In early February I received an inquiry from a couple hoping to have maternity portraits done by the end of March, before their eldest daughter would be deployed. I could tell in her message that these portraits were important to her, so I invited them in for the following week for a consultation to chat more and see if I'd be the right fit for their family.
The following Tuesday, the sweetest couple walked through my studio doors. Irene was glowing! Her sweet and sassy personality was radiating off of her as we started to settle in, and she carried that "glow" we always here about too. Her husband Carlos, you could see clearly adored her.
As the meeting wrapped up, Irene asked me if I offered any in-hospital portraits. My inner birth photographer jumped with glee as I started to dive into my birth & fresh 48 services. I shared my birth portfolio, and they loved the idea of having their birth documented but were concerned.
Irene wasn't sure if she'd be having a vaginal birth or a C-section (cesarean). Her previous births resulted in caesareans due to complications and protocol. I could tell that she very much wanted a vaginal birth though. I had asked her if she looked into hiring a doula to help her with the process at all. A doula can be a valuable tool to an expectant family weather it be there first of 6th baby, as they offer so much informational, emotional, and physical support to the family prior, during and after labor and delivery. I had recently picked back up my doula studies for this very reason. To help families who came to me, who might be feeling a little over or underwhelmed with their options in the birthing process and their transition into parenthood.
They hadn't, but were now interested, as she really wanted to have a V-BA2C (Vaginal birth after two caesareans).
By the end of our meeting, it felt like I'd been sitting around a table surrounded by old friends. They loved what I had to offer, and decided to book our one year package, with an add on for birth photography and doula services.
Over the next few months we met several times, for their portraits sessions, and prenatal visits. Talking about options, providers, hopes & wishes, and everything in between. She decided to switch providers to one who she connected with more and who supported her wishes for a V-BA2C while also still being able to birth at Middlesex Hospital like she'd wanted. I was excited for them!
We met for a prenatal to talk about what their ideal birth looked like to them, and started outlining their birth plan. She mentioned that she was having some itching. She'd mentioned it to her doctor and he ran a test to rule out Cholestasis, a common liver disease that only happens in pregnancy. A few days later she let me know that she the test hd come back positive and was diagnosed with a mild case. I sent her various information on it, so that her and Carlos could read through it all, and talk it over to decide if they wanted to continue with they're planning of a VBA2C or change courses.
For Irene, as much as she wanted to have the experience of a vaginal birth, having a healthy baby was most important. For them, the risk between a VBA2C and the Cholestasis wasn't worth the risks that could happen. So we talked about an option for a gentle C-Section. Her biggest fears with a C-Section were having her arms tied down, like in her previous. Or being put under completely.
I researched all the options centered around gentle caesareans and brought them to our next prenatal to go over. By the end we had a new birth plan for a gentle c-section for late June. I told her to talk with her provider about everything we discussed to see what they may or may not allow, as every hospital is different. Middlesex just so happened to be supportive of all her wishes for her gentle c-section! I was ecstatic for them.
The date was set and before we knew it, June 21st was here!
I arrived to the main entrance to meet them for 5:30am. As I approached the front entrance, I took in the calm morning air as the sky began to brighten.
I made my way to labor and delivery and found them settled into their room. You could feel everyones excitement and anticipation as we waited for her fluids to finish, and her team to be ready to bring her back.
During that time they had the sweetest nurse. You could tell she not only loved her job but took it seriously, paying attention to all the details and taking time to explain things and answer any questions along the way. Just as they were ready to bring her back, she ask them if she could take a moment and pray for them and their baby to a have a healthy and safe delivery. It was so touching!
Moments later we were walking back to the OR. They took Irene back to get situated, while Carlos and I waited eagerly outside.
When they opened the doors to invite us in, he rushed to his wife side. Classical music played in the background while he whispered words of encouragement and admiration to his wife.
A few moments later, miss Olivia Aidalina made her debut!
After the anesthesiologist finished administering the requested nausea medication, she quickly removed the blue drape to expose the clear one, allowing Irene to get a better view of her new daughter.
They brought her over to the warmer and allowed dad to cut the cord, while they checked her out.
Once Olivia was all set, they wrapped her up, and Carlos got to carry her over to his wife.
One of the things Irene requested was to be able to do skin to skin while in the OR. The nurses didn't skip a beat, rushing over to help her have the moment she'd been hoping for! It was a beautiful moment.
The nausea was coming back, and I could tell she was struggling with it but just trying to focus on her new baby while her anesthesiologist gave her another does of the anti nausea medication. Irene wasn't sure if it'd work in time, so she asked Carlos to hold their baby girl for a moment. During this time I support her through it, and once she made it to the other side, I went to check on Carlos. He was admiring his new daughter and falling head over heals for her. I wasn't the only one who noticed it though, because in that moment I watched Irene fall even more in love with her husband as he stared lovingly at their daughter.
Once Irene was all set, Dr. Irons came over to congratulate them and admire Olivia's beauty, and hair! She had a good head full!
The nurses settled her back into her bed, and they made their way back to their hospital room.
Once she had a moment to take in her new baby and get settled in, they brought Olivia to the warmer next to her to have her shots done. Her poor little feet took lots of pricks as the nurses tried to get a good read on her sugar levels. For being 3 weeks early, she was weighing in at a healthy 7lbs 13 oz!
Thankfully all checked out well in the end, and her big brothers, grandma and more were all eager to meet their newest family member! The boys were fighting over who got to hold her, and at one point were even dancing around the room in excitement! This little girl sure is loved beyond word!
Thank you Irene and Carlos for inviting me to be apart of you're birthing process, and allowing me the honor of preserving these moments for you and your family. Irene I admire your strength and grace, you are an inspiration and an honor to know. I can't thank you enough for trusting and believing in me. I couldn't have been blessed with a more perfect first official doula client! Congratulations to you both, I wish you nothing but a life full of love and happiness!