I wasn't even sure where to begin with picking favorites for 2017! I was privileged to journey alongside so many incredible families last year both as doula and photographer. Many of them were repeat clients and two were my own sisters - talk about emotional! New or repeats, all my clients have become so dear to me, each with such a unique and amazing birth story. Words fail, so here are a few pictures to give you a glimpse of 2017.
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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.
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.
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 :)
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!