SAN ANTONIO – Maternity photos have become a popular way to commemorate the miracle of motherhood and celebrate the strength and beauty of a woman’s pregnant body.
Typical maternity photos frequently feature women in soft, flowing feminine clothing — gossamer and lace, with soft filters. But one San Antonio woman chose to capture her beauty and strength in a very different way — in her rubber boots and bunker gear.
“I want to show (my daughter) that she can do anything in life,” Jessica Massey Martinez said.
Massey is expecting her first child within the next few weeks. Motherhood will be new for her, but she already knows a lot about caregiving and doing a job on little sleep. The 29-year-old has been working in the firefighting field for nearly 14 years.
“I love my job,” she said.
Massey started as an explorer at a volunteer fire department when she was just 15 years old and has been a firefighter since the age of 18. She’s now a firefighter and paramedic with Bexar County Emergency Service District 2 and also works at a local stand-alone emergency room.
Her maternity photos were taken by fellow Bexar County firefighter Natividad Rodriguez. In addition to the firefighting gear, Massey’s photos are also unique because they show her unedited stretch marks.
“To be honest, I’m not a fan of my stretch marks. I’m pretty self-conscious of my scars and imperfections but it’s part of my story, a ‘road map,’ if you will,” Massey said. “I could have asked (Rodriguez) to touch them up, but then again, what message would that send to my daughter or to my nieces? I want all women to love themselves for who they are regardless of imperfections.”
Massey and her husband Nikolaus plan to name their daughter Lucia Lizet Massey — family names. Lizet is her middle name and Lucia is her mom’s middle name.
“My mother has always been the person I look up to the most,” Massey said. “She is a strong-willed woman who always provides as a wife, mother and a hard worker at the school where she works.”
Massey said she’s always worked to make her parents proud and even though she doesn’t consider herself a role model, she loves seeing how little girls’ faces light up when they see her in her uniform.
“If they have the passion for the fire service and emergency medicine I’d say to reach for the sky,” she said. “I love this career and love to teach people to love it the way I do!”
She said working in a male-dominated career has its challenges but said there is also plenty of love, tradition and service.
“It is easy to constantly doubt yourself with so much knowledge and strength around you, but the wonderful thing about the fire service is that the whole team plays off each other’s strengths. A great team will never make you feel less-than but instead will help you in any way you feel you need it,” Massey said. “I love that most of the guys become just like big brothers! They’ll always have your back the way you have theirs. The camaraderie is truly amazing.”
Massey said she plans to go back to work after her maternity leave and even though she knows it will be challenging to balance home and work life, she has a great support system, starting with her husband — her high-school sweetheart and biggest fan.
“Nik has always been supportive of my career, education and advancement in this career, and he was so happy that these photos captured the true me,” she said.