How Participating in The 4th Trimester Bodies Project impacted my motherhood journey, part 2

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We are a few days away from The 4th Trimester Bodies Project coming to The Womb Room MKE on 4/21/19 and I am so freaking excited! I wrote about participating in the project with my sons (here) but I also participated a second time after having my youngest . At the time of my original shoot we were in the midst of a lot of changes. I was becoming a stay at home mom, we were finishing up our adoption, we were considering moving cross country because we felt like running the away. The second time around I wanted to show people that it was possible to seek out alternative options, that history didn’t have to repeat itself.

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At the time of the first shoot I had just put in my two weeks' notice at work, we were taking a financial risk of having us both stay home for a short period so I could get my mental health in a better spot. We figured how would we ever get to retirement if we couldn’t survive early parenthood. At 18 months postpartum I was just realizing that I was coming out of an extreme bout of postpartum depression and anxiety that went completely untreated.

After two months of staying home life was starting to settle into a nice routine and my mental health was rebounding. We finalized Sam’s adoption on May 5th, 2014 and it was one of the best days of our lives. Everything felt like it was looking up, we no longer wanted to run away and move cross country and then BOOM! A positive pregnancy test.

I started panicking, I knew I didn’t want to experience anything I had just gone through after having Harper. I didn’t know what to do but I turned to the community of 4th Tri alum (and have continued to do so whenever shit hits the fan, which is a lot because parenthood is full of it). I read some of their stories about having healing births with midwives in out of hospital settings. It felt like that might be right for me so I started googling and looked into our local out of hospital birthing options in Milwaukee. We found a birthing center that I felt calm in, the midwives there were really supportive and compassionate when I told them about my previous experiences.

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My pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum with Penelope was really healing because I was much more prepared. I had supportive providers, I had control over my options, I had more connections and resources to fall back on if and when things went wrong. Which is why I didn’t panic when I needed to find help with tongue and lip ties or panic at 8 months postpartum when my postpartum depression and anxiety popped back up. We nursed through her revision, my over-supply and forceful letdowns, and a short period of anti-depressants to get through the peak of my PPD/PPA. Our nursing relationship lasted for two years!

My experiences were like night and day. I went from feeling lost and unsupported to knowing that there was a community for me to fall back on both digitally and locally was crucial. We aren’t supposed to do any of this alone (or in pairs), We are supposed to have somebody supporting us and encouraging us to find our voices and use them to advocate for ourselves and our children. All of this motivated me to explore doula work. I wanted to help families have positive, empowered transitions into parenthood.

PS- I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ll participate again since I’ve been promoting this event and the answer is a solid HELL YES because my story isn’t over!

Heather Nischke