Miranda in Waimea Canyon State Park, Kaua'i, Hawai'i
Miranda in Waimea Canyon State Park, Kaua’i, Hawai’i (Luna Kai Photography)

I have never struggled with the shape of my body; it’s just not something that has ever bothered me. But when my son died in my 41st week of pregnancy, I learned there were so many more components to the body image equation. The fact that I never cared about my stretch marks or weight gain couldn’t protect me from the very real fact that my body had failed me. Failed my son.

For several months afterwards, I felt divorced from my body. It was the thing that housed me. It was the shell that ate and drank so I could eek out some kind of living. Even physical pain often felt removed from me, especially when I avoided medical practitioners who didn’t know my son hadn’t lived. The only thing that kept me even moderately engaged was the desire to donate my milk, though I quickly discovered it was too physically and emotionally difficult for me.

When I first started feeling like a human being again, it was partly physical activity that grounded me. Moving in my physical body, feeling the strain of the exertion I had often avoided while pregnant; these things brought me back to myself in a way my emotional explorations hadn’t touched. Movement became part of how I relearned how to live.

Movement also linked to weight, and if I had any choice in the matter, I would have carried my weight forever. After my milk dried up, it felt like the last tangible thing I could hold in his place. For several reasons, though, this wasn’t the right path for me. For six months, I worked out and dieted like crazy, until recently, I woke up and my body had changed.

I left the hospital at 187 lbs. My last time on the scale, I was 147 lbs; 13 lbs lighter than when I conceived. I have technically lost all of my baby weight. I fit into all of my old clothes, though differently. This doesn’t quite feel like a victory. I often fail to recognize the stranger in the mirror.

On a recent solo trip to Hawaii, I decided to have some photographs taken, surrounded by fog and what felt like the most appropriately rainy scenery. Long enamored of the idea of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, I wanted to do something similar for me. I wanted to honor these changes for my son. I wanted to document that even in failure, my body was painfully and beautifully and permanently changed. I wanted to learn who lived inside that new body. I wanted to learn about me.

This is my seventh trimester.

The photoshoot took the form of an traveling exploration up XXX mountain, then down to the sea. I took photos with Adrian's elephant at each location
The photoshoot took the form of an traveling exploration up Waimea Canyon, then down to the sea. I took photos with Adrian’s elephant at each location (Luna Kai Photography)

 

After Adrian's death, yoga became a grounding activity for me. I loved being able to balance on the edge of this cliff
After Adrian’s death, yoga became a grounding activity for me. I loved being able to balance on the edge of this cliff (Luna Kai Photography)

 

We used Adrian's things in some of the photos. At times I became emotional
We used Adrian’s things in some of the photos. At times I became emotional (Luna Kai Photography)

 

At the beach, finding comfort and play in this new body
At the beach, finding comfort and play in this new body (Luna Kai Photography)

 

Nine months postpartum. The majority of my "excess" weight still resides in my belly
Nine months postpartum. The majority of my “excess” weight still resides in my belly (Luna Kai Photography)

 

There is a light here I don't often see. Sometimes it finds me
There is a light here I don’t often see. Sometimes it finds me (Luna Kai Photography)

 

I will always love this body. This is the only home my son ever knew
I will always love this body. This is the only home my son ever knew (Luna Kai Photography)

 

Miranda with arms flung wide
(Luna Kai Photography)