The first image in this story stopped me in my tracks over on Instagram. I wanted to crawl back in bed and be as comfy as she looked! Little did I know, there was a darker story behind this photo that I couldn’t see on the surface.
Photographer Justine Curran created a series to savor this maternity season in her life. More than that, the project helped heal some of the darkness Justine was feeling that pregnancy hormones can bring to a woman.
She shares an incredible story + conviction in how our creativity (photography) can be a method of healing. Even more exciting, we were able to include her follow up photos of her sweet baby boy!
Here’s what Justine Curran had to say about her Self Portraits of Motherhood Project:
I was over the moon to discover I was pregnant with my second child. It was something we’d planned since our wedding 12 months ago. Our daughter was now turning 5 and we felt it was now time to bring her sibling into the world. Even though its quite personal, I’d like to share how I came to start documenting my journey through motherhood.
Soon after discovering I was pregnant, I was over come with an influx of hormones.
It was nothing I’d experience in my previous pregnancy… depression and anxiety consumed me.
Morning sickness attacked my body and I couldn’t even hold down water. For six weeks straight, I endured a fluctuating appetite, from not even drinking water to suddenly can’t consume enough and feeling ill as I ate.
I suddenly couldn’t even THINK about the impending doom of childbirth and life swallowing chaos of life with a baby.
It was all too over whelming and the very near mention of the word baby made me burst into tears. I felt so confused. Why was I feeling this way when I was so positively looking forward to it?
Soon, I was experiencing so much anxiety that I convinced myself I was surely going to die during childbirth.
I Googled things from hemorrhaging to other childbirth related conditions, which I won’t name, because you’ll Google them too and hate me for it.
But yes, hormones.
They do crazy stuff to your head.
One day I came across a Facebook page: Self Portraits Of Motherhood: a movement started to inspire women to get in front of the camera.
A lightbulb went off in my head. In my deranged, anxiety-filled delusion this was the answer. Even though I cannot dictate my fate, I can certainly leave behind some kind of legacy. All this time, I’ve been documenting families – including my own, but I’ve never included myself in these pictures.
How on earth would my children remember who I was, what I looked like, and the things I did if something were to happen to me?
Would my daughter remember me brushing her hair in the mornings?
Would she remember how I held her tight when she wasn’t feeling well?
Hormones, like I said, do crazy things to your head. As crazy as I was at the time, making these pictures was what motivated me. It’s what made me think about the future and gave me a reason to get in front of the camera.
My morning sickness and anxiety finally eased off by 20 weeks and documenting what was happening in our life was a great distraction. I found that the project was great for experimenting with light and different settings/moments. It was great for personal development. My work has drastically changed since.
I now regularly take part in different photo-a-day challenges.
It keeps me thinking outside the box. I managed to capture things, such as simple moments of getting through morning sickness and helping my daughter to capturing my growing belly through to breastfeeding.
Now, I have a lovely collection of images from my pregnancy into the early days + weeks with my newborn. I have peri-natal anxiety to thank for it. My little boy is is amazing and we both have been doing really well.
It feels great to finally be myself and breathe again.
Story + photography contributed by Justine Curran.
About Justine Curran:
I’m truly inspired by real, authentic photographic styles. I want to capture honest and genuine connections and do this by using a lifestyle and documentary approach in my work. Photography is my passion, driven by my own need to document my life.