The 4th Trimester Bodies Project

The 4th Trimester Bodies Project

by Heather Kimble


This past Sunday and Monday I was in Boston. Some of you may have seen my Facebook and instagram post on Monday morning. While it was a wonderful mini getaway with my husband, I was there for a purpose. I was there to take part in a project that I started following not long after Hannah’s death.

Project Details

It’s called, The 4th Trimester Bodies Project. They have been touring different cities since last year. It was started by photographer and mom Ashlee Wells Jackson.

Ashlee is a mommy to three beautiful children, her son Xavier and her twin girls Nova and Aurora. She is also a baby loss mommy. Her daughter Aurora passed away and was born sleeping due to  complications from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Click here to read her story.

Ashlee welcomes all types of moms, including moms of loss with no living children.

“The  4th Trimester Bodies Project is an ongoing photo documentary created by photographer and mother Ashlee Wells Jackson. This project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Our only guideline is that you are a MOTHER and are willing to {tastefully} bare it all in the name of honest beauty. This on-going series will culminate in a community website, gallery show and printed publication.

It doesn’t matter how you’ve come to motherhood or how old your children are. If you’ve the bravery, we’d love to photograph you.”

Why I wanted to participate

It’s different for me, because my only child, Hannah, is in Heaven. I have no living children. My body has changed, it’s scarred, and I don’t have my baby girl. I’m left with empty arms. My scar means so much to me. It’s not just a scar. It’s physical “evidence” that I delivered and had my baby girl Hannah. It’s proof she existed to the outside world.

I want to embrace my body. I want to show my scar off to the world. I have learned to love my scar. It’s beautiful and I choose to embrace it. I regret nothing and would do it all over again for Hannah. She was worth it all.

I wanted to participate in The 4th Trimester Bodies Project to share my experience of being a mother. That mothers aren’t just women with living children. Baby loss is a very taboo topic in our society and that needs to end. Mothers shouldn’t feel like they need to hide their losses. Mothers aren’t just women with living children. Mothers of loss are still mothers. Their precious babies had life, had a heartbeat.

All of the Emotions

I was so excited to be apart of this. I was so honored to be included. I was also extremely nervous and at times terrified. I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera and I have a phobia of being filmed/recorded. So many people would see the images and see my story. I didn’t want to it mess up. I didn’t want to let anyone down.

By time I arrived I was more terrified than anything else. Then I met Ashlee and her business partner Laura. They are both such amazing people. They are so sweet and so nice. I felt much more at ease and comfortable right away. Of course I was still nervous, some of my words during the interview didn’t come out the way they were suppose to, talking about motherhood was a huge trigger and I couldn’t keep the tears away, and I was stiff when I first stepped out in front of the camera. But there was absolutely no judgment from Ashlee. She offered nothing but love and comfort to me.

After the final photos were chosen it was time to head back home. My husband and I had a 6 hour drive ahead of us. As soon as we left I looked at my husband and said, “I’m so glad I did this.” I wasn’t just telling my story, I was telling the story of thousands of other mothers of baby loss. It was a healing experience for me and I prayed it would help mothers of baby loss in some way. I pray it will bring them comfort, healing, strength, hope, and give them a voice. I also pray that it will bring awareness to baby loss and that it will help break the silence.

The Impact and Support

Ashlee shares the stories and photos of the mothers that participated in this project on her website, Facebook, and instagram. I was so anxious for mine to go up, because I wanted to know the reactions. As mothers of baby loss we know first hand how mean and cruel the world can be. We have each experienced it firsthand. So I was nervous to see the responses.

The outpouring of support was amazing and the kinds words really touched my heart. It shows that there is support beyond our baby loss community. There are people out there who can’t empathize but still care so much, show support, and their hearts break for us.

Then there are the responses from mothers of baby loss. They opened up their hearts and shared that they too had a loss or multiple losses. They understand the significance of such a huge project recognizing mothers of  baby loss as mothers still. I’m honored to be a voice for mothers of loss by participating in The 4th Trimester Bodies Project – the link to my personal story.

 The silence needs to be broken and we will make it happen one step at a time.
**This video may be a trigger for mothers with empty arms.**

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