Two and a half years ago I was pregnant with my first baby, a boy, and in the sweltering Texas July heat was NOT a happy camper. I was huge (I had gained 40 pounds thanks to an inordinate amount of ice cream) and felt like a whale waddling on land. In fact, this is me on my actual due date, which was the day before I was induced.
The only reason I’m smiling is because my mother, who had just gotten in town from Phoenix, made me smile. It was my husband’s and my second anniversary and all I could think about was that tomorrow I wouldn’t be carrying a watermelon around in my abdomen (and that we were finally going to get to meet our son, I’m not totally callus ;). From the very beginning of my pregnancy, I hated how I looked-the veins, the swelling, the stretch marks and everything else that goes with being pregnant. It’s no surprise that when approached about taking maternity photos the answer was a definite NO.
Fast forward the clock to now. Here I am, pregnant with our second little boy and although I am much more appreciative of the miracle of which I am a part, I am still not happy with the changes in my body. I’ve already gained 30 pounds in a little over 30 weeks and although I am not fond of how I look, I knew I wanted professional maternity photos done. Why? Because I seriously regret not documenting my first pregnancy more than I did. I want to remember that although pregnancy isn’t easy (especially when you’re almost 40), it’s an amazing time. I want to remember what it was like when it was just three of us, I want to remember that the uncomfortable things in life can bring us the greatest joy. Overall, I just want to remember. I believe our photos will provide all of that.
For me, choosing a photographer was quite simple; I had seen Tamara of RTC PhotoWork’s portfolio and loved it, plus she is such an amazing person overall. We’ve gotten together a couple of times to discuss what I want and I asked her if she would be interested in writing a guest post for me about the importance of maternity photography and what to expect from a photographer. She graciously agreed to do a two part series; today is the first installment.
TAKE IT AWAY TAMARA!
I firmly believe that there are times in our lives we should document regardless of how we feel about our bodies. Pregnancy is by far one of those precious times. Hormones running a muck, growing waistlines, an otherwise bizarre body shape, and an insecure body image amidst the changes which are our excuses for avoiding cameras during pregnancy are the very reasons we need to get in front of cameras.
I will admit that I did not have maternity photos created when I was pregnant with Tristan. I didn’t love my body, but deep down my real reason for not taking up offers for maternity sessions came down to one thing: celebration. I didn’t feel like celebrating my pregnancy at the time, and I knew that would show in the photos. That lack of celebration for me was why I wasn’t so welcoming of the body changes. It’s that celebratory attitude that gets lost when we focus on stretch marks, inches, and pounds.
Maternity photos are not just about a bump. They are not something we do just for our children to look back on. They are a way for us to celebrate the baby we’re about to meet, to celebrate our current partner or family, and to celebrate the strength of our bodies. That baby bump is beautiful. As women, we need to take back our bodies and take back celebrating what we are capable of. Think of all the things going on inside that space in your body. You’ve grown a brand new organ and a person! All those extra pounds you’re worrying about are extra blood and fluids to nourish and protect your baby, a brand new organ which filters what goes to and from him; we’re not talking about too much pie or Cheetos, ladies. That line running down from your middle is proof of hormones which tell your body how to grow your child for 40 weeks! There is such power in that, in us!
I get it, I really do. Our society prizes a certain standard, and we cling to that standard because it’s what we know. Perhaps you feel your identity slipping away with the body you used to recognize. All these things make it hard to see past the practical uses for the changes and to feel empowered. It’s definitely a choice we have to make. As someone in front of and behind the camera a lot, I can say that stepping in front of the camera can be where we start to take our power and celebration back. Those moments in front of the lens can be you standing up to the world (particularly yourself) and saying, “There is nothing wrong with my body, and I am excited about what the changes will bring!” It’s okay if you don’t feel all “I am woman, hear me roar” in the moment, but I guarantee you will feel like you reclaimed your body and new identity at least a little bit. Then, when you see the beautiful photos created, you will see that what you criticize in the mirror isn’t so bad after all. Sometimes we have to change what we’re doing before our thinking follows suit. Perhaps you will be reminded that what you’re documenting isn’t this physical metamorphosis. What you’re documenting is a life created and a life changed. (Please, let that sink in…)
So how did you document your pregnancy? Moms, did you have professional maternity pictures taken? Soon-to-be moms, are you planning a session (or have you already had one done)? Did how you feel about your body make an impact on that decision?
Join us tomorrow for the second installment of this series, which will give you hints on how to select a photographer, what to expect from your session and more!
If you or someone you know is expecting or just delivered, contact me using the contact form. Photos and written content provided by Tamara Curry are copyright to RTC PhotoWork and are posted on the Mommy Moxie blog with permission. None of these photos are to be printed or posted anywhere, whether in part or in whole, unless given the express permission of RTC PhotoWork. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission if you would like to repost any images or content.