I will never forget being in the delivery room with a fresh baby on my chest, my husband pointing the camera at us to take our very first photos as a family, and suddenly realizing in a panic, No! I have mascara all over my face! In subsequent months the thoughts would change, but the feelings were the same: Don’t get my breast pad in the shot! Or, I’m feeling really chubby right now, I’ll just set the baby down and not be in the shot, all right with you?
My name is Natalie, and this is what I look like as a mom.
I have photos of myself saved from when I was a baby, when I was a kid, when I was a teen, when I was a newlywed. I have photos of myself saved from when I was struggling with infertility. All of these photos have felt crucial to me somehow, a visual representation of my own history I suppose, but now as a Mom I’m aware that I have another’s history to consider: my child’s. It seems even more important now to record who I am, in this moment, exactly as I appear, for his future babies. For their baby’s babies.
There’s not another time in life more foreign, uncomfortable, or strange than when we are wearing our brand new motherhood. Our bodies are odd versions of themselves gone rogue, our hair is sometimes falling out by the fistful, our chests swollen to unrecognizable sizes. The bags under our eyes threaten to inhale our entire faces, but this more than any is the time for us to preserve. This is the time to smile proudly and promise to be kind to the images afterward. Remove ourselves from that delete key by force if necessary! Because the honest truth is this: There is not another time in our lives where we will be as beautiful. We may not see it. But our babies and grandbabies will. I guarantee it.