My October Project: Post 4

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My October Project: Post 4

I realize we are well into November, but October knocked me on my behind. I have a few more blog posts to do for this project and am looking forward to sharing with you. This is Sarah's story.

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It was August 18th, 2009 and I was 24 weeks pregnant. My then husband had just returned from 6 weeks of army training in Arizona and I discovered I was spotting. I called my OB office and they told me to keep an eye on things and call them back or go straight to the ER if it got worse. Around 4pm it did get worse so we drove to the ER. We waited in the waiting room for what seemed like forever before we were finally shown a room where we would be seen. The doctors checked me and had me do a urine test. I knew that something was terribly wrong when my urine sample was nothing but blood. When I went back to the room where I was being seen, they immediately decided that the baby was breech and her feet were coming into the birth canal so I needed to be transported to a hospital that would be better for the baby.

I was transferred to a bed that they could transport me in and I was loaded into the ambulance. My husband took care of finding someone who could keep our son (our landlord was the only person we could reach) and would follow me in our truck. I was not to have my baby this day. Not only was there a low chance for survival, but this day just happened to also be the anniversary of when my friends were killed in Iraq. I was not going to add another death to this day. I yelled at the ambulance worker, she probably thought I was crazy. She was comforting however and told me that my strength and determination was good. She knew I’d fight and do whatever was in my power to keep my baby safe.

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I arrived at the hospital and was transferred to a regular bed. I met with several doctors and was put on many medications to stop labor, help with infection, and whatever else they felt was necessary. The decision was made that they would tilt the bed so that my feet were above my head. The doctors told us that sometimes this type of situation could heal itself or the baby would move back up and they could sew my cervix closed. Either way I was determined to hold on for the next 6 weeks or more to allow my baby the best chance for survival. We had many ultrasounds performed and decided that not knowing the gender of our baby didn’t matter anymore. We wanted to know all that we could about our child. I prayed more than I have ever prayed before and had many deep conversations with my daughter. I told her to be stubborn and strong like her mama and don’t give up. I told her stories, I sang to her, I did everything I could possibly do to calm myself and attempt to stop the labor and the pain.

On August 20th, I started to run a fever. We were told that we needed to make a choice regarding delivery of the baby or I’d be at risk. I remember the doctor telling me that if I decided to deliver naturally that her head would likely not deliver because of being breech and her head being so much bigger than her body. At that moment I couldn’t imagine not holding my baby for however long I had, despite the fact that this procedure would affect my ability to have more children. They took me in to do an emergency C-section. Professionals from the NICU were in the delivery room so that they could immediately take the baby and do what they could for her.

Abagail Lynne Hudson was delivered at 4:15pm at Tacoma General Hospital. She was 1 pound, 3.6 ounces, and was 11 ¾ inches long. She had a head full of hair and looked just like me. She had her daddy’s ears and feet though. She passed away 15 minutes later due to prematurity and the NICU breathing tube still being too large for her esophagus. I will never forget the NICU doctor handing her to my husband with tears in his eyes and saying, “there’s nothing more I can do”.

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Our tragedy doesn’t end there however. Due to the military providing life insurance to our daughter since she was born alive, we had to provide a birth and death certificate to them to be able to receive the money to hold a funeral. We purchased 4 cemetery plots, transported her to Pennsylvania where she is buried, paid 2 funeral homes (one here and one in Pennsylvania) to care for and arrange all the transportation of our tiny girl to the place of her burial. This process took a month. When the time arrived to plan our travel to Pennsylvania the Army told my husband that he wasn’t allowed to travel. He was within the window of needing to deploy and they weren’t allowing him the time off. It took many phone calls, one of which was me getting the information to call a 4 star general who would not only make his travel back home happen but would handle the misconduct in the chain of command in this incident.  Thankfully it didn’t come to that. He was allowed 5 days to travel and be at the funeral of our daughter. The day of the funeral we left the luncheon that was being held after the service before anyone else so that we could travel back here to WA for him to deploy to Iraq the next morning. There was no time to mourn, we laid out and packed his bags until 2 in the morning and he left the next evening for a year in Iraq.

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My October Project: Post 3

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My October Project: Post 3

I have been falling behind thanks to an unwelcome sickness, ugh, and when you are mom, there are no days off. So here's post 3, Darla's story. I am so incredibly honored that she is allowing me to share her story.

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Over the last year, I had 2 miscarriages 8 months apart. Now, instead of holding a precious little life, all we have as physical proof of these pregnancies are a handful of hospital wrist ID bands. Obviously we know we're not the first, and sadly won't be the last, to go through this loss; but it baffles us knowing that miscarriages are so common, yet talking about them is such a hush-hush, taboo thing.
 

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We were completely blindsided by my first miscarriage after a 'normal' pregnancy with our, now, 3 year old son. It was a shock and it hurt. Officially, it was a 'spontaneous miscarriage' (starting in the 6th week and confirmed at 7 weeks).  I'll spare all the details, but we were on an emotional rollercoaster for several days; every nurse and doctor had a different explanation and diagnosis, and the miscarriage was only confirmed via lab work after several days of waiting and wondering.  Instead of focusing on the loss, we focused on being grateful it wasn't worse physically for me, like ectopic, etc. Throughout the week, I had 2 horrendous doctors in the ER, one of whom straight up laughed at me for asking an honest and relevant question, and the other diagnosed me (after literally not being in the room the entire time I was being treated) with an anxiety attack, tried pushing prescription meds on me, and gave me paperwork on suicide prevention - when in reality, I learned later, my body had gone in to shock when the tissue released/passed. It was just a really bad experience on top of an already sad week. My doctor's office cancelled my appointments and I had no follow-up; I relied on stories/experiences my friends had shared over the years, and turned to online research, and a sweet friend's blog: TheLewisNote.com. The bad hospital experiences aside, overall, I think we handled and healed from this miscarriage rather well ... but it still hurts - and probably always will, a little.

We decided to try again right away, since it 'had to be a fluke.' And then it happened again. At the same gestational week. It was still heartbreaking and disappointing, but oddly this time it wasn't as huge of a shock or nearly as scary. I'm so grateful that this time I had an amazing doctor and lots of follow-up. Ectopic was a real concern as my HCG was rising at a slow rate - but thankfully, it was a 'normal' miscarriage, and my body didn't repeat going in to shock. Even though we weren't as blindsided as the first time, it was still equally as sad of a loss.
 

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When I was pregnant with my son, I purposefully didn't post many pictures or updates because I didn't want to 'rub it in' to all of our friends who I know have all faced years of trouble getting and/or staying pregnant. But now being on the other side, I know that pain and my heart just hurts for them even more. I know how every pregnancy announcement burns ... every picture of a new baby leaves me a little more envious. And even more so as certain dates grew closer (like due dates, and now the 1 year anniversary of the first loss is nearing). Of course I'm still happy when I see friends welcoming new babes ... I wouldn't wish a miscarriage on anyone. Duh. But it still does burn - no matter how hard you don't want it to.

Until now, we had only told family and a few close friends; I've found it's a hard thing to bring up or announce out-of-the-blue. However, I don't want our babies/pregnancies to be a dark secret. Each miscarriage was a precious baby that we were very excited about. Yes, miscarriages (unfortunately) happen .... but I don't think that we should have to pretend our's didn't happen. And it certainly doesn't erase the excitement and emotions we had! I also feel I should state: as far as I'm concerned, no matter what stage or how many weeks along ... a loss is a loss. I have friends who have lost babies earlier and later than me; I know all of our hearts hurt.

For now ... we're still looking forward to welcoming a rainbow babe someday!
 

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My October Project: Post 2

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My October Project: Post 2

This one took a little longer to post because life happens. When I read this moms story, I felt like I was reading my own.

Olivia's Story:

 

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On June 6th, 2017, I found out I was pregnant with my third baby. I had a ton of mixed emotions. We were not wanting another baby, at least not anytime soon. My youngest was only 10 months old and we just weren't ready to do it all over again.

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Once I had my first appointment and ultrasound, I started to accept the idea more. My due date was February 18, 2018. My husband was going to deploy soon and I booked an early gender ultrasound so I could surprise him with the gender when he got back home. I made plans to travel back to our home state, Idaho, while he was gone so I could be with family rather than being alone.

The day I was going to drive back to Idaho, I had a doctor appointment to check on the baby. I should have been about 12.5 weeks. My doctor couldn't get the heartbeat on the fetal doppler so she brought in an ultrasound machine. I wasn't too concerned, I thought maybe the baby was just hiding a bit. Unfortunately, the ultrasound showed the baby had no heartbeat and measured only 11 weeks. It was confirmed by another doctor and I was told I would need a D&C soon or I could let my body try to pass it.

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My heart sank. The entire time I was pregnant, I was feeling frustrated and upset over it. The minute I started feeling excited about having another baby, it was all taken away from me just like that. I was supposed to be finding out the gender in just 2 weeks. I still drove to Idaho that day because I just needed to be with family since my husband was out to sea. 2 weeks passed and my body still hadn't realized that the baby no longer was alive. I ended up getting the D&C at the end of August because I could no longer wake up every day knowing this baby was no longer living.

I never thought miscarriage would happen to me. It broke me but it made me appreciate life more and my kids more. I will always wonder if that sweet baby was a boy or a girl, what they would have looked like, and what kind of person they'd be.

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My October Project

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My October Project

  I am finding it hard to believe that it is almost October again. I feel like this year has flown by. October brings a lot of things; pumpkins, fall colors, and usually sweaters, but this blog post is about something that is very close to me. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Did you know that 1 in 4 women have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss? I can almost guarantee that everyone knows at least one person who has gone through this devastating loss. 

I am 1 in 4. Some of you know, some don't. I will tell my story in another blog post, but for now I wanted to share my project for the month. I wanted to do something that would call attention to the fact that we still don't talk about loss or how it affected the women and their families. I put out a call for a few ladies to participate in a photo shoot and to tell their stories. The response I received back was overwhelming and heartwarming. I truly enjoyed meeting all the ladies and their families and so grateful that they were willing to participate.

I will be posting one story a week during the month of October, but starting with the first story today.

 

 

Amanda's Story:

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My story begins in May of 2016. On the weekend of the 22nd, I had planned to run a 5k. I woke up the morning of and it was pouring rain and windy. It took everything I had to drag myself out of bed that day to go do the run. It was for a great cause, so I figured I should just suck it up and go (Im glad I did-my how husband was waiting at the finish line for me and proposed!) I had been running consistently since January, but for some reason, this particular run felt extremely difficult. At the time, I blamed the weather. I've never really run in those kinds of conditions before. In hindsight I guess it was because I was pregnant! A few days had passed after the run and I realized my period was late. So just to put my mind to rest, I decided I'd go out and buy a test. I came home, took the test, waited the two minutes and sure enough it was positive. I thought to myself "is this really happening?" I was excited bc I've always wanted children but at the same time nervous and scared because this was completely unexpected. I hadn't even told my husband I was taking the test because I truly believed it would be negative. So I immediately drove back to CVS and bought about 4 more tests-all positive. At this point, I told my husband who was equally as shocked and excited as I was. I called my OB's office and scheduled my first appointment for confirmation of pregnancy. I went to my first appointment and received pregnancy education and they drew blood to check your HCG level. When I got my results back, I was told they were lower than they'd usually see at this point but not worrisome. Based on when I had my last period they were estimating I was about 7 weeks, but I had irregular periods so it was an honest guesstimate. She said just to double check, they'd draw a second set in a few days to see if the level was increasing. I went in, had the blood drawn and got my results a few days later. I received the call back that my levels were increasing but not to the degree that they should be. I remember the feeling after I got off the phone was somewhat that of panic. Why were my levels not increasing? Was I going to lose the baby? Is this one of those "everyone is different types of things?" My mind was in a state of worry for about the next week when the bigger shock would be delivered.

The morning of June the 5th I woke up to some discomfort on my right side. After it persisted for about an hour, I called my OB. He recommended I go to the ER just to be checked out. So to the ER I went. I met with the ER physician who reviewed my symptoms and told me it was either likely "normal pregnancy stretching",  an ovarian cyst, could be an ectopic pregnancy or "a very rare condition where there is a uterine and an ectopic at the same time". I remember being oddly calm during this visit. He assured me that the last option was unlikely as I was young, healthy and did not receive any hormonal therapy to aid in getting pregnant. He ordered an ultrasound and more blood work. The blood work came back and my levels were still slowly increasing, but it was not to the rate they expect. The next on the list was ultrasound to see what exactly was going on. I work in healthcare, so I know that the tech isn't really supposed to discuss what she sees as the scan needs to be read by a radiologist-but I could tell something wasn't right. She was eerily silent the entire time. I was transported back to my room to wait on the doctor. The doctor came back in and the first thing he said was "Remember that rare condition I was telling you about-well that's what's going on here". So basically I was pregnant with twins, however one embryo was implanted in my uterus and the other on my right ovary. This condition is referred to as a heterotopic pregnancy and only occurs in about 1 in 30,000 pregnancies and most commonly those who undergo IVF or hormonal treatments. My case was even more of a rarity because most ectopics implant in the Fallopian tube not the ovary (only 3% of all ectopics implant on an ovary). In turn this explained why my blood levels were off. I was in fact only 5 weeks pregnant but because of twins, I had an elevated HCG.

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He then explained my options-I had 3. 1. I could go be transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital to undergo emergency surgery to remove the embryo from my ovary. Ectopic pregnancies are potentially life threatening if the ovary or tube were to rupture causing internal bleeding. I was told the surgery presented a 40% chance of miscarriage of the uterine pregnancy and there was still a chance I could lose my right ovary and tube during the procedure. 2. I could be given a dose of methotrexate which would terminate both pregnancies and preserve my ovary and tube. Lastly, I could simply wait it out. Wait to see if the ectopic would grow or develop any cardiac activity. When I was diagnosed, I was only about 5 weeks, neither embryo had any signs of cardiac activity at the time. I decided on the last option, so I waited. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't an anxious wreck during this time.

The plan after diagnosis was serial ultrasounds every few days and to report back to the ER immediately for any increase in pain. I got to the point where I would over analyze any little twinge I got and I went to the ER one other time after that, to which the ectopic had only grown slightly in size but still no cardiac activity. The uterine pregnancy was still growing appropriately as well. On June 14th, I went in for routine ultrasound just to check everything to which I received the results of ectopic fetal demise. My body had recognized that embryo as foreign on my ovary and broke it down-again according to my doctor as being very rare. I think the difficult start to my first pregnancy launched a myriad of emotions that stayed with me through the duration of pregnancy. I lived in constant fear of something going wrong and the loss of my baby.

I now have a healthy 7.5 month old daughter who is the absolute light and love of our lives.
I feel extremely blessed that through all of this I was still able to go on to have a successful uterine pregnancy with minimal complications. I do often think of our other baby and how life would be so different if he or she were here as well. I've shared my story with a few family members and close friends, but I'm hoping that if someone else is going through this they know they are not alone. So many women grieve and go through the emotions alone, I'm hoping that by sharing my story I will help end the stigma that miscarriages have to be something kept silent.  I am 1 in 4.


 

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April Fools Baby

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April Fools Baby

I have known Kristina for a very long time and was so honored when she allowed me to be a part of her birth team when she delivered her 3rd beautiful girl. Her due date was April 5th but she knew baby would come early and in the middle of the night. So it was no surprise when she messaged me at 1:30am on April 1st, letting me know her labor had started. Sweet Braelyn made her arrival at 2:08pm on April Fools Day weighing in at 8.6lbs and was 20.5 inches long. It was such a blessing to be a part of her labor and delivery.

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Interview with a Birth Photographer

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Interview with a Birth Photographer

A few years ago I was living in Great Lakes, due to my husbands military career and very briefly met a girl named Michelle. The one thing I have come to realize with the military is that we all connect again at some point. When I reached out to the birth photography community shortly after restarting my birth business, we connected again. When I decided to start doing interviews on my blog, I knew exactly who to start with first.

 

 

PC: www.chelsealyn.photography

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I am a mother of two. A wife to a military man. I am a birth junkie and find my passion with birth photography. I grew up in Florida and we made our way to Virginia and plan to call this our home after the military. We love everything about Hampton Roads and have really built our family here.

 

Q: How many births have you photographed?

A: As of May 1st, 2017 I have photographed 100 births. I am currently waiting on births 101 and 102.

 

Q: Why do you feel that birth photography is important?

A: Birth is such a pivitol moment in a persons life. Its a moment where a woman becomes a mother or a whole family dynamic changes with a new addition. I look back at my sons birth and long for the images of him being born and those first moments with him. I do not remember what he looked like or what my expression was. I wish that I had someone there documenting those moments for us so that I could show him the day he was born. With my second child we had a birth photographer and I am so grateful that she was there. She documented the moments that I knew I had to have. I got to watch myself in my most powerful and my most vulnerable stages. Being able to look back on my daughters birth and see the strength that I had gives me that power to go through the tough moments in my life. Birth photography is more than just the moments, its about the journey.

 

Q: Being in a military community, are most of your clients military or civilian?

A: I have a good mix of military and civilian families

 

Q: How do you balance family life with 'on call' life?

A: On call life has just become our life. Five years ago when I started birth work it was hard balancing it all. We had one car and my husband was on sea duty. There were times that I thought I could not do it anymore and I had to give up to keep things sane in our home. I instead kept on pushing through and now it has just become a normal in our lives. Once I switched to specializing in birth it was easier to only book birth and keep my schedule sane for my family.

 

Q: Did you have a photographer at your births? Why or why not?

A: With my son we did not have a birth photographer. I wanted one but there were not many people doing it, especially in our area. It was not something that was common. With my daughter I knew that I had to have one. I made sure that I saved and payed each month to make it happen. I am so glad that we did because I cherish those images and video.

 

Q: A lot of people hesitate when they see the price of a birth photographer. Can you explain a little everything that goes into your work and why this service is worth the expense?

A:

People do get a shocked when they see the price of my services. I understand that yes, it is a lot of money. Being on call 24/7 is my biggest reason why I charge what I do. I do not go on vacations due to being on call. I have to often drop everything I am doing, even on a holiday, and rush off to be by their side. The toll on my family is what makes the price I charge worth it to me. Other things I factor into my pricing is babysitting fees, editing hours, insurance, business taxes, anything that comes with your package, subscriptions to the gallery you view the images on, marketing etc. When all is said and done I do make money off of each session but defiantly not the whole price I am charging goes to my family and our bills. Along with all of that you also have to factor in how long you could be at a birth. There are some births that I am there max 6 hours. Then there are births where I am there 38 hours. It all evens out in the end so charging one solid price is how I chose to run my business.

 

Michelle shared some of her favorite images with us and more of her work can be found at https://michellelynnphotographicartist.com/

If you or someone you know is having a baby in the Hampton Roads area, check her out!!!

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Baby Love

For my first blog on this beautiful new webpage, I have decided to go with a love story. There is nothing more pure than a love between a brand new baby and their family. I absolutely love in home newborn sessions, there is just something so comfortable about being surrounded by your own things, especially during the holidays. This sweet little girl is very much loved by her family.

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