Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | Baby Jack's Long Awaited Birth Day

It was an honor to document and now share the birth of Chloe and Matthew's long awaited baby boy. It's hard to believe sometimes that clients trust me fully to join them in such important and intimate moments and document the way I witness it. The love that Chloe and Matthew share is palpable and watching their family grow was such an amazing experience. I'm forever grateful that I was able to be there for them to capture these memories. <3 

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No one expected our amazing son Jack.  I have a very rare genetic condition called a balanced translocation.  It basically means that I'm completely healthy, but any kids my husband and I conceive typically have mixed up chromosomes...Jack has four siblings waiting for us in heaven.  Even before we found out about the translocation we had always looked forward to adopting at some point, but we were crazy enough to try one more time...and thus baby Jack was conceived!  

A statistical near impossibility, little Jack kept us on our toes our entire pregnancy.  With almost weekly ultrasounds, numerous specialist visits, and very expensive blood tests, we were completely prepared to lose him...even after the tests came back "normal."  From 16 weeks onward I experienced quite a bit of bleeding completely unrelated to my translocation, some due to placenta previa and some due to a suspected placental abruption.  On Mother's Day, after a particularly surprising bleeding episode, I moved 2 1/2 hours away to a hotel in Oklahoma City to be closer to the hospital just in case.  We spent a week inpatient with the wonderful team at OU for monitoring.  No one could figure out why I kept bleeding and why Jack's little heart kept beating along, completely oblivious and happy as can be.  At 33 weeks I started contracting for hours and dilating 2cm, and went back to the hospital for another inpatient stay.  The doctors said it was a mystery but to prepare for a preterm birth.  I signed up for every NICU class I could find at OU.  We took our maternity pictures in the hospital in the observation unit, complete with fluorescent lighting and IVs in my arm.  We are actually grateful for that time...it reminds us continually of the amazing gift each day with baby Jack really was. 

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To our great surprise Jack made it full term and we induced at 39 weeks for obvious medical reasons.  The nurses were so accommodating to everything we wanted in our birth plan, and we felt so thankful to get to deliver our baby with such a great medical team.

When we got to the hospital I was 3cm dilated, and we spent the day hanging out on a Pitocin drip, reading Bible stories to our little guy, and ordering an endless supply of red Jello and orange juice from room service.  My husband was pretty much the best ever.  He has such a strong, calm presence that I honestly feel like I can do anything when he is around.  He continually rubbed my back, kept me laughing in between contractions, read me Scripture about peace, and coached me through every contraction and every irrational fear.  By 6:30 that night I was just 4cm dilated.  Around 10pm I was 4.5-5cm dilated, and around 11:25pm we reluctantly decided to break my water.  

Things started happening quickly.  Around 12:50am I told Matthew I was feeling a lot of pressure. Stephanie called the nurse, who checked me and said I was completely dilated.  She made a call and suddenly there were about 12 nurses and doctors in the room.  Matthew propped me up on a bunch of pillows and they brought me a squatting bar for leverage.  We were ready to push!  Around 1:05am I started pushing with the contractions, tuning in to the strong, steady sound of Matthew's voice counting to 10 each time.  After what seemed like a million contractions and lots and lots of pushing, Jack Matthew was finally born, happy and healthy.  The sound of his cries are still music to our ears, even weeks later at 2:30 in the morning.  He is here.  He is alive.  And we are in awe of the God who created him despite the odds.

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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 | Lakeside Women's Center | Birth of Evelyn

I've known Dalton since junior high, but after meeting his wonderful wife Allison and after learning a little about their journey to conceive (thanks facebook!) I was giddy at the idea of documenting their daughter's birth for them. THEN! After learning that Allison is a photographer, and a fantastic writer, we basically became BFFs. I knew Allison would share the story of her daughter's birth better than I ever could, so it's no surprise that I was in tears half way through reading it. Grab some tissues, because there will be tears.


     When my husband and I first decided we wanted a family, it didn’t even cross my mind that we might have trouble conceiving. It soon became clear that it wasn’t going to be as simple as we hoped. But after four years of heartbreak that threatened to cause us to lose all hope, our miracle baby made her presence known with a little pink line.
From that point on, every decision we made revolved around my growing belly. We knew we wanted a natural birth, so we began researching different birthing classes to see which would be the best fit for us. We eventually settled on The Bradley Method after hearing positive stories from friends.
     For those who don’t know, The Bradley Method teaches women and their partners to birth naturally by educating them with an in-depth look at birth and giving them tools to create a calm, peaceful experience. The classes were incredible and taught my husband and I so much more than we ever would have learned on our own. He learned how to support and guide me, which is one thing we loved the most about this method - it allows for a much more intimate, supportive experience than most other methods.
By the last month of my pregnancy, we knew we were as ready as we could possibly be. We anxiously awaited the day when labor would begin, and it did in my 39th week. This is our birth story.


     On May 27th, I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for the gym, and decided to take a nap. I wasn’t even tired but something in me said, “Hey, you know what? You should really sleep for a while.” I woke up about an hour later to use the restroom and as I was sitting there, I felt what I can only describe as an elastic snap in my belly - it even caused it to ripple on the outside! At first I thought my little girl had simply nailed me with a kick, which she was known to do, but then the trickling began. I said, “Oh my God,” about ten times before getting myself together enough to grab a towel so I could get to my phone. I called my husband twice while standing in the bathtub, and thankfully he called back shortly after. “You should come home. My water broke,” I told him, surprisingly calmly. His excitement was obvious and he said he would be home in ten minutes.
Because I had tested positive for Group B Strep at my last prenatal appointment, I knew we would have to leave immediately for the hospital so I could be given IV antibiotics. I slipped on a pair of Depends (laugh all you want) and busied myself with grabbing last minute things for the hospital that couldn’t be packed ahead of time. I was shaking like a leaf as reality sank in with each passing minute. We were having a baby! Like, soon. When he got home, we hugged, cried and laughed, and loaded up the car.


     My contractions started on the way to the hospital, and they were anything but the mild contractions we were expecting in early labor. They were immediately impossible to talk through, coming every three minutes. By the time we were checked in and I was being examined, they were two minutes apart and I was about five centimeters dilated. The nurse offered to get me a peanut-shaped birthing ball to sit on, which I gratefully accepted.


     This whole part of my labor is a blur because it was happening so fast that all I could do was focus on making it through the next contraction. I straddled the birthing ball and rocked back and forth, vocalizing in pain as I did my best to remain relaxed and calm. “Remember what you learned in class,” I told myself. My husband was amazing. He timed each contraction, telling me when I hit the thirty-second mark so I would know they wouldn’t continue to grow in intensity. It gave me something to hold on to. You can do anything for thirty seconds, right? Even though they lasted much longer than that, the intensity dwindled enough for me to relax before the next wave would hit.


     About an hour after being admitted, I began to feel “pushy” and asked that my cervix be checked. I was seven to eight centimeters dilated, and by this point it was impossible for me to leave the bed. The contractions were causing a horribly painful gripping sensation in my back, which may have been caused by the pressure of her head as she made her way lower. I started to panic, feeling like I wanted to escape my own body. My doctor arrived and I was in the middle of a contraction that caused me to push involuntarily, so she checked me again to find I was almost fully dilated. Transition was almost complete, but I was wrought with fear and completely overwhelmed by the pain.


     It was at that moment I knew that if I couldn’t find a way to cope, I wouldn’t be present mentally for the birth of my baby. I uttered the words I promised myself I never would, and within less than a minute, the anesthesiologist showed up at my bedside, telling me he didn’t know if there would be time, but he would do his best. He told me he would give me a mild version of an epidural so I would still be able to move my legs and feel my contractions, but that I would be more comfortable.
The epidural was placed very quickly and smoothly, and all the while my nurse was pushing down on my shoulders to keep my back curved while I screamed through a contraction. She helped me lie down when it was over and several more waves hit before the medication began to take effect. Somehow the pain still gripped my left side with the same intensity, but at that point my doctor was telling me it was time to push. Thankfully, when I began pushing the medication dispersed properly and the pain was manageable.


     “She has so much hair!” my doctor exclaimed, asking me if I wanted a mirror so I could watch the birth. I’m so glad I said yes. I watched my baby crown while breathing through “the ring of fire,” blowing small breaths so I wouldn’t tear. She was on her side rather than anterior, which might account for the pain I felt in my back. Her head came out and then her shoulders, and I watched my little girl make her entrance into the world after a four hour labor and forty-five minutes of pushing.
When she was placed on my chest I was hit with a tidal wave of love and awe. She grabbed her daddy’s finger and wouldn’t let go, her tiny cries piercing the air with her first breath. I looked into the face of our daughter and wept with relief and joy. She was finally here, and suddenly, in that moment, nothing else in the world existed but our little family.
Birth is something that changes you. I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was a week ago, but I mean that in the best way. I feared that if I couldn’t stick to my plan, I would somehow feel less empowered by my birth experience. I’m happy to say I feel completely empowered, and while it didn’t go according to plan, I suppose that’s just my first lesson in motherhood - to adapt, compromise, and grow.

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Thank you so much, Stephanie, for capturing this day for us. We are eternally grateful to have these images to reflect on in the years to come. -Allison

Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | OU Women's Health Center of Edmond | Nathan's Birth Story

When I met Brianna, Alec, and Jackson over cupcakes in late October, Brianna told me when Jackson was born they had just moved to Oklahoma City, didn't know anyone, and didn't have time to find a birth photographer. His birth was a whirlwind, like most are, and she wanted to document Nathan's Birth Day better than Jackson's had been.

Brianna messaged me on the 14th letting me know her doctors visit had shown very little progression and "we may have a Christmas baby" I reassured her that the cervix is a tricky thing,  to relax, and just enjoy the time they have left as a family of three.

22 hours later I get a text from Brianna. "I've had contractions for a couple of hours and tried to take a bath, but they've just gotten stronger"

Just two hours after that... "Pretty sure my water broke, we're heading to the hospital now!"

What did I tell you about the cervix? ;)

Brianna labored for a few hours, and followed her birth plan to a T. (Birth plans don't always work out, so I'm SO SO happy for moms who are able to live out what they've been dreaming of for the past 10 months.) Sweet Nathan was born just after 3am, into a room full of love with his big brother and grandpas waiting patiently in the hallway.