I have photographed a few births and, every time, there is nothing as beautiful as seeing a life brought into the world and the joy and tears on the faces of the people that will love that life the hardest. I love birth and everything it represents and everything involved. I love hearing birth stories because while some are beautiful and perfect, others are encouraging and inspiring.
Oliver’s birth story is a little bit of beauty and a whole lot of encouragement.It taught me what it really means to sacrifice for your baby from the very start.
It all started in the beginning of 2015. We had been married for a few months and just really wanted to grow our family. For the next few months we tried to get pregnant.
In August, we both saw that positive pregnancy test and were so excited. The months flew by and were quite a roller coaster. I was sick until 18 weeks (horrid) and somewhere during the pregnancy my thyroid went crazy and a hypothyroid set in (This is why I am so passionate about studying health and hormones now).
Then came MAY. He was due May 20th. We went in for our 38 week check up, only to find out he was breech. Honestly, I wasn’t emotional through the pregnancy up until that point. But all the emotions set in this day. Let’s be real for a second. A breech baby really isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things; your baby is still alive and healthy. However, for me, I felt like I was being robbed of a natural birth. The whole pregnancy was so natural and I spent the last 6 weeks preparing my body for a birth I didn’t get to have myself. I had one week to try and flip my baby. I had an aversion done where the doctor tried to flip him. I went to a natural chiropractor, I used oils, I tried old wives tales methods. Nothing worked.
At this point, we were sitting in the hospital, scheduling our C-Section. This was weird. Picking a specific day and time your child would be born. Inside, I was pretty upset. I imagined myself breathing through a contraction, my husband’s hand resting on my back while a midwife told me I would soon meet my baby. It was just so hard to be so close to this huge life change and literally nothing was going to be as beautiful as I had planned. Of course, his birth was beautiful because we got to meet him, but there wasn’t anything super special about the operation or the recovery that felt beautiful or special.
There we were, sitting in a hospital room all day waiting to meet our son. Our C-Section kept being pushed later and later due to other emergencies in the hospital.
Finally it was time. I was led into the operation room alone where I sat on a cold metal table. They injected my back with medicine that slowly started to paralyze/numb my body.
I held onto that love I had for Oliver. I knew a cesarean birth was the best choice for him, I also knew I was about to endure major surgery with real wounds and scars. Everything I had envisioned when meeting Oliver had changed: the room I’d be in, the position I’d be in, and who would be surrounding me.
My husband was brought in shortly after.
The operation was hard. I could feel my body being tugged and pulled. Despite the reality that I was numb, I could still feel the force of the doctor’s actions. The doctor would check in to see how I was doing and I said I felt like I was being dragged there was so much pressure. He told me that Oliver’s head was stuck under my rib cage.This also gave me some peace about the whole operation as it basically confirmed he had no way to flip in my womb.
A few more minutes went by and the numbing medicine started to move up and into my shoulders. I could barely move my arms or even feel myself breathing. The doctor told me I was starting to hyperventilate but I didn’t know how to stop as I couldn’t feel anything.
A few more minutes passed….
Then, I hear my baby’s cries. They popped him over the top of the blue sheet and we saw his face. So many tears followed this moment.
Everything led up to this point. There really is nothing as exciting or emotional as meeting your child.
They tried to let me hold him, but the numbing medicine had numbed my arms so they just laid him on my chest. Despite the reality that I wasn’t able to hold him or hug him, I was so thankful for the opportunity to have skin to skin with him immediately.
We were taken back into our delivery room where we studied our baby before we welcomed family in.
I love that we got to see our families reaction to meeting our little guy! Priceless.
Recovery from a C-section was one of the hardest things I have every been through in my life. No exaggeration. In fact, I have struggled to really sit down and type out his birth story till now because I didn’t want the emotions from the recovery to be so fresh that I sound like I am complaining. However, any mother that goes thru a C-section is a complete CHAMPION and you should seriously be there to help them as much as you can!
There is nothing like when that nurse asks you to try getting out of bed, and the ripping pain of a body cut apart and stitched back together sears through you, that you realize the complete ignorance of anyone who talks about a c-section as “the easy way out”. I felt the frustration as it became clear when my baby needed to be fed, and I couldn’t even walk over to the bassinet and lay back on the bed without assistance. I couldn’t bend down to pull up or down my own pants. I struggled to find a position to nurse that didn’t bother my raw incision. The exhaustion of a long labor plus a surgery recovery makes the through-the-night feedings a waking nightmare. Even in your own home, you cant walk from room to room for two weeks. Your husband has gone back to work, your baby wont sleep and needs to be walked, and you cant even stand and hold your baby…..two weeks later.
BUT, this is how motherhood starts. It starts with a loss of control and a belief that God knows best. It’s a good lesson to learn before you start to think you can make your child be who you want him to be. It’s a foundation that will serve you well, along with that added humility you picked up while you couldn’t pick up anything over 10 pounds for a couple weeks. You’re having to learn to know your resources and depend on those trusted friends and family around you- so important for those parenting trials headed your way over the next 18 years.
I am so thankful for my mother and mother-in-law for being so accessible during the healing weeks that followed. Also, over time, I have become thankful for this experience I had. Although it wasn’t the experience I craved or was overjoyed about at the time, I am thankful for how hard it was. I am thankful that it has taught me, from the very beginning, the importance of struggling for your child, and, most importantly, having faith and peace in God and his perfect plan, who is working all things together for our good and His glory.
***I am also incredibly grateful for Deb and Hannah Wilke, who provided us with these amazing images! My thankfulness for their generosity is hard to express in mere words.