Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
So far in my short career as a photographer I’ve had the pleasure of going to a lot of places and being in some exclusive company. Challenges and adversity have accompanied great opportunities and experiences. Yet nothing has compared to the challenge and huge responsibility of being a father. I wouldn’t trade my two children for the world.
My wife and I became parents at just over 20 years old and now are proud to have a handsome ten-year-old and a beautiful three-year-old. It hasn’t been an easy road for us maturing into adults while trying to set an adequate example to our children. I guess that is part of the reason why we have such a soft spot for young couples and parents.
Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Chelsea, a new mother and capturing some images of her. At just 18 years old, Chelsea shows courage that women of any age would envy. When she found out a few weeks before her 17th birthday that she was pregnant, her first thought was, “How am I going to tell my parents?” She had to stop working at her job early in the pregnancy due to some complications, and Chelsea says that having her boyfriend around throughout the entire process was a huge help for her physically, emotionally, and financially.
“We are both young and we planned the baby, but once I found out, it’s like everything got real! I already knew what symptoms to look out for. I found out three days before my missed period with a home pregnancy test.”
When she eventually told her mom the news, she wasn’t so surprised to hear it, but Chelsea was too nervous to tell her father. “I made my mom tell my dad, but when I talked to him he was more calm.”
Chelsea has made the commitment to breastfeed her baby and wants to be an example to other mothers and spread the message that nursing is not something shameful or embarrassing to do, wherever you are.
“I think seeing me will help other young mothers to breastfeed and be more confident in themselves. I’ve already had a few young women message me about breastfeeding and ask for help, telling me how I make them more confident to breastfeed.”
I asked Chelsea if it’s worth having to face all of the criticism that comes from some areas of society as it relates to breastfeeding.
“Yes! So worth it! My child is far more important than what any stranger thinks or says about breastfeeding. I know I’m giving her the absolute best and the bond we have because of it is amazing.”
While she says she has no regrets, Chelsea is left with visible changes to her body that she says she wasn’t prepared for and is still struggling to cope with:
“I didn’t think I’d have a ‘mom belly.’ It’s tough imagining other girls bounce back after pregnancy with no stretch marks or pudge and then having to look at my body not doing that. I think I handle it pretty well. I still get upset about it every once in a while but my daughter definitely makes it worth it. I just remind myself that I housed her for nine months.”
I wondered if Chelsea had suffered criticism over becoming a mother at such a young age, but when I asked her if she’d experienced any, she said that surprisingly she hadn’t.
Chelsea describes her boyfriend and her sister as her biggest supporters right now and said that focusing on her daughter helps her stay positive. She stays encouraged by seeing other moms post online about their experiences with birth and body changes.
Before we ended our conversation, Chelsea had one last thing to say:
“I suggest young ladies wait to get pregnant and not just plan a baby for ‘fun.’ My daughter is absolutely amazing but she’s hard work. I can’t go out with friends or do things just when I feel like it anymore. But I don’t regret my decision.”
Good luck to Chelsea and her family and thanks for making the beautiful pictures!
Chuck Wilmore and his wife Iza are a business duo. Iza handles makeup and styling while Chuck takes photographs and works on creative direction. For the last five years they have been striving to create images that make an impression not just on the eyes but also on the soul and mind of viewers. Check them out!