I had my naked postpartum body photographed.
Does that sound like some sort of nightmare to you? Cruel torture? I’m here to tell you, ladies, that it was anything but that! It was celebratory and invigorating. I follow 4th Trimester Bodies Project on Instagram and was compelled to have my own photos taken.
In the summer of 2016, two years after the birth of our daughter we got the less-than-1%-chance-surprise of a lifetime – TWINS! And while I have loved being pregnant and am some sort of pariah with clear skin, hair that doesn’t get greasy and increased self-confidence, it takes a huge toll on me physically. Sciatic nerve pain, constant whole-body aching, all-day sickness moving into complete exhaustion. At the end of it I could barely make my own lunch let alone care for my daughter or be a stellar employee. I needed constant help. Not to mention I spent my entire pregnancy fighting off other people’s negativity, like “Oh twins?! (scoff) Good luck!” or “Twin BOYS?! You’re in for it!” Pregnancy for me is hard and this time it was even more demanding. I needed to put the blinders on and focus inwardly, pray and muster strength all day, every day for 38 weeks.
Because of this, after the boys’ birth, I was caught vulnerable and triumphant somewhere between a war-torn soldier and marathon finisher. For better or worse, I EARNED this body. I worked really hard for it with good nutrition, over 100 ounces of water a day, dozens upon dozens of doctor, specialist, and chiropractor appointments, and taking my mental health seriously, not letting the outside world steal my peace. And look at the payoff!! These beautiful miracle babies.
I decided I wanted some fourth-trimester photos. I only have one “raw” photo of me and my daughter after her birth. One solitary moment encapsulating twenty-two hours of unmedicated labor and natural birth with an occiput posterior positioned baby. I regret not having more evidence of the physical and mental strength it took to get her here in the manner I had carefully prayed and prepared.
Taking these photos wasn’t easy and I almost backed out several times. Thoughts ran through my head like had the moment passed? Is this irresponsible; spending money on photos while I’m on unpaid leave, photos no one will see but me? Photos that I was convinced would be horrible, not because my photographer is terrible but because the subject matter is significantly less than society’s standards of beauty and attractiveness?
Maybe one day I’ll explore skin removal surgery. I have to start doing something about this diastasis recti soon. But I decided that for right now, we had to capture this goddess temple in its fleeting sacred time and space.
These photos were the perfect bookend to my twin birth experience. I am so glad to have taken them. And you know what? I’m having one framed to hang up in my bedroom, right after I throw out that box labeled “Skinny Clothes” because I am no longer letting them steal my inner peace either.
Mommas, what has made you feel beautiful and brave after the birth of your children?