When it comes to pregnancy and birth, there's no shortage of well-intentioned folks (but are they really?) sharing scary stories, misguided advice, "just you wait"s, and discouraging comments ("your body will never be the same!"). But in today's world of viral videos and funny memes, we're seeing a shift toward inspirational and encouraging words surrounding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Earlier this week, Joanna Venditti, a mom of four in Canada, wrote a post on her blog, Nesting Story, about coming to terms -- and being gentle -- with her postpartum body after twins (and two older children). In it were a multitude of "real" photos -- the before, the way before, the after, and the now. Her message was honest and thought provoking -- and so vastly different than what mainstream media and well-meaning friends and family would have you believe. She says:
"My distracting enormous but adorable baby bump had been deflated and I was left with mush, bruising, swollen ankles and healing from a c-section. I had this sadness for my body. I felt so badly for it with the state it was in and at the same time was so grateful for what it had done.
I am so much more confident with my body than I ever have been before. Anytime I start doubting my new curves or war wounds I look around the room and ask myself, how many other people in this room grew two people inside their body at once?"
In a society that touts celebrity post-baby weight loss on the cover of magazines mere weeks after babies are born, it's refreshing to hear and see real stories. Yes, the postpartum period is a struggle -- the sleep deprivation, the mood swings (and sometimes, postpartum mood disorders), the lifestyle changes, and the changes in your body. But it can also be a beautifully messy and chaotic time in which you fully grasp the beauty of the perfect new life your body has created. They say that nothing worthwhile comes easy, and so it is often true with getting pregnant, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting. Thanks, Joanna, for getting real with us and showing us both the beauty and the struggle.
Also this week, Huffington Post UK shared an expose on a photo project created by photographer Jenny Lewis, which depicts mothers and their one-day-old babies. According to Jenny, the initial intent behind the project was to show that women are still themselves after having a baby, but what she ended up seeing -- and sharing for all to enjoy -- was an infectious and bubbling joy and strength in women who were just one day out from one of the most profound life experiences. She said, "In those first 24 hours, it's like this warrior comes out in women. They gain this inner strength to protect the child and you can see it in the photos."
Photo shared with permission from Joanna Venditti at Nesting Story