I have been incredibly lucky to be part of Ada's journey. Ashley and Andy are amazing parents. They not only have patience, creativity, and passion in everyday parenting, they take on challenges with grace and comedic relief.
They have allowed me to share their whole experience from finding a new provider who can support a breech birth, versions (see Part One), to their labor and delivery. The pictures shown are both beautiful and graphic in showing a breech birth up close and personal.
Ashley's water broke around 6pm on Wednesday evening. Her previous labors started the same way with contractions following a few hours later. So we all headed to the hospital because it was an hour away and she wanted to get comfortable before labor really started.
I arrived around 9pm and we were all pretty excitable. Ashley's wonderful midwife Kate instructed us all to sleep so we could be rested for when she really needed our support.
The next morning was the time to get active in trying to encourage some contractions. Lots of walking, yoga, squats, nipple stimulation, resting, red raspberry leaf tea, more walking. We tried the rebozo, the miles curcuit, and more walking. All of these things several times and nothing seemed to get things moving.
After nearly 27 hours after her water had broken they decided to encourage some contractions by starting with the very lowest dose of pitocin. It really did the trick and she labored beautifully.
She told us she was in transition. She laid down to rest. The birthing stool was set up. That's where she said she would like to push her baby out. And soon she was ready. "I have to push." She got right up out of bed and onto the stool to push.
Again, the next photos are of a graphic vaginal birth.
Labor is hard. But it is beautiful and worth every second. The strength of this family is amazing. I am so honored to have been part of their journey.
This little ladies story is very special. She has an incredibly strong mama and powerfully supportive father. Surrounded by people who wholeheartedly believe in the natural birth process. From a homebirth midwife to the last minute addition of an OB who was experienced and supportive of a breech birth plan.
Version (medical): the manual turning of a fetus
in the uterus to make delivery easier.
Ada's birth was originally planned to be a homebirth. Her older sister was vertex and born in a hospital. Her brother was born at home and was a surprise breech delivery! Ada seemed to like the position that her brother imprinted into mom's uterus. She was cozy and not willing to budge on her own. So a version was scheduled to encourage her move head down.
Baby in breech position, happy positive mama, belly all lubed up and ready to go! Turn baby, turn!
This little lady has moves! Do you see that doctors GIANT hands? She slipped right under them. Twice. Look at how peacefully mama uses her hypnobirthing techniques.
The first version was unsuccessful. They moved her very nearly head down and she wiggled her way back to her comfy breech position. There were some moments of feeling defeated and not knowing the next step. But they never gave up! Their midwife got them in touch with a doctor who will support a breech birth about an hour away. Farther than they wanted to travel. But for the chance to deliver her baby the way she wanted to, it was worth it.
The next step was to try a version with a spinal. They would be able to work a little harder and it wouldn't be as painful to try and maneuver her to a head down position.
Sniffing some peppermint to calm her nerves. Making daddy chill out a bit too. Dad directing her to focus! Get this baby head down! This couple is literally hilarious.
In the OR ready to go!
They really put their effort in! Each time after they tried they monitored Ada's heartrate and gave her a chance to calm down a bit. She handled all of this very well! She was just a stubborn little lady who knew exactly how she wanted to make her entrance.
She was turned twice. And as soon as hands were off she flipped her cute little tushie back into mamas pelvis... TWICE! She was happily breech and that is the way she intended to be born. Mama was in good spirits though... as you can see. They had a plan!
Read about Ada's entrance into the world in PART TWO.
I recently got to meet 6 day old Adeline! She was just adorable. She was more than happy to sleep, nurse, sleep, poop, nurse, and sleep some more. It made for a very fun session! Plus her THREE big siblings were so excited to pose for me as well.
Look at these cuties! They totally posed themselves like this. Looks like someone got onto Mom's pinterest!
Niamh and I have been friends for a while now. She let me capture some beautiful moments a few months ago and is now letting me share them! Tandem nursing is hard work and so rewarding. Niamh makes it look easy and glamorous! And her girls are just adorable.
Niamh is a Mary Kay Consultant and you can check out what she's all about here!
I had the honor of shooting 11 day old Zachary's newborn photos. What a sweet little guy! He was so calm and alert! He has the best big brother that loved posing along with him (until he got too loud!) He is my first newborn that I've gotten to work with. I look forward to a lot more practice with newborns in the upcoming months. Including the possibility of learning from a really. really great local newborn photographer! Enjoy!
1. Chemicals Are not okay for our lady bits
I used to be a loyal tampon user. I hated pads and they we they felt and often leaked so I switched to tampons when I was about 14. I used them for about 6 years. Right up until I got pregnant with my first son. After I had him I didn't get a period for a year! But after a year of period free awesomeness it came back. So I went back to using tampons. But they were horrible. It was so uncomfortable. Dry and itchy. They just felt wrong. I tried switching it up. Even using Seventh Generation brand items didn't help much. Luckily (hah!) I got pregnant again about 8 cycles later and didn't have to think about it again for a while. I was hoping I'd get another year off post pregnancy, but no such luck. So I bought myself a Diva Cup and gave it try. I hated it. It was so uncomfortable. I felt like it would fall out. Turns out I wasn't putting it in right.
2. I know so Much More about my Cervix!
So, because I didn't put it in right that first month I was discouraged. BUT after re-reading the directions I understood it a little more. That little turn to make it suction makes ALL the difference. It's not just supposed to sit in your vagina. It suctions to your cervix. Sounds scary if you haven't done it before. But it is AWESOME! Now, I know that for some people the Diva Cup isn't a great fit. But there are lots of cups out there to try. So don't give up! The size 2 (post baby) cup is the perfect fit for me. As a doula and mother who has given birth, I understand the basics of our bodies and how they function during menstruation and labor. But I never actually knew what my cervix felt like! Now I understand so much more about my body.
3. It's like Not Having a Period.
I'd say most of the time I don't have cramps anymore. Now, understanding that your uterus is contracting enough to open up to 1cm it makes sense that you have cramping sometimes. But my cramps are far less in intensity and frequency. Also... I use way less toilet paper! Much less mess to wipe away with each visit to the restroom. And Because of the suction to keep everything in the cup there is less odor. Plus, nobody even has to know you have your period... you can be super discrete going into the bathroom without bringing anything with you. Wash hands and empty, reinsert and wash hands again!
4. No waste! Save Money!
Nothing to throw away! And after the initial $30-$40 investment no more wasting money on buying more products each month to just throw or flush away! Less impact on the environment and your trash can!
5. Staying "Moist"
Pads and tampons are used to absorb. And they don't discriminate on what type of moisture. This often leaves us feeling dry and itchy. But with the Diva Cup... It's no absorbing anything So all the natural moisture stays where it is needed to keep up comfortable as we should be. Which brings me to my next reason....
6. Sex... Yes, sex!
Some people are perfectly comfortable having sex during their period, and that is awesome! Others not so much. I'm in the not so much category. Sex is messy enough... without adding a period. However... one drunken night.... we may have accidentally left it in. And it may have been TOTALLY AWESOME. Not only did we not have to worry about our sheets, it actually felt pretty incredible for both of us. It's opened up a whole new awesome world for us.
7. No Leaks
So for me... I don't leak. Unless it's a heavier day and I go beyond 12 hours without emptying it. It actually feels heavy and uncomfortable if I let it go too far. I empty mine typically in the morning when I wake up and at night before bed. No leaks. It's pretty awesome.
So if you are thinking about making the switch, I say go for it! I did and I've never looked back.
prepared I took her to the couch. My boys gathered around excited to help feed her. I tried the bottle and she wasn't interested. I was told that she had been taking a bottle like a champ lately, but she just wasn't having it. Leo, my still nursing 3 year old told me "I know! She needs your mommy milks!" I was hesitant because we had tried nursing when I babysat before, with her mothers permission of course, but she was not at all interested. But Leo insisted.. so I tried again and she nursed! She happily nursed for several minutes and then she was content and went back to playing. That was it. She needed some familiar comfort and milk and she was ready to play again. Later on she nursed some more. She even fell asleep nursing. She was so much happier than the last couple times I babysat for her.
This isn't the first time I have "wet nursed" someone's baby. I used to nurse a baby boy I babysat for also. He would get so sad when I nursed Leo and he wasn't nursing too. His mom and I talked about it and she told me to go for it. The next time he was upset I offered to nurse him along side Leo and he was just the happiest boy! The boys would hold hands while the nursed and got a kick out of having a nursing buddy.
So why isn't this normal?! Why is comforting a baby in the way their mother would comfort or nourish them not the usual way to comfort? I'm not talking about having everybody under the sun nurse your baby. It's understandable that you would approach something like this with caution. But a few close friends? Someone you trust who happens to be nursing their own child. It goes against our instincts to have a baby cry and not take care of them the best way we can. Sometimes, as lots of tired new mamas know... that means nursing! How much easier would it be to leave our children when we had to knowing they would be comforted in their most favorite way.
Wet nursing is the original formula! It doesn't take away from mother and baby bonding. It's just a temporary fix until Mama returns. Obviously you have to do what you and your daycare providers or babysitters are comfortable with. But think about it as an option. Amelia returned to her mama totally ready to nurse and bond with her as usual. Let's bring wet nursing back!
Have you wet nursed? Would you? Would you let someone else nurse your baby?
Ever since my beautiful boy was born he has had the most awesome hair. It was long and dark and I was ridiculously excited to have a baby with a head full of hair... and it didn't cost me the price of heartburn either.
We've always been a "hair" family as we called ourselves. My mom had (*ahem* has) the big red hair straight out of a 80's music video. My step dad had long hair past his shoulders, and my sister and I usually had really long hair or at least some sort of funky color or style going on.
When Cooper's hair grew out it was mostly straight. It grew right into his eyes and there was no pushing it out of the way. He got his first haircut around 18 months. It was a bittersweet day feeling like my baby was just that much older. But he also got to rock a pretty sweet fohawk for a while.
When Leo's hair grew out it was adorably curly. It looks like he takes after my side of the family with the unruly locks. But even when it was still on the shorter side, I started getting the "She's so cute" line. It didn't bother me at all. I don't get defensive. It's not an insult to be called a girl and it's a common mistake. Not to mention the rainbow of colors I dress my babies in that might make it confusing for those who might reference clothing to determine gender. I would often just say "Thank you" and agree because the whole point was that they were saying he was cute, which he was! His gender didn't really have anything to do with it.
As both boys got older people would start asking Cooper questions about his sister. What is your sister's name and how old is she? The looks on Cooper's face were priceless. He really didn't understand for a while. But once he did he took over the conversations I was supposed to be having. "Do you mean my brother?" Then ensue the "Oh my goodness, yes! I'm so sorry I thought he was a girl! What is your brothers name" etc..
(Ok, you caught me... this is really just a post to share photos of my handsome boys..)
So, fast forward a couple years. Leo is now 3 and old enough to have an opinion on how he dresses, and whether or not he wants his hair cut. Right now, he doesn't. Which honestly makes me very happy because cutting these long adorable locks might kill me. So for now sometimes he wears it in a "pony" or a man bun to keep it out of his face. He hates it being brushed but just asks for me to be gentle (not fast) and it gets done.
There has been pressure (or more like suggestions) from friends, family, and strangers too. But as long as he is happy... I am happy too. He's my little rockstar.
I had the pleasure of working with Lucy's mama prenatally to get some special photographs that she envisioned. I love to see the progression from expecting mother, to her process through labor and delivery, to her adjusting to home life with 3 children.
I joined them in labor where she was calm and collected and moved with her body to rock her baby out.
Lucy's first latch! She's a champ!
Lucy, 2 weeks old at our postpartum visit. She was sweet and quiet and she has 2 big brothers that love her very much!
It's been a while since I set foot in my gym. No excuses. Just haven't made the time. It had been so long that I was noticing structural changes my partner noticed months ago. Whoops! So to say I was a little less then comfortable on the treadmill was an understatement. So as I'm huffing and puffing along the doula in me came out. Saying "I can do this," and "One step at a time." "Don't over do it. Keep breathing!" I started considering hiring a doula for my gym time.
Of course she would meet me at my home if I wasn't ready to go to the gym yet. She would gently encourage me. Maybe give some great massage and suggest some positions to get ready. "Hi, there!" She would greet me with a comforting smile. "How are you feeling?" She would listen to how my night went and how I'm feeling about going to the gym. She would ask if I've been hydrating and if I've eaten a good complex carb meal.
When I decided it was time and I was ready to go to the gym she would join me there. After checking in and putting my things away in a locker and changing into my gym shoes she suggested we start with a walk. She walked by my side on the treadmill next to me. We got a good pace going and it felt nice. As things sped along I started to get uncomfortable and she assured me that it was my body just getting used to this next phase.
When I was done with walking I sat down to rest for a few minutes. She reminded me rest was good but I needed to get into good positions to stay on track and keep progressing. So I went over to the weight machines so I could sit but still continue to work. As I moved she corrected my positioning, and reminded me to keep breathing and relax my face. Deep breaths in and out. Smooth and even movements. Rest in between reps. She told me I was doing great and handed me my water. I told her I was feeling tired and weak. She pulled out a honey stick from her bag and offered it to me. A sucked it down and I felt a little energy boost!
Time for some more cardio. We went over to the Elliptical. I hate the Elliptical. It's hard and just feels wrong. She tells me that she knows it's hard. But it's worth it. And I'm almost done. She sets me up with some motivational music to focus on. She told me not to fight it, just give in and let it take over me. So I got on. It doesn't feel good. It's getting harder. She told me again that it's worth it. She told me to let go. Go into myself. Find my strength. My hips swaying from side to side. I'm building up a sweat. I have moments of intensity, but I push through. She tells me how great I'm doing. She says "Look at you! YOU are a rockstar!" Again she hands me my water. She reminds me to not get ahead of myself, but stay in the moment. I'm quiet except for a few moans and grunts. I'm almost there. So close. She is here with me, she believes in me. I watch the time count down and FINALLY I am finished! I'm done. The machine shows me my results. I climb off. I feel tired and overwhelmed but proud. Look at what I did! Look at what I've accomplished!
My doula is beaming. She knew I could do it. She takes my picture so I can remember this moment. She gives me more water and a cold cloth for my face. She tells me I was awesome. She gives me a gentle back rub and hands me a granola bar. I'm ravished. I shower and she has my clothes ready for me when I get out. She again tells me that I did great and to call her if I need anything and would contact me in the morning.
How great would this be? Sure, I can workout without a doula... But why would I want to?!!
Photographer, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, Intactivist, Seamstress, Partner to my long time boyfriend, and Mindful Mama.