The Blog

Mother’s Day Stories

Birth, Family

I don’t want to say too much about this Mother’s Day project because I want you to look these women in the eyes and I want you to read their stories. All different, all brave. I would really really love it if you could leave a little note of appreciation for them being willing to open up about their experience to the whole wide world.

Basically all you need to know is this; this is the essence of why I do this work. This is what is important to me. Beyond making beautiful images, I am here to tell stories and I believe that there’s power in them. Without a story, we can minimize or avoid issues; without a story we can isolate and ignore. I believe that when we are faced with a story it gives the opportunity for connection, for growth, and to acknowledge the power of that individual and their experience. I see in each of these women – and I hope they can see in themselves – what I see in all the mothers I work with: unconditional love, fierceness, beauty, willingness to sacrifice body and mind, to do whatever it takes to do the best possible job at this motherhood thing.

Whether you are a mother or not, we all need nourishment and kindness to grow and become our best selves. Let’s take today to focus on giving back to those who give so much, and perhaps to continue to bring awareness to the importance of community and support all year long.

If you ARE a mother and you don’t feel like all this sunshine and rainbows stuff applies to you, things feel a little dark or scary, or maybe you’re not sure if there’s anyone else having a less than perfect experience with this whole mom thing – please reach out. Here are some places I have found community and some resources available to moms who are struggling:

Motherhood Matters (online and local support groups)

Cape Fear Area Doulas (postpartum doulas = SLEEP for new moms, priceless!)

The Bump & Beyond (yes, it’s a store but check out their events – they run a ton of groups and events for moms)

Your doctor/therapist/midwife/care provider. Ask for resources! You don’t have to do this alone.

{all images taken on medium format Kodak film processed and scanned by The FIND Lab}

I think that motherhood comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. I don’t mean that in terms of what we look like (don’t get me started on my post twin belly)!

Whenever my children ask why they don’t have a dad or ask where he is, I worry about my answer. Violence is a big deal in our home. I don’t tolerate hitting. Do I tell them an age appropriate truth… that daddy had to go in “time out” for hitting us? So far, I’ve chosen to protect them from that truth. Is it the right choice? I don’t know. But sacrificing the “normal” appearance of a family for our safety was undoubtedly the right choice.

My 4 year old twin girls have recently asked me about the daddy-daughter dance? I smile and tell them that every family is beautiful, and different. Some families only have a mom…Some families have just a dad. Some families have two moms, or two dads! Some families are made up of children, an aunt or and uncle or grandparents or siblings.

So, I just ask them: “are you happy?” And they say “yes, mommy I’m happy” I can’t help but smile big as I respond: “I’m happy too.”

So right now, we are beautiful. Daddy is in a permanent “time out”, my kick-ass brother is happy to go to the dance with the girls, and mommy is navigating motherhood with courage.

My little family is crazy and exquisite and chaotic and beautiful. And we are happy.

So, next time you see a family that doesn’t look like yours, send them a smile. We are all beautiful. Let’s be happy.

From altering your physical being before the first beat of their tiny heart to expanding the depths of your soul with overwhelming amounts of love; becoming a mother, to me, is the definition of a new existence. For almost 10 years I have worked with families, many just starting their journey into parenthood, through the field of nutrition and lactation. I have cried, rejoiced, laughed, and struggled alongside women as they fought for what they believed was best for their child… I found a passion in building my knowledge and practice to support their mission, yet always longed to feel the depth of their emotion, the bond that could influence someone so greatly… so much so that nothing could stand in their way. I sat in awe at the strength, patience, and determination of these women… feeling so much pride in being a woman, like them… hoping that one day, I too, would get the opportunity to be a mother.’

The day I found out I was pregnant, I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe I finally crossed the bridge into motherhood, and soon, would hold my own baby in my arms. The shock was immediately followed by a sense of fear and worry. What if I don’t live up to my expectations of what a Mom should be? What if I fail to live the ‘life’ I had idealized, promoted, and supported in my work all these years?

As the pregnancy progressed, the pressure of all the images flowing through my every thought of what was perfect and right slowly faded. With each fluttery kick and tiny hiccup I felt from my growing babe, I grew more and more aware that without doing anything, I was doing everything. Something I had always encouraged moms to embrace, I now could feel. The connection with my baby held all the power. I realized that what I saw in my clients, the fire they each carried, was now inside of me too… undeniably complex yet incredibly simple. Flooded with relief, I finally found awareness that the strength of this fire was driven by connection, intuition… and when paired with my husbands immeasurable love and support, the the ‘life’ that was right for us would simply be.

Early in the morning on July 15th, 2017 my not so tiny ball of fire was born, and I’d like to think, so was I… again. Nothing has been the same since, yet life feels as though there is no other way. Each day I face the same struggles, joys, tears, and laughs I once observed… and although the pressure, expectation, and desire to perform perfectly never completely fades; the fire within me, the connection to my son, always burns brighter.

When asked to define what motherhood means to me, my first thought was, “How does one adequately describe the indescribable?” Through the flood of thoughts that followed, the one that stands out the most is simply, a new existence… through the strength of my maternal fire… and the lens of my son’s eyes; driven by connection and intuition.

Motherhood has taught me all about expectations and fighting for what I want.

When I got pregnant with my third child, a little girl, I pictured exactly how I wanted my birth and days after to be. I wanted delayed clamping and immediate skin to skin and nursing. I couldn’t nurse my middle child and I pumped for her for 6 months. I so badly wanted to nurse my last baby. I wanted this beautiful picture perfect birth.

Well I went into labor at 36.5 weeks naturally and she was born 7 hours later and not breathing well. They ended up taking her to NICU I was crushed. They took my baby and wheeled in the dreaded pump. We were also locked into the hospital so no visitors. That meant I couldn’t see my other kids either. Having a baby away from you in the NICU was so hard. None of this was what I expected or wanted. I couldn’t nurse baby for 5 days.

We fought long and hard for our nursing relationship that now at 4 months is wonderful! We’ve battled many many obstacles to get where we are now. I just had to learn that not everything will go as planned but I need to fight for what I want for me and my children.

As a mother I tend to judge, criticize and overthink most things that I do (or don’t do) in a day. We live in a world of over perfected Pinterest ideas that I can never find the time nor energy to complete– let’s be honest. And social media shows us the neat and perfect view of motherhood, because who is brave enough to put the messy parts out there for the all to see?

Mommying is the the most challenging job I’ve ever had. Perception. Labor and delivery will go smoothly–we are prepared. Truth. Life happens and we just have to ride the wave as it comes to us. Perception. I can’t wait to nurse my baby. Truth. Holy cow this hurts, is exhausting– mentally, physically and spiritually. And oh my word I’m absolutely starving! Pass me 2 burgers please! Perception. Staying at home with my baby will be easy and so much fun everyday! Truth. Some days are great and joy overflows from my cup, but then there are days that loneliness and exhaustion grab a hold of me like an oceans rip current. Oh and my house is a wreck– but hey, we are alive!

At the end of the day I lie awake thinking of the day with my sweet baby and all it entailed. It keeps me up at night because through my eyes-my lens-I could have done more. I could have done things differently. And in my own insane reality I. am. not. enough. How will I raise a kind, respectful and brave young man when we didn’t leave the couch today because he just wanted to nurse and cuddle? But when I change my lens to his eyes, I am blown away. The truth of who I am is found in him. In his eyes I’m everything! Truly and simply. I’m mommy, and best friend, nurturer and comedian, protector and playmate. I’m his safe haven and wild thing. Whether we are snuggled on the couch all day or not– I am all this and more. I see my faults and he sees pure unadulterated love!

So when I’m feeling down and get the idea that I am not enough or I’m not doing it right, I look to my sweet baby and know that from the lopsided smile he gives or the blue owl like eyes staring up at me, life couldn’t be any better. Perception solely depends on whose lens you’re viewing through–He sees me as I must learn to see me. He loves me as I must love myself.

A little over a year ago, my husband and I began trying for a family. We were ready and excited. Within the third month, we got pregnant, and then miscarried a few days later. Neither of us had any idea how common it was before that day and I had no idea how painful it would all be: mentally and physically. 1 in 4 mommas and husbands have felt or will feel the ache of a miscarriage in their lifetime. Mother’s Day came and went and I felt the sting of it like I never had before. In other people’s eyes, I wasn’t a mother yet. Five months after our miscarriage, we became pregnant again and were due in April 2018. I was all set to be a mom on Mother’s Day. At 22 weeks, we learned that something was wrong with our sweet baby and she wasn’t going to make it. I delivered and we spent the holidays mourning the loss of our girl, Hope. Looking back, that season was a blur of tears, hormones, and hot flashes, and I strongly remember never leaving my husband’s side. I leaned on him like my life depended on it. And days when he struggled, I stood tall and held him too. It took months before I felt the fog lift and I could feel like myself again. This Mother’s Day will be another one without a baby in our arms. While the pain of having two angel babies will never leave us, we know that our family is what we make it. We are so grateful for each other and our little, invisible, family of 4.

As her due date came and went, here we were waiting again, when would she come. At 42 weeks labor finally started, then stopped, then started and slowed. This went on for several days, a story for another day. Our daughter very comfortable in her posterior position, we tried everything and I got exhausted, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I just wanted it to be over. I had waited so long to hold this baby in my arms, I was so ready! We transferred to the hospital after a few days of this start and stop, my water had broken, it was time to have a baby. We went in with the plan of getting an epidural so I could rest and then push this baby out. After a few hours of monitoring and attempting to turn this sweet pea it became apparent that we needed to get her out now, for my sake and hers. Our bodies were just plain worn out. I hadn’t really looked into c-sections because I really didn’t think we’d end up in the hospital let alone in the operating room. Penelope was born at 2:03am on November 3rd. She was covered in meconium and having difficulty breathing when she was pulled out of my belly. All I heard was her labored crying and my heart just longed to hear that she was okay. The NICU team was in the room had her and got her stable enough to take her to the NICU, I watched her roll away and my husband went with her. I was pretty hopped up on drugs and exhausted so it’s all a bit of a blur, but Penelope had aspirated meconium, she had Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. After about 8 hours or so, and after the team here did everything they could for her, we were told she needed to be transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill Children’s hospital for a special machine ECMO, should she need it. I got to go see Penelope before she was put on the helicopter. It gets really long from here, but we were at UNC for 3 weeks, and I finally got to hold her on day 6. We got to go home the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I am so thankful we were home for Thanksgiving.

All that is to say, my journey into motherhood has not been what I pictured, AT ALL. Looking back it looks like a lot of obstacles. It has been challenging and hard, but its been mine, and its beautiful, its grown things in me I never dreamed of and didn’t know I needed. Being the life source for a tiny human is pretty intense and watching my daughter grow and develop solely nourished by milk produced from my own body is incredible. We’ve conquered so much together. We’re a team, she and I, we’ve had tons of support from our families and the community but at the end of the day its us. I don’t know if I would feel that way had everything gone according to my fantasy, who’s to say. What I do know is that being a mother has awakened parts of my heart I didn’t know existed and it’s grown a few sizes too, and I am embracing the ever changing journey of motherhood.

Mother’s Day Stories

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