Well, this years recap blog post is going to be much shorter than previous years! At least photo wise, ha! Going into 2018 I took a step back from shooting weddings to focus on motherhood and my pregnancy. Caleb and I dove into shooting with one another which was so much fun! He photographed with me before a time or two, but we took this year to really refine his knowledge and practice his camera skills and decided to make him my full time second shooter. I love working along side my best friend. It was really cool to see how we complimented one another’s differences. We had 5 weddings booked for 2018 but wound up only being able to photograph one of them due to my pregnancy. We had the rest covered by some amazing photographers who stepped up to help me in a pinch. I had originally planned to shoot through my pregnancy like I had when I was carrying Owen, but things went totally different this time around and my plan didn’t pan out how I expected. Pregnancy was SUCH a dream and miracle I am forever in awe of and thankful for. We have the two, happy, healthy babies we always dreamed of growing our family with and now I am so excited to focus on raising them and jumping back into the world of photography a bit more!
It was so awesome getting to shoot that wedding with Caleb and we can’t wait for the few we have coming up in 2019! We are feeling so refreshed and ready to get creative together. Caleb launched his own drone business this year and had the opportunity to photograph a few local events as well as assist our friends at K + A FILMS on a wedding day. I am so pumped for the drone footage he will capture at the weddings we have coming up this year, one of which just so happens to be at the very venue we said “I DO” at almost 5 years ago!
Speaking of the one wedding we photographed together, it just so happened that our very first session of the year was the engagement session to the wedding we were able to photograph (*photographed below)! It was so neat forming a relationship with Sean and Kim at the very opening of our 2018 season and then getting to see them through to their wedding day.
Outside of that, we took on a house renovation (blog post to come with before + afters), photographed a hand full of lifestyle and family sessions (some of which we got to bring Owen along with to see his buddy Maverick – photos below!) and I photographed four births! I officially joined the team over at Village Birth Collective and plan to continue booking labor/delivery photography services going into 2019! I am so excited to be a part of this group of women who are so caring and passionate about their clients.
It’s been a whirlwind of a year and we couldn’t be more thankful for each and every bit of it.
We can’t wait to tackle you 2019!
Here I am, 6 weeks deep into motherhood with two children under two! I’ve had intentions of sharing Kinsley’s birth story with you way sooner, but y’all, finding time for yourself is hard to do these days! So without further ado..embrace your seats and grab a warm drink because this has turned into a small book. And fair warning, it’s graphic so move on along if you aren’t into that sort of thing. Writing down the full story in detail is special to me to have to look back on. 🖤
T H E B A C K S T O R Y:
Though there were some similarities, this pregnancy felt polar opposite to my pregnancy with Owen. I had very minimal swelling this round until the very last week or two, but with Owen I was a blimp the entire time. I never had one repeated craving with Owen, just random little cravings that would pop up – but I craved strawberries this pregnancy like it was my job (I legit ate two of the BIG boxes in one day.. multiple times). I also was sick pretty much the entire pregnancy this time which was one of the reasons I felt like it was going to be a girl. With Owen my sickness stopped around 14 weeks. Another big difference was my labor and delivery. Talk about two totally different stories! With Owen, my water broke out of no where at the end of my 36th week, and he was delivered the day he turned 37 weeks. It was a peaceful, calm labor and an easy, quick delivery. I labored naturally for about 12 hours, and then got an epidural and delivered Owen 6 hours later after a 2+ hour nap and an hour of pushing. You can read his full birth story here.
This pregnancy I had been in paaaaain for weeks. Kinsley was consistently measuring on the bigger size, mixed with an on again off again expected marginal cord insertion, which landed us with lots of Maternal Fetal Medicine visits for regular ultrasounds and non-stress tests. I started having the normal trouble breathing/walking, etc starting around 28-30 weeks. I started having contractions right around the same time, and they started to feel less like Braxton hicks and more like the real deal around 34/35 weeks. Since I delivered Owen at 37 weeks, my OB was expecting me to deliver around the same time with this pregnancy. So the entire time I had 37 weeks in my head as my “just get to this date” marker.
For weeks, I had my bags packed and was prepared to go into labor at any moment. I had contractions that would get down to 5-6 minutes apart, sometimes even 4 minutes apart, and last for 40 seconds to a minute long but after 20-30 minutes they would fizzle out and go to 10 minutes apart. Often if I’d lay down in bed they would slow down/stop (even though my body was still aching and completely uncomfortable). The contractions were coming but just not strongly enough. I kept making sure to drink a ton of water in case I was just dehydrated but no matter how much I would drink, the contractions would keep coming off and on. Every time I would go to an OB appt a nurse or office assistant would say “YOU’RE HERE!?”, “I can’t believe you haven’t had her yet!”.. etc. Friends would always ask “do you feel like it’s going to be soon?” and I’d always say “I literally feel like it could be any day now, I’m just waiting on her..” – every day was a guessing/waiting game. With Owen, I was having Braxton hicks but had no clue what real contractions felt like or that I would deliver him early, so it took me completely off guard when my water broke because I wasn’t feeling like I was close (though I do remember feeling ready). This time around I found myself waiting and expecting it and knowing that I was having contractions.
As we approached 37 weeks, because we had a marginal insertion that they thought healed itself but weren’t 100% sure on (mixed with baby’s expected size) they wanted to induce me between 38-39 weeks. They for sure didn’t want to let me go past 39 weeks, as long as my body was dilated and ready. Once the induction was laid out on the table, the end game got real and I started pulling out all the tricks. The birth ball, walking, cleaning, nesting, raspberry leaf tea, even sex you guys – yep. You name it, I did it. The thought of being induced was foreign to me and honestly kind of scary. My whole pregnancy I was so paranoid that she would be too big to push out and worried that she would get stuck or that I’d end up in an emergency c-section. I just wanted my body to do it’s thing on it’s own because I loved my experience with Owen’s birth and I wanted to let this girl come on her own timing – even though I was begging the good Lord to let her timing be earlier rather than later.
The weekend that we hit 37 weeks, I thought my water might’ve broken that Sunday because it felt different from the typical “oops, I wet myself again” moments. When my water broke with Owen, I had a small trickle and then a huge gush so there was no denying that my water had broken with him. But I heard that it can be different every pregnancy and might not be a huge gush again, so after an hour of debating, Caleb and I decided to head into triage and just have them check so that I could rest easy and know either way. Well.. turns out I just peed myself. BUT. While in triage I was having contractions and the nurse wanted to monitor them for a bit. After an hour of being on the monitor’s, she told me she definitely didn’t think I’d be making it to 39 weeks, but that I needed to get the contractions more consistently intense. So, home we went! I walked and cleaned and was on my feet as much as possible. I bounced on that dang birth ball every chance I got! When 37 weeks came and went, I began to feel super bummed that our little miss hadn’t come yet. My OB told me they would be checking my cervix at 38 weeks, so I was eager to get to that appointment. I hit a new week every Saturday, and my upcoming 38 week appointment was set for Wednesday.
The weekend I hit 38 weeks, I honestly did not think anything was going to happen that weekend. I’d been having all the same symptoms and contractions that I’d been having and nothing seemed to want to intensify, so Caleb and I made plans for Sunday to do some moving. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t already know, we did an addition/renovation on our home this Summer and wound up moving in with my parents September 1st because our basement (which is what we’d been living out of) flooded! Beginning of October we began to approach the end of our house renovations and needed to start making plans for moving back. I started feeling so stressed out over which would come first – the move or the baby. Initially I wanted to be moved back home before the baby came, but pretty quickly God changed my attitude and heart on that and I REALLY wanted to have her before we moved back home. Here’s why: 1) I didn’t want to even try to tackle moving and organizing and all that jazz with my huge bump and breathless body; 2) Owen had already been through so many adjustments with the renovations and moving, I didn’t want to move again just as he finally got settled into living at my parents and then spring a new baby on him all within a weeks time; 3) our home is about 35-40 minutes from the hospital and our OB when there is traffic, but it’s only like 10 minutes from my parents. So for all of the weekly visits we were having this wound up being such a life saver. And 4) living at my parents was SUCH a blessing for Owen and this mama. All the extra helping hands when it came to needing babysitters, cooking, laundry and people to play with and love on Owen so I could easily grab showers and rest. I knew that this would be such a big help when we brought baby sister home, so he wouldn’t go from having constant attention in a full house to little/no attention at times back at home with just me and Caleb and a newborn.
So anyway, since things were getting down to the wire, and things weren’t really happening with the pregnancy, we thought we might be making the move home before we’d welcome our sweet girl into the world. We got together a list of helpers/friends and coordinated a schedule for Sunday the 14th to move some things back home out of storage. We also needed to clear out our living room/kitchen area so that the cleaners could come and clean so that we could make the big move back home. Saturday night we went out to dinner with Caleb’s family, and his sister Danielle joked and said “watch you have her this weekend while I’m traveling”.. (she was going on a work trip to Las Vegas the 14th-17th). I assured her that nothing was going to happen with how I was feeling. After we got home to my parents, we watched a movie with my family and decided to let Owen stay up late for a movie night. We ate popcorn and enjoyed watching him run around excitedly to Jurassic World (I know, great movie choice for a 22 month old – but thankfully he loved it). We’d been making it a point to spend as much time as possible with him, doing special little things since we never knew when our last night as just the three of us would be. I started to feel super uncomfortable and worn out from the day, so I laid out on my side on the couch. Owen was climbing and playing and wound up falling on top of me. It wasn’t hard enough to scare me about any trauma to the baby or anything, but it got me thinking about the last time I had even felt any fetal movement that day. When I came to think of it, I couldn’t remember feeling any movement that day at all. It was 10pm, and I started feeling a little freaked out, especially after reading some horror stories on google (ohhh, google). I decided to do some at home tricks to try and get our girl moving again. Jumping jacks, laying in certain positions, drinking orange juice and eating all the sugary things. But nothing was working! We started to debate if we should go into triage or not. I kept putting it off because I had a feeling she would move eventually, but then the thought of “but what if” kept creeping in. Finally around 12am we decided to jump in the van and head over to Womens and Babies triage. As we pulled into the parking lot I felt a roll/turn in my tummy. The lil stinker moved. But we decided to go in anyway since we were already there just to make sure everything was alright. I got two super energetic, bubbly nurses who were about my age, and I remember telling Caleb they were just a little too much for me that night. I was so over being pregnant and sore and tired and irritable and was still having inconsistent but annoying contractions. But the nurses were seriously the sweetest things and kept telling me that I made the right decision to come in and after monitoring me they assured me that my baby was healthy and happy and that we were good to head home. We got home around 1:30am, and to bed around 2am.
L A B O R / D E L I V E R Y:
I woke up at 4am to sharp pain in my back and in my stomach. All over. I can still feel my eyes popping open wide and my brain racing, wondering if I just had to poop really bad or if these were the real deal. I tried to ignore them and fall back asleep since that’s what had been happening with any other contractions I’d had in the weeks leading up to this. Nope. I couldn’t fall back asleep. Because right off the bat, the pain was coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting 30 seconds to 1:37 seconds. I got up and went to the bathroom and my body started to detox itself. I quickly knew these were contractions, but was hesitant to believe I was in labor. I got back into bed and started tracking the contractions at 4:36am, and was unable to talk or walk through the contractions right away.
While laying in bed I began texting my doula (Meghan of village birth collective) to let her know that I thought I was in labor and was probably going to go into triage in the morning. She encouraged me to try laying in different positions and to drink a tall glass of water to ensure that the contractions wouldn’t fizzle out. I remember things getting more and more intense just minutes apart, and each response back to her saying “I think I might be in labor” to “I’m definitely in labor” and eventually “my water broke!”. I went from questioning if I was going to go into triage, to deciding when I would go into triage, all within a matter of minutes. I was so worried that this baby was going to come quick and that I wouldn’t get a chance to have the epidural. Everyone tells you the second comes way quicker and easier! And judging by the labor I was having, they weren’t kidding. With Owen it took me hours to get into the type of contractions I woke up to this time around, right off the bat. We made a plan for me to try and stick it out at home and head in around 6/7am. Caleb was sleeping beside me but quickly realized I was in labor and jumped up into action. Around 5am I leaned over the bed and had Caleb start massaging my back and pressing/holding my hips together and up (something our doula taught us through my labor with Owen). We called up to my mom and let them know what was happening, and by the time she came downstairs to help us get our bags and last minute things together I was yelling through contractions and hunched over anything I could lean against, trying to breath and stay calm. This was something I just wasn’t used to! In my labor with Owen, my water broke first and then I had to work for hours to get contractions to start and get consistent. It felt so exciting for my labor to have just started so easily/out of no where.
I also started calling/texting a list of friends who are photographers that I had on call to photograph my labor and delivery for me. One of my great friends Andrea was the go to for this as long as we didn’t go into labor on a day that she was photographing a wedding. I remember feeling SO excited because she had a wedding that Friday and Saturday, but it was now Sunday AM and I knew she would be free and make it in! I couldn’t get ahold of her, so I kept asking Caleb to make sure to keep trying her husband, Brent. Here’s the thing, you’d think being a photographer myself it would be easy to lock in a birth photographer. But being that most all my connections in the business shoot weddings, it was close to impossible to guarantee that someone would be there. It all just depended on when I would go into labor and if they were working a wedding or not. So I had a list of 7 “back ups” on call.
Around 5:30 or 6:00am as I was contracting and packing, my water broke with a big gush. I was crying and saying “my water broke, my water broke” and shook with excitement and nervousness. It was so surreal how quickly it all came on. My sister helped me change my underwear and got me a huge pad. My mom grabbed beach towels for my seat for our drive into the hospital. Things just got even more intense and I remember hearing my moms sense of emergency and hearing Caleb and my family saying things like “she isn’t going to make it to the hospital! What if the baby comes here!? You need to get to the hospital!.. Meg, there’s no time for that!” as I was trying to fix my hair and makeup through contractions – HA. I was just so head strong that I needed to make sure I had all of my necessities like my shower things and makeup up, etc packed and everything in order. I was so out of it. My family got all of our bags out the door as my mom and Caleb each held onto an arm and helped “carry” me up the stairs and to the front door. On our way out, I just remember grabbing my hot irons and laughing/crying telling my mom that I needed them and begging her to bring them with her in her bag and to not forget them. I honestly have no clue why because I didn’t use them once, HAHA. I had one last contraction standing in the front door of my parents house, leaning against my dad as he embraced me with a hug and a kiss on the forehead and he said “you can do this sweetie”. (I’m not sobbing, you’re sobbing).
Caleb was awesome and got my labor playlist on in the car right away. He drove like a man on a mission and I was so thankful. He rubbed my legs and back through contractions and encouraged me with sweet words. He prayed over me and the baby and for our labor and delivery. I kept asking him to call Brent and to make sure he got ahold of someone for photos. I forget when, but we would up getting ahold of Brent and it sounded like Andrea would be heading in! When we got to the hospital, I was crouched over waddling in, leaning onto Caleb and yelling/moaning in pain. The front desk waved us to keep going and didn’t want to make us stop to sign in – bless them. They took me straight to a room in triage and got me into a gown (sometime around 7am). They checked my cervix as soon as I was able to get up on to the table in between contractions (laying down was the worst – all I wanted to do was stand/lean over). The nurse couldn’t find my cervix at first and I remember thinking “it HAS to be there”. She said it was up higher than most (something that was never an issue with my pregnancy with Owen). She excitedly announced to the room that I was 5cm and that I’d probably have this baby by lunch! I just remember thinking “holy smokes, it’s only been 3 hours in labor and I’m already at 5cm!?”… I was so worried I wouldn’t get the epidural in time. But I was determined to hold off until a photographer got there so that I could get some laboring photos. My doula got there as we were in triage and walked over to our labor and delivery room with us. I had 1 or 2 contractions in the wheelchair on the way over. My family (dad, mom and sister) were there waiting and came back to our room as soon as we got admitted/settled. I had prepped my sister with my camera gear a few days prior in case my list of birth photographers failed me (having a baby during peak wedding season proved to be quite difficult because most all the photographers were busy or out of town). Breanna started photographing for us right away and my stress over the photographer situation immediately felt at ease. Caleb got ahold of Brent again and we learned that Andrea wouldn’t be able to make it in after all, but another photographer friend Kari was available and willing to come in for us. At this point, my body was shot. I was running on 2 hours of poor sleep and having crazy intense contractions. I bounced on the birth ball for a little and labored around the room as I had an internal battle about when to get the epidural and if I should have Kari come in or just have Bre continue to ride it out.
My doula Meghan is so stinking amazing. I could sing her praises from the rooftops. And if you’re curious as to why a doula makes a difference, read on and you will see why.
I got in the shower to try and hold myself off from the epidural a little longer. I washed my body in the stuff they give you to sterilize in case you’d need a c-section, and then sat on the seat for the rest of the shower while Caleb ran the hose over my back, boobs, lower stomach and “down there” region through contractions. That water pressure y’all. Nothing beats it.
After my shower, we were guessing I was at least 6cm by this point, maybe more and since it was close to 9-10am, being told I’d most likely not go past lunch without having this baby, I decided to get the epidural. I felt bad because I wanted to labor naturally as much as possible, but also thought I was basically at the end of the journey and was just so beat. I was ready for some rest before it came time to push. I also decided to have Breanna remain the birth photographer since she was doing such a good job with it and was going to be there anyway! Since I thought I was so close to the end, I didn’t want to pay all the $$$ for the tail end of things when I already had someone there getting professional photos. I honestly thought things were progressing so quickly and worried it would all be over by the time Kari could get in to us. They called to let the anesthesiologist know I was ready and had me get back on the table to check me one more time. The first nurse who tried to check my cervix this time once again couldn’t find it. She also acted kind of off and weird about something and said she wanted to get another nurse with longer fingers in to check. The nurse she got was super nice but also pretty “hard” looking and had a brash personality. She also had long fake finger nails which is super unpleasant for the mama whose cervix you’re checking. -_-
She checked my cervix (super intrusively) and said “yeah.. you’re only 2-3cm” and walked away just like that. My stomach sunk. Like.. WUT. They told me that because my cervix was up so high with this baby the initial nurse must’ve mis-felt how far I was dilated. I think I cried. Now I wanted to continue to labor naturally but was so done and was already in the head space that rest was only moments away. Physically and emotionally I just couldn’t get myself back to where I needed to be to tackle hours more of natural labor. The nurse assured me that things were progressing nicely and kept saying I was going to meet this baby before it was dark outside. My OB came in and encouraged me to get some pitocin to help move things along. My water had only been broken for a couple of hours at this piont so there was no rush or need for pitocin. I’ve heard way too many stories of pitocin having ill effects on the outcome of a delivery and I was too paranoid about an emergency c section. I also refused the pitocin during my labor with Owen and had my ideal outcome all thanks to the help and knowledge of my doula. So, I declined the pitocin and stuck to my birth plan and let my body do it’s work. I decided to go through with the epidural after they assured me it wouldn’t slow things down at this point.
I got the epidural and man, what a relief. I felt like a total new women. I was able to talk and laugh and joke and BREATHE. The guy who gave me my epidural was also amazing and so great to work with. He was so skilled and calmed every worry of mine. After probably 30 minutes or so of talking and watching TV, I decided to have my doula and family leave the room for a bit so Caleb and I could take a nap. They had me sleep on my side to let the epidural drain and work its way out evenly, with a peanut ball in between my legs to open my pelvic region. We probably slept for 2 or more hours, and then I woke up and had everyone come back in. It was just after lunch. It was a calm, chill vibe in the room. We watched TV, and I ate gross jello while Caleb ate delicious smelling french fries. I remember my body was shaking intensely from the epidural which they say is super normal. They call them the labor shakes. I continued to rotate which side I laid on to keep the epidural even throughout my body. It’s funny because at this point any care as to what I looked like had gone out the window. I missed Owen dearly, who spent the day with my sister’s boyfriend, Skyler. We had originally planned to take Owen to Oregon Dairy for their pumpkin patch and hayride for some family time Sunday morning but our sweet girl changed those plans! I was bummed that didn’t pan out, but Sky came to the rescue and still took Owen with our neighbor friends Jeff, Darcy and Addie and they sent us the cutest photos of Owen + Addie kissing on a hay bail. I kept asking how Owen was doing because this was his first time spending a full day (from the time he woke up to the time he went to bed) without any one of my family members present. Sky and him are buddies though and had a great day together and Owen didn’t seem affected by things going on. Such an answer to prayer.
I got so hot at one point so I had the nurse turn down the temperature in the room. Everyone in the room was freezing except for me. #sorrynotsorry
At some point I got on instagram, saw an ad for a phone case I really wanted, asked Caleb if he got me a phone case for my birthday yet (which was 3 days away), he laughed and said no and agreed that I could get the case I was looking at. HAHAHAH. I can’t with myself. Like, who online shops during their labor!? Looking back I crack up over how out of it I was. We face timed Owen and got to talk to him a little bit while he was eating lunch. Mid face time the peanut ball between my legs began to become extremely uncomfortable and I started to feel a lot of pressure EVERYWHERE. I told Caleb to take the phone away because I didn’t want Owen to see me in pain.
I started to feel contractions more intensely, I felt pressure in my nether regions, and out of no where I got an unexplainably awful pain in my back. It was like a charley-horse and a knife stabbing/twisting all at once. And guys, it wouldn’t go away. It took my breath away. I immediately felt like I was back in labor and not on an epidural. My nurse didn’t want to let me press the epidural button for a little boost because she was worried I wouldn’t be able to push effectively since they thought I was nearing time to push. I think they thought this because of the pain I was in + because I kept saying I felt a lot of pressure and like I had to poop.
Because baby K was measuring bigger, they wanted to make sure I was able to feel the pressure to push effectively + steer clear of a c section or bad tearing. They kept reassuring me that it was good I was feeling pressure and that the epidural isn’t supposed to take away ALL of the feelings, because you need to be able to listen to your body and know when to push. But I’d been through a birth and an epidural before, and I knew something wasn’t right. It got so intense that I started crying that I couldn’t breath. I knew my body was in an amount of pain that it shouldn’t be in and that it wasn’t going to help me push better. If anything, it felt like it was going to hinder me.
Somewhere in there, I had my cervix checked again and was told I was at 6cm. YAAAS. It felt so amazing to hear I had much progress and was that much closer to meeting my baby girl and being done with this labor. My OB again tried to offer me pitocin to help move things along because of the pain that I was in. My body was doing what it needed to do, it was progressing perfectly. But pitocin would create extremely consistent contractions that might’ve sped up the process. I was so annoyed because it felt like my victory of getting to 6cm was being robbed! I declined, again.
Finally after what felt like hours of laboring through terrible contractions and back pain, they let me start hitting my epidural button. It didn’t provide relief at all. They called in the anesthesiologist to give me a bolus (a second little booster to my epidural). He checked my back and found that the pain in my back was surrounding the epidural site, so I began to worry that something was going wrong with it. I’ve read google you guys; I’ve heard the horror stories of girls going paralyzed. I was determined to be proactive. This pain was debilitating. So much so that I was sobbing through it, and having to breath and rely on my doula and family to help coach me and pull me through. After the bolus the pain went away for maybe an hour. But that bolus wore off so much quicker than it had when I first got the epidural. The anesthesiologist was very proactive on keeping a close eye on it for me and assured me that everything looked normal but that all he could do from here was remove the epidural if I’d like him to. He and the nurses thought that maybe our baby girl was facing the wrong way and causing extreme back labor. He explained to me that an epidural cannot wear off, otherwise there is no way I would be laying on that bed with the intense contractions that were showing up on the monitor. When they give you the epidural, they add a bolus on top of it so you feel like you’re floating on cloud 9 and don’t feel a freaking thing. Once that bolus wears off, you plateau and thats where they like to leave you so that you can still feel pressure when it comes time to push. Typically with this, you will still feel things, but it’s still masking the extremity of it. I got to the point were I could feel and move my legs and was so paranoid that the epidural had worn off. The nurse routinely checked and assured me that the epidural was still doing it’s job. She’d wipe my legs with a cold, wet towel at different spots from my belly down to my toes. And even though I could “feel” and move my legs, when she’d touch past a certain point on my belly I could feel the cloth, but I couldn’t feel the temperature of it. So this meant the epidural indeed hadn’t worn off. The thought of pushing without the epidural or experiencing any higher amount of labor pain than I was currently experiencing terrified me so I decided to let the epidural in as long as they thought it all looked okay. I think maybe I was in so much more pain with this epidural because baby K was bigger than Owen was, so everything felt different and more intense. I went into it expecting to feel exactly like I had with Owen during that epidural.
(I’m still to this day unsure of WHY I experienced the extreme pain I did from that point on in my labor. Maybe it’s because baby K was way bigger than Owen was, maybe it’s because I was only on the epidural for like half the time during my labor with Owen, and being on it so much longer this time had a weird effect on me? Who knows. She did twist when she came out so she was kind of facing the wrong way which definitely gave me terrible back labor. But still to this day, certain times and ways that I bend over I am experiencing a sharp, throbbing/shooting pain at the exact spot that gave me issues during labor which was right on top of where the epidural was. I also am still having some pressure sensations from the catheter. I have my follow up visit next week and will definitely be looking into this!)
Around 3/3:30pm, my nurse who I’d been with since I was admitted was ending her shift. Low and behold, the new nurse duo I got were the two energetic nurses I had in triage the night before. I definitely did an internal eye roll. What are the odds! Granted, it was kind of neat having them there, following me through the entire journey of this birth and they wound up being super great.
I think I begged for my OB to come in and check my cervix once or twice, determined to be at the end of this labor. My mom fed me an ice pop in between contractions. When my OB did come in around 5pm or so, she said I was about 10cm but that a tiny bit of my cervix was still left. She said she doesn’t normally have people do this, but she offered to let me “trial push” to see if that would get the rest of the cervix moved out of the way. We did that for maybe 5 minutes and she said it wasn’t moving the cervix and again, tried to get me to take pitocin. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I’m freaking here, at the end of my labor, 10cm and practice pushing, and you want to give me pitocin. Thank you, nexxxxt.
She told me to give it another 30 minutes and that she’d be back to check again. At this point in my labor, I lost all chill. I was crying, screaming, moaning.. the works. My OB came back and had me trail push again for another 3-5 minutes but that little bit of cervix wasn’t budging. I was pushing with all my dang might. I felt so determined. I felt her head RIGHT there. In all of it’s massive, pressure filled glory. I kept saying that I felt like I had to poop. Literally, it felt like I had to take the biggest dump of my life. But nothing was happening and I think I went delirious. When I declined the pitocin (yep, again) through tears my OB got kind of short with me and said something to the extent of “well Meagan, there’s nothing else we can do .. if you won’t take the pitocin we’re going to have to give it another hour..” and thats all that I heard before she left the room. An HOUR. There was no way. I felt like I was dying. There was absolutely no way I could’ve waited another hour.
By this point I was rolling around in pain and gasping for air. I kind of started to panic. I was getting MAYBE a couple of seconds of rest in between contractions, and even during that rest the pain in my back was absolutely horrifying. I yelled out and begged for a c section. I just remember feeling like I was looking outside of my body and heard myself saying “I can’t do this..I need a c section.. please give me a c section.. I can’t breath.. something isn’t right..” – The nurses, bless their hearts, kept telling me to breath through it, but that was a sick joke. I felt my mom lean in with her hand on my head, tears running down her face and praying into my ear. My mama; she just gets me. My body impulsively and uncontrollably started pushing. There was no holding it back. Her head was there with force and it felt huge. The nurses kept saying “stop pushing! Breath through it!” but I couldn’t. It’s like this little girl was involuntarily coming. I felt her coming out. I told them she was coming out and they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t want me to push because of the cervix that was left, they were scared I would tear badly. I heard them whispering and debating if it looked like the cervix had moved at all. It had only been a few minutes since my OB had left and gave me the dooming one hour wait. I remember looking up and seeing Caleb through slitted eyes as I half pushed, half breathed through the hell that was happening to me. I heard the nurse say “good job” when I managed to breath through 1 or 2 of the contractions instead of pushing. I truly felt like I didn’t know how I was going to make it through.
My doula and nurses asked if I would turn onto all fours. I didn’t know this, but my sister informed me afterwards that apparently in the background, my doula was encouraging my nurses to turn me onto all fours to let gravity do it’s thing so that I wouldn’t have to wait an hour to have this baby. She was telling them that the gravity would most likely move the cervix out of the way. They were hesitant and not fully listening, but my sister took charge and went up to them and said “we’re turning her”.. ha! Thank God for my family and doula. They got me on all fours and simultaneously I felt my baby girl coming. The pushing took over and within minutes of kneeling on all fours on the bed everyone started screaming and crying with excitement because they could see her crowning. At some point I laid on my side and held onto my leg and after a push I felt my nurse slap her hand on my vagina and say “MEAGAN! DON’T PUSH! HER HEAD IS OUT!” .. they all started assuring me that her head was crowning and that they needed to get the OB.
My family was jumping up and down and for the first time I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. What my OB told me would take an hour, took only 20 minutes thanks to my doula’s help and knowledge.
My OB came flying in nearly right away (although it felt like so much longer as I kneeled on the bed with my babies head coming out), and she had me push once, then asked me if I could lay on my back. As soon as I was on my back, I pushed for maybe 2-3 minutes then felt a huge release of relief and heard the sweet cry of my baby girl. Kinlsey Mae Keller was born at 6:46pm, just after dark. She weighed in at 8lbs, 3oz and 20inches long. They laid her on my chest and I felt a mixture of awe, relief, disbelief, and exhaustion.Minutes after I gave one long, good push and my placenta was delivered. With Owen, my placenta got stuck for an hour and I was minutes away from needing to have it surgically removed. So as soon as my placenta came out, I let out a cry of joy! My Jesus. He had me in His hands. Through tears of happiness and a flood of photos and excitement, my OB told me she was going to check around down there for tearing/stitches. She excitedly announced that I did not tear, I only had a few “brush burns” and that I did not need stitches. I exclaimed “THANK YOU JESUS!!! AMEN!”…followed with “I am so glad that I never have to do this again”. HA. I had never felt so thankful in my life. They joked that I didn’t tear because she came flying out so quickly. Though my labor was grueling, the delivery was AMAZING. A three minute delivery, no complications with my placenta and no stitches or tears. Oh Jesus, you’re so good.
They got the epidural out of me right away and that felt so amazing. My OB inspected the placenta and said that she had never seen such pronounced veins (the “tree of life”) in a placenta before. This was a huge testament because we had so many prayer warriors speaking life and praying for an abundance of blood flow and oxygen over our precious girl when we got the news of the marginal cord insertion and the potential risks that come with it. While looking over the placenta, they told us that it turned out that we actually DID have a marginal cord insertion (which is when the umbilical cord is attached to the placenta off center). It was fascinating to see and hear since they were sure it had resolved itself at our recent ultrasounds. Talk about the goodness of God’s grace and protection.
The wives tale rang true – my second DID come quicker then my first. Though I definitely wouldn’t say it was easier. The labor was cut down by 4 or so hours and my delivery was cut down by basically 55 minutes.
My nurses told me that they didn’t want to say anything the night before in triage for fear of getting my hopes up, but often times low fetal movement that close to the due date can be a sign that you’re about to go into labor because the baby is lodged that far down, so you start to feel less. Who knew!
The nurse wanted to cath me again (I’d had the catheter all through out the day and was so over it). I could tell I had to pee and practically begged for her to let me stand up and go myself. After some debating, she agreed and I was ecstatic. They had to keep me waiting to take care of precautionary measures in case of falling (from the epidural) and I had to go so bad I thought I was going to pee myself. I practically ran to the bathroom and all the nurses were laughing and making comments that I was right about knowing I could do it on my own.
Caleb’s parents came just after she was born and we spent the rest of the evening surrounded by both of our families and soaking in our little girl. I was starving so my dad and sister ran and got me a sub from subway just before they closed. It felt like the best meal of my life. Our families helped Caleb unload our car and get things to our room and then we spent the rest of the night just the three of us.
Owen met his sister the next morning and went up and gave her a kiss right away. We had them exchange gifts to one another (a stuffed animal from him to her, and a tractor toy from her to him). He did so well with it! As soon as he decided he was done sharing the attention though he laid flat on the floor and wanted nothing more to do with Kinlsey for the rest of the visit. Little turkey.
And now, here we are! It’s a beautiful, messy journey that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Kinsley is now 11lbs and is already in 3-6 month clothing and size 2 diapers. She’s a great nurser and sleeper, eating every 3 hours and giving us 3-4 hour stretches at night (sometimes more!). She truly only lets out big cries if she’s hungry or as of today, when she has a crazy big blow out. Owen is adapting to being a big brother so well and loves checking in on Kins; he’s constantly kissing her and helping her find her paci. I love watching their bond grow. I’ve been healing well and feel like I bounced back physically/emotionally pretty quickly. Though that could be because I’ve got a speedy toddler on my hands that I’ve got to keep up with. But so far, adjusting to life with two has been all sorts magical and feels pretty natural. I am so blessed to have my arms and heart so full. We are officially moved back into our own home and loving life as a family of four.
Now that I’ve finally gotten this published, I’m planning to not be so silent in the blogging world! I’ve got some super fun collaborations coming up that I’ll be sharing on here as well as a house tour of our renovations/addition and other fun lifestyle things! Stay tuned friends. 🙂
XO | Meagan
*PS – A huge shout out and thank you to my sister Breanna for taking these images. She freaking rocked it and I am so impressed + in love with these photographs.
I have all but one date booked for the mommy and me sessions I offered for July + August and man oh man does it make my heart SIIIING! I am having such a blast venturing around, capturing all of these cute bonds between a mother and her children! Over the weekend I photographed Heather and Nora here at Speedwell Lake (one of my favorite spots to photograph). The weather was heavenly! This barefoot duo twirled the night away laughing and picking flowers and it. was. magic.
XO | Meagan
Holy moly, it’s been a hot second since I’ve blogged! Let’s be real, it’s been like a year. WHOOPS. It feels so good to be back in action + updating my new site for you all! I wanted my first post of the new year to be our behind the scenes from our recent wedding season.
Reflecting back on all that the Lord has done in 2017 brings me to tears. First off we had the best intern/second shooter EVER and she goes by Morgan but I like to call her the sweetest dang thing since sliced bread. Morgan went above and beyond this year, tackling her first time photographing weddings like a pro. She fluffed dresses, held bags and more bags and phones and memory cards and flower bouquets (sometimes all at once – you’re the real mvp Mo), pinned on boutonnieres, got me drinks when I was about to pass out from the heat (not really, but really) and sooo much more. Morgan has morphed into this phenomenal, confident, assuring, helpful, eager wedding photographer and it has been the biggest blessing getting to play a small role in that.
2017 wrote the final chapter to an amazing journey. I’ve managed and grown with a team for almost 5+ years, and now going into 2018 I decided to scale down and go back to the roots of being an independent photographer. Julia has been with me since 2014 when she started out as an intern, and here she was in 2017 photographing her third full wedding season as a lead associate. I couldn’t be prouder of my girls + all of the memories and growth we experienced together.
Looking back over these images CRACKS me up. From testing locations/lighting, mirror selfies + selfies with the groomsmen.. it’s been a good year. From my first day back not knowing what the heck to wear to accommodate all of the pumping I’d be doing and feeling so swollen from nursing (literally so embarassed by that first outfit/hair choice. Black, always wear black Meagan.) to getting the hang of this mom life + work life down to a system and feeling like I could conquer the world. So dramatic, but so true. But really, I love seeing the evolvement that we’ve each gone through over the year.
We want to thank EVERYONE who hired us and entrusted us in 2017 to document some of your most treasured moments for you. We have been so humbled, honored and blessed to meet so many amazing clients turned friends.
Now, what you really came here for.. enjoy laughing with us.. or at us.. we won’t judge.
ALLLLLL of the love | Meagan
Tyler and Tina were such a fun pair to photograph! We risked getting caught in a crazy storm for their photos and we’re so happy we did! They were so easy to get along with, were willing to do anything for a great shot, and brought ICE CREAM. I’m especially glad they brought along their canoe. It’s always the best when couples bring an item or prop that’s true to who they are as a couple or that represents them and/or their relationship well. I am so excited to photograph their October wedding!
I’ve had the absolute joy of photographing the Sitch family many times, but this was the first time the newest member of the family Payton got to join in the fun! She is the cutest little thing, full of smiles and gerber baby giggles. Karson is so in love with his new little sis, it’s the sweetest! The sun was setting in all the right ways and I just couldn’t help but share a few of my favorites!
I have been jumping in my seat with anticipation ever since I photographed James and Caroline’s wedding last Summer to share these images! This was a pretty big wedding for me for a few reasons. It was my first wedding of the 2015 season that I got to use my new camera (which has since, changed my life. Dear canon 5D mark iii, you’re a game changer)! It was also the first wedding I had booked in 2014 for one of my larger packages, heyo! Julia, who was my intern in 2014 became my team member in 2015 and second shot this dream of a day with me! It was the first wedding we shot together after Julia’s wedding last year, so it was an all around happy day!
This was my first time photographing at White Chimeys Estate and I can’t say enough good things about the staff + this venue. The lighting in each room was so amazing, the property opportunities are endless and gorgeous and the staff was super friendly and happy to help whenever and where ever needed! Brides, if you’re still on the hunt for a venue make sure to check them out!
Caroline’s dress was from BHLDN, basically the prettiest store ever to exist. Stacia from Petals With Style NAILED it with the florals. The blush/cream color combos mixed with the warm summer sun and deep green grass/foliage was beyond perfect for James and Caroline’s romantic, whimsical day. And that flower crown! Man. It deserves all of the heart eyes.
James and Caroline have been together more years than the fingers on your hands can count. They are the peanut butter to one another’s jelly, the milk to the oreo cookie, the.. well you get the picture! They sharpen one another, compliment one another in all of the right ways and now, they complete each other. It was such a beautiful love commitment to be a part of. And they’ve even just shared some pretty big and stinkin’ exciting news! James and Caroline are expecting their first child!!! This babe is bound for some gorgeous locks, breathtaking eyes and the sweetest of souls. Everyone in James and Caroline’s family made Julia and I feel so welcomed and special. They were all so kind and just.. happy! It was the most joyous of days down to the every last element and detail. Also, holy dancing. This was prrrobably the biggest dance party I had been a part of! They weren’t messin’ around. There were so many personable elements through out the reception that made it feel so fun and entertaining and the least bit stiff or boring. One of my favorite parts was when James surprised everyone and popped his head out from under Caroline’s dress three times (during the garter game) and had three different masks and “characters” on each time, HA! It created a loud roar of applause from their guests. These two made their wedding day very “them” and it was priceless.
I’ll stop swooning over this day and finally let you swoon for yourself over the images! Enjoy!
With 2015 coming to an end tonight, we thought it would be the perfect time to share a glance at our year in review. I can’t believe this is our fourth behind the scenes post! It’s so fun to do this each year and look back at what was going on behind the shot, our different second shooters and all of our awesome clients. 2015 wedding season was on for the books! We met so many amazing clients this year, and even got to photograph some previous ones. Tori moved back home this Summer from Orlando, FL which was super exciting for the team. It was our first wedding season to all be in the same location, meeting weekly and second shooting with one another a bunch. Julia shot her first official wedding season as a lead photographer with us this year, all while planning/having a wedding of her own!! Julia tied the knot to her beau Nate on July 11th, 2015. Hats off to her, she conquered it like a champ! I love the shots Rebekah and I grabbed form her day featured below. Our amazing team stylist Kelsey just had her gorgeous little baby girl, Pearl Lee Mae two weeks ago. Kelsey is such a trooper! She was super pregnant through out this Summer and Fall but that didn’t keep her from getting her adventure on, climbing over rocks, gathering sweet props and crafting together floral crowns for our seniors. I love seeing that growing baby bump in some of the images below. As for me, the traveling bug bit me quite hard this year and it did not disappoint! I got to visit Maine, Las Vegas, California, West Virginia, and NYC. WOO! This year we also welcomed on two team editors Jordan and Brittney! They’ve been so great with helping out and keeping us on track with all of our deadlines and editing.
Our wedding season began in February and wrapped up in November. It’s been a full year! This year we had our fair share of wedding cake, crazy dancing, carrying dress trains, chasing the light, witnessing some of the most magical heartfelt vows, first looks and interactions, egged on a few cake smashes, traveled collectively to Maryland, Baltimore and Colorado, and ended the year by hosting our annual Holiday Mini Sessions. We are all so excited to see where 2016 takes us individually and as a team. Thank you so much for following us along on our journey, for hiring us as your photographers/stylists, and for the amazing year that you gave us!
ps- As always, we’ve got tons of new goals and dreams that we are anxiously waiting to check off the list for this year. If you’d like to make sure you’re getting all of our updates and weekly behind the scenes, click and follow our social media links below!
Kylie Jenner… I mmmmean Mackenzie Harley’s senior portraits! You know you’re thinking it too. 😉
Mackenzie is the younger sister of Kelsey Rae, our fabulous team stylist! I was so excited to collaborate with these two cuties. The Harley’s have been blessed with good looks and modeling skills that kick butt, lemme tell ya. Kelsey came up with our location, outfits, hair/makeup and props. She never disappoints! Pinnacle Overlook is one of my favorite spots. I’ve always wanted to photograph here, so when Kelsey and I began coming up with ideas I was immediately so excited when she thought of going here for the shoot. The sunset this night was unreal. It provided such a soft, hazy glow and thus, I am obsessed with these images forever.
Mackenzie has a heart of gold, gorgeous locks, and the cutest giggle. It was such an honor to capture her senior portraits and get creative together. Enjoy a few of my favorites!
*Want to have super stellar images like these, without having to stress over styling all of the elements on your own!? We got you covered! Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on adding our Style By Rae services into your portrait session. 🙂
Meagan is currently booking for Spring of 2016
FRIENDS! Remember that one awesome time we added Kelsey Courtney of Style By Rae to our team as an official stylist!? Well it’s time to unveil the very first session Kelsey and I got to team up together for! Kelsey styled the outfits, hair, makeup and locations. Seriously, I can’t emphasize how important it is to consider adding on our new stylist options to make your session all that you’ve dreamed of. Kelsey is so talented at what she does and always aims to make her clients look and feel their best.
It also doesn’t hurt that this senior, Danielle Lehman just signed with a modeling agency three weeks ago and has already worked some jobs for Khols! Seriously, this girl has got all the model juice flowing through her body. She was the perfect kick off session to our MNP + SBR collaboration. It was the perfect sunny evening strolling around downtown Lancaster City. Kelsey did such a great job location scouting and picking out the perfect, creative and fun areas for us to use.
Seniors if you are interested in booking your portraits with us and wondered what the perks are to adding Style By Rae elements to your session here is a fantastic example of what you can expect: 100% on point professionally styled outfits, hair/makeup, props, location scouting and styling, laughs, fun hair whips, IG’s + PHHHOTO grabs. It’s a good, good time. Spots are completely filled for October on my calendar, however team members Tori and Julia still have openings and my November still has some openings! Contact us ASAP! We’d love to “shoot” you! 🙂
Now go on, drool a little bit…
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