The birth of Francesca 8/15/15

I met with Darlene & Joe shortly after I delivered my son. Darlene was the first to inquire about my doula services after my maternity leave would be over in September.  I could not wait to work with them after leaving our consultation! Even though she had a great experience for her first birth, she knew how important it was to have a doula and was also looking forward to the birth photography. Darlene had wanted to switch to Elmer Hospital in hopes of a water birth, but was unable to because of insurance reasons and had to make the best of Virtua hospital in Voorhees. 

I wasn't even on-call yet and I heard my phone vibrate around 3:30am on August 15, 2015. Luckily, I was awake! To my surprise, it was Darlene, who wasn't due for another 4 weeks...

"Samm... contractions are about 4 mins apart for the last hour or so. Calling the hospital now." 3:38am

"They are intense now. Difficult to breathe through and I am needing to remember to relax... and its taking a lot of effort to do that." 3:58am

"Heading to virtua soon..." 4:09am

When Darlene checked into triage the resident asked her multiple times if she wanted pitocin or an epidural even though she had made it clear she wanted to go natural from the beginning. She was afraid that the medical staff was going to be unsupportive since she was unable to develop any time of relationship with a care provider prenatally. But, after she got upstairs and into her labor & delivery room they left her alone for most of the time.

Once I got to the hospital I saw that Darlene was doing an amazing job. She was able to hold full conversations in between contractions and she was in control of her birth space. Her labor progressed beautifully and although she was exhausted she stayed strong. The support from her mother & Joe was unbelievable and I was able to do more photography. 

Darlene's mother was a doula (no, she wasn't a certified doula, but she was definitely a natural), she knew exactly what to do and what to say and what she needed throughout the entire process. It was beautiful seeing such a bond between mother and daughter. In all the births I've been to, I've never seen anything like it!

Around 11:00 am or so, Darlene asked to have her water broken artificially after being 6cm for a few hours. After her water was broken the contractions got much more intense. An hour later she started having the urge to push, she started pushing uncontrollably in hands and knees on the bed. When the nurse checked Darlene she asked her to stop pushing since she was only 7cm and did not want her cervix to swell, but Darlene could not stop pushing. The nurse looked at me and said call the doctor! But, there was no time... Darlene pushed her baby out & into the nurses hands within a matter of minutes. It was the nurses first catch ever!

It was great being back in the birth world and such a beautiful birth to be apart of. Thank you Darlene & Joe for letting me be apart of your big day!

The pain free birth of Aubrie Jean 12/30/14

This is the last birth story of 2014. I'll start by saying it has been an incredible year, filled with incredible births and families, including the Michelet family. 

Late in October, I received a Facebook message on my business page from Brian, this was the first time ever that a dad was reaching out to me. We met that night at a nearby Starbucks and we immediately connected. Needless to say, they hired me on the spot. We quickly booked our prenatal appointments and maternity photo session since we didn't have much time to work with. Sheree was determined to have a completely natural childbirth, but also knew to keep an open mind. I was informed by both Brian and Sheree that she had an extremely low pain tolerance, like she could barely handle a headache. "She's a wimp." Brian told me & Sheree agreed, "I am a wimp." Still she wanted to try and have an intervention & drug free birth. She had been extremely active her entire pregnancy and ate a healthy diet. Her doctor was supportive of her desire to have a natural birth and encouraged her to wait at home as long as possible. 

Sheree was due on Christmas eve and Christmas eve came and went. I patiently waited for my the "I think I'm in labor" text, but I didn't get one until 5 days later. It was the day before New Years Eve and Sheree had called me and said she started having contractions earlier in the morning. I told her to get her rest and keep me updated. We stayed in touch throughout the day and things picked up in the early evening. Around 7:00 pm Brian asked me to head over, her contractions were lasting more than a minute and happening frequently. 

I got to their house at around 8:00 pm and I entered their amazing & calm birth space. Brian had gone above and beyond setting up their "birth room", he painted birth mantras on the wall, bought a 6 person indoor hot tub, set up candles and had a relaxing Pandora station playing in the background. Sheree was relaxed and in hands and knees over her birth ball. I just sat down and watched her breathe calmly through contractions and focus on her labor. Shortly after my arrival she got into the tub and labored in there for about thirty minutes. Sheree had been using the tub throughout the entire day and said it helped her relax. 

At 9:00 pm, she got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and her contractions were really starting to become more intense. She labored a little longer and then at 9:30 pm decided it was time to go to the hospital. Right after she got dressed and was getting ready to leave, her water broke. Brian ran upstairs, got her a change of clothes, they said goodbye to their fur babies and we left. 

At 10:00 pm they checked into triage at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees. She was still remaining calm and breathing through her contractions beautifully. An hour later, 11:00 pm, we were checked into labor & delivery suite #2, with a labor tub. Dr. Godorecci came in and checked Sheree, she was 5 cm dilated , baby was at -1 and in perfect position for delivery. As Sheree was hooked up to the monitor, the nurse prepared the labor tub for her. She got in as soon as she was done being monitored and stayed in their for as long as she could. 

An hour after arriving in her room, at 12:15 am, Sheree stared to sound like she was bearing down. Her doctor came in and asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10, Sheree responded with, "I'm not in pain, it's just pressure." Yes! Sheree, who could barely handle a headache, was in active labor and said she was not in pain. She got out of the tub and was put back on the monitor as she waited for Dr. Godorecci, who was delivering another baby. She held onto Brian and they swayed back and forth together. It's truly a gift to witness two people, who are so incredibly and undoubtedly in love, getting ready to welcome their first baby to the world. She held tightly onto Brian and would squat up and down in between her contractions. She listened to her body and moaned as her baby made its way down. I was in awe of how beautifully she was handling transition phase, when I looked at Sheree I didn't see pain, I saw trust and love & it was truly inspiring. 

Around 1:30 am Dr. Godorecci came back into the room and checked Sheree, she was ready to push. Sheree got onto the bed and immediately started pushing. Not even 30 minutes later, their baby had arrived earth side at 1:56 am. "It's a girl!" their doctor said. Brian and Sheree looked shocked, although they didn't find out the sex of their baby, they were sure it was a boy. 

What an amazing way to end the year. The birth of Aubrie Jean (8lbs 5oz) was incredible to be apart of. Sheree is such an inspiration to me especially as I prepare for my own birth in a few short months. After hearing horror stories from friends & family and "just get the epidural" from nearly everyone, Sheree still chose to have a natural birth and she is certainly glad she did. They've already told me I have to be their doula for baby #2.  During our postpartum visit Sheree said that at NO point did she want drugs or think that she couldn't do it. She felt calm and in control of her body the entire time. Sheree and Brian it was great being apart of your journey and it feels great making new friends along the way!



The birth of William Douglas Jr. 7/15/14

I first talked to Melissa when she was around 32 weeks or so and living in Hawaii with her husband, Doug, who was in the military. Doug was starting his residency for anesthesiology at Penn and they would be moving back to Jersey just a few weeks before her due date. She had found my website and was looking for a birth photographer, but also loved the fact that I was a doula. After talking to her on the phone we both agreed that we would be a good match and scheduled our first pre-natal visit for when they would return to Jersey. 

In a short amount of time we developed a great relationship. I was excited to work with Melissa, Doug & her outgoing mother who would also be an active participant in the birth. Melissa, who was once a pageant girl, was planning a natural childbirth, eating her encapsulated placenta, and exclusively breastfeeding. Just goes to show, there is no "type" of person that hires a doula or plans on having a natural childbirth or eats their placenta. She used the Bradley Method classes as a preparation and attended routine chiropractic appointments. As her due date, July 12, came and went she eagerly waited the arrival of her baby boy. Melissa did everything under the sun to start labor.

As midnight hit on July 15, I got the "I think my water just broke" text, followed by, "I just had a contraction". Melissa's mothers water had also broken at midnight and she delivered her just 5 short hours later. I went to bed because I knew I would need my rest. Around 3:30 AM, I got a call from Doug saying that Melissa had thrown up and they were probably going to head to the hospital soon. I got to Elmer at 4:30 AM and walked back to her room. 

Melissa was having contractions back to back, there was no break. At 4:45 AM the midwife came in and checked her. Melissa was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. She said she was exhausted and continued to labor on. 

I used the rebozo on her for a little. But, she was finding that nothing was comfortable and was beginning to get tired quickly. She was staying hydrated and as she went to the bathroom she decided that nothing was more comfortable than sitting on the toilet. 

An hour after her first initial exam she looked at Doug & said, "I need the drugs. This is not a test." Doug & I tried everything to comfort her, but not much later she was begging for something, anything. She just needed something to let her rest, at least for a little. I got the midwife and we all told Melissa that she was strong and able to to do this. She assured us that this was what she wanted. At 6:30 AM she was checked again before getting a dose of morphine and was 4 cm dilated. We asked her again if this was definitely what she wanted and told her it was a low dose and wouldn't take away all of the pain. "Doug, this is not a test, this is not a drill. I need it." Fifteen minutes later she was given her first dose and another dose would be given 30 minutes after. 

She immediately felt relief, but it was far from being numb. As Melissa said, "It took the edge off." We let her know that even though she got the pain relief she was still strong and not to feel bad for getting them. If that's what she says she needed, then that's what she needed. She sat on the birth ball and got some rest, but still felt the contractions. At 7:30 AM she got the second dose and took an hour long rest. 

Two hours later the morphine had completely worn off and she was ready for her next dose. The midwife came in and checked her again at 9:30 AM and she was 7 cm dilated. She told her that it was best not to get another dose of morphine at this point and suggested getting into the tub instead for pain relief. While the tub was filling, the nurse rolled in the warmer for the baby and it all became very real. Melissa's eyes filled with tears, she knew the end was near. 

At 9:45 AM she was in the tub and by 10:00 Melissa and Doug were passed out. The water completely relaxed Melissa and she comfortably went through transition with no pain medication. 45 minutes later she was moaning, she felt the urge to push. I forgot to mention that the maternity ward was completely packed. The waiting room was converted into a labor and delivery room & the rooms in a different wing were being used as labor and delivery as well. The midwife was delivering another baby at the time so the nurse told Melissa to get out of the water and she would check her in the meantime. Melissa sat back on the toilet where she felt most comfortable and began moaning louder. She was trying not to push until she got checked, but the feeling was unbearable. 

Her midwife Jane came in and by 11:15 she was in bed pushing. As soon as the midwife gave her the OK to push Melissa's face lit up. She could not wait to finally meet her baby!

Her mom eagerly watched as her only daughter pushed out their first grandson. She had a smile from ear to ear the whole time with the video camera recording. Doug gave Melissa the emotional and physical support to get her through & she pushed with everything left she had in her. 

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Melissa pushed and pushed. Jane told Doug to get ready to catch his baby & he immediately put on gloves and stood next to Jane as Melissa was crowning. 

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After 35 minutes of pushing baby Will was born! Doug & Melissa both hysterically cried as they laid eyes on their precious baby boy. 

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An incredibly rewarding moment! Melissa was in labor for 11 hours and 45 minutes from when her water first broke at midnight. Even though it wasn't the 100% natural water birth that Melissa had planned for it was still absolutely perfect. She worked super hard to get her 8lb 5oz baby boy out. 

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Melissa & Doug, thank you so much for letting me be apart of your magical day.