks) and 2 births – girls aged 3 and 16 months
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: As above.
I consulted a cosmetic surgeon about having cosmetic surgery. I wanted breast implants to plump them back up a bit as they are a bit smaller than they were before baby number three, but was told that I needed a breast lift too. I don’t mind about implant scars, as they are in the arm pit, and tiny. But I feel that an uplift operation involves too much obvious scarring, and would make me look worse, not better!!!!!!
I personally don’t think I need them lifting anywhere, unless he wants to put them on my shoulders!!! I may be wrong, I don’t know!
So, I got to thinking, is there a need for me to have this done, or is this man trying to make as much money as he can from vunerable women who feel so bad about them selves after having a baby that they get procedures carried out just because a doctor said they need it done?
I can see a need for a breast lift operation for some people, as the results can be amazing, but I question if cosmetic surgery is being offered to readilly, and to people who don’t really need it. It’s like people have become customers, not patients.
In the early stages after having a baby (I’ve had three), I always get down about the way I look, but I am kind of offended that the doctor I consulted seems to be taking advantage of this.
So, please beware if you are seeking any surgery after child birth!!!!
And, needless to say, I won’t be having a breast lift operation (although the implants still sound good if I can find another doctor)
In the first pictures I was 31 years old and 10 months postpartum. My breasts are anyways uneven but they looked particularly funny after a one-sided breastfeeding. You can see my deformed bellybutton in the background. I didn’t know what the large lump under the skin an inch above my bellybutton was, but thanks to comments on this site, I went to the doctor and it turned out to indeed be a hernia! (Thank you!!) A year later I had it surgically fixed. I was told it was a “pregnancy hernia,” in that my baby was very big and my muscles were excessively weakened by the pregnancy. The doctor told me if I had worn a belt in the end of my pregnancy to give my tummy extra support, and if I hadn’t lifted so much after the birth, then I could have avoided it. I consider my new scar as part of my pregnancy wounds along with the lopsided breasts and stretch marks and saggy skin. I don’t mind because I know that almost every woman I pass in the street has marks of her own hidden just under her shirt.
I am ecstatic to announce the arrival of our son. He arrived vaginally, at home, 10#5oz, 22 1/2 and perfectly healthy. I have had 5 previous csections and have yet to even process the immense healing that has come and will come from this. I love this website and wanted to come here to share my story and God’s glory with all those who are seeking a VBAC of one sort or another, women contemplating UC or UBAC as well as women dealing with body issues. I have that I already seem myself as the most beatuiful woman in the world now. Seriously, I am SOOOO greatful for what my body has done, through all of my pregnancies and labors and birth and surgery. I am overjoyed!
I and 24 and have had three children in the past 5 years. I fought with anorexia (although I was never diagnosed) when I was 17 and 18 before I got pregnant with my first child. I have always had a negative body image. I almost feel like if I’m not thin, people won’t appreciate me. They will see me as a failure.
All my pregnancies had no serious complications. I gained 60 pounds with my first (I started at 123), 50 pounds with my second (I started at 140), and 25 pounds with my third (I started at 165). I am 5’9″. I lost almost all of my weight after my first but then gained 15 pounds back after I got married. I only lost 25 pounds with my second then got pregnant when he was 8 months. My daughter is now 9 months old. I lost down to 155 because I had bad postpartum depression, but in the past few months have gone back up to 170 since I am HAPPY again ;o).
I don’t exercise because I am LAZY. Even though I am the biggest I have ever been, I am not depressed like I used to get about my weight. I think most of it is because I have three children to show for it. I love my body because of what it has given me, but I DO want it to be healthy. I want to feel better physically. I can feel how heavy I am and THAT’S what bothers me more than what I look like. I’m determined to get in shape. I don’t mind being this size. I just want to be healthy.
I’m not ashamed of my stretch marks. I have them all over. On my hips and belly and breasts. The thing I hate the most about my body is my “mom butt/hips” and my belly flap. It just hangs there when I even slightly bend over.
The women I see on this site are so beautiful. Stretch marks. Scars. Boobies that are less than “perfect”. It’s amazing because of what we’ve been through. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see ourselves through over people’s eyes? I don’t think we’d see the same thing at all. We are our own worse critic.