Oklahoma City Birth Photographer + Doula | Healing TOLAC and Repeat Surgical Birth

When I first told Marissa I planned on going through Doula Certification, she told me she would be my first "dual" client to get both documenting and doula support. I learned a lot with her, as we have together for most of our lives. However, the most important thing I learned was no matter how badly we want something for ourselves, our babies, and our loved ones- sometimes it just doesn't happen the way we hope it will. I'm so grateful I was able to support Marissa through her pregnancy and birth, and I'm honored that she allowed me to hold that space for her.

It began to look like a repeat surgical birth was likely, and I was devastated for her - not because a surgical birth is bad, but because I know how her first birth affected her, and from her own words about how a repeat would affect her.

HOWEVER. Marissa is much stronger than I gave her credit for. And much stronger than I could ever be. She handled her labor and birth in stride, and while things were checked off of her birth plan one by one - her ultimate desires were reached.

I could never do a birth justice with my own words. After the jump Marissa will tell the story of Rhett's birth day, followed by all the beautiful photos that show a mother's dedication, a father's love, and the arrival of a strong little man bound to move mountains.


We humans don’t tend to do well in situations of sudden change. And yet, C-section mamas find a way to let go of their pride and connect with an inner strength that allows them to enter the OR and give birth to their child.

And then the actual surgery happens. The actual cutting and suturing. Full recovery often takes months. And while most of us would like to curl up with a bowl of ice cream and a stack of movies after a major surgery, C-section mamas do just the opposite. They nurture and love and bond with their needy, beautiful babies.

Emotionally and physically, these women are SO strong. And this strength isn’t just necessary on delivery day; this strength must endure in the weeks and months and years ahead — as their bodies and souls heal, crafting new dreams with their little ones in their arms.
— Monet Nicole

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      In March 2014 when we brought our daughter into this world, it was one of the best yet worse experiences of our lives. My pregnancy wasn’t the easiest with both high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. My blood pressure kept getting higher with the passing weeks, despite upping my medication. Therefore, I was induced at 37w3d. I went in late Sunday night and was given Cervidil. The next morning Pitocin was started and increased quickly, my water was also broken early that day. The rest is kind of a blur but what I remember was a lot of pain and being stuck to a bed for the entire labor. My epidural failed after four hours and the pain was so intense that I ended up asking for a cesarean just to get it over with. I went into to the OR with expectations of receiving a new epidural, or even a spinal block, however the anesthesiologist decided that general anesthesia was the easiest way for him. This meant that I was put to sleep and neither my husband, nor I, was able to see our daughter be brought into this world. I was out of it for hours and missed the important bonding time, my daughter never could latch an our breastfeeding journey was non-existent. I exclusively pumped for three months, which isn’t a very easy task, until I dried up. The birth of our daughter left a terrible taste in my mouth, I swore to my husband that if we decided to have another child that it would be a scheduled cesarean because I did not want another experience like that one.  

                Fast forward to September 2016, we found out we were expecting again! The more I thought about the upcoming birth, the more I yearned for a healing VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I sought out for the best doctor who specialized in VBAC’s and was pointed into the direction of an amazing doctor in Edmond. I was excited to go to my first appointment, I had my “wish list” that showed what my ideal birth looked like. I wanted free movement, intermittent monitoring, food and water, no induction, no epidural, and last but not least, a vaginal birth. Mainly I just wanted the total opposite of our last birth experience. I wanted to carry to term and allow my body to birth this baby on its own time.

At my very first prenatal appointment, my blood pressure was already high. I was crushed! All my visions of the perfect birth went out the window and the dreaded word of cesarean was brought up as a worse case scenario. To be honest, I didn’t hear the rest of what my doctor said that day. I mentally checked out and didn’t want to hear anything else, I broke down crying and couldn’t get the visions of my previous birth out of my head. She probably thought I was a basket case at that point, but she remained optimistic and said that we would wait and see how this pregnancy went. Thankfully, my blood pressure was well managed with medication and I passed my Glucose test! I had the easiest pregnancy, especially compared to my first. My doctor and I decided that we would go as far along as we safely could.

I spent the remainder of my pregnancy prepping my body and mind for the natural birth I planned for, despite all the negative comments from family and friends for not “taking the easy way out with a repeat cesarean”, this included things like Bradley Method classes, taking red raspberry leaf supplements, chiropractic care, and attempting most of the “natural” induction methods out there.

At 39 weeks, my OB placed a Foley bulb to try and kick start labor, in hopes of avoiding a pitocin induction at 40 weeks. Contractions started as soon as I got to the car, I thought to myself “Oh goodness, this is it. I’m not ready!!” The 30-minute drive home was the worst, contractions were every 4 minutes or so and were very uncomfortable. Once home I got into a shower, the hot water helped relax me which made it not hurt as bad. Four hours later, around 6:30pm, I went to use the bathroom and it fell out, along with a massive gush of water. “Did my water just break?! Babe, my water just broke!” I half yelled to my husband who was in the other room. My contractions ended up slowing down later that night though. Stephanie sent me a bunch of ideas of how to get them going again, she also came over to try and help. After a while we decided that rest would probably be my best option. I tried laying down but couldn’t settle down enough to get any rest so instead I went outside and walked our street, did lunges, sat on the birthing ball, and tried pumping. The contractions started back up but weren’t very strong, nor consistent. Around 7am we decided to go ahead and go to the hospital since it had been about 12 hours since my water had broken. I went in and got checked out, I was a 4 and 60% effaced…but my bag of waters was still intact?! Everyone, me especially, was stumped as to what the gush of water was when the bulb fell out. Since my contractions weren’t close together and my water was intact, I went home. I had on and off again contractions for the next week! Every time they started up I just knew that was going to be it, I was going to go into labor by myself and not have to get the evil Pitocin that I wanted so badly to avoid. But it wasn’t, Monday afternoon I was called by Labor and Delivery and given instructions on what to do to prepare for my induction the next morning.


Tuesday May 16th, 6am came very slowly, I couldn’t sleep that night due to contractions and a wondering mind. I reluctantly woke my husband up and we went to the hospital. My anxiety was through the roof, was I going to have the same birth outcome as last time? I was checked in and hooked up to everything. I was checked by the nurse and was told I was a 2..a 2?! Are you kidding me? How did I go backwards? The doctor came in and rechecked, I was a 4 still but that beat going backwards to a 2. Eventually the Pitocin was brought in and started at a very low dose, after all I had been having contractions for the last two weeks so it shouldn’t have taken much to get the ball rolling, right? Wrong! I went all day/night at a low dose, my contractions were pretty consistent and getting stronger. It wasn’t until late that night that they started to get really strong, this is where my timing and events begin to get a little blurry. At some point, the doctor broke my water which allowed me to get the external monitors off, which made switching positions a little easier but the contractions even more painful.

Stephanie had me constantly moving, even though all I wanted to do was sit on the bed with it in a chair position. She had me moving to the toilet, birthing ball, hands and knees, swaying leaning against the bed, etc. If it wasn’t for my husband being my rock and constantly being by my side, most of those would have been impossible! The most comfortable of those positions was being on my knees leaning against the bed, this allowed my husband to apply counter pressure to my lower back which at this point was killing me! I was at the point where an epidural sounded amazing, although I was scared it wouldn’t work but for a few hours and it would only hold me back more, so I asked the nurse to check me and she said I was around a 7 to 7 and a wiggle. I was ecstatic, after all I only got to a 4 with my daughter, and knew that I was coming close to the end so I settled for some IV pain meds instead of an epidural to take the edge off. I was finally able to get a little bit of rest, as did my husband and Stephanie.

Wednesday, May 17th, as the morning came so did shift change. My new nurse came in and did a cervical check, she told me I was dilated to about a 4, maybe 5. I may or may not have lost my cool and told her I wanted my doctor to check because I was told all night that I was a solid 7. My doctor came in and checked me, she said that my night nurse was mistaken that I really was a 4, maybe 5, and continued to give me a tough love speech about how they needed to start raising my Pitocin and get things really going. By this time, I was ugly crying. I felt defeated, like my body was broken. I couldn’t imagine the pain getting any worse, but my husband and Stephanie reassured me that it would all be fine and that I was doing great. I think they were lying to me though because I didn’t feel like I was doing great, I felt like I was losing it during every contraction. The pain in my back only got worse, both Stephanie and the nurse were convinced that my baby had turned sunny side up and I needed to do more positions to get him to turn back around.

I was reluctant and pretty much told them to screw off, I was very mean from that point on. (Sorry Dylan, Stephanie, and morning nurse - I didn’t catch your name) After a few hours when it was confirmed that my baby wasn’t interested in coming down and I was still only dilated to a 4, my doctor decided that a cesarean was in my best interest. After more ugly crying and some comforting hugs from my doctor, we agreed that we’d go ahead with the cesarean.

The Pitocin was shut off and within twenty minutes I finally had relief from the back to back contractions, I could get out of bed again without feeling like my body was being shredded into pieces. My husband and I got prepared to go back for a cesarean, I think it’s safe to say that he was just as nervous as me at this point. I went back to the OR and they gave me a spinal block, it worked first try! They brought my husband back and while he enthusiastically watched the entire thing, all I could do was remind myself to try to relax and breathe. When the doctor got to the baby all I could hear was “oh wow, he’s such a big baby” and how he was looking straight up at the ceiling, dang it-the nurse was right. He was placed on my chest and his daddy was able to cut the cord.

Rhett was taken to get cleaned and measured, weighing in at 10 pounds 6oz, 22 inches long, with the biggest head that the nurse has ever seen at 38cm! Before I knew it, we were settled in our room where Rhett quickly became a pro at nursing. A few hours later, big sister was brought in to meet her brother-our family was complete.

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Needless to say, bringing Rhett into this world didn’t go as I imagined, however, I did have my healing pregnancy/birth. I carried to 40 weeks, had free movement during labor, had food and water, didn’t get an epidural, and was able to witness the birth of our son. Many ask that since it ended in a repeat cesarean, why didn’t I just save myself the trouble and sign up for a cesarean in the first place? Well, to those I say, because I wanted the experience of an empowering labor and birth. I wanted the intimacy of having my husband support me during contractions, I never felt closer to my husband than I did during this labor. I wanted to be able to say I did it without an epidural, 26 hours of Pitocin labor without an epidural isn’t easy. I got all that, plus more. I may not have been able to have my VBAC, but I still felt like I succeeded thanks to my husband, Stephanie-doula, and my very patient and supportive doctor. You guys are the reason I was able to go as far as I did, I can’t thank you guys enough.

I was not allowed into the OR, all photos taken during that time are thanks to a wonderful nurse who volunteered to man the camera in my place.

 

 

Oklahoma City Birth Photographer + Doula | World Doula Week

But...what's a doula?

 

A Doula, also known as a birth companion or post-birth supporter, is a nonmedical person who assists a person before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her spouse and family, by providing physical assistance and emotional support.
— Wikipedia

I've had the opportunity to see several doulas in action while photographing births, and I've been lucky enough to mentor under a fabulous doula this year. From my observation, a doula is your best friend through labor and postpartum, and a guaranteed support no matter what your decisions are.

She'll be a constant contact during pregnancy, helping you craft your birth plan and prepare for the labor YOU want.

She'll hold your hair while you puke, and tell you how gorgeous you are after 30 hours of labor - even if you feel like a hot mess.

She'll remind your spouse that everything he's doing is perfect - because he feels completely helpless seeing you do all the hard work. Together they'll give you massages and counter pressure to help manage the pain while you work towards your goal of an unmedicated birth.

She'll keep you hydrated, nourished, and moving - to help get your baby here in a healthy manner.

She'll make sure you and your partner rest - because staying awake for 48 hours is hard on anyone, especially new parents

And when it's all over, she'll cry happy tears with you because after 9 long months you FINALLY FINALLY have your sweet baby in your arms, and it was all worth it.

 

As I venture into my own Doula journey, I hope I can be half the support these women are <3

Pictured: Josiah Hackney, Webster Certified Chiropractor in Emond, OK

Pictured: Josiah Hackney, Webster Certified Chiropractor in Emond, OK

Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | A Healing Home VBAC

Kaitlin is a birth doula and her husband Brandon is a photographer who I have known since high school, when she first approached me about photographing the birth of their second baby, I was beyond thrilled. Unfortunately, my own due date was only two months before hers, and with my labor history I wasn't confident that I would be ready to commit to a birth so soon after my own. Luckily, the stars aligned perfectly and at the last minute we made it all come together and I could not have been more excited to share this wonderful day with the Burton's and their fabulous birth team.

Kaitlin has chosen to share the story of her rainbow baby's healing home birth from her own point of view. No one can describe a birth quite like a new mother <3


Homebirth Door Sign

The birth of my son Greyson, despite being one of the greatest days of my life, was also one that I was really unhappy with for a very long time. I was induced at 38 weeks 5 days, labored for 12 hours at an unheard of level of Pitocin, and was asked (whispered to) if I “wanted” a C-section after being “stuck” (these sarcastic quotations are giving me life right now) at 5cm for 5 hours. So naturally, I was like, “sign me up! This is the WORST!”.

The moments/days after my cesarean went something like this (in a nutshell):
-I was sent to recovery with my son in my arms.
-15 family members immediately came into the room to meet and hold our son.
-Greyson was sent to the NICU for what was essentially a booger in his nose, but was kept for 1 week after finding some other things that were wrong.
-I was unable to see Greyson for the entire week. I went home without my family. Why? Because the one time in my adult life that I got the flu shot, I caught the flu in the hospital.
-I got MRSA (a pretty serious and terrible infection) in my incision and was very sick from that as well.
-Breastfeeding was non existent. I had to pump and send my milk to him in the NICU. When we finally got home, I couldn’t get him to latch because HELLO! I don’t know what I’m doing! So I exclusively pumped for 3 months then my milk said, “bye girl!”.
-CUE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. YAY.


Fast forward to 2 and a half years later. I’m now a birth doula, loving on pregnant mamas and teaching them that this is not how their birth has to go. I attend births for a living, and each one of those mamas inspires me. It doesn’t matter if she is screaming the entire time, if her birth plan doesn’t go the way she intended, whatever the situation, I leave every birth in awe of the strength I just witnessed.

So when I found out I was pregnant with this little one, our rainbow baby, I immediately knew how I wanted to meet him or her. I knew 2 things: 1. My baby was going to be born at home. 2. My baby was going to come out of my vagina.
This is the birth story of Oliver James Burton.

September 15th, 2016

Greyson was just getting over a terrible 5 day stomach virus that was going around, and by “getting over”, I do in fact mean that he had gone from vomiting 9 times a day to just one. Woohoo. It was total hell, and I was so glad that it was dying down. I was even happier to report that I had not caught this virus. I did NOT want to catch a stomach virus at 40 weeks pregnant and that cause me to go into labor. That would be the worst thing that could happen and I’m SO glad it didn’t.

Except for it did.

The virus had greeted me in the morning…then again an hour later….and so on for the entire day. My mom showed up around 3pm or 4pm to help me take care of Greyson while I was pretty much dead on the couch. I was vomiting every hour. I had a lot of pain in my stomach and then pain started coming to my back. I really tried to keep my eye out for contractions, but it was hard differentiating between the pain of the virus and the pain of contractions, which I didn’t realize had started around 4pm or 5pm. I finally realized around 6pm that I was having contractions, all of which were in my back. I would have flashbacks to Greyson’s birth and how the contractions pretty much felt the same and I would start to freak out. I’d snap myself back to reality and remind myself that this is a different story.

Oklahoma City Home Birth | Stephanie Ralls Photography

My husband Brandon is a photographer and had a full day of sessions that day. He got home around 7:30. I hadn’t been in contact with him because I was so physically ill I couldn’t move, I really couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t until he got home that he knew I was in labor (Sorry, babe.). I didn’t even see my phone until after I gave birth 2 days from now.

During this time my mom was in touch with our midwives and doulas, keeping them updated with everything. At this point, which is what is supposed to be early labor and totally manageable, my contractions were every 2 minutes lasting 30-45 seconds. They stayed this way for about 24 hours, and were honestly not that much different than my transition contractions. The pain was extremely hard to manage already. My birth team was convinced that this was false labor and that the dehydration from the virus was causing the contractions. Dawn, one of my midwives, came over to check on me and brought me Epsom salts for a bath and a shot of Zofran for my nausea. Everyone was fully convinced my labor was going to stop and that my body would get some much needed rest. Wrong. I did get maybe an hour of sleep, however after that my body was back at it. Contractions still coming every 2-3 minutes lasting 1 minute at this point.

September 16, 2016—My Due Date

Honestly, this entire day is a blur for me. I have no idea what I was doing in this 24 hour period other than getting through it one second at a time. The times that I think things happened probably didn’t happen at those times, so I ask that my birth team please disregard the times because they are probably wrong! Lol!


I was laboring in my bathroom, as I did for about 40% of my labor. I kept in my mind throughout my whole labor that I needed to be in productive positions because I needed to bring my baby down. I was constantly squatting, on all fours, or leaning over countertops with my legs bent while swaying my hips. I wanted to make every second count. I had a sort of routine. I’d do maybe 10-15 contractions leaning over my kitchen counter, then I would get on my knees and lean over a chair, then maybe hop in the bath for 30 minutes, lay down for 30 minutes, then get back up. Every time I would have to go to the bathroom I would stay on the toilet for a few contractions because all of us in the birth community know that’s the “dilation station”.

I labored like this until about 5:30am. At this point I wanted Lauren and Cara, my doulas, to come. I was desperate for any kind of help and I didn’t think I could handle it on my own anymore. I should also mention I probably felt this way because Brandon was sleeping (I wanted him to get some good sleep because of the very long day he had, and the very long day he was about to have), my mother in law was sleeping on our couch, and my mom had gone home to take a shower and came back to find me at a total loss for what to do, so I was laboring alone for awhile. That’s when she called Lauren. She also called Brandy because I wanted my cervix to be checked. My husband had woken up at this point and was helping me through each contraction. I had to be holding someone's hand through every single contraction or it was completely unmanageable in my mind. Brandy arrived first; she checked me and found me to be a 3 and only 50% effaced. I was immediately ready to give up. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. At that moment, Brandy told me that I was perfectly capable of having this baby. She told me I was strong and that I am doing everything right. She left me with the words, “today is your day”. I was ready to keep going after that. She gave me the strength I needed to keep going.

Lauren and Cara arrived to check on me after Brandy left. They stayed with me for a while, doing lots of double hip squeezes to help my back labor. Just their presence made me feel better. I knew it was still very early in the process (even though I’d been laboring hard already for almost 13 hours) so I didn’t expect them to stay; I had a long way to go. Lauren suggested I drink a glass of wine and try to get some sleep. My team was worried I was going to get too exhausted, and honestly, I already was. I felt depleted, and so so weak. I drank some wine and slept for about an hour.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was around 11am when Dawn came and administered some IV fluids to hydrate me. Everyone was hoping and pretty confident that this would stop my contractions. She also gave me Benadryl so that I could hopefully get a sufficient amount of sleep. They were very worried my body would suffer even more from exhaustion if the labor continued and I hadn't rested. However, none of that happened, my body was apparently very ready to have a baby. I didn’t get much of a break from this labor. Our baby wanted to meet us so very badly!

Fast forward to around 7pm. Hour 26 of labor. I was just going through the motions at this point. I wanted to be checked again just to see if anything was happening. My mom called Brandy and she was at my house in 20 minutes. She checked me and I believe I was 4cm and she could stretch me to a 5 so she did that. I think I was 75% effaced at this point? I was distraught, to say the least. To hear that I only progressed 1cm in 13 hours was very hard to grasp, considering how much pain I was in. I started to cry and, yet again, Brandy to the rescue with such sweet, encouraging words. "You CAN do this, your body is apparently ready to have a baby and you WILL have this baby in your arms soon". It was finally at this point that my birth team and I were convinced my labor was not going to be able to be stopped and that in the next day our baby would be here. I labored long and hard with my husband and 2 moms by my side. My dad also came to support me a for a couple hours. My husband was 100% my rock, holding my hand through every. single. contraction. And when he had to pee, it was my mom, my mother in law, or my dad holding my hand. I was so so so blessed to have this support system. I can’t thank them enough for the love they gave me through this experience.

Birth Affirmation Banner Flags

September 17th, 2016—Birth Day

**A HUGE thank you to Lauren for my birth notes or else I wouldn’t have any idea what happened on this day. The times are actually correct!**

My labor had finally progressed to the point where I knew it was time to call my birth team. It was 2:30am and I needed my doulas. I needed their help, knowledge, and simply their presence. They arrived around 3am and commenced the constant double hip squeezes to help my back. Brandy arrived around 3:30 am and checked me around 4am. I was 6cm and 100% effaced. Another pep talk. Thanks, Brandy. I’m so annoying. Stephanie, my birth photographer, arrived at 3:45am and all I could think was, “Thank God Brandon remembered to call her, I don’t know what I would have done”.

At 4:30am, my team began to set up my birth pool in the living room. At this point I was doing standing lunges through contractions with Brandon to try to move some cervix out of the way. I thought I was dying through these, but I knew that Lauren told me to do these for a reason and I knew how effective it was so I got through it and was VERY happy when it was over.

It’s now 6am and Dawn arrives. I am clearly in transition (AKA the toughest part of labor). I got into the birth pool around 6:30am and labored in the pool until 7:15am when I stood up and swayed with my husband through a few contractions. My water broke at 7:30am. I then got back into the pool and was desperate for this to end. I didn’t think the pain could get any worse, and then of course since my water broke I was reminded that it could get worse. Lauren suggested sitting with one leg up in a lunge position through my contractions to help bring baby down. It was awful, but I did it. I actually got to the point where I was doing that on my own because I was so desperate to hold my baby. At 8am, Lauren suggested I labor on the toilet for a while. I think I did 5 contractions there and then got back into the pool. Brandy checked me at 8:45am and found I was 9cm and baby was very low. I then began pushing around this time during my contractions. It felt both great and horrible to push. I loved that it was something different, but the pain in my back was at it’s peak for sure.

I pushed from this point on until 10:21am when our sweet baby boy, Oliver James Burton, was born. Brandy placed him into my hands and it took me a good minute to even realize what just happened. Brandon was crying. I was crying. Actually, most of the people in the room were crying. I couldn’t believe that this just happened; I just experienced an actual dream come true. I kept repeating, “I can’t believe I did it,” over and over. And just like that, the pain was gone completely. I was looking into the eyes of the sweetest boy in the world. I was in complete awe of how beautiful he looked in my arms, with his skin against mine; Something I wished I had with Greyson's birth so very badly. Everyone deserves this, I thought. It was the best feeling in the world.

20 minutes later we were still in the pool and I got him to latch on the first time I tried. More crying happening here. I got out of the pool around 11:20am and made my way to the bed, where Brandon and little Ollie were doing skin to skin. I climbed in bed with my little family and I was the happiest girl in the world. After Oliver was born, my dad started making a huge breakfast for everyone that I’m sure they were all super ready and thankful for. I know I was. I was soooooo ready to eat. Everyone hung out and ate while we got to know our little boy.

Brandy did Ollie’s newborn exam at 12:30pm. I believe the weight portion went a little something like this:

Brandy looking at the scale: “No fucking way. It says 10 pounds 10 ounces”.

Dawn: “Use the other one!”

Brandy confirms that I did in fact just birth a 10 pound 10 ounce, 22 ¾ inch long baby. We are all in total disbelief. It was awesome.

So that’s it. That’s how our little Ollie James came into this world. I have to say, it did NOT go as planned. Obviously. But let me tell you something, it was the absolute best experience of my life. I feel so healed with this birth. I feel like a different woman, doula, and person. It changed me and I feel like I can do anything. I had my baby at home, where the people surrounding me never once made me feel like a patient, only a person and a mother. Thank you to my birth team and my family who held me in love the entire time. You all are the reason I was able to do this. This day is forever cherished. Welcome to the world, Oliver. You were surrounded by so much love the day we met you, and even more now.

Birth Team

Oklahoma Birth Photographer | Personal Blog | Welcoming Maisie Part 3 | The one with all the pictures

The on call OB rushed in, followed by a flood of nurses, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw Tiffany's head in the crowd. The OB came to me and assisted with the placenta. Through the commotion I only picked up bits of what was happening and being said. The OB begrudgingly commented that there was barely enough blood in the umbilical cord because clamping had been delayed for so long and I smiled a bit - my OB and I had planned to delay clamping, but I hadn't had a chance to inform the current OB about it. At some point, her umbilical cord had been cut and Maisie had been moved to the warmer instead of to my chest. I have no idea when this happened, and Trey isn't clear on whether he was able to cut it or not. Everything was utter chaos. I mentioned above the mess that I wanted to keep my placenta, and the OB denied my request because "It's gross, you won't want to do anything with it."  After 10 minutes or so, a nurse brought Maisie to me for the first time. She latched almost immediately and nursed like a champ - which was a huge relief after the initial struggle with Jude.
 
Maisie was an 8lb 20in chunk who quickly regained her birth weight and is hanging around the middle of the growth chart. She sleeps almost through the night - and has slept 8 straight hours a few nights, which we are incredibly thankful for considering 2.5 year old Jude still struggles with night wakings. She absolutely adores her big brother, and he tolerates her. Our little family is complete and we're considering installing a white picket fence soon ;)

*Photos courtesy of Tiffany Roberts Photography