Motherhood: Unfiltered ~ Nancy

In an age where social media and technology provide us with constant opportunities to take and retake photos, add filters, edit flaws and present an often unrealistic image of ourselves and our lives as mothers, we set out to create a series of real-life motherhood moments – without the filters, without the edits, but with all the beauty.

This is Nancy.

YouTube link

In her words:

Like many women and couples, we had trouble starting a family. Our first pregnancy miscarried, but we tried to stay positive by saying, “at least we can get pregnant and will try again”. A few months later, we were pregnant again. At 18 weeks along, we started learning about our baby’s health complications. We had accidentally been told her gender, but that was ok, because now we knew who we were rooting for – our daughter. Through countless ultrasounds and genetic testing, we knew everything we could about her. At 24 weeks, more testing concluded that her life, if she made it to birth, would be more than challenging. We made the most difficult decision of our lives to terminate our much wanted and much loved pregnancy. I hated that word, terminated.

We would try again, but my grief invaded every part of my being. There was not an ounce of happiness to be found in this body. Looking back at all of the acupuncture, herbal tea concoctions, fertility books…How could I have possibly expected myself to conceive again without feeling any joy in my heart or in my soul?14 months later, we were pregnant again. Then, almost expected, another miscarriage.

Our next step was IVF and we lucked out. Not only did it work on the first attempt, but we got a two-for-one deal. Our twin girls were born in 2013, five years after we first started trying to get pregnant. I was 44 years old when they were born. I will say that as much as I can’t imagine my life without our girls, I still live with grief, I think of her everyday. No one can replace a loss. But there can be happiness again.

Loss teaches us so much if you let it. For me, it has allowed me to parent with appreciation. I appreciate everything about my kids – who they are, who they are learning to be, all of their toddler craziness. Even during the trying moments, something inside of me glows with appreciation. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be driven up the wall by a couple of toddlers. My husband travels a lot for work and we are fortunate that my mom visits often from Victoria to help out. I am thankful for the help and the company, but I am also so happy that my girls get another strong female influence in their lives. We are a small tribe of 3 generations, growing together.

So, there you have it…I am an older mom who suffered through miscarriages and a termination, who embrace the wonders of fertility treatment and was blessed with multiples (insert mic drop here!). The reason I would like to participate in this project is mainly because fertility issues and pregnancy losses are so very isolating. No one wants to talk about them. I am trying to be more open about it myself. And if my story could shed some hope on someone else or show another mom to be that she is not alone in her struggles then I would love to opportunity to do that for someone.

What is your biggest challenge or concern as a mother?
I am very fortunate for all of the help I have had as a mom – my husband, my parents and my in-laws can truly step in and cover for me and the girls don’t miss a beat in their little worlds. But having twins as your first go around as a parent is a little like being thrown into the deep end. ‘Mama’ is definitely in high demand and the first year is tough. Carving out guilt free time for myself has been a challenge. With all of the above mentioned help, the opportunities to take some time for myself have been there for me. The challenge, and subsequent learning process, has been recognizing that ‘me time’ is a requirement for being a good mom.
How has your experience as a mother shaped the way you experience the world and/or shaped your life?
Being a mother has shaped the way I view the world by making me more aware of how global occurances effect our lives. How do they effect my family, and not just myself? With so many negative headlines it is easy to want to turn inwards and keep us safe in our own little community. At the same time though, I want to lead my kids by example and show them what it means to be inclusive, active citizens.
What makes you a good mother?
Ultimately, I want my kids to be happy. This is the basis for everything I do for them and expect from them. If you were to re-word the previous question to, “how have your experiences in life shaped your experience as a mother?”, the answer would explain who I am as a mother. Having kids at 44 meant that I had already lived a pretty full life. I had travelled, had many adventures, worked a variety of jobs, operated my own business, and experienced my share of successes and failures. I get to bring all of that to my skills as a parent. And as a parent, I am still learning from my successes and failures!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
As this is the Good Mother Project, my answers have been in the singular, I, response. However, at times, this felt awkward as I am so fortunate to be part of a team with my husband. I am truly the mother I am because of my partnership with him.
To view a selection of Motherhood: Unfiltered photographs in person, you can visit The Birch Tree in Ladner during their regular office hours.
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