Professional beekeeper Bethany Karulak-Baker has set the internet abuzz with her daring bee-themed maternity shoot.
The pics show her posing in an open field, gently cradling her very pregnant belly, which is covered in live honeybees.
Bethany is a commercial beekeeper and the founder of a non-profit teaching local youth about protecting the pollinators and becoming beekeepers, and she sells honey to "pay for school fees". She has with an observation beehive directly in her living room for year round viewing of a live colony.
Alongside the fascinating (or terrifying!) pictures, she shares the story behind the scenes.
"This isn’t just a photo of a woman with honeybees on her belly," Texan mom Bethany writes.
"About a year ago, I suffered an extremely traumatic miscarriage. I was hospitalized, broken hearted, filled with self-blame, and distraught. As we drove away from Yampa Valley Medical Center, after losing our baby, I recall tearing up with the realization that my baby was left alone inside those brick walls; ultimately to be shipped away and examined."
Bethany reveals that she fell into a deep depression for months following the unexpected surgery.
"I struggled with my mental health, with how to interact with friends and family, and how to continue my responsibilities as a mother and wife. A few months later, we became pregnant again."
Bethany describes how instead of embracing her new miracle, she felt confused and apprehensive, and she felt she couldn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy because of the fear of a repeat miscarriage.
She explains that the Covid-19 lockdowns, which impacted the US as they did in SA, kept her isolated and at home, but that proved to be a wonderful blessing for her family.
"I realize that the quarantine allowed me to grow my baby in a stress-free environment with phenomenal nurturing from my husband. There was a massive silver lining to this presumably dark cloud."
"We, as a family, grew to love and support one another more than I could have ever imagined. I am happy to say that I am 37 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby who will join us in a few short weeks."
"I have emerged from these events like a butterfly from a cocoon; strong, beautiful, and ready to take on the world. So, you see, this isn’t just a photo of a woman with honeybees on her belly."
"Even though I've been a commercial beekeeper for years, it was still extremely wild," Bethany shared with her social media friends, "The deep breathing and staying calm really helped me navigate this experience."
Many found the bee-utiful shoot inspiring and empowering, and hundreds of women commented, thanking her for sharing her story.
Laura wrote "Parent shaming is the absolute worst part of parenting. I think the photo and the work you are doing with bees to help our environment is beautiful!"
"Thank you for sharing your story," she continued. "Miscarriage is such a dark and lonely road and needs to be talked about more. It might have been just the message someone needed to hear that day. And the photo accompanying it was super empowering!"
Sharon commented "Thank you for your bravery in sharing your struggles...we lost a twin early in pregnancy 35 years ago, after several years of wanting to have another child. The remaining pregnancy was safe but always questions ..is this baby ok? Will there be unknown problems?"
She goes on "Indeed, Katie has enough personality and energy for 2...she honors the lost twin with her spirit and vitality. Loss of a baby is a unique shared experience...so happy for your coming gift of joy!"
Not everyone found the photo uplifting, and many people commented that it seemed dangerous or irresponsible, but Bethany responded with a stinging post, reminding them that she has "been stung a thousand times" and "dealt with much" in her life.
She does warn others not to try this themselves, acknowledging that "This can be extremely dangerous. Please do not try this without experience and knowledge.'
But, with the experience she has, Bethany added "...please do not worry about me or my babe. We have 15 days to go, and, as everything in my life, we are going full throttle till the end!"
Bee-utiful, or un-bee-lieveable? What do you think? Let us know!
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