From newborn tots to blooming bellies

When Anne Geddes takes a photograph something magical happens but in her latest project she is hoping for something inspirational as well.

After featuring pregnant women in some of the images of her latest photographic book, Beginnings, Anne was inspired to create a whole pregnancy series in a new coffee table book - but as she started talking to these beautiful, heavily pregnant women, she soon realised that the photos were not enough.

“They were just telling me their stories and I thought, oh my god, that’s amazing. What am I going to do with these stories? They were just coming in and saying all these incredible things,” says Anne.

It didn’t take her long to abandon the coffee book idea and embrace something she had never done before – create a magazine. But not just any magazine, this would feature her photographs alongside the incredible stories of each of the women. The my Pregnancy project was born.

Some of the stories are heart-breaking while others are uplifting, but most of all they are relatable.

When Candice and Matt fell in love they both knew that children would not be in their future. After going through early menopause, Candice had accepted that she would never be a mother. But as Anne recounts her story it is clear that it is both rare and common at the same time. Common, because many women are faced with the reality of infertility, but rare in that Candice went on to have two beautiful, healthy babies.

Anne recalls the moment that Candice first learnt she was pregnant.

“She said she was sitting at Taronga Park Zoo with a girlfriend having a picnic when this overwhelming feeling came over her. She said it was like a voice that said, ‘tell her you’re pregnant’.”

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Of course Candice thought she was going crazy, but on the odd chance the voice was right she decided to take a pregnancy test. To her surprise it came back positive.

To this day the doctors are adamant that there is no logical explanation for how Candice fell pregnant and when Anne photographed her she was well into her second pregnancy.

“Her message is that through love and this wonderful relationship her body mended itself,” says Anne.

Another powerful message in my Pregnancy is the story of Rachel, her husband Jeff and their baby Sierra.  Anne photographed Rachel a few days before she gave birth but at the time no one could have foreseen what the young couple were about to go through.

“Rachel, she lost the baby and it was just a horrible thing,” says Anne.

Baby Sierra was a stillborn and passed away three days after the shoot. It is clear that Anne was profoundly impacted by the strength and honesty of this couple.

“They are just such a gorgeous couple. I remember thinking afterwards, if it was to happen to anyone she was so gracious and eloquent in the way she shared her story in the way she came in and shared the whole thing.”

Stillbirth is not a topic regularly discussed but sadly, according to the latest Australian report, one baby is stillborn in every 134 births. While, thankfully, it may not be the experience of most women, too many have to go through a similar ordeal. Anne is convinced that Rachel’s story will help them.

“It will help somebody, her story, at home, who is going through the same thing and that is what she wanted to do.”

Anne is happy to reveal that Rachel and Jeff are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second baby.

One of the more well-known stories is that of the triplets, Lindsey, Natalie and Deborah. All three sisters fell pregnant at the same time, all with boys. Even more remarkable was that Lindsey and Natalie had their babies on the same day, right across the hall from each other. With Deborah giving birth two weeks later.

While a lot of people know this part of their story not many know that one of the triplets, Deborah, had previously been through three miscarriages.

Anne encouraged her to share her story.

“I said to her, it’s up to you, but if you feel comfortable talking about it, you may help somebody who’s been through that.” 

Deborah had spent most of her pregnancy refusing to allow herself to imagine holding her baby in her arms and she knew the pain and hopelessness many women go through after a miscarriage.

“She said you know I will because what I was really looking for when I was going through these three miscarriages was hope. And I couldn’t find it anywhere.” 

Their story, along with the many others that will feature in Anne’s quarterly magazine, is inspiring but the great thing about my Pregnancy is that it tells the stories of real women who share the many different experiences we all struggle with during pregnancy. 

Anne hopes that as people read the stories of everyday, ordinary Australian women they will be encouraged and inspired to share their own. That they would realise they are not alone.

“With every one of these stories, it would be great if just one woman at home struggling goes, oh my god that’s me.”

The magazine my Pregnancy, A Woman's Story is available in newsagents from October 7, with the TV series premiering on October 8 at 4.25pm on Channel 7TWO.