Peaceful Birth-center Birth at Baby and Co.

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Peaceful Birth-center Birth at Baby and Co.

When Janene contacted me to let me know she was expecting her second baby, I literally squealed with excitement! I had met Todd and Janene through a hypnobabies class I had taken early on in my doula career, and they had asked to join them for the birth of their first baby girl, Tesla. Despite the fact that their first birth had been quite challenging (including Todd getting food poisoning the night labor started, and Janene stalling at 9cm for over 7 hours), I had been so impressed by their tenacity and resolve as they gracefully powered through and were able to deliver Tesla naturally. At the time, I was still a "newer" doula and was also just starting to get into birth photography and their birth was one of the first few I had documented. So, when they contacted me about their second, I was excited both for the opportunity to work with these amazing clients again, as well as the chance to see how my skills had improved since the first time around! 

Janene was due December 23, but Christmas and New Years passed with no signs of baby. On Jan 4, Janene went in for a midwife checkup and they gave her some herbs and castor oil to help encourage labor to start on it's own. Within a few hours, Janene began to feel crampy and around 6pm she let me know that this was probably the real deal and said she might be heading to the birth center within a few hours. 10 minutes later, she let me know that things were getting much more intense and she was heading in. With second (or third of fourth!) time moms, I've learned things can move VERY quickly, so I immediately jumped in the car and headed towards the birth center. A big winter storm had just rolled in, so traffic was slow and the roads were slightly treacherous! Thankfully, we all made it to the birth center safely, and I arrived just minutes after Todd and Janene. Janene was at 6cm, and contractions were pretty intense. We thought we still had some time though, so while Janene got up to use the bathroom, Todd and Gaither (the midwife) worked to get the tub and nitrous oxide ready for use. 

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While she was using the bathroom, Janene's water broke and she immediately started feeling "pushy!" The midwife checked and we were all surprised to hear she was now at 9.5cm! Janene decided to get in the tub, and within minutes, after only a couple of pushes, their second baby girl was born into the water and gently guided up Janene's waiting arms. 

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First latch!

First latch!

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Copper being weighed and gently checked over by the midwife. 

Copper being weighed and gently checked over by the midwife. 

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Look at that head strength!!! Copper couldn't keep her eyes off her daddy!

Look at that head strength!!! Copper couldn't keep her eyes off her daddy!

After the birth, as I was taking pictures of Todd and Copper, Janene called me in to take a picture of "what postpartum really looked like." I love it.... 

After the birth, as I was taking pictures of Todd and Copper, Janene called me in to take a picture of "what postpartum really looked like." I love it.... 

All dressed and ready for her trip home. 

All dressed and ready for her trip home. 

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Hospital birth with some unexpected twists -- Lyla's birth story.

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Hospital birth with some unexpected twists -- Lyla's birth story.

When I think of Taylor and David, the words that come to my mind are strength, determination, and love.  In the months leading up to their guess date, as we met up to discuss their birth plans, I learned that they were both avid mountain bikers, hikers, and lovers of all the wonderful outdoorsy adventures Colorado has to offer. They desired a birth that was as natural as possible, and we talked about ways to help this happen. They had also asked me to capture photos of their birth, and I was excited to get to document their story. 

One evening, Taylor texted me to let me know her water had broken and she was heading to the hospital.  Labor wasn't kicking in on it's own, so around 4am, the doctors decided to start her on pitocin to help things along. By around 8, things were intense enough that Taylor asked if I could head in. Despite being tired, Taylor was working through contractions beautifully. She and David had joked about labor being like a particularly difficult bike trail they had once climbed, and I could tell that the mental determination and physical strength Taylor had gained through mountain biking was truly paying off.

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Within a few hours, Taylor had progressed from 4cm-9cm. We all thought baby's arrival was right around the corner, and although contractions remained extremely intense, several more hours passed without any significant change. After being up all night, Taylor was reaching the point of utter exhaustion, and finally opted for an epidural so she could get some rest. As the sun was setting, it was finally time to push. Taylor gathered her strength and pushed for over three hours before baby Lyla decided to make her appearance. David was right by her side, encouraging her on the whole time -- they make an amazing team!

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Baby Lyla was placed on Taylor chest immediately, but was a little stunned after the birth and needed a little extra help to start breathing on her own. Things were a little intense initially, but thankfully she soon began to pink up and cry on her own. Taylor also experienced some medical complications, but thanks to a great staff, both of Taylor and Lyla were soon stabilized and able to be reunited. 

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Baby and mama finally together again... 

Baby and mama finally together again... 

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denverbirthphotographer-birth-hospitalbirth-birth photography-baby

Taylor's two sisters came in to see her soon after the birth. The bond between these three is so strong and beautiful -- it was such a special moment to document! 

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Denver Birth Photography -- The peaceful hospital birth of Asher

Brooke had contacted me in September when she was looking for a doula for her December birth.  I was excited she was planning to deliver at Baby and Company (a local birth center), but sad that I was already booked for December and couldn't take on another client. I referred her to another doula, a trusted friend of mine, Nicole Edwards. Little did I know that our paths were still meant to cross!

On the morning of November 15, I received a text from Nicole saying that she had a client who had gone into labor early and was looking for a birth photographer since the photographer she had planned on using was out of town. It just happened to be on a day that my schedule was flexible and after a few phone calls I was able to line up babysitting and head over to Lutheran Medical Center. It wasn't until I was on my way there that I made the connection that this was the same client I had corresponded with several months before! I was excited to get to join Brooke and her husband Drew for this amazing experience after all! 

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Brooke was inspiring as she labored gracefully throughout the day with strength and determination.  The hospital room became her own sacred birth space with hand-made birth affirmations adorning the window and Christmas music playing peacefully in the background. Drew and Nicole were amazing in their support.  

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Soon after 3pm, after less than 10 minutes of pushing, baby Asher was born into his mother's welcoming hands and brought straight to her chest. Despite being five weeks early, he came out crying and breathing just fine on his own and weighed in at a whopping 4lbs 15oz. 

**Scroll to the end for a link to Asher's birth video! 

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Congrats, Brooke and Drew!! Asher is absolute perfection! 

Click here to see Asher's birth video: https://vimeo.com/196033850 

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My "baby" is turning 3!!! And why birth photography is so important to me!

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My "baby" is turning 3!!! And why birth photography is so important to me!

I've been feeling rather nostalgic this week, (partly because I've been on an organizing spree, sorting through boxes of pictures and keepsakes), and partly because my youngest daughter, Zoey, turns 3 TODAY! She came after a fast and furious labor -- I'd had on and off contractions for several days, but nothing that was turning into real labor. I had been up early Sunday morning with somewhat consistent contractions that faded off again before they intensified. At the time, we had a 22 month old daughter, Elikia, a 6 month old foster daughter (baby V), and I was just ready to have this baby and be done! I called my midwife that morning, asking if there was anything I could do to help this prodromal labor turn into active labor. She suggested red raspberry leaf tea, so I ran to Target, picked some up, and drank 3 cups over the course of early afternoon. Then I laid down for a nap around 3pm. No sooner had I laid down then contractions began in earnest. After so many false alarms, I was hesitant, but within a few hours realized this definitely seemed to be the real deal. We called my sister in-law to come stay with the girls, expecting to go to the hospital, labor most of the night then have a baby! We arrived around 6:45pm and I was shocked to find out that I was already 8cm dilated! I wanted to get in the tub sooo badly, but had to wait for them to get the 20 min monitor on baby and get an IV port placed (which blew my vein 3 times in the attempt!!) By the time that ordeal was over, I was ready to push! (At the time, I was really irritated that I hadn't been able to get in the tub, and I remembered asking if I could get in as soon as baby was born! My midwife laughed and said maybe!) I'm sure she knew that would be the last thing on my mind once baby was here! Unlike with Elikia, pushing was MUCH easier this time and by 7:23pm, Zoey was born and placed on my chest!

the ONLY picture we have from soon after she was born!

the ONLY picture we have from soon after she was born!

She came out with the loudest cry I've yet to hear from a newborn! We joked that she completely skipped that sweet little newborn cry and was crying like a 3-6 month old from the beginning! Maybe she knew that with a 22 month old and 6 month old sister, she might need the extra volume! :)  I was elated and so surprised at how much easier labor had been this time around and Andrew and I were thrilled she was here and healthy!

We hadn't planned for the older girls to come see her right away, but it had all happened so fast, and I was feeling so great, we called my sister-in-law and asked if she wanted to bring them over. (In hindsight, I don't think right at bedtime was a great time to bring Elikia over to meet her new sister! She was a very overwhelmed and tears was not quite the reaction we had hoped for!!) She finally did warm up a little and even gave Zoey a little kiss before leaving.  Baby V (the 6 month old) was pretty indifferent to our newest addition. ;) We were both excited and nervous about this awesome responsibility of parenting three little ones!

our little family! <3 <3 

our little family! <3 <3 

Even though I loved photography and had invested in a good camera after Elikia was born, I hadn't even thought to bring it along for Zoey's birth, or teach Andrew the basics on how to use it. Almost every picture we got in the hospital was on Andrew's phone, and all of those have been lost, except for the ones I had shared on Facebook. And despite how fuzzy and technically terrible these pictures are (from a photography standpoint), they are absolutely priceless to me!

Looking at them instantly brings back memories of all the feelings that day --  the elation, joy, exhaustion, and overwhelming love I felt for Zoey and my whole little family! I'm so thankful for them, but I'm still kicking myself for not having made photos more of a priority. I wish I had some that showed what an amazing support Andrew was to me during labor -- because he was! And of how hard I worked to bring her here, and of Andrew's face when she was born (I would do almost anything for a picture of that!)  And because I'm a birth junkie, I REALLY wish I had pictures of what her cord and placenta looked like. I know I saw them -- but so many details are lost in the haze of birth! 

When I became a doula, I KNEW I couldn't just stand by and not document these incredible moments for my clients. So I began offering to take pictures as well and the reactions of tears and delight I got from my clients after delivering their pictures inspired me to keep taking photos. For those who've had fairly "normal" births, the photos immortalized the joy, wonder, and easily forgotten details of that day. For those whose births did not go according to plan, the photos helped have been part of the healing journey, allowing them to process their experience and see their own strength, courage, and the threads of beauty of their unique birth story.  I am continually humbled and honored to be tasked documenting one of the most sacred events of someone's life -- the birth of their child. 

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And on this day, I'm celebrating the birth of MY child! The one who has stretches me to be a better mother, who amazes me with her fearless courage, who makes me melt with her sweet hugs and long, slobbery kisses, and who takes me from tears of exasperation to peals of laughter faster than anyone I know! Happy Birthday, Zoey!!!

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Vienna's birth story

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Vienna's birth story

A doula friend texted me on a Thursday morning asking if I would be able to take on a last-minute client who was being induced that day. My friend was leaving town for the weekend and explained that her client, Kayle, had been planning to give birth at the birth center, but due to the onset of preeclampsia needed to be induced a couple weeks early.  Both of the clients I had been on call for had delivered earlier that week, so I said, "sure!" 

Kayle and I kept in touch through text and phone call as she began the induction process Thursday afternoon. Inductions are always a little unpredictable and can sometimes take days. This one was no exception. Thursday night passed and contractions had not kicked in yet. Throughout the day on Friday, her midwives tried almost every induction method to get Kayle's body to go into labor, but this baby was just not ready to come!  Finally, on Saturday morning, contractions began coming more consistently. Kayle was ready for some extra support, so I made my way to the hospital and joined Kayle, her husband, Matt, and her mom. When I saw how calm and collected she was, I could hardly believe she was on day 3 of induction and on the highest possible dose of pitocin! We spent the morning walking around and trying different position changes, including some yoga moves that seemed to bring relief.  Unfortunately, contractions were still not strong enough to be causing labor to progress. Finally the decision was made to break her bag of water, and then things began moving forward in ernest! 

Despite the fact she had hardly had any sleep the past three days, Kayle amazed me with her strength and focus through an incredibly intense labor. Her husband and mom were a rock-solid support team and it was beautiful to watch the obvious love they shared. Besides a small dose of fentanyl to help her get some needed rest, Kayle powered through labor with no pain meds!  Finally, at 7:04pm, beautiful baby Vienna was born into the supportive hands of her midwife. 

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Kayle got to do immediate skin to skin with Vienna!

Kayle got to do immediate skin to skin with Vienna!

Despite the difficulties of a three day induction, Kayle (who is nurse), was so impacted by her own birth experience that she has decided to pursue training to become a midwife. I can't wait to see where that journey takes her and was honored to be a part of her birth story!!! Congrats, Kayle, Matt and Vienna!!

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Family-centered cesarean birth at Rose Medical Center

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Family-centered cesarean birth at Rose Medical Center

I met Sarah and Francis early on in their pregnancy when they were looking for a doula and was so honored when they asked me to join their birth team! We met several times to talk through their birth plan and desires for this birth. An avid crossfitter, Sarah was hoping for a natural birth, and I had no doubt that she could do anything she set her mind to! However, as I find myself reminding my clients and myself so many times, the only predictable thing about birth is that it's unpredictable! And Baby Maizy had her own plans for her grand entrance to the world.  Read Sarah's story in her own words below! 

The morning of April 5th I had my 39 week appointment and my doc asked if I wanted my membranes swept..."Sure" I said, not completely sure what that meant.  Throughout that entire day at school, I knew something was happening, I remember texting my husband saying weird stuff was going on "down there" :)  He told me not to get my hopes up.  Around 11 PM that night I was woken up when the contractions kicked in and they kicked in hard.  I went from about 10 minutes between contractions to 7 to 5 in about 3 hours.  We finally went to the hospital around 5 AM and I lasted about 2 hours there with no epidural.  At that point I had been laboring for about 8 hours and my contractions were CRAZY!  They lasted about 90 seconds and were SUPER intense.   I had originally planned to try without any drugs, but I was so exhausted from being up all night and my body said no way we need some help.  That is when the waiting started.  And we waited....and we waited...and we waited.  Every single doctor and nurse who came into the room said oh we are right on track you should have this baby this afternoon...afternoon came and nothing.  Joyanna arrived in the morning and was there for ALL of the waiting.  I can't imagine how boring :) but she never batted an eyelash and was there for anything I needed.  She was so good about helping my husband help me. 

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Around 5 PM I think I hit my emotional breaking point.  I was so tired, I had slept about 4 hours total in the previous 36  and thinking about getting to the actual pushing part seemed like the hardest thing I would ever have to do and I wasn't sure if I had it in me.  It was really hard for me to realize that I might not be able to do this.  I am a crossfitter and had worked out up to the day I went into labor so I thought I was totally strong enough for anything.  Admitting to myself that my body had different ideas was really hard and I believe around that point I threw up and  the tears started.  At 9PM my doc came in and said that my cervix was becoming swollen because of the amount of pressure being forced upon it by baby's head and I was probably not going to be able to become fully dilated.  It was at that point where a C-section was decided and they started prepping me.  I am going to be honest, I thought that I would feel like a failure for not being able to have my baby the "right" way, but at that point I just wanted her to be here and be healthy. 

accepting that a c-section was the best option and saying goodbye to family before heading back.

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When they gave me the drugs, I almost immediately started shaking, and as they wheeled me back they shaking got way more intense.  My husband was amazing and right there holding my hand the whole time and within 8  minutes of them cutting into my belly Maizy was here.  After they showed her to me, Francis went with her.  I didn't want her to be alone, and thank GOD for Joyanna.  She stayed right by my side and held my hand through the shaking and 2nd half of the procedure.  

Seeing Maizy for the first time was magical.  I am tearing up as I write this and think back to those moments.  The minute they laid her on my chest she calmed down and looked right at me.  I still can't believe that she is mine.  The emotions a mom goes through on the day of meeting there baby is super hard to describe and I think every mom goes through them all.   I went from excitement, to impatience, to fear, to intense fear, to total exhaustion, to the most intense love ever.  At the end of it all I felt this little twinge of failure, I had not been able to bring my baby into the world the way women are supposed to, but when it is all said and done I would not trade my experience with anything because I got my little nugget :)

in the recovery room, first latch

in the recovery room, first latch

sister's reaction! <3 <3 

sister's reaction! <3 <3 

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VBAC hospital birth

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VBAC hospital birth

Having spent most of my life overseas, I often find myself connecting quickly and deeply with others who grew up abroad, and this was definitely the case when I met Nomin!  While her sweet son, Naran, played quietly nearby, Nomin shared the story of her first birth, a rather traumatic experience that ended in c-section.  After careful research, she had decided to pursue a VBAC with the midwives at Denver Health and to hire a doula (me!) who could help support her through the process.

During our two prenatal meetings we discussed her desires for this birth in depth and explored evidence based information, options and comfort measures. The 40 week mark came and passed with no sign of baby making her appearance. Finally, as she was nearing 41 weeks, Nomin began experience prodromal labor which lasted for several days. On Thursday at 41 weeks, 1 day, contractions steadily became more consistent, progressing to every ten minutes by the end of the day. Around 7pm Nomin decided to power walk to the gym and soon after her contractions increased to every 6-9 minutes.  We kept in touch as things continued to intensify and I met them at the hospital early on Friday morning. Contractions continued coming strong and steady throughout the day, but progress was slow.  Nomin was experiencing intense back labor, and we tried many position changes, massage, tub, and the Miles Circuit to try to help baby assume a better position. Nomin’s husband, Greg, an Doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncturist was an amazing support throughout the entire process.  His knowledge and skill in Chinese medicine and alternative pain relief methods proved extremely valuable and it was beautiful to observe their loving relationship during such a difficult labor.

 Around 5pm, after being stalled at 6cm, Nomin opted for an epidural and was able to get some much needed rest! When she woke up from a nap at 2am, Nomin began using the peanut ball to help baby get into a better position and was able to go back to sleep again for several hours. During that time, baby got into position and she dilated fairly quickly to 9cm. After pushing for just under an hour, beautiful baby girl Sayana made her appearance! She was born with her little hand next to her face. The midwives and nurses at Denver Health were amazing and Nomin was elated to have her successful VBAC. She worked so hard for it, and absolutely deserved this amazing birth!

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Beautiful, unmedicated hospital birth!

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Beautiful, unmedicated hospital birth!

Krystal and I met last spring through a hypnobabies class we were both auditing. As the only two doulas in the class, we quickly connected through our shared love of all things birthy! We kept in touch through the summer and later that fall, she texted to tell me the exciting news that she and Keith were expecting another baby!  I was beyond thrilled when she asked me to be her birth photographer and it was such an honor to document this incredible birth!  Read Krystal's amazing story in her own words below...


Thursday night (February 25th) was our normal routine as usual. Gave Big Brother Kam a bath, read him a few bedtime stories, gave him good nite kisses and tucked him in for bed. I was tired so I went to lay down on my bed while Keith went downstairs to tidy up the kitchen. A few minutes after I laid down in bed I felt and heard a small pop followed by a small gush. I laid there for a minute or so going back and forth in my head, "Was that my water that broke?!" or "Did I just pee myself?!"  I yelled out to Keith "Babe! I think my water just broke!" He ran up the stairs in total panic mode asking what should we do. I told him he could calm down a bit and asked him to grab a towel so that I could put it between my legs before I stood up in case there was another big gush. I slowly got up and wobbled to the bathroom and as soon as I sat down there was another big gush. Yup! That's my water! I called my midwife and she let me know that if any contractions started that I could go ahead and come to the hospital (since my labor with Kam was only 4 hours we weren't waiting for active labor to start) and if no contractions started I could stay home for 12 hours before I needed to come in and be checked.  After we got home from dropping off Kam at my mom's house (about 2 hours after my water broke) we decided we should just go to bed and get some sleep before things picked up. As soon as I tried to go to sleep contractions started coming every 4 minutes and lasting about a minute long. After 1.5 hours of timing these contractions I decided it was best to just go to the hospital and get checked in just in case labor went fast again.

After getting to the hospital, being admitted and getting settled into our room my contractions stopped. I had already called my doulas and our birth photographer to the hospital so we were all thinking of ways to get labor going again. We got up and sat on the birth ball, we walked the halls for a bit and tried the Miles Circut but after all that only a few mild contractions. So we tried to take a nap. As soon as I started to fall asleep contractions started again. So I got up to take a shower to help bring on more contractions. Nope. Contractions stopped again.  We spent all of Thursday night and all day long on Friday trying to get a good contraction pattern going but as soon as contractions would start they would slowly fade away again.


After an exhausting 24 hours (after my water has broke) it was time to start discussing induction options. After speaking with my midwife and discussing options with my doulas) I decided to go with 1/4 dose of Cytotec orally. But before I could take the Cytotec I had to have an IV placed. The nurse came in to place the IV and she ended up blowing 2 veins after digging around and pulling the IV in and out of my arm! I had reached my breaking point! I was so tired physically and emotionally exhausted. I had a good cry and remember telling my husband "I'm done! I don't wan to do this anymore! I just want my baby in my arms!" Keith took over and helped get the midwife in our room to give me a pep talk and get my head back in the game. She had the charge nurse come in to try placing the IV. Her first attempt she hit a nerve in my hand that shot pain all the up my arm and neck. Ouch!! On her second try she finally got my IV placed. After all of that (around 8pm on Friday night) I took my 1/4 Cytotec pill and then tried to go to sleep. Just an hour after trying to fall asleep my contractions started (around 9pm). They started out mild and continued to get stronger, longer and closer together. (This is where my memory gets a bit fuzzy due to trying so hard to focus on getting through each contraction.) My midwife checked me around midnight and I was 7cm! Keith called our doula and photographer to hurry and come back to the hospital (after they had been already called for 2 false alarms) because labor was picking up fast! At this point I also remembered that I wanted to try nitrous oxide. So I quickly asked my midwife for it and the anesthesiologist brought it in and showed me how to use it.  I was able to use it for 2 or 3 contractions before my claustrophobia kicked in and I started to feel the urge to push.

Everything was happening so fast. The pressure in my bum was growing with each contraction and I could feel my baby getting lower and lower and then all I was aware of was the urge to push. I specifically remember yelling "I'm PUSHING!!" because I couldn't go against what my body was telling me to do. The midwife and nurse both made it into the room. I was standing on the side of the bed so Keith and the midwife were both kneeling on the floor behind me ready to catch the baby. I recall pushing 3-4 times and baby Kolton was born right into Keith's arms at 2:07am on Saturday February 27th. Since I was standing on the side of the bed the nurse told me to reach down and grab my baby. So I reached down and Keith passed Kolton between my legs, I grabbed him and then laid down on the bed, placed Kolton on my chest, he stopped crying, started rooting and latched onto my breast to start feeding! He was so happy and content on mommy's chest!  Welcome to the world baby Kolton!

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