Character Collectives: Hannah Heim – A New Mother

   In honor of Mother’s Day, I am so excited to introduce to you, the first person in my Character Collectives series; Hannah Heim – a new mother who is celebrating her very first Mother’s Day this year.

Character Collectives is a series I created that will allow me to highlight everyday people with extraordinary values that add to society. These characters illustrate struggling with a hardship; being a minority in America, living with a disability, mental illness, etc. Some will be adventurous souls or volunteers for philanthropy. The list is endless. The purpose is to deliver readers with inspiring stories that show how to persevere and do what you love.

As a little background, I have known Hannah for several years and when I say she is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, I mean it with all sincerity. Hannah is the type of girl that you always want in your corner. She is someone that will champion for you and never judge you. She is an incredible human being and I wish there were more people in the world like her. The thing that I admire most about Hannah and find to be an attractive quality in any person is a positive, upbeat vibe.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Heim / Celeste Call Photography

I had a chance to interview Hannah and also photograph her and her five month old daughter, Eden. I am confident that if you are an expecting or new mother, you will gain insight and appreciation from reading her story. Hannah announced on social media last year (Mother’s Day 2017) that she was bringing a beautiful child into the world and I genuinely had never been so excited for someone to be a mother. If you’ve met her, you would know instantly why I say that with such determination. One of the first things she said to me in our interview about being pregnant and wondering whether or not she would be a good mother was, “I have the capacity to love this little girl more than I’ve loved anything in my whole life,” and that is what subsided any of her worries. To me, that is the epitome of a selfless bond with a child, one that I know Hannah will continue to experience for the rest of her life.

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Photo courtesy of Hannah Heim / Hannah McKee

Hannah may be a first time mother, but she is no stranger to helping raise someone that will one day contribute to society. Hannah had a huge role in taking care of her younger sister, something she says she didn’t expect to help her relate to her new role as a mother, but played a lot into this new responsibility. She gained a mindset that milestones are so important because “you are watching someone grow and realizing you had such a big part in who they are becoming.” Hannah is so proud of her sister now who has fully welcomed her own new role as an auntie.

Hannah’s resilient and tenacious character allows her to detach her emotion and vocalize what has happened to her in her life and use it to help others. Hannah was a victim of sexual trauma when she was young, but she is anything but a victim. She says she won’t let that define her and she certainly doesn’t. She has pushed herself to continue to embrace the men in her life that have had a positive influence. The struggles of dating were complicated and made Hannah precautious of connections and their authenticity. She shares her fear of finding out she was having a daughter and knowing she would do anything and everything to protect her.

There have been women she’s witnessed that haven’t been strong enough to stand up for themselves and have lost their voice. “They [older women] didn’t grow up where you have this movement of young people advocating for rights and for being strong and feeling beautiful yourself. They kind of had this quiet, ‘if you feel anything, you keep it in,’ because you don’t want to make people uncomfortable, and thankfully I have grown to realize – it’s okay to make other people uncomfortable, that’s what changes things, that’s what gets things done. If you push the line until there is no line anymore, you can feel more yourself and you can express who you are without feeling closed.”

I made sure to ask Hannah during our time together what advice she would give to women that are just now finding out they are going to be mothers, and like everything Hannah does and says, her answer was uplifting. Her biggest tip is don’t stress. “Every worry, every thought of what if I’m not going to be prepared enough; it all goes out the window [the moment they’re here].” She says don’t ever be worried to ask for help, because she feels it truly does take a village to raise a baby. Hannah had to be rushed for an emergency c-section during delivery, something she was not mentally prepared for, but had the loving support of Eden’s father, Ian. She had to remind herself several weeks after Eden’s arrival to take things easy since she was recovering from a major surgery which Ian helped her through. Going through that, she says, does not make you any less of a mom or any less of a woman. “I am definitely more proud of who I am as a woman than I ever was before,” she gushes.

Hannah has struggled with mental health issues and depression in her lifetime, in closing, I asked for some of her general thoughts on mental health and any advice she would give based on what she has been through. She says even when she didn’t think her own life mattered, she still had a strong sense of wanting everyone else to know that their life mattered. “I would put my happiness on the line for other people because my happiness didn’t seem as important as theirs did.” She expresses that she wants to teach Eden to do both, “you can be happy yourself and you can feel strong yourself while still building other people up.” 

Pictured; Hannah, Eden and Ian. Photo courtesy of Hannah Heim

Hannah is working on an initiative that allows breastfeeding mothers know they are welcome in restaurants based on an incident she endured recently. A woman was sitting in a booth behind Hannah, her grandmother and Eden. The woman tried to shame Hannah and told the waitress to tell the family to take Eden’s feeding to the unsanitary restroom. Hannah took this experience and let it spark the idea to create stickers that local businesses and restaurants could attach to the front doors and windows to let every mother know they were welcome to feed their children.

If you would like to follow Hannah on Instagram, her handle is @hannuh_baby. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with Eden and her boyfriend Ian.

If you or someone you know would be the perfect fit for our Character Collectives series, please fill the form out here!