leah's story | the birth of roan oliver

This birth was such a blessing to me.  I loved being Leah and J's doula but I found so much that I was able to step back quite a bit and watch J support Leah so tenderly.  Leah is an incredible athlete and is always running or biking.  Labor was quite a challenge because the first 9 cm went really fast, but the last bit of labor was much longer and she had SO much back labor.  As mentally strong as she has to be to be such an athlete, labor took every ounce of that and truly sometimes it wasn't enough.   It was like watching a dance, every time she lost belief in herself, J stepped right in with words and physical support.  And so contraction by contraction she made it through.  

It was brutal to watch her do everything right but to still be stuck at 9.  We kept telling her it was almost over and that didn't turn out to be true.  I think it would be like moving the finish line several times at the end of a marathon.  

After a while her awesome nurse gently coached her to start pushing gently even though she wasn't complete yet and baby boy was born not much after.  

The gender was a surprise and it was so special to watch baby Roan Oliver be born and for his parents to meet him.  

Thank you J and Leah for letting me be part of this sweet experience and for letting me share your beautiful photographs.


sarah's story | the birth of birch

It's been a while since I've posted a birth story and I am so glad to share this one today with you all.

Every single birth I get to attend is near and dear to my heart, but this one was extra special.  I've been friends with Sarah and Matt since before they were married.  I photographed their engagement, their wedding and attended the birth of their second baby girl.  I was all set to photograph their third baby in May of 2015 when literally the day after we talked contract details, I got a horrible email that the baby's heart had stopped beating half way through the pregnancy.  The Rideouts are missionaries in Haiti and things are complicated there, health-wise.  So Sarah and Matt and their girls hopped on the first plane out to deliver their baby here in the states.  I met them the night before being induced and was able to laugh and cry with them and photograph her beautiful belly.

The next day I was their doula as they brought their tiny son Obed into the world.  Sarah is as mentally strong as they come and I've watched her rock natural birth.  I will never forget the look in her eyes as she looked at me during Obed's labor...she said "The sadness is too much, I have no strength."  

Fast forward nearly exactly a year and I was able to celebrate and attend the birth of their second son Birch.  What a happy occasion!  There was such gratefulness in the air that day as we heard that heart beat, steady and strong.  The gender was a surprise and so anticipation was building as well.  Sarah rocked out a natural labor and was able to catch Birch right there on the hospital floor (with Dr Spearman's back up hands nearby:-).  Her birth was attended by her Mama-lactation consultant extraordinaire and her dear friend Laura.  Sarah's sister arrived just minutes after birth!    

Sarah and Matt, I feel like part of your family and I feel so honored to have been witness to these moments in your lives.  

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

-Psalm 30:5  


*and just one silly sidenote I'd love to clarify.  Matt is wearing a shirt from the summer camp he worked at for years, it isn't in reference to real world domination of any kind:-)

**also thanks to Matt for one of the only pictures I have of me in action at a birth :-)


carrie's story | a beautiful birthday in the OR

A little over two years ago I was being wheeling into the OR with my third baby.  I was completely in shock that this 2 time vaginal birth mama and doula was not going to have the birth I had dreamed, planned and worked for.  Tears were flowing and I remember telling my doula, “At least I will be a better doula because of this”.  I knew that through the years I would have the honor of holding the hand of many women as they birthed their baby through their belly in an OR.  And it can be BEAUTIFUL, and it can take your breathe away.  And thankfully our local hospitals have heard our outcries that C section mama’s deserve a beautiful birth too, and so many have made steps towards a family centered c section.  This means mama’s can have skin to skin and breastfeed in OR.  This birth took place at Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, SC.

I met Carrie and Chris late into their pregnancy.  They had just moved back to the area from CA and were trying to figure out birthing options.  They are both outdoorsy and laid back and they are both extremely athletic.  Carrie is a triathlete and she was active till the day she gave birth.  We met twice and I just knew that she was going to rock her labor and give birth naturally.  

I was so shocked when she called me after her 39 week appointment with news that her baby girl had turned and was breech.  I met them the next morning for an external version at the hospital and held her hand as she took it like a champ.  Baby was nice and comfy butt down so the decision was made to wait a week before proceeding with a c section.  Carrie did everything she could to turn that baby while still maintaining a very positive attitude about the possibility of baby not turning.  She was graceful in a way I surely feel I couldn’t be.  And all of a sudden, the day before the scheduled c section, the feeling in the air turned from that of hoping and trying to just plain joyful anticipation.  A baby was being born!  

I was so proud of Carrie and Chris for coming to their birth with joy instead of feeling like they had failed in some way.  We laughed and told stories and listened to Gregory Alan Isakov.  They texted back and forth clues for their secret baby name to their families.  Just as she was rolling off to the OR Carrie laughed because her sister guess the baby name at the very last second.  

I got to join Carrie in the OR as they prepped her.  It was a tiny space full of really laid back people who all had such beautiful attitudes.  Music drifted around and hands were squeezed.  And then before we knew it baby Dakota “Cody” was born with a long, loud cry!  The doctor even let me take pictures over the curtain! I loved seeing those little breech legs!  

Carrie was able to snuggle and nurse and comfort her daughter as soon as she checked out with the pediatric team.  The minutes that followed her birth seemed to be suspended in time.  It was incredible to watch Cody cry and then open her eyes to stare right at her mama and daddy.  I loved watching Chris stroke her little feet and support Carrie with a sweet pat on the head.  

We finished up the day with stories and laughter in their hospital room overlooking the beautiful mountains. It was a beautiful birthday and a birth story I will always treasure in my heart.