I'm a published wedding and portrait photographer located in a small town outside of Charlottesville. In addition to capturing beautiful images, I love spending time with my family, am freakishly good at word games (Hey Wheelmobile!), love an ice cold can of Coke or Dr. Pepper, know every line to Hocus Pocus and can never pass up a Chick-fil-A waffle fry or a trip to HomeGoods.
Just over three weeks ago, Hartley Grace entered our lives. I feel I should start off by noting that my labor and delivery experience is not the norm, so if you’re thinking about having children or even awaiting the birth of your first, please don’t let my story scare you away. That said, I had the best and easiest pregnancy. Aside from some horrific acid reflux which began around 14 weeks (hello Zantac!) I had no issues. I had very little morning sickness and really only felt a little off when I hadn’t eaten. A constant supply of crackers and mini candy canes helped with that problem, as well as some ginger candy, Preggie Drops and Sickless which is an all-natural magensium, B6 and ginger blend that helps stave off that unsure stomach feeling. I maintained a healthy weight (21lbs. gained from start to finish), kept moving and worked right up until labor began. As someone who had always been unsure about the idea of being pregnant, I was absolutely blessed.
Like other first time moms, my due date came and went with no baby. I was adamant about avoiding a c-section and knowing that inductions can increase that risk, I was hardcore against being induced. I know c-sections are unavoidable for some and absolutely support that, but the idea of major surgery was more than I could handle. That following Monday, after having a non-stress test and ultrasound to make sure everything was okay (which it was), I reluctantly agreed to setting an induction date of 41 weeks and three days–my doctor’s ideal deadline date. Thankfully, I ended up going into labor the Wednesday prior at 41+1 so no induction necessary. But she was obviously sold on that Friday date.
I went into the hospital Wednesday night, a little before midnight and didn’t welcome baby girl until Friday evening. Friday evening! I went through five doctor shifts and I can’t even tell you how many nurses. Thankfully, my doctor’s office, which is a large practice with multiple physicians, is into low intervention births. They don’t push things on you and all of them are so sweet and kind. I absolutely don’t think I would have made it through those two days without them. The hospital I delivered at is also into low intervention births which really helped. I was able to walk around and encouraged to lap the halls in order to move things along. I totally hit my Fitbit step goal that Thursday. Even so, I couldn’t seem to hit past that 4 centimeter mark. Family members were camped out in the waiting room, watching women come in, have their babies and then leave. Apparently, I was in it for the long-term.
Friday morning, I was started on Pitocin, received the most amazing epidural ever (seriously, best anesthesiologist ever!) and had my water broke. By 2 p.m., it was time to get her out. And then came the pushing. Four hours! Hands down, delivering baby girl was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I tried to just focus on things as they came and I kept that same attitude during delivery. IV? Not a fan, but I can get through it. A gazillion rounds of antibiotics? Okay, let’s do it. Those horrible checks? Ok, but don’t tell me nothing has changed because I’m going to lose it. Four hours of pushing? Good grief. I will say I watched a lot of Million Dollar Listing and House Hunters during those two days. Mindless tv that you don’t really have to pay attention to is helpful believe it or not.
At 6:34 p.m. Friday, July 28, Hartley Grace was (finally!) born. She came in at 7.89 lbs. and 20 5/8 in. with a head full of hair (thank you acid reflux!). As soon as they laid her on my chest, she reached up and snatched my glasses off my face. Oh yeah, she’s going to be a wild one.
Special thanks to Jackie Fitzgerald for Hartley’s amazing handmade outfit. It’s perfect!