Nurture Mama

When the Unexpected Becomes the Best Yet


Written by Johanna Butler

When mom and dad are sick for most of October and mom finally crawls out of bed the day before Halloween to buy $4 sheets at Goodwill, then digs up two wine corks (like that was hard to do) and cuts up some old sweats—what do you get?

Maybe one of our best Halloweens yet.

Originally, my daughter wanted to be a rattlesnake, my oldest son a snow leopard, and my youngest son a lion. I did manage to make it to the fabric store and purchase ridiculously expensive material with the best intentions, but my husband and I just didn’t have the energy to create three costumes. When I told the kids, my youngest was the first to resign himself to this cold, hard reality and sighed, “Ok, fine, Mom. I’ll be Frankenstein.” And the monster theme was born! So, five o’clock Halloween evening my husband and I ripped, tore, tied, and cut up sheets and colored corks with black sharpies while feasting on delivery pizza.

We were reminded of a very valuable lesson: sometimes you gotta keep it simple and cheap. Because it is not about the costumes. It’s about the CANDY! And you can wear a garbage bag and still go trick-or-treating, right? So, here’s to improvising and big buckets of chocolate.

We hope you all had a very happy Halloween—we did!

My youngest: Frankenstein; oldest: mummy; my daughter: ghost (and her own makeup artist).

 Parenthood, the Brilliant with the Sacrifice


Crazy MomentsWritten by Elizabeth R.

I don’t see enough written about how hard motherhood really is. I see blogs full of witty lists, short and easy to digest on the fly. But nothing about how truly it can break you down, how your former self, can feel so far gone.

Sometimes, when it’s particularly bad, I sense my own flood gates close, one by one. It’s a disconnecting process, a place I go to survive when my sensitive, needy toddler screams and cries at the slightest challenge. And then, of course, my baby starts to cry. A little piece of me dies.

Sometimes I can peek out from the battened down hatches and try to send love and patience his way. But do you know how hard that is after an entire day of doing it? I run out of reserves. Though my tone can get really stern, I use my feeling words: “I am starting to get frustrated, I am now frustrated. I see you are frustrated too. You really wanted to pile all your stuffed animals on top of your brother.”

On one occasion, after an impromptu dinner party, I returned home with two screaming children. The party was too stimulating for my toddler. He asked that I stay by his side constantly. I ended up eating in a play room on the floor. I hardly spoke to any adults. So many of the other kids were older. I wanted to say “People, don’t you remember how hard this is? Reach out and help a lady!” But I chilled myself out with, “Well, at least I’m sitting on a different floor, in a different space, even if I’m doing what I would have done at home.”

Sometimes I tell myself that I chose this, so what right do I have to complain. We are healthy, we have a home and food.

One friend offered comfort, reminding me that she remembered how insane she used to feel. Her words helped relieve my sense of guilt and self-numbing. “It’s so freaking hard and don’t let anyone make you feel crazy for thinking so!”

So I offer you my compassion as you parent; forge on, acknowledging the crazy moments and celebrating the glorious ones. That’s parenthood, the brilliant with the sacrifice. And may our children thank us one day when they, too, feel the burden.


Embracing your 4th Trimester Body

Blog picture Body Positivity

Photo by The 4th Trimester Bodies Project, Written By Amy Pence-Brown

I recently did something pretty brave. I stood downtown Boise with a sign and markers, stripped down to my black bikini, and blindfolded myself as a fat woman promoting self-love. You may be one of the over 129 million people who saw a video of the moment that has gone significantly viral on the internet, seen me on CNN, or read about me in USA Today. My body positivity comes from a lot of places – how I grew up, my stellar academic training, my voracious reading appetite, and being a mom.

When you get pregnant, your body begins to change in extraordinary ways. Your heart, your belly, and your hips grow miraculously during those forty-ish weeks of creating and nurturing a baby. It’s harder to fathom how that body continues to change and morph after delivering your sweet child, though. You bleed for weeks/months, it hurts to sit on a chair, your boobs are gigantic, your nipples crack, your hair starts falling out, you cry at the slightest thing, you never knew exhaustion like this before. Sometimes you look at yourself in the mirror and do not recognize this love-struck but tired mother. Months go by, and you don’t feel ‘bounced back’ like you expected/heard about. You feel completely different and, surprisingly, maybe, you look completely different. That can be hard to take.

Enter the 4th Trimester Bodies Project.  Young mom Ashlee Wells Jackson was a boudoir/pin up photographer in Chicago when she got pregnant with twin daughters, losing one to a medical condition. That traumatic experience left her scarred, both emotionally and physically. In her boudoir work, she sees women who don’t like their bodies as they are and often request of her, the photographer, to smooth things over and cut imperfections out of the resulting photographs. She told the Huffington Post in an article in 2013, “I see beautiful, inspiring, real women on a daily basis who struggle with their body image because they don’t feel they measure up with who the media tells them to be. I feel like this is even more poignant in mothers who often feel like their bodies have been ruined when they should instead be respected for creating, sustaining and nourishing life. So much more needs to be done in our society to embrace body positivity and normalize breastfeeding. … So, I started with my story and it has exploded into a beautiful thing from there.”

Ashlee and her business partner, Laura, started photographing mothers in simple black bras and panties with their babies, children of all ages. They loosely define the term ‘4th trimester’ as any period in your life of motherhood after your child(ren) are born. This photo documentary project celebrates the way our bodies change – from scars to loose skin to stretchmarks to breastfeeding. While they typically shoot in Chicago, the women have travelled doing photo shoots internationally and have a forthcoming book. I can’t recommend checking out their website, gallery and Facebook page enough. The more diverse types of bodies we see and the more normalized images of motherhood are in the media, the more beautiful our postpartum bodies will become in our own eyes.


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