14 Mar

Body of a Mother Project | Johnna Holmgren

Today we are so thrilled to be able to share a very special project we’ve been working on for several months. It’s something that means so much to us and a message that is meant to lift us up + help us all be better about embracing our bodies as mothers. We all struggle with wanting to look perfect in this social media driven world and it’s hard to deal with the real fact that our bodies have changed after having babies. It’s easy to forget how beautiful we are and that our bodies are truly amazing for the miracles it can create. This Body of a Mother Project was created to empower moms to be proud of their bodies… from the extra skin + curves to the stretch marks (mom warrior marks as we like to call them!) It’s time for us to focus on lifting each other up + saying only good things about each other and ourselves. You are beautiful and what you’ve created with your body is easily the most precious thing that can ever be created. Be proud to show that off!

Over the next several weeks we will be sharing the stories of 8 amazing + inspiring women who are proud mothers and want to help us spread the message of this project. We dive in deep with each mom and talk to them about their bodies, what they love + what they hate, in hopes that we can all connect on some level and know that we are not alone with this mission of child birthing + raising. The amazing company Eberjey that is also about making women feel beautiful in their own skin, will be dressing each momma in their beautiful loungewear. We hope that you will also be inspired by this project and join in by sharing candid images of you + your body on social media and using hashtag #bodyofamotherproject.

To kick this project off we would like to introduce you to Johnna Holmgren (also known as @foxmeetsbear) who lives in Stillwater, Minnesota with her family of four. Her husband’s name is Max and together they own an illustration + lettering company called Bear Fox Chalk. They have two little girls, Luella Beane who is almost four and Minoux Wilder who is almost 6 months. This family exudes simple happiness that we can’t help admire. We hope you will take a couple of minutes to read Johnna’s story below and check out the beautiful images of her + her little peanuts captured by the talented Emilie Anne Szabo.  And please join in on this conversation + leave a comment!

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– What was it like for you during your pregnancies + the feelings you had experiencing the changes going on with your body?

The first time I was pregnant with Lue, I was so excited. It felt so new and beautiful. But I definitely remember there is so much unknown. You don’t know what exactly will be happening and it was such an awkward time with you start filling out physically, but not looking round and pregnant and you just feel bigger than your old self. I think the excitement carried me through a lot, with it being the first pregnancy. I cried a lot. I was super emotional when pregnant with Lue. Like, laughably emotional. Bawled my eyes out over spilled milk. Ups and downs and so much to process. With Minoux, I knew a lot more of what to expect, but the actual pregnancy seemed harder than Luella’s. I missed running and being active. I had to rest a lot more which wasn’t “me”. I just wanted to keep at life and felt a forced need to slow myself down. I really tried hard to embrace the pregnancy and seek gratitude through the changes, because I know I should be so thankful to be pregnant, but there were a lot of hard days. I missed my old body. I am huge on accepting all of the feelings and recognizing that it is okay to feel them all, to process them all and to learn from them. Most days, it just felt good to talk about them and recognize the changes happening.

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–  How has your body changed with each child?

Haha. Oh man. Well, I recently came across our honeymoon photos and laughed at how different I looked in a bikini. Everything was much perkier and higher you could say! I guess embracing feeling more like a woman and less like a girl. My hair color grew in differently with each pregnancy and now it has hints of some sort of strawberry blonde combination? It’s strange. With both pregnancies with both girls, right around 3-4 months my lush locks that grew in during those nine months started transitioning out. I remember standing in the shower crying holding so much blonde hair then kind of snapping out of it, realizing, “okay, it grows back. This is normal. Happens to a lot of women.” But no one really talks about that.  That’s just something that you have to accept early on. I remember having a one and a half week old Luella and standing in the bathroom as milk was shooting out at the mirror. It’s just kind of a confusing sight. Throw in some post natal hormones and emotions and it can make for quite a sight.

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–  Some women embrace their “mom body” and actually find themselves more confident and stronger vs. when they were younger, do you find this to be true to you?

Absolutely. The labors alone completely changed me to recognize the strength I have as a woman and mom. I knew I had to experience and feel both labors naturally and Luella’s labor was insanely long and hard and I felt like I was going to die. But then Minoux was born in the woods with just Max, myself and the midwife was there for the last fifteen minutes and walking away from that made me feel completely empowered and filled with strength. I love how a woman feels their child leaving their body and it is just so powerful. It’s an insanely life changing experience. It made me more confident and strong for sure. I recently asked my Mom if she had insecurities about her body when we she was my age. She said, “of course!” But thinking back to when I was younger, I don’t remember that. My Mom never talked about her body in a negative way. We took baths together, saw each others naked bodies and I truly think that changed the way I viewed my body all throughout highschool and beyond. A gift we can give our children, especially our daughters, is to LOVE our own bodies. Be naked in front of them. Take care of our bodies and focus on the beautiful parts we have, because we all have them. Embracing our bodies as Moms will teach our children to embrace theirs too, I think.

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–  After having a baby how do you like to get your “groove” back and into the swing of things?

At first, getting my groove back was as small as a quick shower and the distant dream of wearing regular jeans again someday. Haha. I am huge on the idea of fueling ourselves as Moms, to in turn be a better and stronger for our babes. Max encourages me so much to keep my mind creative and even let ideations or dreams settle in as inspiration. I absolutely love creating with my hands. Making floral smudge sticks, eucalyptus wreaths, or cooking and baking. To stop and appreciate the process of making a meal. It really helps me feel “human” again instead of just “Mom”. We go outside a lot. Even in the winter, we’ll bundle up and get outdoors as much as possible and I can’t even explain how that makes me feel so new again. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling the outdoor elements on my face. When Minoux was around 2 months old, I started to just intentionally move my body everyday for 10-15 minutes. It felt overwhelming to have an entire workout program but knew I could be in my living room and do five pushups, then two days later try seven, then see how many more I could do each day. I did squats while holding Minoux and in the same way, I never really set intense goals for myself but accepted where I was at each day. “Just challenge your body everyday Johnna.” It maybe sounds crazy but I just tried to incorporate some sort of focused movement for myself even somedays were just less than five minutes, but it felt like I was doing something for myself physically. I know it also actually physiologically altered my mood in amazing ways too.

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–  What struggles have you had with your mom body?  What have you done to over come these struggles?

After both births, I felt really anxious to feel my normal self again physically and emotionally. It is all overwhelming having a newborn but then also caring for a connected toddler at the same time, can be so much. I give huge props to Mama’s with four kids or more. Incredible just to imagine the amount one has to pour out to that many little hearts. I struggled with feeling myself again and feeling my version of beautiful in the beginning of post labor. I hated wearing maternity pants but my regular stuff didn’t fit either. Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga pants and all, but so many days I just wanted to wear something that felt normal again and my style. I stuggled for sure with being patient and accepting myself for where I was at, both physically and emotionally. I mentioned above some things I did to get back into the groove, but also really worked on my mental game. I surrounded myself with other humans and Moms who uplifted me, accepted me, and encouraged me in big or small ways. I started working out slowly again which made me fell stronger both physically and emotionally. I took care of myself and tried to not let too many days go by where I drowned in spit up and dirty hair. Even small things for ourselves can be so huge, I believe. Small escapes into a paragraph of a book, creating some sort of inspiring corner in our home that’s just ours, or getting outdoors and breathing in the fresh air. Pressing reset in our minds and writing uplifting affirmations to leave around the house to practice mindfulness in. And of course, investing in a really good coffee bean situation.

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–  What advice would you give to other mothers who struggle with embracing their mom bodies?

I would say to give grace to yourself. And then give it again and again and again. We are giving so much of ourselves to these little hearts and don’t be afraid of self care. Don’t lock yourself up for the entire duration of their childhood and forget that you are also a human. It is not selfish to refuel ourselves and invest in the replenishment of ourselves physically, creatively, or emotionally. Carve out time each week where you blow off the laundry or dishes and make yourself feel beautiful again. Maybe that’s doing a workout and feeling strong again, painting your nails (even though, seriously who has time to let nailpolish dry?), cooking or baking something that YOU like to eat instead of what the kids will eat. I am a huge advocate for promoting active self change and practicing a positive mindset. If you don’t like the way you feel, take action to change it, even if it’s the smallest action ever. Be brave enough to take care of you. Find your most beautiful aspects about yourself and cherish them. It is not selfish to take care of ourselves as Moms. One of the best gifts we can give to our children is to have a happy Mom taking care of them.

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