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

Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | Personal Blog | Welcoming Maisie Part 2

After witnessing the many beautiful, peaceful, family centered births of my clients it was hard not to have high expectations and plans for my own. With my oldest, we chose to induce at 41 weeks because I couldn't deal with the discomfort any longer. As anyone familiar with births knows, one intervention leads to another - I was induced with piton, which lead to an epidural, and he was born with the assistance of forceps which lead to a long recovery. I wanted better this time, for Maisie, and for myself. I longed for spontaneous labor because I KNEW I could handle it. I wanted no pain medication because I KNEW it paved the path for more interventions. I saw a Webster Certified chiropractor for 9 weeks before my due date to help with positioning and avoid the discomforts I dealt with before. I practiced hypnobirthing with the Hypnobabies home study course. I meditated on birth affirmations. I researched labor positions. I built a labor playlist, and gathered various essential oils to help with calming, centering, anxiety, and promoting labor. I expressed all of my wishes to my OB, and he was completely on board with everything I wanted. I did everything I could to insure the birth I longed for would happen. It may seem silly to some, but after needing so much assistance to conceive both of my children- I wanted to prove that my body wasn't broken and could very well do what it is biologically capable of doing.

Sometime during my second trimester I began having dreams about the day I would meet my baby. There were three dreams that repeated multiple times. In the first two I went into labor spontaneously and the third I was induced.

In the first dream, labor began, and I woke up with my husband handing me a swaddled baby boy. No one would tell me what had happened between labor and now, and my photographer had chosen not to photograph it. No reason was ever given. In the second dream, I checked into the hospital in labor, my husband walked into the OR while I followed him - I told him I would be right back, and left. When I returned, he handed me a swaddled baby boy.

My third dream was the only one where I actually "labored." I was induced in my kitchen, (It's a dream, remember?) my OB walked in around 5pm and said "I'm so sorry I haven't checked on you since we started this morning! Lay back and lets see what's going on" as I laid back he saw that the baby was crowning, and being born. I adamantly told him that I could NOT have my baby yet since my birth photographer hadn't made it to the kitchen yet, and asked my husband to call her.

It was almost 7am on July 4th, I had been in confirmed labor 2.5 hours when the anesthesiologist walked in to administer an epidural. He asked my photographer to step out of the room, since protocol is to only have one support person present during the placement. Because my contractions were so intense at this point, I had trouble staying in the position he needed. I leaned on Trey for a while, and then the nurse switched places with him. She had just came on shift, and started talking me through contractions in a low, calm, soothing voice - much like the woman who records Hypnobabies tracks. This helped put me back to my calm center that I so greatly desired. I didn't stay there long, and repeated the cycle of extreme pain, self doubt, and then calm breathing. I could feel the catheter for the epidural moving down my back towards my hip (something that I didn't feel during my first labor), and then back out. I asked multiple times if we were near finishing, and of course, got the typical reassurance of "he's almost got it!" After what seemed like hours, I asked to stop, I couldn't take laboring in such an awkward position any longer. As the anesthesiologist packed up his things, I told my nurse that I needed to push. She suggested moving back into the bed (I was still sitting over the side) so she could check my cervix to see how far dilated I was. I couldn't find the energy to lift my own legs, and Trey helped pull my left leg onto the bed.

Surprisingly, everything following happened quite a bit like the movies. As Trey lifted my leg I yelled "I need to push NOW!" As I felt my body pushing on its own and screamed for Trey to grab Tiffany (our birth photographer) since she was still waiting outside. He walked around the curtain towards the door when the nurse lifted my right leg just barely onto the bed and I felt my body begin to push again, and yelled desperately for Trey to come back. He walked to my bedside as Maisie crowned.

 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

*Photos courtesy of Tiffany Roberts Photography

/ If you or someone you know is expecting in 2017, contact me for more information about birth coverage via the contact form or by email at info@StephanieRallsPhotography.com

Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | Personal Blog | Welcoming Maisie

 Pro Tip: Do not check into the hospital wearing your hippy homebirth shirt

Pro Tip: Do not check into the hospital wearing your hippy homebirth shirt

From the first dating ultrasound, I assumed our second baby would be born sometime after 41 weeks. Jude was born via induction exactly a week after his due date, so it only made sense that this baby wouldn't voluntarily come any sooner - and I wasn't interested in inducing again unless necessary. Our due date was estimated as "July 5-7" I went with the 4th for the sake of keeping things simple, and because it just sounds more fun than July 5th or 7th. However, I was still anticipating labor to start around July 14-16th.

July 1st I started doing a few "home remedies" to induce labor and help get baby into a good position - knowing darn well they don't work unless baby is ready to come, but for some reason it just felt like the thing to do. Friday night into Saturday afternoon I had mild contractions about 30 minutes apart, we spent Saturday morning finishing up on most of the pre-baby to do list that I had, and by the time we were home that afternoon contractions were coming about every 10 minutes, although some were 20 minutes apart. Totally normal, and not an indication that labor is looming nearby. For funsies, Trey and I did the miles circuit together while making dinner that night. There were no changes, and contractions actually slowed down. Which is fine, since baby still has two weeks to go before the date I'm expecting her.  For the last few weeks I had been experiencing infrequent sciatic pain, Sunday it happened just like any other, except instead of being sporadic and maybe 1-2x in a day, it was happening several times an hour, and going horizontally across my thighs instead of straight down one leg. Laying in bed that night, I had reoccurring pains that I finally started timing around 11pm. At 1130 Trey noticed what I was doing, and being his calm and collected self, tried dragging me to the hospital immediately.

We called Labor and Delivery to find out what they suggested I do since "contractions" (which I still wasn't convinced were even real) were about 5-6 minutes apart. The nurse on the phone suggested walking to see if they would stop (P.S. THAT'S NOT HOW THIS WORKS), I chose not to, because I was still team "this isn't labor"

By midnight, the "not contractions" were 2-3 minutes apart, and my mom had arrived to take Jude to her house for the night. I finished packing my hospital bag, had a snack, and we headed out. Checking into the hospital could not have been more awkward - when you walk in saying you're in labor, but not visibly having any pain, no one really wants to believe you, and I got plenty of strange stares. We stayed in L&D triage for four hours determining if I was in labor or not. I was admitted at 4:30am, and finally met the on call doctor who recommended breaking my water.

Compared to laboring with Pitocin, spontaneous labor was simply uncomfortable. After my water was broken, I immediately fell into transition, which is a nice way of describing the pits of hell. At this point I threw Hypnobabies out the window, and asked for an epidural. My photographer had to leave the room for this - but at last check my cervix was still pretty far from complete, so no one expected what would happen next...

*Photos courtesy of Tiffany Roberts Photography

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