This family has had quite the journey! I remember the first time I met this mom in June 2016 at a coffee shop. We chatted and I heard her story. She was newly pregnant and wanted to book a birth photographer to document the arrival of her 3rd baby. My heart broke for her 2 months later when I learned of her loss. A few months later I was overjoyed to learn she was expecting again and that I was invited to document the arrival of their rainbow baby! We bonded over many things in the months leading up to the delivery of their surprise gender baby and I’m now grateful to call her my friend. Thank you, Victoria for sharing your story! You know I love you 😉 .
“Olivia’s story started quite a few months before we actually got our positive with her. You see, Olivia is a very special baby. She is a rainbow baby. What’s a rainbow baby, you ask? A rainbow baby is a baby born after a loss. In July of 2016, I found out that we were very unexpectedly expecting! It took us 3.5 years and losses and many months of fertility treatments to get Hayden and 19 months and loss and fertility treatments to get Claira. We didn’t think we would ever get pregnant on our own! But here we were!! Expecting unexpectedly! No medicine. No loss. Then on August 29th we got the devastating news that our sweet miracle no longer had a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, our miracle had stopped growing 2 weeks ago, right after our last ultrasound. This loss ripped me apart. Over a year later I still feel this loss deeper than any of our other losses. I can’t tell you why but it has affected me in ways I didn’t realize I could ever be affected. After Sawyer’s loss, Daniel and I decided we wouldn’t be trying again. We were done. We could only take so much loss and heartbreak. I went into a depression and it took me a few months to come out of.
Fast forward to February! Guess what?! Another miracle happened! We got pregnant all on our own! AGAIN! I experienced something I never had before, anxiety. Every day I would wake up feeling like something bad was going to happen. Today was going to be the day we lost our baby. The midwife I was seeing, Jacinda, was AMAZING! She helped me through all my fears and was there to reassure me every step of the way. She ordered an ultrasound as soon as it was possible. She ran so much bloodwork for me I’m pretty sure the lab techs knew my name. That first ultrasound was terrifying. I went by myself because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold it together if there was no heartbeat and I knew I would need time to process it all on my own before I had to go home and tell Daniel and the kids. As I laid on the table I started to shake. The tech had turned the screen away and she revealed nothing. She did all of her measurements and I remember trying to see the reflection of the screen in her glasses. Was the baby okay? Was the baby implanted correctly? Was the baby measuring okay? And most importantly, was there a heartbeat? I will never forget the moment she turned the screen and said, “Congrats momma! Your little nugget is snuggled in safely and there is a strong heartbeat” “There’s a heartbeat?” “There’s a heartbeat?” “Yes, honey. There’s a heartbeat” I just started sobbing hysterically. I think I scared the poor lady.
After we confirmed baby was growing well Daniel and I talked and we decided to deliver at a birth center. I consulted with my doula, Rebecca, and she suggested UF Birth Center. So, I went for a consult and the midwife who did my intake, Bree, sold me. I knew that was the place we would be delivering our rainbow. The whole pregnancy I was so terrified. I lived every day with anxiety and fear that something would happen, that we would lose the baby. Week after week passed and I refused to get attached. I couldn’t deal with the pain and the heartache if something bad happened. I remember at one of my second-trimester appointments I finally just lost it. And my midwife looked at me and told me that it was okay to get attached, it was okay to hope and plan and dream. So, I did. I began to plan for our 3rd. I began to dream about labor and delivery. I began to hope.
Daniel and I had decided early in the pregnancy we weren’t going to find out if baby was a boy or a girl. It made things fun for the kids! Every day we would ask them if baby was a boy or girl and every time they answered their answer would change. Hayden would ask me almost every day if this baby was growing or if this baby would die like Sawyer. Every day I got to tell him that yes, this baby was healthy and growing.
October 9th was my birthday and my 39 week appointment. At this point, I had been having prodromal labor for almost 2 weeks. I was so tired of contractions that weren’t really doing anything, even though I knew they were a good practice run for the day I would finally go into labor. I had my midwife, Angela, check me and she said I was a 2! Hurray!! Progress. I had her strip my membranes (I know! I know!) and we left! We went out to eat and then headed home for Daniel to head to work. I was squatting and walking and bouncing as much as I could and contractions slowly started to pick up. I didn’t know how things were going to go so I sent Daniel to work. I was texting with my birth photographer, Melissa, around 1815 and suddenly things started picking up! Contractions went from 10 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart! Could this be it?! I went ahead and I called Daniel and I told him to come home. He had just pulled into work so he told them it was baby time and headed home. I contacted my midwife, Bree, and she said to meet her at the birth center around 2015. I called Melissa and we chatted for a bit and she said she would be meeting us there. I went and finished getting things packed up and the kids ready. I got ahold of Rebecca and she said she would be meeting us there! I was so excited and so nervous. As we were driving my contractions started coming at 3 minutes apart.
We arrived at the birth center and Rebecca helped us to carry our stuff up. Bree checked me and I was a 3. No problem! Melissa showed up and we decided to walk the halls. Things were going at a pretty steady pace. We walked some stairs and did some squats and walked the halls some more.
Things weren’t really progressing and I was having some back pains so Becca had me do some inversions and we did some Spinning Babies. We were on the couch and it was dark and I was surrounded by my family.
It was amazing! My sister, Stephanie, arrived and we were just kind of chatting between contractions. Things were still about 3 minutes apart so Rebecca suggested resting some. She and I climbed into bed and I shut my eyes. She helped give some counter pressure to my lower back because I was still having some back pain. I don’t remember how long I rested for but I felt so refreshed after.
I knew I couldn’t rest anymore because the contractions were slowly getting more intense. Melissa and Stephanie joined us in the room and we just chatted between contractions. I had sewed a special bra and undies set just for labor so I slipped those on.
Someone suggested getting into the tub and it sounded really good so that’s what I did. What a relief the water was! Stephanie left to sit with the kids and Daniel joined us. My contractions were slowly getting stronger but still very manageable. I remember having to really breathe and remind myself to stay open and loose. I pictured baby moving down and my cervix opening. To help release some of the tension I would tap my fingers on the side of the tub to help keep the rest of my body relaxed.
Stephanie went out of the room to sit with the kids, who were sleeping in the waiting room, so Daniel could come sit with me.
I wasn’t really able to chat much between contractions anymore and started to have some bleeding so Bree came in to check me. I was so sure she was going to tell me I was a 6 or 7. I could just feel things changing in my body. Nope. She announced I was only a 4! A 4!! What?! No way!! She and Rebecca suggested more rest and gave me some Benadryl to help me rest.
I labored in the tub for a few minutes more and then stepped out to climb into bed. That is when things really changed. My uterus was gripped in a contraction so intense I couldn’t even stand up.
Suddenly, things started going to quickly! Contractions were coming one on top of the other. I couldn’t stand up straight and I had to loudly vocalize through each contraction. I tried laying down through 2 contractions and just breathing. I couldn’t do it. Screaming wasn’t helping, breathing wasn’t helping, laying down wasn’t helping. How could I continue to do this for hours longer? I couldn’t. The pain was so intense.
I needed a change of pace so I got up out of bed and went into the bathroom. I tried to find some kind of relief. Nothing was working. Things get a little blurry at this point but I remember that I was crying and telling everyone something was wrong and that I couldn’t do this anymore. I was only a 4 and things were already so intense and they were just going to get worse. I couldn’t keep going. Bree came in and checked baby’s heartbeat and told me baby was strong and doing well. Daniel kept shushing me and I kept screaming back, “Don’t shush me!!” The man obviously had a death wish. Haha. At some point, I just remember yelling at everyone to get out! I couldn’t take all the people in the room, touching me, trying to talk to me, staring at me. Everyone left and I was alone to labor. I sat on the toilet and it offered so much relief but not enough. It still hurt. It shouldn’t hurt this much! I was only a 4! I got on my hands and knees and rocked back and forth through 2 contractions and then got back on the toilet. I felt a small gush and thought it was my waters but when I wiped there was a lot of blood. So, I called for Daniel and just showed him. I couldn’t even speak. He went and got Bree. The moment he closed the door I was racked with a contraction so intense and so powerful all I could do was scream. My body knew what it was doing and suddenly I felt something bulging out of me. I reached down and it was my sac of fluids! I had a bulging sac of fluids hanging out of my body! Bree finally came in and she had a very surprised look on her face! We were having a baby! She barely had enough time to throw on a glove and call for everyone else. I remember her calling out, “Waters ruptured 0204. Head born 0204. Baby born 0204” Baby had the cord wrapped around his/her neck and body. I was still sitting on the toilet so Bree had to do some fancy maneuvering to unwrap baby and when she flipped baby upside down I saw that baby was a girl. “It’s a girl. It’s a girl” I breathed out. DARN IT!! I wanted Daniel or one of the kids to say if baby was a boy or girl! Oh well!
Bree handed me our sweet little Olivia and I just held her to my chest. She was here. She was safe. She was so very, very loved. So tiny and COVERED in vernix.
It had felt like an eternity since Bree last checked me until the time Olivia was born but I later found out it had only been about 20 minutes! I went from a 4 to a baby in 20 minutes! No wonder everything was so intense!
Daniel went and got Stephanie and the kids and I got moved to the bed. I delivered the placenta and Bree checked me. NOTHING! I had zero tearing. I was shocked! Olivia basically came rocketing out of me! Surely she ripped me wide open! Hayden and Claira opened the box of goodies our friends got for us. We had given them an ultrasound picture after our 20 week scan with our name choices and had them order a name blanket and a “HELLO I’m…” onesie. We had also purchased a pink stuffed cupcake and a blue stuffed cupcake and told them to put the correct one in the box. Claira was obsessed with it. She had to show Olivia the cupcake and tried to give it to her.
Olivia and I got to test out breastfeeding. She had her very first latch, Daniel got some skin to skin time, and the kids got to see their new baby sister. We just reveled in our little family for a little bit and I got up to shower while Olivia got some skin to skin with her CeeCee.
I felt amazing! How did I just push a baby out and I felt like I had just woken up from 12 hours worth of sleep?! I went back to sit on the bed and Olivia got measured and weighed. She was so tiny we were all guessing how much she weighed. I was surprised she was only 6lb 11oz. My smallest baby yet!!
After her newborn exam was done we just spent time as a family exploring her and I nursed her. 3 hours after she was born we were headed home. Our little rainbow was here and perfect.”