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Everly’s Birth Story || Hypnobabies + Induction at 42 weeks

Everly’s birth story is equally beautiful and sad for me. It didn’t happen how I wanted, and I cried many many tears over it, but the ending is still the sweet ending that I anticipated. Now as I’m writing it all out, a month later to the day she was born, I can see the juxtaposition of her birth to our journey with infertility. It’s not what we wanted, and we cried many tears to wait for so many years, but the ending of the journey is exactly as it should be. Everly was born on Tuesday, February 7, but there’s a lot to tell before all that, and I don’t want to forget one moment, so here we go!

My entire pregnancy went perfectly. Every test for bad things was negative and every test for good things was positive. I felt great, never had morning sickness, was not anxious for it to be over like every other mother I’ve ever known, and loved the way I looked and felt while pregnant. Even the moments that would have maybe seemed harder to me just made me smile and feel so grateful that I was able to experience it after waiting for such a long time and truly not believing it would ever happen for me. We planned to use Baby and Company birthing center in Nashville, which I was so excited about. It’s a beautiful natural birthing facility that looks more like a vacation room than anything else, with huge tubs and a big comfortable bed and lots of other things I was so excited to use. I planned for a completely natural birth, without drugs, checks or interventions, and I really had my heart set on a water birth. I completed a six week course with Jason called Hypnobabies, and studied and learned how to use hypnosis to create mental anesthesia to have a comfortable birthing time, and each time I had tested it for discomfort in other areas of my pregnancy, it worked perfectly and I was very excited to use it! We decided to hire a hypno-doula as well, so she could be a support to Jason in case he didn’t know what to do, and so that she could use the hypnotic peace and comfort cues that we had learned to help me along the journey. I did a TON of research about natural birthing, especially going by the methods and practices of the U.K., as they are more progressive in this area than the U.S. is, and they also have a lower infant and mother mortality rate while giving birth. I loved learning about delayed cord clamping, the “golden hour,” the cascade of interventions, how Oxytocin works vs. Pitocin, the history of birthing in the world and in America, and how my body was made to be able to give birth. I went into it completely confident that I could do it and was not afraid of pain. I was excited!

Birthing centers only take low risk moms, so as we neared 42 weeks (after which is considered post-term and therefore high risk as chance of stillborn babies increases) I tried everything to get labor going. I really didn’t imagine it would happen on my due date because I’d learned that 41 weeks and 3 days is actually typical of first time moms who refuse interventions, but I didn’t imagine that I’d go all the way to 42 weeks though and risk out of my beautiful birthing center. I refused to allow that scenario to take hold in my mind and tried hard to will it away. I bounced on a birthing ball and walked constantly, ate pineapple, dates, eggplant parmesan and other herbs and spicy food, did acupuncture, castor oil, dancing, pumping, membrane stripping (which originally I was against but decided to try to attempt to avoid the hospital), acupressure, chiropractic care, red raspberry leaf tea, “Spinning Babies” techniques, EVERYTHING (yes, that too)! The only thing I didn’t try was Evening Primrose Oil because it’s meant to help you efface, and before going into the hospital I was already 85% effaced, but only 1.5 centimeters dilated at 42 weeks. Finally on Sunday night I agreed to go into the hospital for an induction, understanding that the risks to my baby were just too high at that point to delay it further on account of only my desires. I was heartbroken and cried a lot, putting off packing additional hospital items until Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t just the place and the midwives and the familiarity I was losing, it was so much more than that, but this blog will be long enough without even getting into it. In short, I wanted a very specific experience. We had candles, a diffuser for Lavender oil, and a speaker to play my soothing Hypnobabies tracks. I planned to have a water birth and wanted a dark room, very private, with only the midwife and doula, my photographer/friend JC and Jason. I wanted it quiet, dark, and private– almost a romantic bonding time for Jason and I, and ultimately our baby. I knew in a hospital every one of those things was going out the window, so yes, I mourned. It was a lot to give up, no matter how sweet I knew the end would be with my precious baby.

Sunday night we arrived at 8pm, with our doula Kayla meeting us there. It was extremely comforting to have someone there who knew what you’d wanted and were losing, who knew the hospital and birth process, and who was there exclusively for you and on your side. Her presence was invaluable right from the start. When we arrived and I checked in, we discovered that somehow I wasn’t listed as from the birthing center, and so at first we were assigned to the wrong area (when you come from the birthing center you are transferred to the midwife group, never a doctor unless it’s an emergency). Because they didn’t have that information, it also meant all the rooms with a tub were taken. I cried again when I learned that, trying to hide the fact from my very sweet nurse and midwife who could tell that I was very sad to be there. They were wonderful though and tried to make me as comfortable as I could be, allowing me to turn off lights and put out our electric tealights, diffuse some lavender and although they seem surprised when I mentioned it, allowed me to wear my own outfit that I had brought for birthing. I was not sick and didn’t want to feel like a patient, so wearing my own clothes was important to me. The nurse was extremely interested in Hypnobabies after reading my birthing plan, which included asking them to only refer to my comfort level instead of pain, and asking for quiet and several other slightly unusual requests, and I liked that she seemed so open to it. That night we discussed using Cytotec to stimulate my cervix to open (it’s artificial prostaglandins, like what is in semen–which is why everyone agrees that sex helps you go into labor normally!) and if needed, use a foley bulb after that. After two four-hour rounds of it, trying to sleep despite having my blood pressure checked every half hour and having a hep-lock stuck in my arm, I was only about 3cm dilated, which was disappointing, but was also enough progress to make the foley bulb unnecessary. It was morning by then and a new shift had started at 7am, so I now had a new midwife and nurse.

My 2nd shift midwife made me laugh when I met her. I was recurling my eyelashes (I’d chosen to wear Lipsense and Shadowsense, plus waterproof mascara so I would look good in the pictures during my birthing time– Lipsense and Shadowsense does not come off AT ALL and I wore it 21 hours before deciding to reapply. Yes, I sell this stuff now because it’s just that good!) when she came in, and she exclaimed “Oh! She’s putting on makeup!” We all laughed and she said she fully approved after I told her I was one of those people who felt better when they looked put together. At that point we had been there already 10+ hours and very little progress was happening, so Peg, my midwife, suggested we start Pitocin. When I let her know how anti-Pitocin I was (there are so many wonderful things your baby and you don’t get to experience when you use Pitocin) and that I wanted to wait as long as I could, she agreed that we should try some other methods, like pumping and such, to see if we could get things started. That day we spent walking around the hospital wing, trying pumping, bouncing on the birthing ball and various exercises and positions. The bright spot in that day was when fresh, warm baked cookies and cold milk was delivered to our room by my mother-in-law! I had no idea you could deliver to a hospital room and it was such a wonderful surprise! Despite all of our efforts though, my body reacted oddly, increasing my contractions when I was still in bed and pumping (they got to about every minute or so), but when I moved around or danced to some rowdy music, they would slow down, which is the opposite of how things normally progress.  I used my Hypnobabies techniques the entire time and it was completely painless, sometimes I wasn’t even aware of when I was having contractions, but by late afternoon I was still only 3.5 centimeters, so we finally agreed it was time to start Pitocin.

Around 6pm or so the Pitocin drip was started at the lowest level, my blood pressure was checked every 15 minutes, the baby monitors on my belly were being used continuously, and I had an IV of fluids as well. I hated being hooked up like that, but tried to make the best of it as I settled in to rest and listened to my Hypnobabies tracks. Every half hour they increased the Pitocin drip, and I stayed very comfortable using hypnosis, although I could now feel the intensity of the waves were starting to pick up. Pretty much right after that started, at 7pm, we got our 3rd shift midwife and nurse. That midwife’s bedside manner left a lot to be desired, and I really didn’t like her a bit. It’s funny because I never voiced that, but about a week later talking to Jason and Kayla, they had thought the same things! She was just rude about our preferences and patronizing and I had to be forceful to get things the way I wanted, which really stunk because usually you don’t deal with that with midwives and it was something I’d wanted to avoid. Fortunately she wasn’t there for the actual birthing, but we had to deal with her quite a bit for the next 12 hours.

At 1:15am on Tuesday morning, things got real. I was half-sleeping (I fall asleep very quickly, but with the waves coming more frequently and having my blood pressure checked so often it was a challenge to get rest) when I got a very intense wave that woke me up. It was the first time I would have described any part of my birthing time as painful. Jason was sleeping on the couch and Kayla was in a recliner in another room so I texted her “Whew. Definitely getting harder.” to which she replied “On my way.” I was in awe of how that first hard wave just knocked me out! I was instantly incredibly tired, and it was the weirdest thing! Each one after just made me more and more tired, and I don’t think I opened my eyes hardly at all the entire time, simply because I couldn’t! At that point the nurse came in and I told her too that it felt different so everyone got together to talk options. After a cervical check indicated I was at 5cm we agreed to break my waters, which was another hard decision for me. I knew it put a deadline on me, but it would also likely get things going together with the Pitocin, so we agreed. It was WEIRD! It didn’t hurt any more than a cervical check does, but the feeling of water going through you like that is so strange! It felt like I swallowed a waterfall and it was coming back out. So bizarre. Anyway, at this point we called our photographer!

JC (Jessica McIntosh) is a longtime friend of mine, and in fact is the first new friend I made when I moved to Nashville to be with Jason. We connected quickly, both of us being Christ-followers and photographers and even getting married on the same day! She has an infectious and loud laugh and lights up a room, plus has a crazy talent with her camera, so she was definitely the person I wanted to document our journey. She did our maternity photos too, as well as our newborn lifestyle session we did after Everly was born. She arrived maybe an hour later, I really don’t know for sure, and I was in the middle of the waves at that point. They were strong and fast, and because my Pitocin level was so high, I didn’t have time to use my hypnosis cues in between waves to keep myself comfortable. The few times I did manage to, everyone could tell the waves were easier. Jason even said aloud each time “Good, that one was easier” or “You did so good during that one.” Even without me telling him I was using my hypno-anesthesia, he could tell by my reaction that it worked for me. My only regret is that I was on such a high dose of Pitocin (I was at 19ml, while and the maximum they offer, I was told, is 20ml) that the waves came too quickly for me to do it consistently. Without the hypno-anesthesia it was rough, and it went on for about four and a half hours before my cervical check (which was brutal being on my back and having waves while getting checked) finally declared me at 9cm. That was a turning point for me. I still was going through the same sensations, but instead of concentrating on getting through them, I was concentrating on trying hard not to push yet. My midwife basically just told me to wait until I felt I couldn’t not push anymore. I was a bad judge of time, but I would guess I maybe managed to hold back for a half hour, and then it was on.

Pushing is such a different phase. It felt the same as waves/contractions (pretty awful unless I was able to use the hypno-anesthesia in time), but I now had the goal to push, and since my body wanted to anyway, you kind of just go along with it. It went on for two and a half hours before Everly came, but I think it would have been less if I’d understood that you use the exact same muscles as when having a bowel movement. I kept telling them “Oh no I have to poop!” and they just kept saying, “No, no you’re good, that’s the baby, just keep going!” I thought it was strange I couldn’t tell the difference, but it never clicked that I should really just pretend to be going #2 and have at it. I think when I finally figured that out in the last 20-30 minutes (someone actually said “Just push like you’re pooping!”– I love blunt people) it felt more effective and really got going. I really wish someone had said that sooner because I was in too much of a haze to connect the dots myself! Sorry for that detailed description, but if it helps another first time mom push correctly in the future, it’s worth saying! Anyway I tried several positions, and really wanted to use gravity by doing standing, squatting or some variation, but it was just too much for me. I was exhausted and moving made everything worse, so I finally ended up in what I knew was one of the least effective positions, but the only one I could handle– laying on my side.

The absolute best part of the birthing process comes at the end. Big surprise right? But really; I was pushing harder and harder, hearing people’s excitement and knowing the end was in sight, but not really knowing how much longer it would be. Unbelievably, no one actually told me when the head was coming out and then when it was out! I just kept pushing and pushing and it was unbelievably exhausting. I wish they had told me what was going on because I think those final minutes would have been more bearable knowing that my baby was almost out! The best part though was when my new midwife (the 4th shift had started at 7am, but fortunately my 4th shift midwife was my 2nd shift midwife, so we already knew her and she knew what we’d been through and what our preferences were. I was very happy snotty midwife #3 was gone.) Peg said very forcefully “Sarah-Marie, look at me!” I didn’t know at this point how close I was to the end, so in a daze I looked up, laid back down, and then in an instant realized I had just seen my baby! I looked up again immediately and watched her pull Everly all the way out. It was the most incredible, intense, miraculous thing I have ever seen, but my first thought was “Wow, that’s a big baby!” I couldn’t fathom that something that big had just come out of me. I was so amazed and emotional that I completely forgot to even wonder about the gender; all I knew is that I wanted that baby in my arms STAT! Peg remembered though, and deliberately not looking, she held up Everly to Jason and said “What do we have daddy?!” Jason very comically and with a very surprised voice, said “We have a GIRL!” I didn’t realize until that moment how very much I wanted it to be a girl. I was SO happy.

From then on, it was a whirlwind. I was in a funny mood because my hormones were all over the place. I was so incredibly happy, which was a big change of pace from being sad the last few days with thinking about having to go to the hospital and then actually being there. I was more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life, with incredibly heavy eyes, but all I wanted to do was stare at this perfect face in front of me. The mix of joy, exhaustion, relief, wonder, excitement and love was overwhelming, and I’m not the only one who cried. Jason and Kayla cried too (Kayla told me later that this was the very first time she’d ever teared up at a birth!), and everyone was chattering and busy. There were a ton of people in the room: nurses from our shift and the last shift who wanted to watch the finale, our midwife, a doctor to stitch me up, the NICU team in case they were needed, the people setting up the surgical equipment for me, the nurses for my baby, and more. It felt like the room was just full of people. I’d wanted peace and quiet and just a moment with Jason, but that wasn’t going to happen here, and luckily I was too happy with Everly to think much on it. Once she came out and they laid her on me, all I could think about was wanting to do skin to skin immediately, so they aided me with that while we waited for the placenta to come. I couldn’t bring her too close to me because the cord was very short and we wanted to wait until it stopped pulsing before we cut it.

From there I delivered the placenta, got all stitched up (funny story: because I was in a hazy crazy mood, when the doctor was stitching me up and had to repeatedly ask me to keep my legs open as I was too distracted by Everly to remember, I quipped “Sorry doc, my parents always told me to keep my legs closed for guys so it’s just habit!” The ensuing uncomfortable laughter was priceless), and started breastfeeding as soon as I could. I’ve read a million articles on that first golden hour and the benefits of skin-to-skin and baby-led breastfeeding so I was ready to go! After the first hour I let the nurses weigh and measure Everly and they did the Vitamin K shot and put our matching bracelets on us. She was only gone from me for a minute or two, but I was anxious to get her back! Within three hours it was time to move into our permanent room for the day, and on the way I mentioned being hungry and our poor nurse looked mortified that they’d forgotten to get me breakfast. They brought me a chicken salad lunch, and within an hour I ordered another hot lunch too. Jason went down to the cafeteria and got two burger meals and he completely deserved it. We were famished!

The rest of the day and next morning we were inundated with a billion hospital staff checking on her or me every ten minutes it seemed, and it was the opposite of restful, but again, we were too enthralled with Everly to care too much that first day. By that night though we were determined to leave asap the next day. We called family, took pictures every minute or so, tried to sleep, and did all the obligatory tests and things. We arrived home around 4:30pm on Wednesday and stayed in to ourselves for a few days, allowing our first visitors that weekend. It was very peaceful to have the time to ourselves, and since we were learning her, and getting the hang of sleeping arrangements and breastfeeding, I highly recommend the little break!

So there’s that. I never claimed to have given up my long-winded days, and I want to remember all the moments, so there it is. There’s actually even more detail in the photos below too! It was a difficult and hard thing to do, and yeah, I’m still bummed over how it all happened, and that’s okay. It doesn’t reflect on how I feel about Everly, and it’s okay for me to mourn the loss of something that was very important to me, so I don’t apologize, and I won’t be made to feel bad about it. It’s easy for people to say “Well, at least you got a healthy baby” and of course that’s true, but it doesn’t diminish my feelings. Birthing isn’t just about the baby, it’s about the mom and dad too, and it matters how it goes. I know I’m going a little soap-boxy here, but women suffer from postpartum depression all the time, and sometimes it’s because they don’t feel heard or feel like their feelings don’t matter because the baby is fine. Don’t trivialize it, because I sure don’t. I would change nearly everything about my birth if I could. The best things I got out of my experience though was an even deeper love and appreciation for Jason, who was indescribably wonderful, my rock throughout the entire thing, and the most incredible little girl I have ever met. Those things mean a lot to me, so I guess I did get my romantic moment at least a little, and I am thankful for that! Next time though, I want a freaking home birth…

 

Everly Jane’s Photo Birth Story by Jessica McIntosh Photography

Our room at Vanderbilt. Melrose is the name of the Midwives group that you automatically get transferred to when you have to leave the birthing center, Baby & Co, for high risk reasons.
1The photo story starts well into the birth journey, but right near the beginning of all the action, right after my water was broken and I was already on a high dosage of Pitocin, at about 6cm.
2The nurses had everything ready to go for baby, which was pretty surreal, realizing how our lives were about to change. 3Jason was with me every step of the way, never leaving my side. He is close to me, saying a Hypnobabies cue word to signal hypnosis and deep relaxation and comfort, “peace.” His resting his hand on my shoulder was a part of what we’d practiced together. I couldn’t have done it without him. 4Up until right before my waters were broken, I was extremely comfortable all through my birthing time. By this point though because of the Pitocin, I was getting the pressure waves (contractions) almost every 30 seconds, and much harder than they would have come naturally, so I couldn’t relax into hypnosis quickly enough and it got much harder. Jason comforted me before, during and after each one, and my doula Kayla supplied comfort suggestions, like a cool rag, moving around the fan we had brought, and various massage and pressure techniques. I was very thankful to have them both there. 5This was the start of when I remember the experience getting very tough. Moving into this position was excruciating, but once I settled in, I was able to relax a little bit in between waves. By this point I had gotten no more than 15 minute spurts of sleep for 48 hours, so I was incredibly tired. Jason held my hand so that every time a new wave was coming, I could squeeze him and he could come in and do my peace cue with me. 6I was fully aware before coming in that moving around was best for everyone, but it didn’t happen for me. Moving was easily the times when I was in the most pain, and I only did it with prompting from my birthing team, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have moved the entire time. For some reason things seemed to go backwards for me. Moving stalled my waves when I was trying to dilate before Pitocin, and then during my birthing time, moving was the opposite of comforting. I hated being on my back more than anything, but this was for a cervical check to see if I could push, after about four and a half hours of strong pressure waves. I gripped the bed while my less-than-gentle midwife performed the check (this was the only person at Vanderbilt I came into contact with that wasn’t incredibly nice. I didn’t like my third shift midwife at. all.).7This is about the time when I found out I was 9cm, and it was nearly time to push. I tried hard to keep my body from pushing for as long as I could, and though it wasn’t any more comfortable, having that focus to hold myself back was a nice change than just enduring the hard and fast waves. 8I really wanted to be as vertical as I could going into pushing, so we tried this position again. I was well aware that lying on your back is the worst possible position and that side-laying was a close second, so I was trying to use gravity. 9Getting ready to see if this position would be okay for me. My nurse had to constantly press monitors onto my belly, which I absolutely hated, but because I was on an incredibly high dosage of Pitocin, they had to make sure baby was okay at all times. 10Pushing for the first time. Spoiler alert– I pushed for two and a half hours.
11Those pushes wear you down. I was getting so tired and had to concentrate to keep focused. I liked this position for pushing, and wanted the gravity, but my toes and feet were getting very uncomfortable after awhile so it ended up not working for the actual birthing.
12We didn’t try this one for longer than two pushes. It was completely awful, and I hated moving so much that I was very motivated to find the right (and final) position. Leaning over a bar would have used gravity like I wanted, and standing too, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I didn’t have the strength to stay up. 13The team suggested I lay on my side and use the bar for just my feet, but I think my face says exactly what I thought of that… It didn’t help that laying on my right side was pretty uncomfortable anyway. 14We switched over to my left side and put the bar down. I found out later that at this point my waves had been coming so hard and fast that my 3rd shift midwife turned down the Pitocin a bit. The next few images show the small break I got because of it. 15And those Jamberry nails!16The final hour of just being us two.17This was it. I was in my final position, and Kayla was holding up my leg instead of using the bar. I wrapped my right arm around my leg and held Jason’s hand with my left, and tried not to use my strength in my voice or hands, but to push it only to my birthing canal. It was hard concentration work! 18Finally my midwife asked me to stop making sounds and try to just bear down and put all my energy into the push. Not having that release in my voice (“singing” as my photographer JC said) made it seem like it was so much harder, but it also felt like I was finally getting somewhere.

Warning! The next set of images is the baby crowning. While you don’t see anything graphic from me (the angle of the photo makes it so you can’t), it is a pretty intense set of images with baby’s head coming out. 19These photos leave me in awe now. Even though I saw her as she was being born, at that time she was a stranger to me. Now I have her face memorized and I can recognize her so clearly in her first few moments entering our world.20This was my favorite moment of the entire experience, and the moment that stands out to me. I was lost in the throes of it, not able to really tune in to anything, but our midwife called my name loudly and said “Sarah-Marie, LOOK at me!” I did for an instant, laid back down, then realized I had just seen my baby coming out! This next photo is the reaction I had when I realized and looked again. SarahMariePhotography_0514All I wanted to do was look at her. I forgot completely to even wonder at the gender! Our midwife held her up to me and then said “What do we have daddy?” Jason, in a hilariously shocked voice, exclaimed “We have a GIRL!” She hadn’t cried yet so the nurse started rubbing her down pretty hard to get her to cry, which I didn’t realize at the time. I was only concerned that they be gentle and maintain her vernix! I kept asking her to be gentle and I’m sure I was pretty annoying, but once she started crying they let up.
23That first cry was equally wonderful and heartbreaking. I only wanted to calm her but I couldn’t yet bring her up to me, as she was still attached and the cord was tight and short. 24The nurse and midwife (Peg) held her up for a moment so I could take off my clothes and prepare for some skin to skin time. 25I was desperate to see her face, but it was so hard from this angle I was in while I waited for things to settle down (and deliver the placenta). I asked questions like “Does she have my lips?” because I couldn’t see! Everyone agreed she looked just like daddy, to which I said “Thank God!” At the time I don’t think anyone really knew what I meant. I was just so happy that she looked like one of us, because it was something I thought I’d never see in a newborn’s face just a short year ago. 27Jason was worried before that he would be queasy, but nothing phased him! He cut that cord (once it stopped pulsing) with pleasure, and I was so happy to bring her nearer to me. 26Jason checked with me to be sure he announced the right name (we had discussed possibly calling her Jane Everly instead of Everly Jane).
28We got some cheers when he announced “This is Everly Jane.” Ever because we waited “for Ever/forever” with the ending “ly” to sound like daddy’s middle name Lee. Jane means “God’s gracious gift” and after waiting almost four years, her name could not be more meaningful to us.
29Daddy got out her first clothes to show everyone (we had brought a boy set and a girl set) while I just soaked her up. Turns out she was already too big for her outfit so she only wore it that one night. She came to us at 9lbs, 11oz and 21 inches long, which were my exact same measurements when I was born!30When it was time to push out the placenta I was a little nervous, not wanting to have to push anymore. Jason stayed with me and did the peace cue again, and having Everly against me made everything a little better anyway. 31Turns out that part is really very easy.

Warning: Placenta photo ahead.32Although I agree with most people that the placenta is kind of yuck, the fact that this kept my baby alive for 9 months made me appreciate it, and our midwife even held it up and showed us exactly where Everly was situated during her time in my tummy. The pocket she lived in was fascinating to see!At this point, even with my needing a bunch of stitches and needles, I was on a high of being equally happy/giddy and completely exhausted.
34I really wanted baby-led attachment and to see the “newborn crawl” but with so many people in the room it just wasn’t going to happen. We went ahead and helped her to try to latch on and nurse for the first time, and it was an amazing moment.
35She bobbed her head around and looked at me intently. 36Once she found what she needed, she took a moment to look at me before beginning. I was so in love. 37Success!SarahMariePhotography_0513We adored watching her, studying her, enjoying her expressions. 39She had hair on her ear that I thought was precious, and though not cleaned up a bit, she was just the prettiest thing I could ever remember seeing. 40Jason earnestly counted her fingers and toes within the first minute or two of her coming out. I thought that was pretty cute. 42Checking her vitals while she stayed with me. I insisted that they wait at least until the first hour was over before they moved her from me to weigh and measure her. I was in no rush to have her leave me even for a minute. 43Her eyes were so alert and I loooved her lips, even though they turned out not to look like mine (which we thought she’d have from the ultrasound). This wide-eyed alertness for the first hour is why the “golden hour” is so important, and why we declined the eye goop they put in newborns eyes. We wanted to get as much bonding in as we could. 44Calling family. After three hours, it was almost time for us to move out of the labor and delivery room and into our room for the rest of our stay.45I gave birth at 7:52am on Tuesday and we left the hospital around 3:30pm on Wednesday. We spent the time calling family, eating (both of us had two lunches since neither of us had eaten in so long), learning to breastfeed, getting a MILLION tests and checks from nurses, midwives, doctors and specialists, and sleeping a little. I couldn’t sleep too well since I was anxious to watch her breathe, but eventually I did a bit. It wasn’t the experience we wanted, and the atmosphere made me restless, but taking home this jewel eased that disappointment. We are completely infatuated.
46We waited until Saturday for our first visitors, preferring to cocoon at home and get to know each other, and I definitely recommend it! I had made extra food the week before so we had plenty of leftovers to eat, and with the sleep learning curve, it was a few days of eating and sleeping and taking pictures. I cried a lot, tears of happiness mostly and some of sadness at the thought of her growing up and not being an infant anymore. It was emotional, and it still is, but life is so sweet, and we are cherishing all of her firsts this first month of her life.

Thank you for reading!

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Introducing Everly Jane || Newborn Photography

Meet my precious baby girl, Everly Jane. She was born on February 7th at 7:52am after quite a bit of convincing, weighing 9 lbs 11 oz and at 21 inches long (which were my exact measurements as a newborn also!). I’ll share her birth story in a future post. She is such a gift, with a HUGE smile and a hilarious personality that makes me laugh all the time.

Photographing your own child is a bit of a challenge! Usually after getting the room super warm, turning on the noise machine, getting baby a full belly and changing into loose clothing, baby is primed for sleep. I always ask the mommies to stay away though, and only talk in a whisper, because baby smells and hears them and it causes them to wake up!

When it’s your own kid though, you can’t do that! Everly kept waking up and wanted to nurse and didn’t like the weird positions I was putting her in, so this session took place over two days and at three separate times! I took loooots, as you can imagine, but here are some of my favorites!

SarahMariePhotography_0465

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Our Baby Room || Gray and White Vintage Hot Air Balloons

This has been a long awaited blog, not just for me because I’ve been excited about it, but I’ve gotten so many requests from out-of-towners who wanted to see what I’ve been working on for the last 6 months (no, not nine months because remember we had our three adorable foster kiddos until middle of August). Well, it’s finally here, our baby room!

Here it is before when we had our girls… (note the yellow side table and teal wall bookshelves, you’ll see those again!)11696015_10102303470149343_3769916408313003329_n

And here it is now!

We themed it Vintage Hot Air Balloons, with gray and white being our primary colors, and just a hint of teal and yellow accents. I loooooove the way it turned out!SarahMariePhotography_0457Nearly every piece in the room is handmade or completely made over. In fact I think only the rocking chair is as it was when we bought it from Varage Sale. That lamp back there was a $7 find from Varage Sale that was brown. I spray painted it and replaced the shade and it’s as good as new!SarahMariePhotography_0461These pieces of art are almost all handmade, by my sister Elisabeth (the big one), my friend Felicia (the button one), all my friends (the thumbprint one was from my shower) and my friend Jennifer, who made the one on the bottom right. Holly, my sister, bought me the top left one.

Oh, and I know someone will ask about the book, that was made by my sister Elisabeth too!

This furniture was completely redone by my friend Lisa and her daughter (who do it for a living), and they also vintaged the crib for me (since I chalk painted it and couldn’t finish it while pregnant with the wax). This furniture piece didn’t originally have legs, it was actually in the girls room too, but I love how the legs classed it up a bit!

SarahMariePhotography_0452Here you can see the vintaged crib (it took me soooooo long to paint!)! The pillow is something Jason designed and created, and the incredible mobile was made by my incredibly crafty friend Katelyn. I think she’s going to start selling them!SarahMariePhotography_0455This little table has been in our home since we got married, apparently it’s something of a family heirloom from Jason’s side! It’s been teal, yellow, and now white throughout the years! I decoupaged that dresser drawer to match the little table I’ll show you in a bit. SarahMariePhotography_0453This was the last thing I finished, the dresser! We originally got it from my parents for fostering, and it was a deep dark brown, and I wanted to freshen it up to match everything else. I’m very pleased with it! Back in the corner you’ll see my cloth diaper collection, the puzzle that lists the names of all the people who helped us raise money to adopt a child, and the hot air balloon banner was made by my friend Claire! I TOLD you a lot was homemade!SarahMariePhotography_0459I wanted to leave the walls mostly bare, to give it a wide open look. It’s harder to tell in the photos, but the room looks pretty darn big because it’s not very crowded. SarahMariePhotography_0460Lastly, a closer look at the growth chart I made all by myself! I just bought a plank from Home Depot and went at it! I made the big hot air balloon too out of papier mache’, with help during the decorating phase from Katelyn (of the hot air balloon mobile fame). We used some of the same fabric on the big hot air balloon as the fabric on the mobile, and BURNED it to give it an old look. I tell ya, that was fun!SarahMariePhotography_0456A closer look at some of the things that I put  lot of work into. This is the color the dresser was! I repainted, vintaged it up a bit with sandpaper, and added new knobs!SarahMariePhotography_0464Really really proud of this table! I picked it up from Varage Sale for $10 and painted it white (which somehow was really hard. I don’t know why, but it didn’t like to accept the paint very well). Then I sanded it to give it more vintage flair, and decoupaged this beautiful photo on it! I found the photo on Google and Jason blew it up a but, lowered the saturation and white-washed it, and then fine tuned it so it wouldn’t look pixelated. I LOVE having a graphic designer for a husband, let me tell you! For the decoupage I simply used Modge Podge!SarahMariePhotography_0463Lastly, my favorite project of all was this rocking horse. Do you even know how expensive rocking horses are?! They are outrageous! I looked and looked and finally found this one on Varage Sale (which looked shabbier in real life than it does in this picture– this was after I cleaned it). I could see it had good bones but it was all wrong for the room. So, I cut out the rope, wood-puttied the hole (because WHY would you put a rope through an eye hole????), cut off the tail and sanded it down. Then I painted and sanded until it looked the way I wanted, and used a staple gun, hot glue, and yarn to make a new tail and a mane. It took some time, but I love love love the result!SarahMariePhotography_0462Oh, and I get a lot of questions about the rug. It’s by far the thing we spent the most money on, but I wanted one that was almost as big as the room! We picked it up on Amazon and it goes perfectly. When we began the room the gray walls were white with a yellow stripe, and the gray we chose looked a little blue. Once we added the rugs and curtains, it looks more gray now and I love it!

So, I think I said “I love it” 40 times in this blog… What do YOU think?!

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Snowy Maternity Session in Tennessee || Spring Hill Photographer

Last time I blogged it was green and warm outside. I’ve been sooooo behind with planning for baby (due in two weeks now!) that I’ve neglected this entirely. Not today though, because this is my best friend’s maternity shoot, and I had to share it. We just did a mini session since it was 17 degrees outside, but Felicia got her wish of a snowy day, and no pregnant women were harmed in the making of these photos, so I’d say it was a success!sarahmariephotography_0448The sun was out and bright, and thank goodness for that, because the wind was harsh. I was alllll bundled up, and Felicia was in ballet shoes! This girl really braved it for these photos!sarahmariephotography_0450I love how they themed it with the winter and plaid. It is a perfect combination. sarahmariephotography_0447We were cracking up over these because it looked like Felicia was announcing to Jason that they were having a boy, which if course he already knew! I love their big laughs and the way they look at each other:-)sarahmariephotography_0446Oh and kissing in the snow with the sun….breathtaking. sarahmariephotography_0449We needed to warm up though so we finished inside with some belly shots…sarahmariephotography_0445And gorgeous silhouettes. I couldn’t decide which “look” I liked better so I just did both. Her bump is so sweet!sarahmariephotography_0444Thank you Felicia and Jason for letting me capture your lives through these photos! I can’t wait to meet Riley!!!

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Micah’s 6 Month Session || Spring Hill Photography

Micah is the son of Mackenzie and Ben, and BOY is he a cutie. I was taking his pictures the other day and just thinking that having a boy would be really fun! Being pregnant, I find myself looking at sessions totally differently. At newborn sessions I get choked up, at 3 month sessions I inventory the baby rooms and take notes, and at 6 month sessions I just fawn over the adorable little outfits. I can’t wait to be a mom:-)Anyway! Micah. He’s a perfect, chunky-legged little bugger and I just love him. He wakes up so smiley and ready for pictures, and smiles the brightest when everyone else is laughing too. We did a few different looks for this session. Outdoors, Tennessee Volunteers, and Naked Baby! Fun mix:-)

sarahmariephotography_0418First we found this great chair and did a test run since he was so smiley. sarahmariephotography_0426This blanket is the same one we used for Ben and Mackenzie’s maternity portraits!sarahmariephotography_0425sarahmariephotography_0424All of this amazing light and scenery was in a backyard!sarahmariephotography_0423sarahmariephotography_0422Ben is a huge Volunteer fan, so…..sarahmariephotography_0420And then we finished with no clothes, because that makes every baby happy!sarahmariephotography_0421sarahmariephotography_0419

Thank you Mackenzie and Ben for such a fun session. You two are always a blast to photograph, and Micah was picked that up from you too!

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