Her story: "This project was born out of a general experience, but also of the very personal and difficult story of myself," Jackson, the project's founder, tells The Bump. "It didn't feel right to ask other women to share something so bold and brave and beautiful without doing it myeslf."
Ashlee gave birth to her first son, Xavier, at 28 weeks, forced to abandon her homebirth plan for a 36-minute hospital birth. After 46 days in the NICU, Xavier came home healthy and breastfed through age 3.
The second time around, Ashlee learned she was expecting twins on the morning of her wedding. But her joy was cut short two weeks later when her girls were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). The babies were delivered via emergency c-section at 24 weeks.
Ultimately, Ashlee lost her daugther Aurora. Her other daughter, Nova, spent 100 days in NICU, and underwent two brain surgeries. Five months after Nova came home, Ashlee launched the 4th Trimester Bodies Project.
Her story: Aimee has PCOS and experienced endometriosis, and was told she'd never get pregnant without hormone therapy. But after a few weeks of not feeling well, she learned she was 9 weeks along. She had trouble gaining weight during pregnancy (only 15 pounds total) but had a healthy delivery.
Her story: Amber worries about “bouncing back” after baby because of her job in the Air Force. She says she weighs less than she did pre-pregnancy, but that her body is “different.” Still, she says she wears her stretch marks proudly.
Her story: Carolyn didn't think she'd be able to conceive quickly because of her weight. And when she did, she came to her doctor with a list of all the risk factors she thought she'd face. But her fears were unfounded; her pregnany with Violet was smooth, along with her vaginal delivery.
Her story: As a preemie herself and a NICU nurse, Catherine was determined to have full-term babies. Her first son, Taylor, was born at 37 weeks and needed to be transfered to the NICU. But after seeking out a birthing center and midwives, her second baby, Andrew, was born healthy at 39 weeks.
Her story: After four pregnancies, Davie's experiencies run the gamut. She was a teenager when her first son was born. Not knowing her options, she had an epidural and vaginal birth. After a placental abruption, her second baby was born via emergency c-section. He was born very sick, and taken off life support at 4 days old. Baby no. 3? Another c-section. But her fourth, a girl, was born in an incredible two-push VBAC delivery.
Her story: Even though Jennifer's OB was the doctor she'd been seeing since age 17, she found her birthing experience and unwanted c-section traumatizing. Now, thanks to breastfeeding, she says she has a great relationship with baby Cara.
Her story: After an induction that needed two and a half days to take, Julia had the vaginal birth she'd hoped for. But she didn't initially have the breastfeeding experience she'd hoped for. A support group was able to change that.
Her story: Kim lost her eldest, Emma, to SIDS at 8 months old. Her four subsequent pregnancies were smooth homebirths. Then Zachary, pictured, came along. He wasn't breathing; a midwife had to perform CPR for 9 minutes to resuscitate him. Now, he's alive and well (and adorable).
Her story: Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness) forced Kym to stop working at 11 weeks. She spent most of her pregnancy on bed rest. She and Wesley struggled with breastfeeding, but stuck with it until they both had it down.
Her story: After a difficult upbringing, Sara swore she'd never be a mom. And it seemed hormone problems were going to prevent that anyway. Then, a surprise pregnancy. She says Roman has completely changed her, and taught her how to show emotion, love and cry.
Her story: Whitney chose a natural waterbirth. While she said she’d never do it all over again, she also thinks that she probably will.
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