It’s incredible how much we can allow ourselves to be affected and influenced by our Body Image, but as moms, we can all truly appreciate what it is a Mom Body can do. It can survive sleepless nights, fight through exhaustion to feed and care for children, carry babies, sometimes breastfeed. Sometimes you have nothing left, but find the strength to hold a bottle until those last few gulps are gone.
Moms are amazing, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Sponsored by Oakdale OB/GYN, and in partnership with Gina Zeidler Photography and Sarah Hrudka Photography, we have been working on this photo series to show just that – the differences, the similarities and the strengths that can be found within a Mom. The moms who have shared their stories are both from our team and our readership. We all have a story to tell, we all have strength and we are honored to be able to share these journeys with you. Today is the second of three days of this series and we hope you see a bit of yourself in one or more of these women.
I am the mother of two but you will only ever see one earth side. My son Leo passed away just shy of 3 months old. It rocked our world and has forever changed us. I found out I was pregnant again just 3 months after he had passed away. Having babies only 13 months apart in age has left my body in some rough shape. I would like to show other people what a mom of two looks like, when you can’t see the other baby she had.
I want my children to tell their children that even though Leo wasn’t with them physically, his spirit lived with us always. I want my children to think of me as confident and strong. I want them to tell their children that I always did what was in their best interest and that I always made them feel unconditional love.
The most challenging part of becoming a mom was not knowing how to live as a mom. Having a baby changes everything. You have to relearn how to do everything with a baby in tow. Going to Target is no longer a quick 15 minute run (well, when was it ever really?)
I am just proud to be a mother. It is something that is denied to some women so I feel honored to be able to have carried two beautiful boys in it!
My message to my future daughter-in-law about her mom body: It is perfect in its imperfections. It created life! And that is an amazing miracle not to be taken lightly.
2 sons: Leo 3/6/2014 – 5/28/2014, Phillip 5 months
I’m currently 5 months pregnant with my second child. I never really lost my “baby weight” from my first child (who just turned two). I had a really hard time physically, mentally, and emotionally, losing the extra weight gained in pregnancy #1. 60 extra pounds, to be exact. However, with this child/pregnancy, I’m no longer looking at the scale.
I wasn’t a mom during my first pregnancy. All I had to worry about was me, and I’ll admit a lot of my worry was vanity. This time, I’m a mom. Vanity what? Vanity schmanity. Being a mom changes EVERYTHING. Life is far too short to worry about comparing myself to what I was before, comparing myself to the other women around me, and worrying about what I “should” look like. I’m embracing the rapid weight gain of this pregnancy (it’s a fact you gain quicker with your second pregnancy… I Googled it). I’m embracing the extra little sag under my baby bump caused by my first pregnancy. That little sag housed the most beautiful and perfect little boy. And that not so little bump on top of that sag is housing my next beautiful and perfect baby. Why in the world would I be ashamed of that?
As cliché as it sounds, I’d love for my kids to say I was a fun and caring mom. Emphasis on the word FUN. I love having fun and being silly. I’ll break out and dance or sing with my son at any time or anywhere (well, for the most part). As long as my boy smiles, I don’t care how many dirty looks I get. If it’s all in good, clean, harmless, fun, then … whatever. If it makes my boy laugh, smile, and giggle, I’m getting my silly on.
The hardest transition was not being there for my friends. I had/have a close-knit group of friends. Most actually don’t have kids, and aren’t having kids. It’s an ongoing struggle for me that they don’t understand I’m not the same person I was. I can’t be the same person I was. I know there’s no way for me to make them understand, either, because I was guilty of it myself before I became a parent. It’s something you don’t know until you become one.
I’m SO PROUD of my baby bump. Beyond words.
Embrace it. Be proud of what your body can do. Don’t compare yourself to ANYONE. Everyone is different. You’re going to be your worst critic. People aren’t looking at you like you’re looking at you. So stop looking at yourself that way! The world has bigger fish to fry than if you have a stretch mark, or your jeans are a size bigger than the girl next to you. If anyone gives you gruff, or makes you feel bad about it, GET RID OF THEM. You don’t want someone like that in your life anyway. Only a select group of people the world get to be mothers. And YOU got chosen. Remember that. Be honored.
Son: Franklin, 2
And another baby on the way!
After having my son and losing all my baby weight, I developed a thyroid disorder that resulted in some unintended weight gain. I grew up a scrawny girl that never had to worry about weight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I need to be more intentional in how I care for my body and most importantly, how I view my body. The demons in my head told me this photo shoot was not for me because I am not at my ideal weight yet and while I love my body, I haven’t accepted it the way others might see me. This photo shoot is my way of saying, “I feel amazing and it’s not because of how much I weigh.”
I want my children to tell their children that I was a mother that listened, cared, and responded to their needs. That I didn’t love with a superficial, selfish love, rather I loved by putting others first. More than anything, I want them to recognize how deep my love for them is. I want them to say that their mom was always there to see the best in them and make them feel special and to help them get over those hard parts, just the same way my own mom did for me.
When I was pregnant with my son, I was overcome by a fear that I’ve never been able to shake. I thought it would go away after my first trimester, then I thought after the second, or maybe once he was born…then I realized I’d have a CHILD to care for, love, and keep alive and, well, that was when I realized the fear would never, ever leave. I believe that this fear will always be a companion in motherhood, so it’s been a daily struggle to learn to not succumb to it’s temptation to make me feel overwhelmed and unable to take risks. While a part of me is expecting that one day it’ll go away, I think that it’s just the way my heart responds to loving my son in such a new, amazing way. Just when I think I’m learning to conquer those fears, I hear a story about someone that had something terrible happen to them and I’m sucked back in. It truly is a roller coaster.
I love that my body works. That it was able to create and sustain my child’s life and that it sustains my own life each day. I’ve watched parts of my body fail, and it makes me all the more grateful for all the ways it works everyday. It truly is amazing. Oh, and I am really proud that my body is able to regain and reclaim health after thyroid cancer. That wasn’t easy.
If you share genes with me; love your curves! Seriously, you won’t be able to escape the blessing of a curvy body so you’ll want to learn to appreciate and love it as soon as possible. Trying to run away from it, or shame it, will only leave you exhausted and feeling pitiful. And if you’re ever feeling down about the way you look, go and find your relatives. It is there that you will find yourself re-energized by a group of incredibly lovely and confident women who share those same curves and look amazing. You’ll be reminded of how amazing you look too.
And to my daughters and daughter-in-laws that I may or may not share genes with; be gracious with yourself and don’t obsess over a tiny, fit body. Rather, obsess over health for you and your family and be grateful that we are able to nourish and care for ourselves. You aren’t in control of ever aspect of how you look, so calm down on those fad diets- eat well and love yourself first. If you can’t love yourself at your highest weight, a few less pounds won’t do any good for your soul.
Son: Leo, 4
I was a gymnast for 18 years of my life who was used to a 6 pack. I also struggled through anorexia during my college years. Becoming a mom has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me, and slowly I have learned that spending hours with my girls is more important than driving myself crazy about body image.
I would love to set an example to my girls that exercise is important and fun (the way my Mom inspired me. She had 6 kids and has always been fit).
The hardest transition is not being able to wear a bikini because I don’t feel comfortable in my body. I absolutely know I shouldn’t compare my body to other women (as we are all different), it’s a very hard thing when the media representation of a women’s body is skin and bone.
My arms kept a good muscle tone from my gymnastics career and lifting/carrying my girls has added to that.
I will tell my girls that their bodies are masterpieces that tells a story, and it is their own! No one can ever take away a mother’s beauty from where her children grew into this world.
Daughters: Kendyl 3, Olivia 1
Not only am I always the one behind the camera because I’m a photographer, but also because I’m a mom. I think it goes without saying that as a mom, you’re typically the one taking the photos of the kids, rather than being IN the photos with them. That being said, I think a lot of moms actually want it that way because somewhere along the way, they decided they weren’t worthy enough to be photographed. But anybody watching from afar would see that within an arm’s reach of every child is his/her mom…
I was excited to be part of this photo shoot so that I had a chance to be in photos showing a glimpse into the intimate moments with my daughter, capturing the realness of our bond and to encourage other moms to do the same. Don’t be afraid to be in photos, mamas! They take you back in time — to your motherhood journey — reminding you not only how you looked (which you will probably look back on and think, “damn, I looked good!”) but how you felt during that time of your life. I think being present in photos the way you are present in your child’s life is one of the greatest keepsakes you can give them (and yourself!) later in life.
I want my daughter to tell her children that she finally knows how deep my love must have been )and must be) for her because she is experiencing the same love for them. I want her to remember that I was kind and compassionate towards her and other and raised her to be that way too. And, hopefully, she says she’s grateful for the ridiculous amount of photos I took of her. 🙂
One of the biggest challenges of transitioning into motherhood is trying to be the woman my husband knows me as – while feeling like becoming a mom has taken over my entire being and has inevitably changed me so much as a person. People tell you not to let having a baby change who you are, but I will tell you that that is impossible advice. It undoubtedly will shape you into the person you are meant to be even more.
I’ve always felt that my body isn’t the best it could be, like it’s never quite good enough. While learning to love all aspects of my imperfect body is still a work in progress, I am incredibly proud of how well my body carried and developed my daughter during pregnancy. Not only did I feel great physically, but I’ve never felt as beautiful as I did when I was pregnant. I am still astounded by how we, as women, GROW LITTLE HUMANS inside of our bodies! I was never overly amazed by this until I did it myself. Every tiny, perfect little human feature, grows from something microscopic to something we hold in our arms! It’s so amazing, isn’t it? OUR BODIES DO THAT!
Simply put, I will tell my daughter how beautiful she truly is. That the things she dislikes about her body are most likely the same things somebody else loves the most. That her body is capable of more than she can imagine and no matter its shape, size or appearance, it’s her confidence and kindness that ultimately makes her the most beautiful. And: Sunscreen. Because her 30+year old self will thank her for it and it will keep her aging gracefully.
I’ve always loved my body. As an athlete and outdoors-woman for as long as I can remember, I have focused on what my body is capable of and how I can push it even further. Pregnancy and birth definitely pushed it as far as anything, which has only made me love it more! This photo shoot feels like a way to honor this body that has provided so much for me and my family.
I want my children to tell their children that I found balance amongst the chaos! And that I loved them with everything I had.
I became a mother the first time when my partner had our daughter, and the second time when I had our son. The hardest transition with our daughter was knowing how to best help my partner in the ways that she needed as she was breastfeeding and her body was recovering. Second to that, it was exhausting and stressful waiting for my adoption of her to become final and know that she was really mine in the eyes of the law.
When I became a birth mom, the hardest transition was finding enough time for our newborn, our toddler and my partner, not to mention myself. I’m frankly still having a hard time feeling like everyone gets enough, but I try to be my best self each day and give what I can, which seems to work most of the time.
My body grew and continues to nurture a human! It has also allowed me to go on countless adventures because of it’s physical strength.
I already emphasize the great things bodies are capable of – my daughter’s helps her climb to crazy heights, dance with her legs thrown high and give her to the energy to do it all. I hope when she becomes a mom, if she does, her “mom body” only amazes her more than her body has her whole life.
Daughter: Helena, 3
Son: Milo, 1