Thursday, May 3, 2018

MY birth. MY way.

     I am a Labor and Delivery Photographer. I eat, sleep and live for births. I will never ever get tired of witnessing those miracles, and seeing the strength these woman have. With my first pregnancy I never considered that my birth may turn into a C section. With my second, I knew I would have one. Of course I could have said no, and requested to have a VBAC (vaginal Birth After Cesarean) but because of factors in Leeonas Birth, this was recommended as the safest form of delivery. I was then diagnosed around 35 weeks with a serious liver condition called Cholestasis, which nailed it down that we would deliver this baby at 37 weeks to have the lowest risk of a repeat stillbirth.
     For me, giving up that dream of a VBAC was hard. If you've never been a part of a birth, or had a child yourself, you may not understand the need that some moms have to deliver naturally. However for me, it was a very real loss, and what felt like another thing taken from me. My daughter was taken, a part of how I see the world was taken, some faith, some trust, and a lot of the confidence I had in my body, and its ability to become a mother,  was taken.
     I set out on a path to find out how I could make my next Cesarean, as comfortable for me as possible, and for it to resemble my vision of MY birth. My instant train of thought, was photos. I do this for a living, how was I NOT going to have images?
Would they Let my photographer in the OR?

and the questions kept coming.

Would I be able to deliver in the same hospital?
Who would deliver him?
Would I be able to see my baby right away?
Would I be able to hold him right away?
Were they going to keep us together,  instead of separating me from him while I'm in recovery?
Would I be able to try and breast feed as soon as he was out?

The answer to most of these (all in thanks to MCMH Staff) was yes.

     I began communicating my wishes with the Maine Coast Women Care Staff often and early. I had found beautiful images online, by one of my favorite Birth Photographers, of a clear drape being used in an operating room. This way the Mom could SEE her baby be born. I couldn't thank them enough for going out of their way to, basically, MAKE me a clear drape, when they were unable to order one in time.
    Although I couldn't see my incision, or actual surgery, I could look through the clear surgical Drape, and I could see my baby almost the second he was out. I could see my amazing doctor, and communicate with her in an entirely different way than I imagine I would have been able to if I couldn't see her.

     The minute my son was born, I saw him. He didn't scream instantly, so those few seconds of knowing he was out, yet not making noise, -I imagine- would have been horrifying for me. Wondering if he was okay, But I could look through this clear Plastic drape and see him kicking, I could see his arms moving, I knew he was okay, and alive. Then I herd the most beautiful noise possible, a just bawled as his screams echoed in the operating room.

     I delivered Leeona in the same hospital, yet a different OR. I never for a minute wanted to deliver any where else. The staff was amazing, they treated me so well, and my daughters body with the utmost respect. I became close with them, they mourned with me. They felt our loss, and we could tell that they would have given nearly anything to change our experience. So having Dianne in the room with me was so important, having my Nurse Nichole was, as well. And wouldn't you know it, they both re arranged their schedules so that they could be there with me, and witness the Birth of our rainbow baby.
     Dianne held me up, when they put the spinal in my back, Nichole held my son on my chest when I was getting too week, to have people I knew surrounding me made a world of difference. They weren't just staff, they weren't just medical professionals, they were friends, they were family to my Daughter, and they were routing and advocating for us, every step of the way. The OR has this AWEFUL rule, of only allowing one person in the room with you. I know they have their reasons, but I did everything I could to change that in order to Allow Zelli (Our Photographer) and my Husband in there with me. Having those first moments with all of us together captured was vitally important for me... The OR refused to budge, and which left me extremely upset. It was a deep deep feeling of sadness, and defeat. Again, I know if you have never been in that situation, it may not upset you, but to me that was a staple, and the norm, to have these images to remember just how powerful those moments  and emotions were.
    So Dianne saved the day, another midwife was scheduled to help deliver my son, so Dianne took my camera into the OR, and after I set up the camera settings the best I could predict, her and Nichole tackled making sure I had what I wanted.
   All in all they respected my wishes, and did everything they could to uphold them. They took me down stairs in a chair instead of a bed, at my request, because the idea of watching the ceiling tiles and lights blow past me, took me back to those moments of running me down the halls to get Leeona out on time. They let me have my clear drape, they made sure I got photos. They (after warming, and delayed cord cutting) put him immediately on my chest, they had my favorite staff there with me, they helped me breast feed my routing baby right away. And most importantly They had an extra staff member on hand to keep him with me throughout my entire recovery. They made this birth MINE. And I will always be grateful for that.

My advice to you, if you're pregnant ( or really in any medical situation) is to find providers that support you, to find people who understand your wishes. You CAN fight for the birth you want, or at lest to have it as close to what you want as possible.

     Delivering my son is the biggest accomplishment I have ever completed. Seeing his beautiful face everyday, is something I never thought I would have. It has made me love deeper than I could ever know, and cherish my moments. It has made me selfless, and put him before myself everyday. I have this overwhelming place for him inside of me, in my heart, in my brain, in my bones. He is all of who I am, and in everything I am made of.  Losing his sister has shown me how precious moments are, and how fleeting time is, she has taught me to adore the way he smiles when he has a poop explosion, and embrace the way he pukes down my back.  To be thankful for the sleepless nights, and all the screams. I would do anything to see what they would look like together, but we will never know. If I can't do that, if I can't see their bond, and relationship grow the way it should, than I will at the very lest, remember all that she was, and all that she is, take that and make myself the best mom I can be. I will learn from all the lessons she left me. Everyday, I will Love the two of them, more than I could ever even love myself. Everyday I will live for him, and for her, and give to him all that I am, and all that I should have been able to be for Leeona.
    Motherhood after a loss is a world of its own, there is no manual for it, and it is a confusing road. I can't imagine my life without Mitchell, but I know I wouldn't have him, if I had not lost Leeona. He is here because she is not, and I'm still learning how I feel about that. I am still learning how to be this kind of mom. I am grateful for her to bringing him to me, but I wish there was a way to have them both.
    However we got here, and as much as it hurt to lose her, I think we have finally found some kind of new normal, and not that the pain from her loss is gone, but Mitchell has brought us a new sort of happiness that has changed the very concept of who we are.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Shower Before the Rainbow!

     We are so so close to welcoming our Little Rainbow Baby! Only 4-6 Weeks (Depending on my exact C section date) and we will have a little oneeee! On Sunday we celebrated with a from friends and family....
    IT WAS ADORABLE, Thanks to my mom and Jody, we had the cutest shower around! Our nursery is mountain and adventure theme, so we stuck with that and added in some woodland characters , and picnic style food and called it an adventure! It was so much fun, we got tons and tons of goodies for our little guy, seriously almost everything we needed! Thank you so much to everyone who brought a gift. Jody has been telling me thru my whole pregnancy not to buy too much until after the shower, and she was right! There are now very few things we have left to buy. And I cannot say thank you enough to the very very special people, who took their time to hand make me a gift. We have always been a very hand made, and craft family, and I know how much time and love that takes! Little Mitchell is soooo Loved already!


 Hat, booties and a diaper cover hand made By his Mammie Jo <3 

Hand made blanket that Jody ordered representing our Rainbow baby <3 
Hand made hat by Ms Morgan <3 

Little Owls Hand stitched my Mammie Jo <3 
Knitted Blanket, homemade by Ms. Morgan <3 

Mountains for his crib Pillows by Mammie Jo <3 

This AMAZING "rag" quilt that My jody made, thank you so much <3 It's perfect. 

Matching Boppy Pillow cover <3 

We left the shower filled our cars with our Goodies and headed home to make the TINY Nursery home for this little guy! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Do not tell me to "Slow down, & enjoy my pregnancy".

     I was a bubbly happy pregnant woman, with my daughter. I enjoyed every moment of it, there were only a small handful of people I ever complained to about my aches and pains. My husband, my then boss (who is also a friend), and a handful of close family members. In fact I went out of my way to make sure I didn't complain to others, I made sure that I was enjoying my pregnancy. I was spiteful of the people who would say "you just wait until".... There was always some awful experience that they just had to warn me of... Just wait until there is a foot in your rib, just wait until you start peeing yourself, just wait until contractions, labor, delivery, sleepless night. What ever it was, there was always someone there to tell you to snuff your happiness cause you're in for it. So I enjoyed it. I spent days rubbing my belly with creams, and anti stretch mark stuff, I took pictures weekly, I tried to slow time as my due date approached.  I just knew things would be so different once our little girl was here, and although I was okay with that, I knew I should soak it all in.

     And then I went into labor, full term, and then, she died.
      I never got to feel the rest, I never got to hold a warm baby. I never got to raise her, and I had many many, silent, sleepless nights. So I am glad, that I didn't listen to anyone, I didn't feed in to their begs to get me to complain with them, because I had a perfect nine months with a sweet little child living in my belly, and I don't regret a minute of it.

      With all of that being said, I am ready for my pregnancy with Mitchell to be over. Please, please, do not tell me, that I need to slow down, that I need to enjoy the moments. I love the moments, I love them all. I know how precious, and what a privilege it is to have a little person inside of my body, who wiggles and moves, and dances for me constantly. I love it, and I love being pregnant with him, but I'm ready to hold my baby.
      By the time I deliver this baby, I will have waited two and a half years, since my positive pregnancy test, to hold a child that is half me, and half my husband. Do not tell me, to wait, to slow down, because I am ready. I have waited longer than I should have to.
     Of course, I had fantasized about having kids with Matthew for years, almost a decade. The last two years however, have been waiting for a promise I was given, that was then ripped from me.
      Don't tell me I will miss it when I'm not pregnant anymore, I know I will miss the movement in my stomach, I know that more than most, probably more than you. I'll miss it, but I won't want to go back. I won't want to trade the feeling of a live and healthy baby in my arms for a child in my womb. You can say "You just wait, You will" All you want. But I won't. I would rather have never ever felt Leeona move inside my belly, if it means that I would get nine months with my living baby instead. I would take that trade any day. I promise you, that if you had lived my story; the thought of going back to the way it was while pregnant after delivering a healthy child would make you cringe.

    Again, I will miss the feeling, but their isn't anything you could do that would make me think that the trade was remotely worth it.

     I just don't want to be pregnant anymore...

 I want it to be March, and be full term, and have a screaming baby placed into my arms by my favorite nurses. I want my family to surround me in a hospital room, in the L&D wing, instead of the ICU. I want my family to have happy tears in their eyes, instead of tears of pain. I want to have other words when they walk in my room, instead of my body and mind being able to say nothing else to explain other than; "I'm Sorry".
     The first thing I said to my husband when I met my daughter was "I'm so sorry" I want to have other words rolling off my tongue, or I want to be so overcome with happiness that I cannot speak.

So please, Don't tell me.
Don't give me advise.
Don't "remind" me to slow down.
I don't need it, I don't want it.
I've waited long enough, and I am just ready to have a sweet little one placed into my arms, because I deserve that, and my husband deserves that.