It’s funny, what you might have in your head versus what will most likely happen. We have all sorts of expectations about our life in every aspect. When Patrick and I found out we were pregnant I knew what sort of birth I wanted. I knew it to the last tiny detail. I could have acted it out like a play. I wanted Silas to be born at home.. with Iggy and Coraline there. I wanted him to be born in the water. A nice , peaceful birth. Simple. Sweet. We sought out a home birth midwife and it turned out that she too, was pregnant and due very close to me.. so she would not be able to take us on as clients. We would have to use her back up midwife. We thought on it.. prayed on it.. and in the end, decided that wasn’t the best option for us due to all sorts of different circumstances. Things started to look down. I was overwhelmed and felt like my dream of a home birth had crashed down at my feet. Weighing the options, talking with friends .. we decided to transfer to the Midwife and Birth Center in Savannah. If I could not birth at home, then at least I could get my natural water birth. At least I would not be induced yet again in the hospital.
I remember our first visit to the Midwife center . Jill was there and greeted us with open arms. Finally, I felt like someone cared. Some one was there to listen and actually hear about the sort of birth that I wanted. I had found a piece of the puzzle and was reassured once again. Pregnancy continued as usual. Aches and pains, some worries and concerns as things progressed. Fluid levels, positioning of Mr Silas, aches and pains, hip and back issues… But, we kept trucking. My due date came and went.. like many. Knowing I would most likely not be in labor before my due date did not make the time pass any quicker or make the waiting any easier. At 41 weeks I woke up to cramping and mild contractions and thought to myself.. this is it. This is finally the day. Contractions continued at a reliable 10 – 15 mins all day long.. with some increasing intensity here and there esp as it started to get dark. They eventually tapered off enough for me to get some sleep. I awoke the next day to NOTHING… increasing to 30 -40 min contractions. I was starting to lose hope. Went to the Birth Center where Jill checked me.. 3 cm dilated, negative one station. She massaged my cervix with evening primrose oil, gave a few other suggestions and sent me on my way. At about 7pm that evening .. things started to pick back up. Cramping, contractions, with increasing frequency. These started to hurt.. we were on our way. At about 12 am (Friday morning) we decided to call Jill. Contractions were between 4 and 6 mins apart with increasing intensity. She told us to get ready and head in.
We arrived around 1:15 am . Jill checked me and hooked me up to the monitor for a little bit. 5 cm dilated and 0 station. Contractions at a steady 4 mins apart. We were going to have a baby!!! Jill put us in a room.. told us to settle in and for me to start walking . Within an hour or so, Megan (our photographer) and Kasey (our doula) arrived. I remember doing laps around the birth center for some time… and sitting on the birth ball bouncing slightly and stretching.. waiting. Labor was starting to slow down. I could feel it. Regiments of herbs and time with the breast pump began. It took me nearly two hours to dilate a cm each time.. it was starting to feel like an eternity and I was starting to get very tired. I remember being able to fall sleep in the 2 mins between boobs on the breast pump.. and being able to sleep during contractions that were increasing with frequency. I was exhausted. With much dismay.. things were not going as planned .. but I kept trying. They gave me an IV of glucose to try to help with my energy level. It def helped for a little while. We made it 9 cm… finally.. then almost 10.. and they wanted me to start pushing.. so I did. Birthing stool. squat, hands and knees, on my back but in more of a squat. I pushed.. and pushed.. and pushed.. my cervix was not wanting to cooperate and neither was Silas at this point. I was slowly running out of energy, my cervix was swelling, and I was plain overwhelmed. I remember reaching my breaking point several times over. I didn’t think i could go on.. I felt like I was dying. I wanted to give up.
The entire time, Patrick did not leave my side (except when he ran to get me some cherry garcia in hopes of giving me more energy to keep going). He was there.. walking next to me.. laying with me. Holding my hand. Rubbing my back. Helping me get up and down. He was there. Encouraging. Loving. He is one of the greatest reasons that I was able to keep going. Megan and Kasey were also there.. a constant presence.. and constant reassurance. Female strength and a reminder that I could keep going. That I was strong. Then, there was Jill and Ann ( the midwife student there that night/morning/day) Jill made me fight.. She pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of.. and challenged me. She saw what I was made of and made sure that I kept going. For that I am so very thankful. Ann was a constant source of encouragement and reassurance. Every element was necessary and every element was essential. I remember pushing one last time.. Ann told me my cervix was swollen and I needed to stop. Jill told me to rest and we would need to make the call.. I remember breaking down.. losing touch.. and crying. I was a failure. No water birth, no natural birth, off to c – section land I went and a big part of me didn’t care at the moment. I was in so much pain.. and so tired.. I wanted it to end. We made the call.. I was going to be transferred to the hospital for an epidural .. to hopefully get some rest before trying to push any more. I cried and cried.. that’s where things become really hazy. I don’t remember everything said or done. I remember crying and feeling some sort of guilt. I remember wanting the pain to end.
The EMT arrived. told me to hurry up and that i would not be having a baby in the ambulance. I do remember thinking to myself that if only i had energy and was not in so much pain.. I would surely have said something to them. The ride seemed to last forever. Patrick was up front..I was in back with a man who asked me if I was contracting every 2 mins that they were beginning. The urge to push was strong.. my body was convulsing with those urges. I was fighting them.. I didn’t have the strength. We finally arrived. Megan had to go home with her kids.. and Kasey was so tired that she had to get some rest. Rachel met us at the hospital.. and Jill arrived right as we did. I asked to push one last time before they hooked me up.. to no avail. Jill said I still had a lip around my cervix.. and I was still in too much pain to work past that. They prepped me for an epidural.. she worked through several contractions. I remember that as soon as the relief started to kick in.. I started to fall asleep. It was the most out of control of my own body that I have ever been. It scared me. Patrick slept in the chair next to the hospital bed.. and Rachel sat next to me watching the monitors. I slept. For 2 hours. I started to stir at the right time… It was time to push . I could feel the pressure even through the epidural. Silas had moved down, he was coming. Jill had the lights dimmed.. and a bright light over me dimmer than normal. I was on my back but sitting up .. almost all the way up.. kinda like a squat with my legs more out. I pushed.. and pushed.. about 10 pushes until Jill asked me if I still wanted to help her catch my baby.. I had totally forgotten that I had asked her about that.. and right as she said it… I reached down and pulled out and up my precious little boy at 1:23 am on Saturday, Sept 21st . All 10 lbs 5 oz of him and laid him on my chest. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing for Patrick to cut it… and then deliver my placenta… which was HUGE and starting to calcify. Silas latched almost immediately… and it finally set in. The pain was over.
Our son was here and healthy and beautiful. This wasn’t the birth that I had planned. This wasn’t the birth I had wanted. But it was the birth that I was able to achieve. It is the birth that brought our little boy earthside. It taught me things about my body that I never knew. It challenged me in ways that I could have never imagined. It taught me strength and determination. It brought Patrick and I closer than we have ever been and formed a bond that we will always share. This birth gave me such a great appreciation for the ladies in my life. The love and strength of the women who surrounded me during my labor. Women who have experienced this transformation themselves. Strong courageous women , mothers. Expectation is just that. For we have no idea what really lies ahead. What we will be challenged with. This might not have been the peaceful home water birth that I had planned or expected.. but it was the best birth I could have asked for. As long as I never hear the word “push” uttered again.
** Special thanks to Megan Hulsey for the beautiful birth center photos and Rachel Bruce for capturing the hospital via cell phone 🙂
Our favorite family farmers ( Painted Pig)… An update: We have animals.. and most importantly, PIGLETS!!!
I got a chance to go out to the farm yesterday. Since the last update (with eh land being closed on and the farm officially being Joel and Amy’s ) .. we now have animals! Lots of them..
First of all.. I can say this.. the weather has been beautiful and all the way to the farm.. I was inundated with the smell of honeysuckle pouring into the car windows. Once I arrived.. I got to meet mama, and her piglets. All 18 of them. I missed them being born Monday night as I had just gotten my own piglets down for bed. Largest drove of pigs I had ever experienced or even heard of. Well.. there were 21.. but one was still born and two didn’t make it long after birth. All 18 little pink darlings were cuddling or nursing. Did I mention adorable!
Once we spent time with the piglets I wandered over to meet Mary and Farley.. the incredibly adorable sheep that were hanging out on the pasture with their new herding dog, Katie. Another adorable member of the farm team !
Mary is Amy’s baby.. and anyone can see why.. she’s precious and very loving.. we took her out for a little while.. and the girls insisted on trying a leash on her.. preciousness ensued!!
Last but certainly not least.. Meet Princess ( appropriately named by Amy’s little darlings ) .. Princess was the runt.. and didn’t seem to be doing too well.. So .. Amy decided to go ahead and take Princess to bottle feed in hopes of increasing survival potential. It’s a wonderful thing that she did.. as she almost died on the car ride back home.. Progress report is that she is doing well now.. and seems to be improving. Hopefully the adorable little runtling will make it.. and hopefully I will get to babysit 🙂 Did I mention I totally fell in love ?!
A mother’s womb is such a beautiful gift. It grows within it a precious new life. It keeps this new life a safe place to live, sleep, and eat. Recently, I had this perspective on a mother’s womb expanded.. in one of the most beautiful ways. I had the privilege to hear a beautiful story and see it unfurl. One of God’s many blessings to be sure.
I met Sara through a craigslist ad. Funny how most of my meaningful relationships these days begin on craigslist. ( you think I am being funny :P) We started talking in response to us needing a new turtle tank for our turtles.. and things kind of took off from there. Sara, mother of three, was currently pregnant. She was a surrogate for a lovely family overseas. Her story touched me… as a mother myself.. one who is very in love with the workings of new life, birth etc.. I was both fascinated by her story.. and just in awe of what amazing blessing both Sara and this child were. How selfless for Sara to carry this baby boy for a family she had never met..
Sara grew up in a very large family and was with her mother while giving birth at a very young age. Childbirth for Sara.. was a very normal thing. Sara’s mother had talked about the idea of surrogacy when she was a child.. so the idea of being a surrogate was not foreign either. After a bit of research, Sara and her husband, Jerry decided to go for it. They were partnered with a lovely couple overseas and began the process. Through the process.. Sara and her entire family established a beautiful relationship with the other family.
Unfortunately, I slept through the birth of Ask ( pronounced Osc) who was born 8lbs and 20 1/2 inches at 7:35 on Monday, March 12th. I did however get to spend an afternoon with both families at Forsyth Park before the family went back to their home overseas. It was a lovely afternoon.. watching and capturing these two very beautiful families spend time with one another. A bond that I am sure will last a lifetime.
This is such a beautiful story to me . A mother’s womb being used in such a beautiful way for someone else who cannot carry a baby of their own. A story of courage and strength.. but most of all love. Thanks to both families for letting me take a small part in such an amazing thing !
Here are some of my favorite shots from our little session in the park…
Eoghan has spring break this week.. so, this was the week of doing special things that we don’t have time to do during the normal week. With T-ball, and school.. and the normal hectic day to day. Eoghan requested tattoos like his mom.. well.. I wanted to comply.. but seeing as what Eoghan was asking for were full sleeves.. I couldn’t see being able to send him to school covered in temporary art. So… we made a morning of it.. Picking out all the tattoos.. and putting them on , one by one. Telling a story on both of his arms.. It was so much fun putting them on (totally unexpected) and he then volunteered for a photo shoot.. I gotta say.. my little man looks fantastic with the tattoos.. that have now mostly washed off.
There is something about the birth of a child.. the excitement in the air. I wasn’t expecting to be photographing a birth last week. Jennifer got in touch with me.. expecting to be in labor in about two weeks.. well, the next day a I got a message.. Jennifer was being induced that night due to low levels of amniotic fluid. The following day I showed up to catch come of the early labor shots.. Jennifer had just gotten her epidural and was visiting with family.
about two hours later I got a text. Jennifer was going to have to have a c-section. Her baby girl wasn’t descending the way she needed to.. So, I headed to the hospital to be there when the baby arrived. Beautiful Beatrice was born.. 6 lbs 1 oz. A head full of hair.. and irresistibly beautiful. Just ask all of family.
The next day after all ad a chance to rest.. I visited the famioly again.. and got some amazing shots.. what a beautiful baby girl.. and a wonderful family who loves her so.
Friday, the 9th of March.. was a very big day.. a very important day. Not just for me.. getting to photograph one of my favorite families. Not just for the family, itself. No.. it was a very big day for the entire community. Most of whom don’t even know it yet. Joel and Amy ( along with all four beautiful children) closed on their property. The soon to be new home of Painted Pig. A wonderful addition to a community of amazing farmers who are doing things the right way.
The land is what I would call.. absolutely beautiful and distinctively southern. There are many well-established trees , fertile soil, along with a lot of love that will be put into the land and house sitting on said land. When I drive up and get out.. there is a certain stillness in the air. Followed by the laughs of the Wright’s children laughing and climbing on dead tree stumps.. old ladders and … piles of old leaves. Spring is upon us.. so everything is fresh and green… you can smell the dirt.
This land has the promise of becoming the sustenance for many in our local community.. a place of education… gathering .. and community. Full of the love of a beautiful little family. I cannot wait to see the progress as this land turns from old trees and dirt.. to a beautiful farm .. shaped by the hands of the hearts of this family.
This is step one to what is to come… Signing day!!
One grey and rainy day…
It’s funny.. being a photographer.. seeing people in all different walks of life.. and photographing a lot of life events.. Weddings, engagements, births, partys, struggles, loss, happiness, and heart break.. You learn a little something about the human condition along the way. You may have always heard that a couple is the most in love during the engagement/wedding process. That it is the supreme time for happiness.. and the love between these two precious individuals. There are always jokes about being in love until you get married.. that it is all down hill from there.. They are wrong. I have never seen a couple as happy on their wedding day.. as a couple who has been together for several years. Endured hardships.. learned to love or at least “like” the parts of that person they thought they would never be able to live with. This couple is proof of this very thing.. the love is written all over their faces.. through the intimacy in these moments captured. Tammy and Bryan were so much fun to work with.. thanks guys !
I often wonder how many people in Statesboro know what all goes on in their community. It is a small , unassuming town. Low crime, peaceful little community. You often hear things about the farmer’s markets, shows going on at the Averitt Center, and GSU sporting events. You hear about what the local schools are doing.. and maybe you will hear some off hand gossip here and there. Do you ever wonder what you don’t hear about? I could list some of the topics here.. but, I am not going to. Instead, I am going to launch into this beautiful and on going story. About faith, will power, the less fortunate, and the strong minded and warm hearted individuals that make up this town. This is the story.. a light in the darkness…
This house is in our local community, right downtown. It is boarded up.. and essentially falling down. There is no running water.. no electricity… no sewer .. no nothing hooked up.
Now.. envision it being November.. cold.. no heat.. running water.. and yourself and your children were sleeping here..
There is always a light at the end of every narrow and darkening tunnel, however. Just like the beautiful colors starting to branch out this old and broken window..
Okay.. so remember this house.. we will get back to it shortly. Marinate on some of the things that I mentioned. I know that when Delia took me into this house.. I saw the brokenness.. the cracks in the wall.. the broken windows.. the cold damp air that was inside the house.. I was heartbroken hearing the story.. I couldn’t imagine my own children having to live in such conditions.. but.. just as it got depressing.. I thought of the light through that window..
Next we are off to the warehouse. This isn’t the heart and soul of the story.. rather, the gathering place for thoughtfulness.
Another space.. it’s not perfect.. but, inside it holds the generosity of others.. a small step in the direction of one getting things together.. a warm coat.. a mattress to sleep on, the fixings for a warm meal. This is the warehouse where all of the donations are sorted and stored.
Again with the lights in a dark place.. yeah.. It might seem cheesy.. but it was a re-occurring theme for me throughout my journey that day.. and I think it is a perfect representation of the work that God is doing in the community.
All of these donations came from local community members.. and help to clothe, furnish, and feed (food bank is in the works) the homeless members that are part of this wonderful program.. and all are given to the individuals/families free of charge!!!!
Now.. off to drop off some groceries to a couple in the program..
Delia was on the phone with business pertaining to the mission. This woman is always working towards a new goal .. and I had to get a photo of it,. For those of you who have not Delia.. she is one of the most kind hearted, hard working women that I have met.
Last, we end where our story began.
I know.. you are scratching your head. A bike? This is where the story began? Well..Meet Trayvon and Zay Zay. These precious little boys had never had a bike of their own.. they had never even ridden a bike. In fact.. a few weeks ago when they were first given these bikes.. the boys had to be shown how to ride them. What a beautiful story.
So.. do you remember the house from the beginning? Now.. compare it to this house..
It’s a HUGE difference.,. well.. this is the family that was “squatting” in the house at the beginning. This new house is a world of difference. It’s funny.. not only how resilient kids are.. but how much you can learn from them.. these precious little boys.. were the most excited I have ever seen two little boys be. All for their bikes and a little grassy area to ride them .
Open Hearts Community Mission is a faith based ministry dedicated to serving homeless by reaching out and extending God’s love. They are reaching out in the community in order to better serve and teach. Working together and making such a huge difference in the lives of fellow neighbors. Their mission is to ” To feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, restore the downtrodden and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There FB page can be found here : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-Hearts-Community-Mission/180705692012321?sk=wall
They are always looking for volunteers.. just a few hours would be greatly appreciated and make a huge difference in their efforts. I urge you to go out and get involved.. Go hear some of these stories and see them for yourself.. they will change your life!!!!
It’s February first today.. and it feels like spring. Rain is gently falling on our tin roof.. as I sit here editing photos and looking at the daffodils that my son picked me today. It’s spring I tell you.. Daffodils.. nice mildly warm days.. fresh air.. And.. to celebrate.. I bring you a mother and her darling little girl.. and some baby wearing. I am too tired to get into the details of baby wearing.. If you don’t do it.. you should.. if you do it.. then you know what a wonderful feeling it is.. Enjoy these beautiful photos!
Tuesday evening I picked up my phone for the first time all afternoon. I had missed the call. What call you ask? Well, Miss Piggy was in the beginning stages of labor. Yes.. and I wanted to be there to photograph this birth. By the time I saw the message..it was too dark to try. Next best option? Go with the kiddos to see them the next day.
I can say this much.. Miss Piggy is a good mama.. I arrived to a very heavy panting type sound.. a grunt but very soft and rhythmic. As Andy said.. It was her little lullaby. 7 out of 11 babies were happily nursing or snuggling their new brothers/sisters and their mama. Something magical about any birth.. of any new living creature.. something even more magical about actually paying attention to the animals and the surrounding during such an event. It was beautiful.
Here are some of the photos.. Miss Piggy got up for the first time while I was there.. a wonderful sign.. and seems to have retained her sweet disposition.. another little blessing! Enjoy !!
PS.. you can click the images to see a larger slide show 🙂