It has been such an honour to watch Lourdes and Luna’s relationship flourish over the past 8 months. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them on FOUR different occasions for the Missing Frame Series pop ups alongside their Mellow Baby classes. I’ve included a ton of images in this post of sweet Luna in her mother’s arms. Thank you both for being a shining light on the project and allowing me to share your beautiful story. You’ve inspired me more than I can put into words. xo
I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I had just arrived back home from an intense work trip and thought my period was late because of it. When my husband told me he had accidentally dropped a pregnancy test (that we had bought months ago) into the toilet, I didn’t pay it much attention. As I was using the washroom the next day, however, I saw the pregnancy test in the empty garbage bin and thought, “Oh well, if it’s going to be garbage, I might as well just use it!”. You can imagine my surprise when I saw a very unexpected ‘+’ staring back at me. At that moment, I had all the feels.
Fast forward 9 eventful months later. My beautiful daughter was born by emergency C-section after 28 hours of induced labour. Tim, my wonderful husband, held her in his arms first and then brought her to me. I saw my tiny baby for the first time and I had an urge to sing “you are my sunshine”, although I only got to half the song because I was overcome by tears. When I recovered, I remember holding my delicate, yet strong, baby in my arms and feeling my heart full of love, fully realizing in that moment that my life had changed forever.
My breastfeeding journey was unexpectedly challenging. My milk would not come in and I can still recall the physical and emotional pain of those days: slavishly pumping every two hours around the clock, feeling like my body was no longer my own. I’m all about public breastfeeding, but I wasn’t comfortable with showing off my body just like that in front of others, and overcoming that feeling took me some time and effort. In the end, I still wasn’t producing enough milk and I felt like I was failing my daughter and all the people around me who kept telling me “breast is best!”. I managed to make my peace with the fact that I had low milk production and we started supplementing my breast milk with formula. It was such a wonderful feeling to not have all that stress on me and to be able to feed my baby until she had a full belly. That’s when I learned that fed is best: you need to do what works for your baby, for your family, and for yourself. Later in my motherhood journey, I learned my iron and vitamin B levels were extremely low, so no matter how much I tried, my body wasn’t going to be able to produce enough milk for my baby.
When Luna was about 6 months, postpartum depression (PPD) hit me. I noticed something wasn’t right when I started feeling angry and resentful all the time; I was no longer able to enjoy the day-to-day. In those of depression, frustration, and anger, I felt I was becoming someone I promised myself I would never be, and my heart was breaking from it. I reached out to my doctor, who connected me to an organization dedicated to helping groups of moms that were going through the same situation. In my group, I learned that women who have experienced trauma, a difficult birth, and have experienced difficulty breastfeeding, are more prone to PPD. I have only love, admiration, and gratitude, for those women who provided me with a safe space to share, express, relieve, and ultimately heal. I remember one of them saying something that left me deeply touched: “I thought I was weak for struggling with PPD, but I have come to realize that this experience, my journey, has only made me stronger and a better mother for my daughter”.
When you experience PPD you feel like part of your time with your baby was taken away from you. There is guilt and there is grief. Sometimes, when I have my depression lens on, I tend to think that I wasn’t a good mother to Luna while struggling with all of this. That’s why these pictures are so precious to me: looking back at them, I’m reminded that even when we were going through a difficult time, my baby was happy and she was loved. Through them, I see how I evolved from my shyness as I was trying to figure out life with a newborn to my strength as I am about to become the mom of a one year-old baby. Overall, what I value the most about these pictures is that I see a connection and endless love between a mother and her daughter.
My baby has made me a new woman. She gifted me with the opportunity to become a better version of myself, and for that, I am humbled and deeply grateful.
PLEASE LEAVE Lourdes COMMENTS FOR THE COURAGE
SHE’S TAKEN IN SHARING HER STORY.
Irina Fortey is an Ottawa and Toronto Documentary Photographer.
Capturing your everyday in the most beautiful way, candidly and unscripted.