4th Trimester Bodies Project is a photo series that celebrates mother’s bodies after childbirth. Photographer and mother, Ashlee Wells Jackson is “dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.” Ashlee and her partner Laura Weetzie Wilson have photographed around 450 women within the past year. We were fortunate enough to have interviewed one of those participants, Beth. We are eager to share her inspiring story with you all.
Kolcraft: How did you learn about the 4th trimester body project?
Beth: I heard about the 4th Trimester Body Project through a parenting group that I am a part of.
Kolcraft: What was your first thought about it when you learned more about it?
Beth: When I first heard about it, I was inspired by the courage of the women participating. I was in awe of the women – in awe of their strength to be able to let someone else see them in their underwear!
Kolcraft: What inspired you to be part of it?
Beth: I was inspired to be a part of this project because I had three children whose individual births changed my life and my view of my body in so many different ways. My first child was born at 29 weeks. Prior to his birth, I had planned a natural birth and he was born via emergency c-section. I felt that my body had failed me and I beat myself up a lot about what I was unable to do for him in regards to my pregnancy and blamed myself for a lot of what occurred. I had a “classic” c-section scar (up and down) from my belly button to my pubic area. I viewed my scar as a failure. Failure to not have the birth I wanted, failure to not be able to carry my baby to term and failure to do what my body was supposed to do.
My 2nd pregnancy was sort of like my redemption. I was determined to have the birth that I planned during my first pregnancy. I had a natural VBAC. So many people doubted what I was doing (why do this naturally? You know you don’t get a trophy for doing this without drugs!), but I had to do this for myself and my baby. I also wanted to prove to myself that my body did not in fact fail me. And it didn’t. I was successfully able to birth my 2nd child the way I had planned. It was a cathartic moment for me and my husband.
My 3rd child was also a drug free VBAC. It simply hit home for me that I was a warrior and even though things did not go the way I had planned the first time, my body still grew THREE human beings.
Over the years, I learned to love the body that my children created. Its definitely different from my pre-baby body, but I really wouldn’t change a thing. I breastfed my children for a combined total of 67 months and my breasts are completely different. My stomach is not longer flat, but I have shape and I am healthy and I am happy. My breasts show the nourishment that I provided for almost FIVE AND A HALF YEARS to my babies. I am proud of this body – and I am even proud of that c-section scar. That scar is a sign of strength and had I not had that scar, my son may not have lived.
I felt that sometimes we, as women, beat ourselves up so much about what we can’t do, or how our bodies have changed. I wanted to embrace my new body and celebrate what it COULD do, rather than what it COULDN’T do.
My first two children are boys and my 3rd is a girl. I didn’t really think too much about how I thought about my body and how that would affect my children until I became the mother of a daughter. My world was rocked. I wanted to be sure that she knew that she could embrace her amazing body as well.
Kolcraft: Were you scared? Nervous? Excited?
Beth: I was so extremely nervous. On my way to my photo shoot, I actually questioned if I should be doing this. Once we arrived at the shoot, we sat and spoke with Ashlee for a while. She brought peace to the room and was so passionate about motherhood and bodies, it was hard to not be excited about what we were about to do.
To be continued…!
Look out for the second part of Beth’s interview, we will be posting it next week along with her photo. In the mean time, you can check out the other amazing photo’s on the 4th Trimester Bodies Project website.