We are all in a different part of our journey to #holdbabieslovebodies. Jordan shares about how her her love of motherhood and growing knowledge of what it means to be an interracial family her to #holdbabieslovebodies:
“I have always wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember.”
Haha, there is evidence in a drawing I did in Kindergarten where you had to draw what you wanted to be when you grew up and I drew a picture of me and it said MOM. My mom had 4 girls and it seemed so easy (I was so naive!!). I had no clue the comments she got constantly that we looked nothing like her, or asking if she was the nanny. The reason I bring this up is because I grew up in an interracial household, but never really grasped what that meant, or what that even was. My mom is Caucasian (red hair, fair skin, green eyes), and my dad was Japanese (he sadly passed away in 2015, just 4 days after Ava was born). I am 3rd generation- half Japanese and joke that I am the whitest Asian – I didn’t grow up learning any Japanese culture, my friends all thought of me as white like them, and I am pretty sure I have a soy allergy. I also married a blonde hair, blue eyed man who I have known since 3rd grade (yeah I know this is adorable!).
Growing up as a person of color in a very Caucasian place (Utah) was a challenge. I was teased as a child for various reasons: being Asian, being short, wearing glasses, being small. I have always been pretty petite, and am only 5’1”. Regardless of being naturally pretty small, I did have some body image issues. Several close family members (now estranged) were always very critical, and you got the most compliments the thinner you were. I could definitely see the impact that had on other family members too who have battled with eating disorders and body image issues because of it.
“But I dreamed of what my sweet baby would look like.”
As an adult, I took pride in how my body looked (even though I still had a critical eye for myself) and loved staying fit and eating healthy. But some extra pounds crept on during grad school, and working the night shift as a Nurse Practitioner. Then I got pregnant with my first daughter and gained 50lbs! Despite gaining 50lbs, I loved being pregnant and was just amazed with how there was a tiny human in my body. I embraced my growing belly, but struggled with going from a small B to almost a DD!! It was a lot on my 5’1” frame. But I dreamed of what my sweet baby would look like. Would she have dark hair and eyes like me? Or be blonde haired and blue eyed like my husband? I remember being out with a friend and she was convinced that I would have a redhead. I thought she was crazy! I am only half Japanese, but Asian genes are dominant! Or so I thought!!
Becoming a mom was best day of my life!! Although, to be honest, my labor was not what I had envisioned…my epidural worked until my water broke, and then only my left leg was numb. I ended up basically having a natural childbirth (so thankful to my husband who was the best coach and let me squeeze the life out of his hand for 12 hours!), and didn’t get any numbing while being stitched up (I think I had a second degree tear). But all that pain disappeared the second I saw my baby and felt her warm little body on my chest. I looked down at her with happy tears in my eyes commenting on my beautiful baby, and then the next comment out of my mouth was the surprise that she was blonde! And Actually, she was a redhead!!! I was in awe and think genetics are just amazing.
“Post-partum was a rollercoaster.”
My dad passed away unexpectedly when Ava was 4 days old, and we had to fly across the country for his funeral when she was only one week old. That’s when I got my first judgy question/comment. The first being why would I be flying with such a little baby, followed by, “she is so beautiful, she must look exactly like your husband!”. It usually takes a lot to get me offended, but I was offended. I told them I was flying home for my dad’s funeral, and corrected them that it was my mom’s red hair. (p.s. like anyone chooses to fly with a one- week old baby while they are still swollen, bleeding and wearing a diaper – and I am talking about me in the diaper!!).
The blessing during that time was the fact that my family got to meet Ava sooner, and I know my dad is watching over us.
Although it upset me, I didn’t really think much about the comment of Ava not looking like me, because to me, she did! She has my mouth, and my small nose. I felt like she had my features, but my hubby’s fair skin, and my mom’s hair. I got stopped constantly with people complimenting her red hair and telling me about the redhead that they knew, but then equally was getting comments that she looked nothing like me. I tried not to let it bother me, but the truth is, it did. To me, this was crushing to hear as her mama - I carried her for 40 weeks + 1 day, I labored for 12 hours and birthed her! I now understood how my mom must have felt.
“I started baby wearing pretty early on, and absolutely loved it!”
I felt such a closeness to my sweet babe, and felt like wearing her she could be an extension of me even if she didn’t look exactly like me. It gave me confidence and a feeling that I could protect her from anything. It also helped to hide my post-partum bod that I was struggling to accept.
I lost most of my baby weight pretty early on, and trained for and ran a half marathon when Ava was 10 months old. My breasts eventually returned to a small (and saggier) B cup. My body was so different. It took me a long time to realize that I had diastasis recti (ab separation). I just thought my stomach was so weird after childbirth, it was so saggy in the middle and my belly button was now a huge outie. I struggled to feel positive about my body (literally my husband didn’t see me without a shirt off for over 2 years!), and didn’t really enjoy or appreciate my body again until I got pregnant with Maddie. I felt proud and radiant again, and my funny belly now had another tiny human growing inside. I gained 35 lbs with Maddie, and had a very active 2.5 year old to keep up with.
“My birth experience with Maddie was completely different.”
I was induced, and that was the first time that I had ever been away from Ava overnight. In the hospital, I felt scared and anxious – no reason to have felt this way because everything had been fine, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. My labor was shorter with Maddie, and my epidural mostly worked. I only pushed for 10 minutes vs the hour with Ava. But when Maddie came out, she had the cord wrapped around her neck. Luckily, my doctor moved quickly and just flipped the cord over her head. The few seconds waiting for her to cry was the longest in my life. But she is healthy and really has been the most mellow dream baby. She has slept through the night since 4 months, and nursed well up until 15 months when I had a snafu with my milk supply (note to all the nursing mamas out there, AVOID PEPPERMINT!). I can’t believe my baby recently turned 2! And by the way, she has blonde hair and blue eyes!!!
“Post- partum, I definitely struggled with my body again.”
My funny belly was now even worse (more loose saggy skin, ab separation worse too), and now I have a very honest 4 year old who was quick to point out these flaws. It has also taken way longer to bounce back. Making time to work out seemed impossible (I am a SAHM of 2 babes and also have a small shop!), planning meals for myself seemed daunting (easier to eat leftovers off their plates), but as my weight stayed stagnant at least 20 lbs away from my goal I knew I needed to make some changes. I found a workout class that I love to go to once or twice a week, and I signed up for another half marathon. I found @nancyandersonfitness on Instagram and her programs have really made a difference. I take the time to meal prep for myself so that I am nourishing my body and being a positive role model for my kiddos.
My belly still looks funny, and I am now a very deflated A cup, but I am slowly gaining my body confidence back. I am finally close to my pre-pregnancy (pre Ava) weight and truly feel that without these changes in the past few months, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to participate in a #HoldBabiesLoveBodies photoshoot like this. Also, continuing to babywear Maddie has brought such a closeness. I am so thankful to have come across @hopeandplum and their wonderful community and find the beautiful world of ring slings. Maddie loves to be worn, and even still will come up to me and say “wear you!” and bring me her favorite sling.
“I still get comments that my daughters don’t look like me.”
It still hurts, and I am even more cognizant of the potential connotations behind those comments in todays climate. But I want them to know that even though they don’t look exactly like me, they have my features, characteristics and temperament. Genes are amazing and my babes have a pretty equal blend of me and my husband. They are undeniably my daughters and that overpowers any comment that someone can say. I also have accepted that my body will never be what it used to be, but am grateful for the ability to have carried and birthed 2 amazing daughters. It is so important to me that my daughters grow up with body positivity. They are beautiful and confident even at their young ages and I never want them to ever feel anything less than that. I will continue to set an example for them, and not hide.