The Birth of Zachary Valentine

I was so excited to learn that Stacey was pregnant and that she was working hard towards a VBAC that she wanted so very badly!  Births don’t always go as planned, but their stories are just as beautiful!  Thank you, Stacey, for sharing yours!

Before I had my first son, William, I thought I had prepared and read as much as a soon-to-be parent could. I researched EVERYTHING-that’s what I do. What to wear each month of pregnancy, what I couldn’t eat, how to breastfeed, baby poop colors, detergent types, how to make baby food, natural stain removers, introducing your dog to baby, sex before, sex after, “cool pads” for after delivery… Things I didn’t research the would have been a better investment of my time…colic, formula for babies, cracked nipples, C-section recovery, postpartum depression, deciding not to go back to work, constant crying, ………….. I had quite the reality check after William came into this world. I couldn’t understand how I could manage a staff of over 80 people every day, but I couldn’t make this little guy stop crying. Everything had gone off my plan. I had wanted a natural birth, maybe un-medicated (because I’m tough), and I was going to reach down and grab my son as he came out, and it was going to be glorious and amazing and I was just going to float right into motherhood seamlessly. The reality was that I was in labor for three days, but was so heavily medicated that I couldn’t feel it. There was no surprise water breaking and quick-panicked drive to the hospital. There was no pushing, legs in the air birth. There were no contractions.

There was a lot of people in and out of my room (some students, I think). There was lots of waiting. There was never any dilation past three centimeters and everything I had envisioned, was quickly jumping out my third story window. My first doctor that checked me looked like John Candy. I had not picked my birth team beforehand, so I only knew one doctor that would be there at some point. I didn’t know you could do that- pick your delivery team. I didn’t know about doulas, yet, either. I must have been reading the wrong articles. I ended up with a C-section. I knew very little about the procedure, before and after. And that’s just what it was-A PROCEDURE. I kept waiting for that feeling of euphoria and it really never came. I went home in more pain than ever expected, I had a crying baby that cried ALL. THE. TIME. And I never felt more alone ever in my life. I wasn’t really alone. My fiancé was here, I had family and some friends, but I felt alone and angry. It didn’t feel as magical as everyone said it would. I wasn’t the happiest moment of my life. I felt like everything started off track and I had to work like hell to get control of everything. Control of my life, my mind, my emotions, and my baby.

When we found out that we were having a second child, about two years later, memories of all those dark feelings came flooding back. I was determined to have my happy, natural, emotionally-ground breaking birth. It was going to be different this time. I was recommended to Dr. Chandra Adams and Full Circle. They were known for VBACs and I wanted an all-star team this time. I also wanted a doula. I found Kelly Googe at a convention for preggo women while researching fellow photographers. I was immediately drawn to her because she is my aunt’s doppelgänger. Boom. Hired. And now I was ready to cruise thru whatever the next nine months threw at me. As I approached my 37 weeks check up, I knew that there was a *chance* that I may not be able to have a VBAC. When Dr. Adams wanted to meet with me, versus one of the other doctors on the team that I had been seeing all along, I kind of knew that this may not be an option anymore. My belly was HUGE and so was my baby. I grow big people. And there was a lot of water in there. She confirmed my suspicions that we may need to schedule a C-section and that a safe natural birth may not be in the cards. I cried. I tried so hard not to, but I cried. I was so scared it was going to be another PROCEDURE. So, we decided to let nature take its course and see if baby would come on his own over the next three weeks. If he started, we would try birthing naturally. If not, then DAY 1 after 40 weeks, we were scheduled for a C-section at 2:00pm. All I could think is – here we go. 2:00. It’s already procedure-like. I already know what time my son is going to be born in three weeks. Super bummer.

Three weeks passed and then came my day to go in. I had a terrible cold and already knew how bad it was going to hurt after the C-section. Every sneeze and every cough. And the hurricane. The hurricane was coming, too. We thought about naming him after the hurricane, but then every boy born in the beginning of October 2016 would be named Matthew so we opted out. Everyone started to arrive after my fiancé and I did. First Melissa, my amazing photography partner, and then my doula.

VBAC turned cesarean birth photography st. Vincents hospital southside

This time was TOTALLY DIFFERENT. I was well prepared by my team about every single thing that would happen and they did not disappoint.

jacksonville florida pregnant belly laboring mom

birth photography laboring mom waits for baby

St. Vincents hospital doula kelly googe meets with mom

before c-section Dr. Chandra Adams meets with family

Full circle women's care mom headed to OR for c-section

 I walked into the OR and I was welcomed by such sweet nurses. They were comforting and talked me thru everything before it happened. I was never anxious or nervous. I felt a lot more in control than I thought I could. I had a wonderful spinal and felt great after that. And then my hubby came in. And my doctors. And it was amazing.There was light music in the background. And one of my doctors that I saw during my pregnancy, Carol, was there, but not scrubbed in, just hanging out. She even took the camera from my fiancé so that we could focus on each other and our son. And then he was out.

birth photography baby is born by c-section

They brought Zachary over to me right away. And then they cleaned him up and he stayed by my side from that point on.

VBAC turned Cesarean birth with Dr. Chandra Adams mom meets baby

jacksonville birth hugs and love after a c-section

jacksonville Florida birth photography mom and baby

We had chest to chest right away, which is something I missed with William. We went right into breastfeeding and I had a room full of people helping and cheering us on. Dr. Adams came into the room right away to check on us. I had support. I had people and I am ever so thankful for them all.

after birth, new dad admiring mom and baby boy

At St. Vincents family love after the birth of their son

breastfeeding mom first latch after birth

after birth photography brand new baby looking at mom

Jacksonville, florida big brother meets little brother during Fresh 48

St. vincents southside aunt visits after new baby born

after being born, dad changing newborn diapers

We were discharged early so we could get home before the big storm. After some heavy wind and rain, we made it thru the weekend and were surviving as parents of two boys. Although both births were very different, if William’s had not gone the way it did- I would not have thought to seek out the people that guided me thru Zachary’s birth.

It was about three weeks later, at about 2:00 am when Melissa sent me my birth pictures. I had been up with Zachary for almost the entire night, crying. Both of us, probably. He just would not settle. And I was so tired. Tired of not getting sleep, tired of sleeping on the couch, tired of not having any of my own time. She saw I was online and messaged me they were in our joint folder. I put a fussy baby on my chest and started looking through the pictures. It quickly became very emotional. Here I was flustered and frustrated with this little baby and looking through the photos started to calm me. Which started to calm him. They reminded me how far we had come. How far as a mom I had come. And how quick time was moving. I like to look through our story of photos of that day because they bring me back to my center. And they remind me that even though it may be tough every now and then, there are so many bright and shiny moments with my boys. William and I came so far, and now Zachary and I had a journey to begin; these pictures documented the beginning of that

*A big thank you to Carol of Full Circle Women’s Care for being my backup in the OR*

If you are interested in having your birth captured, send me a note.

Hi I'm Melissa!

I'm an introverted, T-shirt wearing, animal loving, nature admiring, lucky wife, mother of 3, photography and birth obsessed lady.