A baby knows when to be born: Oden’s Sneak Peek

When I think back to my birth, the most supportive, consistent, and loving “component” was my husband. Without him I could not have endured labor let alone a 42 hour labor. To imagine facing the fact that he wouldn’t be there would have been heartbreaking.

Kelsey first contacted me about photographing the birth of her son because her husband would be away serving our country and would miss the first 2 months of his son’s life. I knew I had to be there. They lived further than I would typically drive for clients but I couldn’t turn this family away.

When we met to discuss details at 36 weeks she had exciting news; Robert MAY be able to make it to the birth. He would be able to return home from August 1st – 14th…she was due on the 6th. For those who do not know the average first time pregnancy lasts 41 weeks and 1 day, in Kelsey’s case the 14th!

The labor call came on the 6th. Dilated to 5 at lunch time we were all pretty sure this little boy was going to beat the odds and arrive on his actual due date , but he apparently had other plans for his momma. After a long overnight labor, which Kelsey handled beautifully, baby Oden arrived at 6:36am on the 7th. Robert and Kelsey got to enjoy pregnancy for 1 week together and they got to experience family life together for 1 week together. Perfect timing for an imperfect situation.

This mom’s support team was incredible! Could she have done it with just her mom? Yes. Could she have done it with just Robert? Yes. But with the two of them together helping her relax, she was truly able to tackle each contraction with ease (she might say differently but to outside viewers she was the picture perfect Bradley® student).

I was so excited to capture these moments this sweet couple thought they would not get to experience.

Sean’s Surprise Birthday

I never know how parents, especially first time parents, keep from finding out the gender of their baby. Tears and anticipation filled the room as Sean made his entrance into this world. His parents were beyond joyful to meet him (and find out he is a him) after a short and intense labor. Not a dry eye in the room as his mom proclaimed, “I have waited my whole life for you”. This couples love for each other and their newborn son does not come through in these photos. I know parents love their children, but Sean will be cherished each moment of each day.

 

 

 

 

To be a part of this birth as a doula and photographer was very bitter sweet as I will be taking a break from both soon (more details will be posted later).  I thank them from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to serve them.

Welcome Grayson!

My first birth of 2013 is in the books! Baby Grayson was brought into this world by loving parents Adrienne and Ryan on January 16th. This 7 pound 3 ounce bundle of joy sure did take us all on a crazy (and fast) journey. Here are just a few of the images I was able to capture as this family’s doula and photographer.

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I’ll be honest, when I got the text at 6:30am requesting I head to the hospital I was a bit hesitant. Adrienne was only at a 2 and was not have very strong contractions. At this rate it was looking like a long day ahead. Then I realized if I waited any longer traffic would be horrible. So I jumped in the car and headed off…just in the nick of time.

I arrived around 7:30 to find Adrienne and Ryan laboring beautifully on the birth ball. The nurse was telling them they were cleared to walk for a while and in about 30 minutes she’d be back to start the pitocin since Adrienne had not made any progress since the night before when she was admitted for minor complications.

We headed out the door and before we could make it 5 feet *splash* amniotic fluid everywhere! The simple motion of walking ruptured her water and set things in motion.

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Back in the room things progressed quickly. I hardly had time to take any photos since her contractions picked up in intensity. Another exam revealed in less than 2 hours dilation had progressed from a 2 to a 9. With more control than most first time moms (or any laboring woman for that matter) have, Adrienne fought through 30 minutes of rough labor.

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Before long she was ready to push and Grayson made his arrival at 8:57.

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I can only hope the rest of my births for 2013 go as smoothly and beautifully as baby Graysons’.

Congratulations to the wonderful family! Thank you for letting me be a part of this special journey 🙂

Labor is a beautiful thing

Labor is defined in many ways

la·bor
(lbr)

n.

1. a. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work. See Synonyms at work.

    b. Something produced by work.
2. A specific task.
3. A particular form of work or method of working: manual labor.
4. Work for wages.
5. a. Workers considered as a group.

    b. The trade union movement, especially its officials.
6. A political party representing workers’ interests, especially in Great Britain.
7. The process by which childbirth occurs, beginning with contractions of the uterus and ending with the expulsion of the infant and the placenta.
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 As a birth photographer and doula my job (labor) is to help a family through birth (labor). The two meanings go hand in hand for me. Unlike most people (especially women) I look forward to labor. I use words like exciting, perfect, and BEAUTIFUL to describe the hard work I see put forth by mothers. When you’re going through it, the task of bringing a baby into this world can seem daunting and impossible, but more and more moms are starting to see the beauty and once in a life time moments that occur through their labor. I love when clients allow me to photograph and preserve these memories.
The final push
No matter how a labor ends (natural, medicated, or cesarean) experiencing the power of your body and feeling you and your unborn child working together is an emotion that can never be duplicated. Whether for one contraction or one hundred, I would encourage every woman, who is able, to experience some degree of labor.
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For couples who tackle labor together, the process takes on a whole new dimension. Seeing not only a child but a family be born is a very intimate time a lot of people are not comfortable sharing with outsiders. However, couples now are starting to realize having photos taken of BOTH of them through the labor can be a testament to their grown child about how much love there was as he or she was welcomed into the world.
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Here are just a few more of my favorite moments I captured through 2012. Thank you to all the families who allowed me to be a part of your births and for those planning on having me attend their’s this year! I cannot wait to experience the miracle of life again and again for many years to come.
and of course you can’t have this many labor photos without a couple of baby photos 🙂

Welcome Maddie J

I am always honored when students from my birth class ask me to be a part of their labor and birth. No matter what the role, attending births is a passion of mine. For Karen and Adam my role was to document the birth of their first child, Madeline (aka Maddie J), through photos. What I ended up capturing was much different.

The following is shared with permission to give others a glimpse inside an amazing labor that has changed my life forever.

12/21/12 – Karen’s due date and surprisingly the day she actually went into labor. She texted me at about 8:30 that morning to let me know her contractions were getting more regular but still pretty far apart.

The day went on with no major updates. Finally I got the call at 9:30pm. They were headed to the hospital! The last thing Karen said before she hung up was, “I don’t think I can do this”. I was so excited to get to the hospital to watch her prove to herself that she could!

I arrived about 20 minutes after Karen and Adam. She was dilated to almost a 7 and contractions were less than 3 minutes apart. A text-book perfect labor!

I love watching first time dads try to figure out labor. Adam was so enthusiastic and so nervous at the same time, it was heartwarming to see. Everyone in the room could tell he was ready to be a dad. Once they were in a rhythm, I couldn’t help but smile. As their birthing instructor I would love to take credit for their amazing labor skills but there are some things that can’t be taught.  Like how whenever Karen’s breathing would start to speed up and she’d start to get tense, with one phrase, “breath from within”, Adam could relax her completely. It was truly beautiful.

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Time went on and Karen moved to the tub (side note: hospitals that offer birth tubs are amazing and I think all others should follow suit). Signs starting pointing towards transition, I got excited and starting reminding them about what they could expect…”the hardest shortest part, the hardest shortest part”. Everyone was braced and ready for contractions to pick up but instead they began to taper off.

I learned, even before my own labor, that you never put a time stamp on when you think things will happen, so the hardest question to answer from a laboring woman is, “How much longer?”. Being reassuring without making promises is tricky when it comes to birth. All you can do is tell mom that her baby will come when ready. Another thing I’ve learned this past year in this field is that there is a connection between mothers. I had been in her shoes, the feeling that labor is never going to end, the exhaustion hurting more than the contractions. Honestly one of the most surreal moments of my life so far was when Karen said, “I can’t do this much longer”…. I looked her straight in the eyes and for a moment the room was silent, “You already have done it. You’ve got this and your daughter will be here soon.”  Karen smiled, nodded her head, and had a new resurgence of energy. I have said things like this to other laboring moms but this was different. I was not the medical professional in the room, but I believed it with all my heart. Maddie was on her way and I knew her mom was going to have the perfect birth!

Karen moved to the bed to try to get some rest but contractions were picking back up. They were closer together and last longer. Finally the moment we’d all been waiting for, the urge to push! Without even being prompted to or being checked to see if dilation was complete Karen started pushing and Adam starting tearing up. He later described his emotions to me as incredible, that he couldn’t believe her body just knew to do that. He could not stop talking about how amazed he was by his wife strength both emotionally and physically.

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The room got excited and cheered Karen on. Then before we knew it nearly 2 hours had passed. Baby’s heart rate was dropping every time she engaged in the pelvis. Progress had stopped. The midwife checked Maddie’s position and found she was too high for a forceps delivery and thought an epidural would be a good option so they could try to reposition her and avoid a cesarean. Hospital protocol required everyone but dad to leave the room so it was out to the lobby for the waiting game.

Another hour went by and finally Adam came out.  They could not successfully reposition Maddie and had to take Karen back for an emergency cesarean.  Adam sat down looking so remorseful. This is not how you’re supposed to feel at your child’s birth. He hadn’t even gotten to see his daughter yet because of minor complications. They had told him everyone was fine and he could come to recovery in a few minutes. “This is the worst thing that could have happened,” he said. My heart was filled with guilt. I knew once he got to hold his sweet girl and see Karen again he would bounce back, but until then I felt like I had to do something. We talked things through and by the time the nurse came to take him back I think he had begun to process the fact that they tried EVERYTHING possible and their cesarean was 100% necessary.

After some bonding time Adam brought my camera out to me and told me their midwife had taken it into the operating room and was able to get a few shots of Maddie just minutes old and photos of the first time he got to meet his daughter!

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I left the hospital at 8:00 Saturday morning still not sure how to feel about everything. I didn’t want Karen to be angry at me. I didn’t want her to feel like I led her on when I told her she could do it. Then I got this text…

“Hey…Thanks again for all of your help. Karen’s spirits are high and we are perfectly fine with how everything turned out. We got to experience the miracle of a natural labor and it was AMAZING!! We would love to talk in front of your next Bradley class or even multiple classes and provide some useful information.”

Things don’t always go according to plan, but focusing on the positive aspects even in negative situations will take you a long way. I cannot thank Karen and Adam enough for letting me be a part of such an important day in their lives. Congratulations you two and welcome to the world Miss Maddie!

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Maddie’s First Christmas
A photo from her first day home!