New moms are round the clock comfort machines, but who is soothing them?
Photographer Krysta Shore has put together a coffee table book that she hopes will pacify through the challenges of early motherhood, including postpartum depression and feelings of isolation.
Mother’s Bloom is a collection of stories that will “make you laugh, cry, smile, and nod,” paired with peaceful portraits of real moms.
Shore was inspired to ask other moms to open up, after her battle with postpartum depression.
Shore thought caring for her second baby would be a breeze. After all, she was the one who, the first time around, sang praises of motherhood.
“I was like, ‘This is the best thing ever – I want to have a hundred babies,’” recalls Shore.
After her second baby, Oakley, was born, Shore was singing a different tune. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different.
“I was crying all the time,” says Shore. “I dreaded being alone.”
Then the panic attacks started, compounded by feelings of not being able to manage anything.
“Being around people helped, but you never have the motivation to even get out of the house,” explains Shore, of the vicious cycle she found herself in.
At first Shore dismissed the idea that her overwhelming feelings of helplessness could be postpartum depression.
“I thought it meant you wanted to hurt yourself or your baby,” says Shore.
After eight months of going around in circles, Shore realized something needed to change.
She opened up to her husband, who Shore says felt horrible for not knowing or recognizing what postpartum depression was, even though she didn’t either.
Shore started talking to a counsellor and put her photography work on hold for half a year.
When she did pick up the camera again, Shore decided to candidly capture the trials and tribulations of motherhood.
It was a cathartic experience for Shore, to not only tell her story but to sit down with 36 other mothers and realize that she could relate to them.
“It’s amazing because you go through your day and you meet up with your friends, or moms from mom groups – and you don’t know what’s going on under the surface but you feel like everyone has it together except you,” explains Shore.
In Mother’s Bloom, one mom shares how she had a miscarriage and then got pregnant pretty quickly after.
“She wanted to be excited but she was still grieving,” says Shore.
In one gripping passage from the book, a mother reveals how she was the victim of sexual abuse. The intensity of giving birth triggered anxiety and emotions related to the trauma. When those suppressed feelings surfaced during the birthing process, that unpleasant distraction stalled the woman’s labour.
Shore wanted to capture the moms on film in a certain way.
“I wanted this book to be really peaceful, really calm and minimal,” she says. “I’m imagining new moms reading it in the few spare minutes they have.”
Wearing neutral colours, the subjects were individually photographed against a white wall in the living room of Shore’s home in the Lynnmour area.
The camera focused on the mom, as her child clamoured for attention just outside the frame.
Mother’s Bloom launched earlier this fall, when all the moms featured in the book met and connected with each other. Most of them are from the North Shore, with a couple others from Squamish.
“And I really loved that because every step of the way of this book was woven together with community,” says Shore.
For her own Mother’s Bloom portrait, Shore turned to her husband to capture her spirit.
The couple both roamed the halls of Windsor Secondary, but wouldn’t wind up dating until 10 years later.
“He was the high school quarterback and I was like a punk skateboarder with pink hair,” says Shore, with a laugh.
These days Shore and her husband tackle adversity together, including supporting each other through three miscarriages within the past couple years.
Shore says she is very open about motherhood, “because I really want people to feel like there’s space to share that stuff. It feels like it’s taboo, but it shouldn’t be.”
Mother’s Bloom is available through Shore’s website, krystashore.com.