Illustrations: Disney Princesses Show The Struggles Of Being A New Mom
Being a new mom comes with its own set of struggles. An artist processes her experiences making illustrations of Disney princesses after giving birth.
Becoming a mother is one of the most profound experiences. It will change life as you know it forever. But being a new mom also comes with a myriad of struggles. Apart from hormonal changes, or rather imbalances, new mothers need to get to know their baby, they need to get to know themselves as a mother. Artist Anna Belenkiy, aka annabell_illustration, reflects on these experiences by creating honest and raw illustrations of Disney princesses as new mothers. Both her creations and her words will strike a chord with many new moms.
She shared her pregnancy and postpartum experiences with her followers through illustrations:
You're Very, Very Hungry
Since you're eating for two now, you're more hungry than usual! Belenkiy comments that just like Belle, she also forgot all her "french manners". I mean, a burger and KFC will do this to you, but add the pregnancy and you'll lose any inhibition to indulge. And so you should! Pregnancy is exhausting enough.
You will also have a new daily rhythm:
Sleep, Toilet, Eat, Repeat
Many mothers, who have already had the experience, know exactly how Anna Belenkiy felt in the first trimester of her pregnancy. On Instagram, she writes, "The first trimester i slept almost all of the day, drooling all over my self and snorting like a pig. My husband started to call me tamaguchi [sic] toy since all i did is to wake up to eat and to [go] to the toilet." She illustrated her description - how could it be otherwise - with Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty.
The next illustration shows an experience that expectant parents will never forget:
Baby's First Kick
For parents-to-be, this is one of the most exciting and beautiful moments in a pregnancy: the baby's first kicks. Surreal as it may seem, this is also the first time that the dad-to-be feels intensely that a new life is growing in his partner. Anna Belenskiy has taken one of the first kicking moments as an example to illustrate this situation – and once again proves her humor here. The unborn child of the pregnant Mulan gives the dad-to-be Li Shang a good kick through the abdominal wall. Well, the drawing may be a bit exaggerated, but still, even such a little worm has a lot of power and will glue your eyes to your belly.
What was that about the "pregnancy glow"?
"They Said Pregnancy Make[s] You Glow and Pretty ..."
If you've ever been pregnant yourself, you're sure to have heard words like, "Wow, you've been glowing since you got pregnant! You look really pretty!" The illustrator already has the appropriate answer ready for such well-meant compliments: "They said pregnancy make[s] you glow and pretty, glow and pretty in my ass !!! I look like i haven't slept for ages" To illustrate this phase, Anna Belenkiy picked out Arielle, who looks really done in with the dark circles under her eyes. The artist also comments on the subject of pimples. She says that even as a teenager she had fewer of them than during her pregnancy. Surely many moms can identify with that as well!
But there's one thing that's even worse during pregnancy:
A Daily Visit From Morning Sickness
You hear a lot of stories about how wonderful pregnancy can be. Yes, perhaps some women have been blessed with getting through it pretty relaxed. But we also hear time and time again about the everyday morning sickness that pregnant women have to deal with for some time. Again, Anna Belenkiy uses Arielle to illustrate the situation. This time, Prince Eric is also present, taking care of his vomiting wife. With this, the artist connects yet another anecdote that she doesn't want to keep from her community: "My dearest husband decided to capture this "previous" moment on a video [i]n order to show it to our child in the futur[e]" After all, we'd really love to see her child's reaction one day.
There is one thing that parents-to-be must also come to terms with during pregnancy:
Again, Her Pregnancy Wasn't as "Magical" as Expected
You think your pregnancy will be accompanied by the famous "pregnancy glow"? Well, if you're like the artist, you'll be more like a "huge gass balloon without any control over my gasses." She beautifully illustrated this by example of Rapunzel and her beau Flynn. It seems like pregnancy farts aren't only incontrollable, but also nasty as hell! That's the clear impression you get when attentively studying Flynn's face. Oops indeed.
About two months after the birth of her son Tommy, the illustrator shared the first postpartum Disney princess:
Being a New Mom Means: Being Worried All the Time
Her first illustration of a Disney mom shows an emotional Ariel holding her baby girl Melody. Tears are streaming down both her and the baby's face, yet her gaze is full of love and care. Alongside the illustration, the artist shares what the first few months of motherhood were like for her. She describes sleepless nights during which she repeatedly checked that her son is breathing. The sleep deprivation and constant worry are draining, but she also writes that she is supported by her husband and her father-in-law. She dedicates the illustration to "all the amazing and strong woman around the world who [are] suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression."
The next one is more light-hearted:
The Vomit Machine
"Since Tommy was born and brought light to our family he spotted every single cloths i got in my closet," Belenkiy writes. While this might not be the best part of being new parents, at least all parents go through the dirty clothes phase. Prince Eric doesn't seem to be bothered by it too much, though! But why are Ariel and Melody clapping … well, each family has their own sense of humor!
The next one perfectly encapsulates the feeling of going back to work after giving birth:
The Challenges of Being a Working Mom
Going back to work after giving birth can be an emotional rollercoaster. It's not just the shock of being away from your baby, but also the sleep deprivation, complete focus on keeping a human being alive and hormonal changes that make the first days back at work distressing. On the one hand, you might be happy to be at the office again and to be among other adults. But you're still going to miss your sweet baby.
Below her illustration of Princess Jasmine saying goodbye to her baby, other moms share their stories and emotions around going back to work.
Next up is Belle:
Accepting the "New You"
Everything changes during and after pregnancy. For many new parents, pregnancy means getting used to a different body shape, to stretch marks and loose skin. Some moms might not recognize themselves and their body after giving birth. It can take time to come to terms with this new reality and that's okay. The illustrator describes one of her thought processes regarding her body as follows:
"Few days ago while playing with Tommy i stopped in front of the mirror and i looked deeply on my reflection. I wasn't able to recognize myself, those extra pounds and stretch[...] marks [were] new to me. Suddenly Tommy giggled and smiled at me, i started to cry after i realized that i never will be the previous me, i am [a] new version of myself thanks to my baby boy, and those stretch[...] marks are my personal medal of valor."
CW: The next illustration focuses on the topic of mental health and depression:
Belenkiy Experiences Breastfeeding Dysphoria
With this illustration, Belenkiy opens up about her struggles with breastfeeding dysphoria. Also called "Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex", people affected experience a sudden emotional low right before and during breastfeeding. She relates that she had "negative feelings about myself, about my motherhood and my achievements. I finished every time full with tears and self disappointment and literally i thought i becoming insane," but "[j]ust few minutes after the feeding was over i started to feel better." She chose Mulan for portraying this difficult experience.
It is important to acknowledge both the beautiful and the challenging parts of motherhood, since both are normal. By sharing personal experiences, parents may feel less alone.