Each have a powerful story to tell.
We assume a lot about people, and especially about their bodies. Maybe it somehow seems more reasonable to make assumptions about the things we can see.
We make assumptions about people based on race, religion, sex and gender. We assume that if someone is fat, they must be unhealthy. If they are thin, they must be healthy. If they don’t have any children, they must not want any. If they have 19 children, they must be stupid. If they are a parent who stays home, they love their children. If they are a parent with a career, they must be selfish.
I’m sharing some bellies. Several. You know nothing of these bellies, or the heads attached to them (unless one of them is yours, and if that is the case, thank you!). These women are my friends, my village, and they are willing to share their stories with you so that you may honour them.
This belly belongs to my friend Val. She has two beautiful baby girls. Her first baby was born without complication. Her second pregnancy was normal, but her birth was not. Val hemorrhaged and underwent an emergency hysterectomy. She nearly lost her life due to severe blood loss. Val is alive. And she is living with a tangible reminder of her experience, and the truth that she won't birth any more babies. I am grateful to Val for sharing her story and allowing me to share it. She is a kind and gentle soul, and strong as nails.
Val's belly is part of her story.
This belly belongs to Keli. Keli has three babies. Keli's first daughter was born perfectly healthy at term. At 35 weeks into her second pregnancy, Keli experienced a placental abruption. Her daughter was delivered by emergency C-section and is very healthy. Keli's third baby, a beautiful boy, was born via C-section at 39 weeks due to polyhydramnios. Keli fought hard through her fears around birth. And she won. Keli is a runner, a mum of a child with epilepsy and one of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Keli's belly is part of her story.
This belly belongs to Kina. Kina has had two pregnancies. Before she became pregnant, she was diagnosed with an ovarian teratoma. She had surgery to remove it and found it weighed 9 pounds -- that's more than most babies! This left Kina with an asymmetrical abdomen. She went on to carry her twins full-term. Forty weeks! Twins! And then she delivered those beautiful babies vaginally. She is a wonderful mother, not afraid to fight for her babies. She is an advocate and an activist and I am honoured to know her.
Kina's belly is part of her story.
This belly belongs to my friend, Kat. Kat and I went to high school together. When Kat was 23, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS. She was experiencing severe menstrual bleeding. Not long after, Kat was diagnosed with both endometrial and uterine cancer. Twenty-four hours after her diagnosis, she underwent a full hysterectomy. And after her hysterectomy, Kat developed breast cancer. TWICE. She is a fucking warrior. I love and admire her deeply.
Kat's belly is part of her story.
This belly belongs to my friend Jenny. She battled infertility for 18 months and experienced two miscarriages. She was thrilled to find she had conceived triplets! At her second ultrasound, she was told that Baby C wasn't viable. And then a week later, at a follow-up ultrasound, Baby C was seen again. ALIVE (baby ninja!). Jenny's babies were born prematurely at 28 weeks. Now, they are healthy, thriving, awesome 4-year-olds. Jenny is a smart lady, a bibliophile and an amazing mum.