Nicky’s husband emailed me about setting up a breastfeeding session for his wife. Immediately I knew this is something truly special that I wanted to be a part of. There was so much love from him and he knew this is something that Nicky really wanted to do. Nicky and I set up a phone call and I instantly knew that we were going to capture some incredible moments between her and Noelle.
I asked Nicky if she would be comfortable sharing why this session meant so much to her.
“When preparing for our daughters arrival, my greatest wish was to breastfeed her. Through my pregnancy we thought we prepared ourselves for everything thinking labor would be the hardest thing we would ever do. But that proved to be untrue. A year battling with postpartum depression and anxiety (mostly the latter), I would have never imagined myself in this place. I thought I was doing "right" by preparing an unmedicated birth with alternatives to our Holistic lifestyle and now our daughter's health. My birth went according to plan and was amazing. Many would say perfect...so why did I get PPD/PPA? The days following no one could have prepared me for. I would cry and cry not understanding why or what I was feeling. Better known as the "baby blues". This was so confusing. I wanted her, I wanted to be with her, that was certain. I was scared of being away from her.
For months we had highs and lows. I struggled with anxiety of not being good enough, not giving her enough attention. Thoughts about socializing her more, feeding her or is she getting enough milk constantly ran through my mind. I felt incapable but not because I didn't love her. All I wanted was to be a good mother to her. I worried I was failing her. It was clear, however that she was thriving. What I am doing must be working, I would think. In those moments I would feel so uplifted! When she would smile and giggle because of me, I felt on top of the world. As I updated everyone on her monthly milestones, I would also write about how I am doing in my journey as a new mom.
Here we are 13 months postpartum and I still struggle with anxiety. I am still processing this transition. I'm not sure if we grow out of it because it is ever changing as our child grows. Many women don't open up about these struggles, but I felt I wanted to be transparent. To tell the world. As a woman, as a mother, we put so much stress on ourselves and this unrealistic expectation to attain perfection. I've been blessed to have found my tribe to help build me up and be a constant reminder of my strength. I have a very dear friend who I started Art Therapy with and this truly has opened my eyes to the answers within myself. We are working through my struggles. I've learned through the process to slow down, to breathe, to take a sip of water. I’ve learned to go outside and feel the grass between my toes and the sun on my skin. Also, to hear the birds, and the wind blowing through the leaves. I'm constantly practicing to stay grounded and focus on what is right in front of me. Step by step, day by day.
I wanted to celebrate all that we had persevered through. We have made it to the one year mark with plans on continuing our breast-feeding journey!
I thought what better way to celebrate this milestone than documenting it!
I have been a long-time admirer of Shannon‘s work and when I told my husband this he surprised me with the dress and the photo session for Christmas. He insisted we have our photo session done with her and contacted her right away. I am so glad he did! I normally wouldn’t invest in photos of myself but the idea of showing my daughter how much she means to me and how much we have accomplished through these images is priceless.
Working with Shannon was wonderful! She is so sweet, funny and proficient at her craft. I love that she shot our session on film! It has such an artistry to it. These images are so dear to our hearts; they won’t just sit on our computer...we will have them printed for our walls to look at every day. A constant reminder that women are strong and beautiful. That I am capable, I can prevail and this too shall pass."
It’s so important to remember that every mother’s story is different. There are some women who never have the chance to breastfeed or choose not to. Everyone’s journey is their own and my job was to capture Nicky’s, that gorgeous morning.