Fort Campbell Homecoming Photographer || Welcome Home Soldier!//01.22.15

Very little brings as much excitement to Fort Campbell as soldiers returning home! I was so excited to be invited to be a witness to this event, my very first homecoming at Fort Campbell! The excitement was palpable as we entered the hangar to hurry up and wait. Arriving one hour before the flight landed left us plenty of time to hang out and chat with one of her closest friends and chase after the kiddos.

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

 

Finally, we were given the okay to head outside to wait for the plane to land. Oh what a site that was to see!! The first shout rang out, followed by a multitude of others as we watched the plane’s headlight inch steadily closer. A roar leapt from the witnesses as it touched down, followed by exuberant laughter, cheering, and singing. Oh what a happy night it was!!

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

The soldiers paraded past and stepped into a formation outside of the hangar doors. It was time for us to go inside and wait for them to open. Tears were wiped, children laughed and ran around, their excitement too much to contain. And then finally, FINALLY, the hangar doors were opened and the soldiers marched in. They were home. A few words were spoken over them, the Army song played, and then it was time to be reunited.

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

 

They hugged and kissed and cried and then hugged some more, perfectly content to let the world swirl around them as time stood still for them. Pretty soon it was time for him to go, but only for a few hours this time. They marched back out, leaving hearts full and happy. They were home at last, after what always seems a lifetime, they were home.

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

A military spouse awaits her husband's return to Fort Campbell from a lengthy deployment.

 

 

Is your soldier coming home? Homecoming photographers in the Fort Campbell area book very quickly, so if you are interested in having your reunion documented forever, please book soon!

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Nashville Birth Photographer || The Crowning Shot Myth//01.19.15

“You do what for a living?? Why on earth would anyone want photos of… that??”

Birth photography is still a fairly new genre of photography, especially here in Nashville, ever gaining in popularity, but for every person who adores the sweet photos of mom and dad and the new baby, there is always one who, let’s be honest here, thinks we’re insane. After all, until recently, labor and delivery was something that happened behind closed doors. You went into the hospital, had a baby, then came out. Everyone knows the mechanics, but being a witness to this little miracle of God was something reserved for families. With the invention and spread of social media, those things that were once private are being shared and open for all to see.

Nashville Birth Photographer Victoria Anne Photography documents the family praying around a laboring mother before she is wheeled in for a c-section.

So firstly, why birth photography? Births are a roller coaster of emotion, and as much as we want to remember every detail of it, very often we’re left with little snippets of what we think we remember. These snippets fit together well enough and can form a cohesive story, but something is always left out, a tiny detail that you may have missed in the throes of labor. Enter your Nashville Birth Photographer! What a birth photographer does is document your labor and delivery (gosh that sounds extremely non emotional) and preserve the in between moments of labor and deliver, such as your husband wiping sweat from your brow or gently rubbing your back, the first time your new bundle opened their eyes, and especially the tears and joy.

Nashville Birth Photographer Victoria Anne Photography documents the bond between a new mother and father before the delivery of their first daughter.

But… But… But what about… you know… baby actually coming out?? Do you actually photograph that??

First off, the delivery of a baby tells an amazing story of the power of a woman and her body to harbor and bring forth a new life. To me, it’s an amazing power that should be reveled in! Not very often does a mother feel as fierce as a lioness, and this moment can help to remind her of the power that is inside of her.

 

 

Nashville Birth Photographer Victoria Anne Photography documents the birth of a new baby boy to a second time mother.

As for photographing the actual crowning, I certainly can and do if the mother wishes me to. But, quite honestly, that’s one or two photos of the entire birth story.

Birth is not about the delivery. It’s a story of transformation, of power. It’s a privilege and awe inspiring to watch a woman deliver her child, the raw beauty and power that emanates from her demands respect from everyone with her.

Birth is a journey, a passage for a woman to motherhood and a man to fatherhood. It is a roller coaster ride, with several ups and downs and always, always twists and turns. Not everything always turns out the way it’s expected, but this is why birth will always be the unexpected journey, there and back again. You can’t cross without being changed, transformed, even if you’re only a witness. As the birth photographer, I document that transformation, blessed to be a witness to it. As the doula, I am honored to be a more active part of the transformation.

Birth is a story. A beautiful and captivating story of how we are created, transformed, renewed, loved. A story of how we fight for the ones we love, even against forces who wish to control us. Birth is the story of life.

 

 

Nashville Birth Photographer Victoria Anne Photography documents the first day of life for this new baby boy at BACH in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

 

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Hello there, Parker! || Nashville Birth Photographer//01.02.15

Nashville Birth Photographer

 

I hosted a giveaway earlier in 2014, right before our big move to Clarksville, Tennessee. The grand prize was a birth stories session, at no charge, from myself.

The winner of that giveaway was seriously one of the sweetest and most kind women I could have ever met. She was still in the beginning stages of pregnancy and was due in August, which was perfect for me since that’s when my maternity leave after delivering Little Minion ended.

I don’t think she knows this, but I seriously stalked her Instagram throughout her pregnancy. She was an adorable pregnant lady, and I couldn’t wait to meet her little guy!!

Nashville Birth Photographer

 

Summer passed in a blaze, Little Minion arrived, and Ashley grew bigger. Finally, it was baby time! I visited her during her induction at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital on Fort Campbell and snuck some raisins in for her. Things seemed to be going swimmingly, and I told her when to call me. The last text I received from her was around 11pm that night, saying she was at 4cm’s!

Let me make a pit stop to say, things don’t always go as planned. I like to laugh at people who plan births, because very very very rarely do they happen “as planned”. I “planned” a homebirth with Little Minion and ended up in a two week hospital stay followed by an emergency induction. Others I know “plan” hospital births but end up delivering at home. Births can be, and usually are, very unpredictable.

That was certainly true in this case.

Around 1am, I awoke to my Skillet ringtone I always have set for births. I grabbed it and answered, getting ready to hop out of bed (I was already dressed). It was Ashley, but she was crying. Right after she had texted me earlier, Parker’s little heart rate dipped down and, being the stubborn thing he is, refused to come back up. So she was rushed in for a c-section and was now recovering.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed (I very much so was), but I was more hurt for this woman, this new mother I had grown to call a friend, who had had this emergency c-section after planning for an awesome natural delivery. I felt incredibly crushed and helpless for her.

The next morning I went in to photograph stubborn baby Parker and his new mom and dad. Seeing him and the love for him his parents had made my heart swell with joy! He was every bit as adorable as they had hoped, and was immensely loved. We chatted and I photographed them and went home feeling much more peaceful.

Nashville Birth Photographer

 

Nashville Birth Photographer

 

Things happen, not always in the way we plan and definitely not always in the way we want them to, but they happen regardless. What makes or breaks these trying times is how we handle them. Will we crumble under the pressure? Or will we stand up with resolve to face them? Will we continually question and go over the “what if’s” or will we learn from the experience, grow stronger, and move forward?

As a birth photographer, and as a photographer in general, I’m constantly learning and growing, but it’s not always photographic growth. Sometimes the growth comes more from inside. That day, Ashley taught me about strength and hope and perseverance. It’s a lesson I won’t soon forget.

Nashville Birth Photographer

 

Brace Yourselves… An Epic Sale Is Coming || Nashville Birth Photographer//11.26.14

I’ve been hinting on my social media pages about a big big BIG Holiday sale, from me to you! Are you ready for it??

In case you missed it, I wrote a blog about one of my favorite products pretty much ever: albums! Albums are so much more than just pretty pictures in a gorgeous linen or silk or leather bound book. They’re incredible memories that can be passed to future generations, even after technology has surpassed USB and CD’s and Facebook is a thing of the past.

 
I believe in this and I truly believe EVERYONE deserves an album, for themselves, for their family, for their kids, so so much! So my holiday sale will consist of… (have you guessed it yet?) ALBUMS!

Don’t worry. The sale itself is pretty epic.

35% off of ALL ALBUM PRICES. (told you it was epic).

This includes all albums, album sizes, and up to ten spreads. However, the fusion covers sadly are not included in the sale.

But Victoria! I don’t have photos to put in an album!

That’s totally okay, because each album sale includes a 45 minute session, so you have beautiful, updated family photos to display in your new album! (These sessions do not include high resolution digital files or other products). Session options include outdoor on location and in home lifestyle sessions.

I want you to be a believer in the family album again. And I am 100% confident that, after your album is presented to you, you will be. <3

So how long does this sale last??
Sadly, all good things have to come to an end. This sale will close on Monday, December 1. All sessions must be redeemed by June 30, 2015.

Need more? Are you a returning family member?
All additional albums are 25% off. These make perfect gifts for Grandma and Grandpa or a little something to surprise your spouse overseas!

How much?
8×8 album: $350 $227.50
10×10 album: $475 $308.75
12×12 album: $550  $357.50

Returning customers receive an EXTRA 10% off.

WAIT! There’s more! I know right?

Fresh 48′s and Birth Stories are 50% off until Monday!!

It’s the season of giving, and I hope you are as excited about this great gift as I am! I can’t thank you all enough for sticking and bearing with me through this year and for supporting my business. Without you and your support, there would be no Victoria Anne Photography, my son wouldn’t be able to attend gymnastics and bills would go unpaid. It absolutely means the world to me to have your support, so thank you!!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

 

So Why Albums? || Nashville Lifestyle Photographer//11.19.14

If you’ve ever had a session with me, you’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about my album offerings – about how amazing they are, beautiful, stunning, glorious, seriously the best things I offer.

Most of you probably don’t believe me. “It’s just a book with photos in it, right? What’s the big deal about albums? Why should I buy one, especially one that costs as much as yours do?”

I’m going to be pretty honest (and probably wordy) in this post, so bear with me. We have a lot of ground to traverse. I’ll start on memory lane…

Why you should purchase an album from your nashville birth photographer

 

My mom and dad photographed I think just about every aspect of my sister’s and my lives. Band outings, cheerleading events, holidays, school projects, school performances – you name it – there were photos. Those photos were developed (yes, I was born before digital cameras and the internet, shocker) and then placed in albums. My mom has hundreds of photos packed into these albums. There are photos of her dad, who passed while I was in high school, photos of us with our grandpa, and photos of her with her dad. I know how much she cherishes these photos, the last remnants of his life that keep him alive in her heart.

One of my favorite things to do when we visit is to show off these photos to my husband and to my kids. Tiny Dictator loves looking at photos of mommy from when she was his age. My husband enjoys the embarrassing ones. I wouldn’t know why.

These photos form so much of my memory. Things I’ve forgotten come back to life through these photos. There are a lot of  ”Oh! Remember when…”  as we gather around these albums.

So in case you haven’t picked up on it, albums are not just books with photos in them. They are memories, stories of good times. A record of remembrance. It’s a person’s way of keeping those we cherish close in our heart.

That’s why they are such a big deal. I mean, why wouldn’t they be??

Why you should purchase an album from your nashville birth photographer

 

Back in the here and now, when I hired my photographer for Little Minion’s birth, I knew I wanted an album. I wanted something tangible that could be felt, opened, looked through, that would fill me with remembrance of her tiny squeal, the first time I fed her, and her daddy crying in happiness (it’s not something that happens often).  Tiny Dictator LOVES looking through it. I adore pulling it out and showing it off when friends and family come visit. It was an important time in my life, an incredibly cherished time, one I can share over and over. Even after Facebook disappears, even after USB’s are replaced with something else, even after this computer dies and my back up hard drives fail, I’ll still have that same album.

I love social media, don’t get me wrong. But being able to pull an album out to show off is way more impressive than saying, “Hey! Did you see the photos I just posted on Facebook??” Think about it. How long do you really expect that disc in your drawer to last? How long will Facebook be around before a new social network takes over? Will you still have the disc to load the photos to them again? What if your computer no longer has a disc drive? What if it doesn’t take USB’s?

All those memories. Lost in cyberspace. Such a sad fate for beautiful photos. And quite honestly, a complete waste of money.

Which brings me to this: why invest money into an album?

Well, why did you hire a professional photographer to document your special occasion? You want to remember it, right? You want to share it with your children and your children’s children, yes?

Why you should purchase an album from your nashville birth photographer

 

A high quality album purchased from your photographer is guaranteed to last through generations. Archival ink, sturdy pages, these are what make our albums heirloom quality. So that even after you are gone, your children and your children’s children and your children’s children’s children have this – this last memory of you. Your wedding, their birth, a lifestyle session at home, where the kids are playing in their swing set in the backyard or baking cookies with mom or being read while sitting in dad’s lap. Memories that will last even after the internet goes out.

Investing in an album is smart. It’s an investment that, not only preserves your memory of the event, but keeps the story documented for future generations to share.

Besides, what good is a story if it isn’t shared with those who matter the most?

Why you should purchase an album from your nashville birth photographer

 

Mason Jar Jack o’Lanterns || Clarksville Lifestyle Photographer//10.04.14

It’s October, which means it’s officially Halloween time here in Clarksville!! I have seriously slacked in decorating for Fall but I’m hoping to make up for it with some Halloween goodness. Starting with these adorable mason jar jack o’lanterns! Tiny Dictator greatly enjoyed this arts and crafts project, especially since it meant using his beloved scissors. He adores his scissors and uses any opportunity available to cut with them.

 

We have been working on cutting straight lines with him, which was something he has had difficulty with as he enjoys doing his own thing. When I drew the lines on the tissue paper and asked him to cut on the lines, he was more than willing and I was a happy momma! Using the lines, he cut out rectangles to be glued onto the jars. He held the jars and rotated them for me as I sprayed them with a heady dose of mod podge (seriously greatest stuff ever). He cut the triangles for the lanterns (I cut the rounded pieces because… well… I’m a perfectionist. Sue me.).

 

 

This is a great activity for kiddos and great for a homeschooling activity! Incorporate different shapes and colors, have them count the jars, ad and subtract shapes, and of course work on their fine motor skills with gluing and cutting!

These jars turned out way cuter than I could have hoped, and they now adorn our window ledges! We will be making another version of these for Christmas time!

Here are the instructions so you and your littles can make your own mason jar lanterns!

 

Instructions:

What you need:
- Mason Jars (We collect pasta sauce jars, so we have a ton lying around)
- Tissue paper in whatever color you’d like
- Construction paper
- Pencil and Scissors
- Mod Podge (the spray on works best for getting the tissue to stick to the lanterns and adds an awesome texture)
- Any other decorative items you wish to use (paint, glitter, ribbon, leaves, etc…)

 

 
How you make them:
- Start by laying out your tissue paper. Using your jar, mark where the lines need to be cut. Make sure you leave enough room to wrap around the jar! A little overlap is perfectly fine!
- Cut the tissue paper and spray with a generous dose of Mod Podge. Spray the jar as well (I over use  Mod Podge… But the paper ain’t moving) then wrap the tissue paper around the jar.
- While that settles, use your pencil to draw shapes on your construction paper. Cut out the shapes and then mod podge or glue the shapes to the jars.

Wham bam thank you ma’am you’re done. An easy project for little hands to get involved with and for the whole family to enjoy and have fun with! Get really creative and cut shapes out of the tissue paper and let the light shine through!

Did you make a lantern? I’d love to see it!! Post your photos over on my Facebook page!! I will share my favorites from the wall!

It’s Fall with Pumpkin Spice Pancakes || Clarksville Lifestyle Photographer//09.12.14

Hello and welcome to my SECOND Fall Favorites Friday blog post! I emphasized “second” because I am pretty darn proud of the fact that I’ve actually blogged this two weeks in a row. So far so good, right??

I haven’t been able to find any of my fall decorating stuff since our move,  but I do officially have the Scentsy warmers going and fall candles burning! This morning I woke up to a chilly 61 degrees and yesterday I wore a hoodie to pick The Husband  up from work. And we (finally) had our yearly Starbucks PSL drinks. Yep!! It’s officially fall!

Last post we talked about how to make a delicious pumpkin spice cake. This week we’re talking about a staple breakfast food in our house: pumpkin spice pancakes.

We rarely just have cereal for breakfast. It’s usually eggs and bacon, eggs and toast, pancakes and bacon, biscuits and gravy, or if I remember to make the batter ahead of time, crepes. I have been making pancakes from scratch for years now and refuse to have them any other way. It takes a little longer than already prepared mixes and I still can’t seem to get them to puff up like the mix, but the taste is 100% better and nothing beats made from scratch!!

 

So here’s the recipe for my fall pumpkin spice pancakes!

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 egg
1 1/3 cups milk (I usually use about a cup)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Heat your skillet or griddle. Melt just a bit of butter or spray with Pam.
In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend your dry ingredients together. In a smaller bowl (or if you’re lazy like me, use the pyrex measuring cup) mix your wet ingredients. Incorporate your wet and dry ingredients. You may have lumps, and that’s okay.
Pour mix into pan in quarter cupfuls. Wait until bubbly on top then flip.

Slap on some butter and drizzle on some syrup and  you’re done! Not as hard as you thought it would be, huh?? And yes, that’s homemade butter. You can call me Mrs. Homemaker please and thank you.

Next week we’ll be doing something super super super simple: pumpkin spice whip cream. It’s seriously the BEST THING EVER in a cup of coffee.

Improving Birth with Pumpkin Cake || Nashville Birth and Lifestyle Photographer//09.05.14

September 1st I attended my second Improving Birth Rally, which was every bit as spectacular as I had hoped it would be! Instead of being the main photographer like last year’s rally (which was SO MUCH FUN) I was privileged to be a vendor and hang out with some pretty awesome local businesses! It started out super windy and then the threat of rain pushed us inside, so I missed the actual rally part, however, there was plenty of discussions about VBAC’s, natural births, and informed consent going on inside to make up for it!

When I signed up to be a vendor, I was extremely excited. This was my first time being a vendor for my photography services and I was so excited to decorate my table! I also knew I wanted to bake a cake or make cookies or something! And I knew is HAD to have pumpkin. After all, it was September 1, the official start of Fall and pumpkin everything in our house!

After perusing pinterest I finally found an amazing pumpkin cake that did not require a box mix (no mixes here folks! Just from scratch everything!!).  I was a little apprehensive about the frosting (I’m not a huge cream cheese fan) but I dove in and decided to give it a try!

My house smelled absolutely heavenly all night. Such a delicious fall pumpkin smell that just made my mouth water.  If you attended the rally, trust me, you were lucky I brought the cake with me. I very seriously considered eating it for breakfast.

 

 

So before I share the recipe (you can find the original here), I wanted to share a bit about what Improving Birth is all about (in case you stumbled upon this blog thinking it was all about pumpkin cake and all…).

The national c-section rate is 33%. For a major surgical procedure that should be a last resort used to save a mother or baby’s life, that statistic is frighteningly high. This tells me that one of two things is happening here in good old ‘Merica:
(1) that there is that much real need for surgical interventions for our mothers in waiting

- or -

(2) that c-sections are being performed unnecessarily and/or are being forced on mothers.

But no doctor would EVER perform a MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY that has significant risks involved without a pressing need, would he??

Actually, yes. He or she would. It happens every.single.day.

Improvingbirth.org strives to bring awareness to this fact. What they (and I) want for our mothers in waiting are for them to approach their birth with the knowledge and support they need to birth their babies the way their bodies were made to: in their own time, in their own way, with little to no augmentation, and not based off of a doctor’s dinner schedule (again, it happens. A lot.). This is why, every year, they organize the Improving Birth Rally across the US. Because at some point, the abuse of women in labor needs to stop. At some point, we need to stand up and say “enough is enough!”

Improvingbirth.org is there to help raise awareness to issues surrounding induction, c-sections, and VBAC’s.  They are there to help us hold our own against the maternity care system in America. They’re there to help us say “enough is enough”.

I highly encourage you to visit their website and become active in the Rally next year! It’s amazing hearing the stories from women who have been there and to help support women who still suffer from birth trauma! We’re all in this together. <3

And now, back to pumpkin!

 

Here is the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cake, complete with a whipped cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup golden brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare your cake pans (this recipe makes a 9×13 inch cake or two 8″ or 9″ round cakes)
Combine all of your dry ingredients (minus the brown sugar) into a bowl. Mix mix mix until thoroughly combined.In a second bowl, mix the brown sugar with 1/3 of the pumpkin. Stir or whisk or smash with a fork until all of the lumps disappear, then add the rest of the pumpkin, the eggs, and the oil.
After thoroughly beaten, incorporate the pumpkin concoction with the dry ingredients, mixing in about 1/3 at a time and stirring in between.
Pour the batter into your cake pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when pricked in the center of the cake.And now, the piece d’resistance. The icing.Ingredients:
1lb (16oz) full fat cream cheese, softened but still cool

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extractIn a kitchenaid mixer (or using a bowl and beater mixing machine thing… I’m totally not a kitchen person. This is why I have a kitchenaid) pour your heavy cream. Beat until it turns into whip cream. While that goes, mix together your powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla extract in another bowl. After the cream has reached the desired consistency, mix the cream cheese et al in and mix until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX.Then ice your cake(s).

See? Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Next week for our Fall Foodie Favorites I will be featuring Pumpkin Spice Pancakes!

 

 

Nashville Lifestyle Photographer || Meet Brynna//08.20.14

Meet baby Brynna! This beautiful baby girl’s momma was one of the lucky winners from my 1000 fan giveaway! I was so very excited to receive the call that she was on the way! Just a few short hours after her birth, I went in to photograph a few of their first moments as a family. Little sister was more interested in the room than her sister, but she still had lots of kisses to give! Brynna was so quiet, a beautiful and charming little girl who was just interested in taking it all in! It’s rare I am able to meet a newborn as wide eyed as she was.

Thank you for allowing me to be there to capture this special day with you!!

 

 

Nashville Birth Photographer || The birth of Little Minion//05.21.14

One month ago today I was holding my precious baby girl, our last child. I admired her long fingers and toes, her adorable squishy face, and her beautiful eyes. I ran my fingers through her hair and kissed her pouty lips. I soaked up every moment with her and her newness, the last 24 hours fading away as my levels returned to normal and I was weaned off of the magnesium.

Exactly two weeks prior to her birth, at 35 weeks, I was admitted into the OB ER at Centennial in Nashville, Tennessee for pre-eclampsia. Although this diagnosis wasn’t unexpected, it was still crushing. I had been battling high blood pressure since our move across the country. I had hoped and prayed that it would just stay as mildly high blood pressure.  We cancelled all trips to see family and friends and I tried to take it easy at home. At 35 weeks, my amazing midwife found proteins in my urine and I was sent to Centennial.

The next few days were spent trying to figure out how to get me out of there. Not that it was bad, I just didn’t feel like there was a need for me to be in the hospital.  I could monitor my blood pressure and liver protein levels at home. I knew all of the signs and symptoms of pre eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome (the most dangerous variant of pre eclampsia) like the back of my hand. I knew what to look for. I didn’t need to be in the hospital, away from my family, to be monitored.

Turns out, I was very wrong. After a few days in the hospital, my platelet levels dipped down. They were (thankfully) still within normal range, but it served as a reminder that many of the signs of my disease go unnoticed until it’s too late. After that reminder, I was (slightly more) content to stay.

My two week stay was pretty boring. I had a few breakdowns (mainly due to flashbacks from Tiny Dictator’s birth and being alone), but my nurses were phenomenal and were constantly doing little things to help me out, like bring me extra cookies or snacks or pray for me. One of my nurses made sure the lab people came for their blood draws when she was coming in to check my blood pressure so I wasn’t woken up twice. I saw my doctors for about five minutes each morning. I learned which ones I wouldn’t mind delivering me, which ones were willing to work with me, and which one to avoid like he was the plague himself.

 

 

 

 

Little Minion was breech when they did an ultrasound when I was admitted, so most of my days were filled with getting her to flip and engage head down. There weren’t any doctors who could deliver a breech baby vaginally so my options were to get her to flip or have a c-section.  Given the pre eclampsia diagnosis and my prior history having a trial labor before c section wasn’t an available option at this hospital.

The days progressively slipped by, melding into one giant time suck. I read, I studied my doula handbook, bounced on my labor ball, and paced my room. The Husband and Tiny Dictator (and my mother in law once she flew in) visited occasionally, but the trip from Clarksville to Nashville was a long one and one they couldn’t make daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday the 19th of April I discovered the show “Call the Midwife” and I spent a good portion of my day watching it. That evening I had a bad bout of heartburn (I had had it the past few evenings). My nurse brought me some medicine for it and I slept mostly elevated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It didn’t go away.

As the night progressed I became increasingly worried and increasingly more uncomfortable as the heartburn became worse.

By 6 am the heartburn had moved to my upper right abdominal quadrant: my liver. I stifled my fear and my tears, hoping maybe I was just hungry, although I knew that’s not what it was. The HELLP Syndrome had returned and my liver was starting to swell.

Around 8am my nurse (one of my favorite nurses) came into the room in her usual cheery manner. As she wrapped the blood pressure cuff around my arm, I told her about the pain in my stomach (which had grown worse).  I watched the blood drain from her face. She checked my blood pressure (190/112) and left to call my doctor. A bit later she came back in  with an iv stand and the magnesium. My doctor followed closely behind and asked if I was ready to deliver today. Everyone kept a very upright beat, which helped me not to sink so far into despair.

I called the Husband and told him I was being induced pretty much immediately. It was Easter Sunday.

I sat and waited while everything was prepped and The Husband rounded up the last minute items and packed everyone up and headed to Nashville. An ultrasound tech arrived to check Little Minion’s position. She was head down and engaged, exactly where she was supposed to be. My nurse ran down the hallway yelling, “she’s vertex! She’s vertex!” Needless to say, I had a lot of cheerleaders  rooting for me as I was wheeled downstairs to labor and delivery.

Induction started out promising. I was  0cm dilated, nowhere near thin enough for her to push through (she had been oblique/transverse/breech pretty much my entire hospital stay, so with nothing pushing on my cervix, it was completely closed). I was given cytotec to help and tried to relax. After four hours, I was checked again. I had made zero progress.

Meanwhile, the pain in my stomach was getting worse. I couldn’t move without severe pain and I couldn’t eat without becoming nauseous. Antibiotics were added to my IV stand (I had Group B Strep) and I immediately developed Red Man Syndrome. For a few horrifying moments I thought I was going to die. I felt like fire ants were destroying my skin. I couldn’t breathe and was not taking it very calmly. My nurses (another of my favorite nurses from the antepartum hall was in L&D for the day) were able to figure out the antibiotic was the cause and get me on oxygen before I crashed completely.

After that, I was done. I was in complete tears. The Husband, who had taken Tiny Dictator and Obaa out to lunch and the park, came rushing in at my beckon. I told him I wanted a c-section. I was completely and totally done with the entire birth experience. I held no hope for a natural delivery. I just wanted it to be completely over.

My nurses brought my doctor up to talk about having a c-section as an option. My doctor refused, which is NOT what I was expecting. I am pretty sure I gave her the worst “go to hell” look ever. I broke down again after she left. I was, however, 4cm dilated.

I was tired. I was in pain. And after the Red Man Syndrome occurred, I was terrified.  I just wanted to be done.

After the nurses shift change, my new nurse came in to chat with me. She knew I had denied the epidural, but she also knew I was in  substantial amount of pain not caused by contractions. She very seriously sat down beside me and talked with me again about having an epidural. At this point, I didn’t care. I asked her if it would take the liver pain away, and she confirmed that yes, it would. That was enough convincing for me.

She called the anesthesiologist in and the epidural was placed. For the first time since the morphine drip I had had earlier (that lasted all of 30 minutes) I was pain free. I could sleep and rest, finally.

I was checked again and was 5cm dilated. My doctor broke my water and I was told to get some rest.

Shortly later I was put on a pitocin drip, which caused Little Minion’s heart rate to decrease. After about 15 minutes I was taken off of the Pitocin and put on an oxygen mask to keep her levels elevated.

I slept off and on. My birth photographer came in around 1am and we chatted before I fell back to sleep.

Around 3am, my nurse came in to check me again. I was 7cm dilated. She stretched me to an 8. The epidural was wearing out on my left side, so I pushed the “give me more” button.

Five or so minutes later I felt an intense pressure. I told my nurse (who was still in the room). A few minutes later I felt it again. My nurse came over to check me again. I was complete and Little Minion was on her way. My nurse told me to try pushing. I did, and we could see Little Minion’s head almost immediately (her gorgeous tiny head that was covered in vernix and hair!). My nurse called the doctor and peds nurses in for delivery and we waited.

Once everyone was set up, my doctor asked me to push again with a contraction I could feel. I waited for the pressure to hit again and after a couple of minutes, it did. I pushed three times with that one contraction and Little Minion was here, born at 4:45am. I had been so focused on the mirror, watching as she made her arrival into the world. I heard my husband say, “Babe! There’s her head! Oh she’s almost here! Come on! Look, there she is!” He sounded like he was already crying. My doctor held her up so I could see and I reached for her, overcome with emotions and crying.

 

 

There are just no words I can use to describe that moment. I did it. I had done it. Because of the support of my doctors and nurses, I had delivered my second and last child vaginally. It wasn’t the natural home birth I had planned, but I honestly didn’t care. She was here, I was alive and safe. My nightmare of a labor was over. I was surrounded by people who truly cared for me, by a doctor who had enough faith in me that I could do this wonderful thing that she refused my demand for a c-section, by a nurse who knew the pain I was in and went back over my options and made my delivery so much more smooth, by a husband who had missed the birth of his son but had watched his daughter enter into the world and who loves me more than anything else on the planet.

I delivered her, did skin to skin and breastfed shortly after. I had no stitches, no tearing. My liver enzymes immediately returned to normal and my blood pressure immediately started dropping.

I did it.

Against all the odds, I developed not only pre eclampsia, but HELLP Syndrome again and, again, against all the odds, we both survived it.

I spent two more days in the hospital, waiting on my blood platelet levels to trend upwards, and I was released.

 

 

 

When we first started talking about having another child, I wanted a home birth. Something that was so vastly different than Tiny Dictator’s traumatic birth. I wanted peace, comfort. I didn’t want to be alone and scared. I didn’t want to relive that all over again. I wanted healing, mental and emotional. The weeks leading up to Little Minion’s arrival I spent in turmoil, in denial. I was depressed and unhappy. I knew I was heading down that same path I had with Tiny Dictator and was scared of the outcome. I felt like a total failure. I’m a doula in training, a birth photographer, a birth activist. I shouldn’t be having these issues! I shouldn’t be caving under the pressure to stay in the hospital! I shouldn’t be here! I was so hard on myself, which only fueled my depression.

It was only during the hospital stay that I realized that, for me, birth isn’t normal. My pregnancies don’t follow the norm. I could eat all the protein I wanted, hold salt under my tongue for forever, follow the Brewer’s Diet to the letter, but the result would be the same: pre eclampsia and an emergency induction for HELLP Syndrome. After I had that revelation, I was able to come to grip with my current circumstances.

Natural birth isn’t the path I can follow, but my hospital birth still turned into my healing birth. I can’t be angry at myself. My body didn’t fail. It did what it was supposed to do. It overcame the challenge it was presented and delivered the most beautiful blessing I’ve ever had. It succeeded in doing exactly what it was supposed to do.

And that’s all I could ever ask of it.