Last May 2023, we asked our readers to submit photos capturing the raw and unfiltered moments of motherhood. Out of thousands of entries, we carefully selected the top 100, and then handpicked the top 10. This article is part of a series that delves into the stories behind the 10 winning photos of the Smart Parenting Motherhood 100 photo contest.
Embracing The Ugliness
Motherhood is a journey. From the moment you see those two lines in your pregnancy test, you know the path you first set on will take a sharp turn, and life as you know it will never be the same. It is exciting and wonderful, but also requires a great deal of strength and endurance. Like a marathon without a finish line, the prize is experienced every day in small wins—your baby’s first cry, every first step taken, every first word uttered. But in this roller coaster of milestones and sleepless nights, you press on and grind with grace, never stopping to feel the weight or looking back to see how far you’ve come.
Chrysthel Azucena was pregnant with her second child and decided that this was going to be her last. She takes it all in with a sense of pride and recognizes that the path all mothers take is in no way an easy one.
“The photo was taken a month before I gave birth to our second child, Aoife, a name that means ‘beautiful’ or ‘radiant’. I gave my entry the title ‘Yakap’ because that is what motherhood is all about. We embrace the ugliness, pain, and sacrifices, and yet we can still give love in its most selfless form. My first and second pregnancy were delivered via Caesarean section (CS). I am still astounded by the fact that a mother is willing to go through the same pain all over again,” she shares with Smart Parenting.
Designed For Strength
A mother’s body is a phenomenon in and of itself. The miracle of carrying another life inside of you that grows with every passing day is a bewilderment that is both astonishing and empowering. For many, it is a dream come true. For others like Crysthel, it is a badge of honor.
"We should learn to value ourselves. We should acknowledge our strength." --Chrysthel Azucena
“In the photo you can only see the bump, and that is the same with motherhood. I think what makes the photo special is that I took it personally, and for me that's what a mother should learn. We should learn to value ourselves. We should acknowledge our strength. We should have faith in what we are capable of because we are strategically designed to bend and break and be strong,” Chrysthel says.
An Answered Prayer
There is nothing more meaningful than your heart’s desire fulfilled after a long time of waiting. Growing her family was a plan driven by her firstborn's wish to have a sibling. This photo, which she herself captured of her last pregnancy, told the story of an answered prayer and the legacy Chrysthel would leave behind as a mother.
“As planned, I took the photo as a memoir of our second and last pregnancy. This pregnancy is an answered nightly prayer together with our son. We would pray each night and specifically ask for a girl. My son was already six at the time and we were contemplating on giving him his ‘got-your-back' buddy, a sibling,” she says.
A child is every mother’s answered prayer. Chrysthel made the decision to make her second pregnancy the last one, and as this chapter of her life comes to a close, the memory of hope sprung from a dream realized lives on forever.