Parents

Mom of triplets who battled infertility has message about her scars, PPD

Desiree Fortin is a mom to 18-month-old triplets — Charlize, Sawyer and Jax — but the California mom is currently not pregnant.

So when several of her friends congratulated her via social media on her "baby bump" in recent photos, Fortin was hurt, and began to question both her physical appearance and her feelings about body image.

Desiree Fortin
In a touching blog post, Desiree Fortin talks about postpartum depression and body image.

Fortin, who delivered her triplets in August 2015 after a long struggle with infertility, says after some soul searching, she was reminded that her scars, stretch marks, and extra skin — which she affectionately calls "hope wounds" — are symbols of motherhood that remind her daily of the way her body grew and delivered her three babies.

In a touching blog post about body image and postpartum depression (PPD,) Fortin shared personal candid photos of her post-pregnancy belly, along with encouraging words for other mothers who are also struggling with postpartum body image and mental health.

Desiree Fortin
Fortin with husband Ryan, and 18-month-old triplets, Charlize, Jax and Sawyer.

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"Despite my 'baby bump' when I look into the mirror, I see so much more beauty than I've ever seen before because my hope wounds, which are with me forever, have far greater meaning to me than I ever knew they would," Fortin wrote in the post. "Even though I may have a little extra pooch and lots of tiger stripes, I longed for wounds like these."

RELATED: Desiree Fortin, mom who struggled with infertility, on the joy of raising triplets

"My hope wounds are the change my body never saw coming, but my heart desired so deeply. They are reminders of the excruciating pain and grief infertility caused my heart," she continued. "They are pure beauty because they represent my miracles."

Desiree Fortin
"Even though I may have a little extra pooch and lots of tiger stripes, I longed for wounds like these," Fortin wrote in her blog post.

Fortin says sharing her postpartum photos — a black and white image of her triplets playing around her belly, and a series of images shot in a milk bath that show her postpartum stomach — was an empowering experience.

"To be able to say, 'These are my scars, and I love them,' — I went through so much before I received my scars, while my scars were forming, and after they really set in, and I feel like capturing these images was a beautiful representation of my journey," Fortin told TODAY Parents.

Desiree Fortin
Fortin says after seeing maternity "milk bath" photos, she decided to do one of her own, celebrating her postpartum stomach.

In addition to the physical changes caused by a triplet pregnancy, Fortin's journey was also a mental one. The stay-at-home mother struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, and, in the early days of motherhood, took anxiety medication to control panic attacks.

RELATED: Surprise! Couple struggling with infertility stuns friends with triplets reveal

"When I first realized I was struggling with PPD and anxiety, it was very difficult for me to admit because I had longed so deeply to be a mother and I felt so guilty and ashamed for not experiencing all the mommy joys I thought I would," said Fortin. "It was hard for me to actually recognize I was not happy and really struggling as a new mom."

Desiree Fortin
As a new mom to three babies, Fortin says she struggled with postpartum depression and panic attacks.

"I did what I needed to do to get through that season of life," Fortin continued. "As mothers, we need to have grace for ourselves."

Fortin says she hopes sharing her message will help other mothers take necessary time to offer themselves grace and patience, and to get the help they need, whether it's hiring a babysitter so they can catch up on sleep or seeing a doctor to discuss their feelings.

Desiree Fortin
Fortin says one of her greatest lessons in motherhood so far has been learning to offer herself grace, asking for help when she needs it.

RELATED: Mom shares candid post about the 'dark sides' of motherhood and pregnancy

"Ultimately, I just hope that women everywhere can embrace their bodies, because growing a human being and delivering one is not an easy job," said Fortin. "It isn't an easy job being a mom either, and our hope wounds are something we should be proud of, not ashamed of."

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Cancer survivor gives birth to quadruplets

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Cancer survivor gives birth to quadruplets

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