My last baby is a whole 4 months old today. No longer a newborn. No longer willing to (easily) take naps on my chest. No longer interested in just laying around gazing lovingly into my eyes. He wants to move and grab and roll. We’re moving into another fun stage, this I know, as it is my third go round. But I already miss it.
The fog after having a baby is in part due to the lack of sleep, but also the confounding and overwhelming changes a baby brings. And all that love, so much love that the word ‘love’ doesn’t feel like an adequate way to describe it. Which is why I am (and will eternally be) so happy that I hired a birth photographer to capture the day I met my third baby.
This birth story has to begin in 2013 — when we decided we were ready to start our family. See, I’m one of those women who wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl. In my mind, life was just a countdown until it was finally the right time to have a baby. I dreamed of my future family often. I had no clue what I was in for, but I knew I wanted it desperately. The day came and I read the positive pregnancy test with absolute astonishment. A feeling I will never forget. I took pregnancy by storm. I was so happy to be so sick, happy to have back pain, and not the least bit upset I couldn’t drink or eat certain things. I read a few natural child birth and breastfeeding books. I was set. Then my sweet, strong willed baby girl was breech, and she wasn’t turning despite all the tricks. I was sad and disappointed, but ultimately, she was healthy and arrived via a planned cesarean at 39 weeks. Fast forward 14 months, baby #2 on the way. I scoured the internet and my local resources about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and decided that that would be my birth plan. Fast forward again and our (surprise!) baby girl was born via cesarean at 38 weeks due to complications.
Life moved on as it always does; we moved into my dream home and settled in nicely to being a family of four. We knew we would try for a third all along, but this time we wanted some time to breathe. One February day, I took the girls to Port Discovery and felt ridiculously tired, more than the normal mom tired. I knew it. I came home and immediately took a test…
Maybe because I’m one of those, “I love being pregnant people” but it was just as surprising and exciting as the first two. I cried and jumped up and down with my girls, even though they had no idea why I was so ecstatic. I decided I was going treat this pregnancy like it was my last, because that will likely be the case. I thoughtfully documented every stage; I kept a journal to remember all the feelings, emotions and every little kick.
Making a birth plan was more difficult this time around. If finding a supportive VBAC doctor was tough, finding a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans) was almost impossible. One thing I knew for sure though, even if I couldn’t get my VBA2C — I would definitely have my birth photographed. I knew a provider who would allow that and so I went there first. To my surprise, they were all about giving me the chance (or a “trial of labor after cesarean”) as long as I went in to labor on my own by 41 weeks. So that was my plan.
Over the course of the next few months I did everything to better my chances. I ate well, exercised, went to a chiropractor every two weeks, did prenatal yoga, took a comfort measures class, and I visualized the birth I wanted. At 35 weeks I started seeing the chiropractor weekly, I added acupuncture, prenatal massage, acupressure, red raspberry leaf tea three times a day and ate TONS of pineapple. I ate five dates (or as I liked to call them, cockroaches) Every. Single. Day. For six weeks. I walked and walked and walked, and swayed my hips on a birth ball all day long. Thanks to a nicely timed fortune cookie, I adopted the motto, “over prepare and then go with the flow.” Which turned out to be really helpful in the end, because none of that shit worked.
At 40 weeks and 6 days I gave in to the fact that a vaginal birth just wasn’t in the cards for me. I ugly cried for an hour with my mom and sisters and then I was ready. Ready to meet my baby, and ready to see if we would be adding another girl to our brood or getting a little boy. Our incredible photographer, Kate Anderson, supported me in so many ways throughout my pregnancy. She helped make this journey of mine a healing experience, even though I would never get my VBAC.
October 29, 2018. 41 weeks. Kate came to our home bright and early to document the whole day for us. We played, got our girls dressed for pre-school and said our goodbyes — for when we’d see them again, life would be very different. Our baby Margot would no longer be our baby anymore, and Eloise, well she may as well be an adult.
We even made time for a milk bath, so that we could get a few more photos of my swollen belly, but mostly to take a few minutes for myself. It was a moment of surrender. I relinquished the ideas of my original birth plan, and fell peacefully into what was meant to be.
In my experience, each cesarean was a little harder than the last. The anxiety is greater; all the senses familiar, but no less scary. We arrived at the hospital and had to wait for what felt like FOREVER. With each passing minute the anticipation and nerves grew heavier. My husband, Bryan, tried and succeeded several times of breaking the tension with laughs, but it’s just so much. The lights, the sounds, the wires, monitors and tubes, the smells (especially the smells), and the feelings — fear, excitement, sadness, lack of control, happiness.
But then they get started, and my amazing doctor, started to explain what she’s doing and reminds me how close I am to meeting my baby. I start to panic a bit and get upset. Bryan grabs my hand, wipes away my tears, and reassures me that I’m safe and our baby is almost here.
They honor my request for a clear drape, so I’m able to watch my baby being born in to this world (which everyone should advocate for if you’re a cesarean momma and not squeamish). After lots of tugging, pulling and pressure — I get a glimpse of my baby’s sweet face as it emerges.
At 1:34 p.m. my baby is born. In unison my husband and I literally shout that it’s a boy. Both equally surprised and elated that it was actually a baby boy. This moment is one that I could never put in to words. As Bryan would tell you, the emotion seemed to jump out of my body. I never said the words aloud, as I didn’t want to seem ungrateful if I’d had a third girl, but oh how I deeply, deeply wished for a son. And he was here.
I could never thank Kate enough for going along on that journey with us and capturing that special day so perfectly. These images of my family growing and the first moments with my son are some that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I encourage anyone whose had a baby to write their birth stories down. For you to read with your baby in ten years and then also for them to read when you’re no longer here to share it with them. Also, for you. I’m sure you’ll revisit it often later down the road when they’re all grown. This particular story was only four months ago, and already the details are blurring. Now that I’ve written it out and enjoyed it all over again, it will go live in Everett’s baby book with all of these beautiful photographs <3