Happy Mother's Day!
You are probably just as surprised to see this portrait as I was to take it. Not only because I kept my pregnancy very under the radar, but also because "bare all" is not my usual style. That's actually why I've chosen to share this intimate moment and the story of how I got there in celebration of my first Mother’s Day as a new mom.
I'm thrilled to report that I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy at the beginning of March this year. Many were unaware of this fact because my husband and I made a conscious decision to keep the pregnancy private for a few reasons. To us, pregnancy felt like a naturally concealed process. You know your baby is growing inside you, but you can't really see exactly what's happening. We took that as a cue from the universe to respect the mystery and secrecy innate in pregnancy, and for that reason I chose to be very private during this time of my life. While this was mostly for the sake of the baby, it also suited me just fine as I found myself feeling incredibly vulnerable, shy, and self-conscious during my pregnancy.
As a designer and a creative, I've always understood and organized my life through aesthetics. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it's given me the drive to create and share beauty with the world, but on a personal level, it can become a challenge when things fail to comply with my sense of what should be, aesthetically speaking. The latter was the case when it came to my sense of self throughout my pregnancy.
For as long as I can remember, I had idealized the pregnant body. When I would imagine my own pregnancy, I had planned on a wardrobe of baby doll dresses and low-stacked Mary-Janes à la Mia Farrow in Rosemary's baby (before the possession, of course). I thought my frame would stay just the same, with the addition of a cute bump to dress. Well, was I in for a rude awakening when my body did the complete opposite. Instead of a growing a sweet little bump, everywhere else seemed to just gradually thicken and expand. Few could even tell that I was pregnant until I was into my third trimester, but a lot of people probably thought I must be overdoing it on the carbs. I felt like a frumpy version of my former self, a far cry from the glowing pregnant goddess I had hoped to be.
I spent nine months feeling this way, until at thirty-eight weeks my pregnant belly finally popped! Up until this time, I had literally not taken a single photo of myself. Now that I finally looked more like I thought I should, I found myself warming up to the idea and feeling a little more cheerful about my maternal glow.
The universe has an amazing way of speaking to us, and just two days before my due date I went to a friend's birthday party and ended up being seated next to Demi Moore! I had never met Demi before, but she had been on my mind that whole week as the ultimate pioneer and icon of the pregnant portrait. She spotted my ready-to-pop belly and with great conviction told me not to let the moment pass or I would regret it forever. So I decided this coincidence was too great to ignore and the next day I invited my friend Hellin over to shoot these candid portraits.
It took me forty weeks to finally embrace the beauty and joy of pregnancy. If I had only known what happiness was waiting for me on the other side of birth, I think I would have fared much better along the way. Alas, that's the thing about the unknown- you just can't know until you get there. While I'm now only at the beginning of my journey into motherhood, I'm delighted to say that I've never been happier or felt my heart more open than I do holding my baby in my arms. It's truly the greatest gift. I wish that on this Mother's Day all women and mothers everywhere receive the love and appreciation they so deserve and more importantly, love and appreciate themselves.
With love and appreciation,
Photos by Hellin Kay @hellinkay