Our golden hour. Marigold Bobbie Vaughan. She proved them wrong and went her full 40 weeks. After 14 hours of natural, unmedicated labor, she was born December 8th at 7:56am, weighing 6lbs, 2oz, measuring 19 inches long. She is our bright, happy sunshine after the storm. Plants and the healing they gave our family is already such a huge part of her story and history, so naming her after that was so important to us. Bobby is Mitch’s middle name, but also his grandfather’s name (spelled with an ‘ie.’) It actually means bright and shining, so it’s perfect for her. We’re so in love and we can’t believe we have a daughter!
Image: Bump Meet Baby Photography
Her story is already so rich with history. She’s our rainbow baby. It took us a year to conceive her after our loss but she was well worth the wait.
At 31 weeks, she was measuring 2 weeks behind. We thought it was because of the way she was laying, but our midwife, Erin, scheduled an ultrasound just to be safe. At 33 weeks, we had our appointment. The results indicated that she was in the 11th percentile and weighed a little over 3 pounds when she should have been in the 5 pound range. The placenta was healthy and she was healthy, but there was an issue with the cord. Erin said there was ‘elevated pressure and it’s performing sub-optimally.’ Marigold wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed to grow. Based on those results, she said there was 0% chance I’d make it to 40 weeks. The goal was to make it to 38 weeks, but 36 weeks was looking more likely.
Ultrasounds were scheduled twice a week to monitor her. We grew very close with Amy, the ultrasound technician, especially since we got to see her twice a week! We posted publicly about her issue and asked for prayers. After it was made public and prayers started going up, EVERY SINGLE appointment she had after that was perfect. Her cord pressure normalized, she was healthy, still small but growing proportionally. We didn’t have anymore scares after that. It was truly an answer to prayer.
36 weeks passed. 37. 38. 39. Still going to our biweekly appointments, getting perfect results every time. No sign of labor. We saw Katie, another favorite midwife and she mentioned inducing right before 40 weeks (her due date was December 9th) was our best option. I honestly didn’t like the idea. My body went into labor on it’s own with Max, and I didn’t like the thought of forcing her out before she was ready. Plus, I didn’t know anything about induction, so I was uncomfortable with it. I was able to call Erin while she was on shift at the hospital and she talked to me for 20 minutes. How incredible is that? She talked with me about each of my concerns, never writing off anything I said. She said something to me that flipped my entire viewpoint. She said a couple days shy of her due date wouldn’t hurt her, but a couple days over could. After that, I was fine with it and was comfortable with the idea. I really wanted Erin to deliver her and December 8th was when she was on shift next. So, December 7th was our induction date.
The labor and delivery floor was SUPER busy that day. I called in the morning on the 8th at 6:00am and they said they’d call me when a room opened up. I got my call at 2:30pm. I immediately started crying. I even asked the sweet nurse if she was serious. Oh my gosh, this was it. This was when I had to say goodbye to Max, something I’d been dreading. We told him we had to go to the doctor so baby sister could come out of mommy’s tummy. Of course he didn’t really understand. I took pictures of my pregnant belly for the last time. I took pictures with Max as an only child for the last time. I cried. I was so excited to meet our daughter, but so sad to leave the one that made me a mother.
We got to the hospital, got checked in and checked (I was 2.5cm and about 60% effaced) and went over the game plan. I was calm and excited. My favorite L&D nurse, Krystalin, just happened to pick up the weekend shifts at the hospital, something she doesn’t do. And the days I was at the hospital, she was there. It was so wonderful having her there. Another gift from above.
We started with the Foley balloon. It’s inserted into the cervix to promote dilation. After about an hour or two, it came out but it didn’t really do very much, or start my labor. Our next step was Cytotec. We gave the Cytotec until about 2am. It still wasn’t doing much. After that, the next step was to start Pitocin. Erin and the nurses watched my contractions closely. They wanted them to be strong enough to do work, but not so strong that is wasn’t good for baby girl. My contractions picked up for a bit but it wasn’t anything I needed support for. I tried to sleep but I was anxious. The next step was to break my water. Erin knew I wanted to leave my water intact if we could, and gave me the choice. Try the Pitocin for a bit longer or break my water. At that point, I was ready to get this show on the road. I chose to break it. At about 6:45am, my water was broken and I was at 4cm and 80% effaced. Wow, it all just happened so fast! Two contractions after my water was broken, I needed the support. My doula, Debbie, and my photographer, Liz were called. Active labor had started just minutes after my water was broken. I’ve never experienced so much pain in my life. I was BEGGING for medication after every contraction. But I was very clear from the beginning – if my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing, I was safe and my baby was safe, do not give me any medication. And they honored that for me when I couldn’t. Because trust me, I was begging for it.
I went from 4cm to birth in an hour. I had no idea how close I was.
For that hour, I kept my eyes closed the entire time. I felt Debbie’s hands when she arrived. I could hear her voice. I could sense Mitch beside me the entire time. Holding me up, supporting me, encouraging me. At one point I had gone to the bathroom to change into my clothes to wear in the tub. When it was ready, I got in, hoping it would help with the pain. I remember it really helping with Max. It didn’t help this time. I was so hot. I couldn’t handle it. I was about to get out but they poured cold water on me which felt absolutely amazing. I had about 4-5 contractions in the tub. The pain was indescribable. I thought for sure I’d pass out from how intense it was. Over and over I kept saying, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this,’ but Debbie was there with encouraging words. I heard Erin tell me to let her know if I felt pressure or the need to push. After that, I had another contraction. Was that pressure? Or just part of the contraction? Another one. MAJOR pressure. I started yelling, “She’s coming out, she’s coming out!!” I felt myself being pulled to my feet and being told to get out of the tub. Another contraction. I was standing in the tub, being supported by either Mitch or Debbie and I felt Erin’s arm go between my legs to catch the baby, but she didn’t come then. When the contraction was over, I somehow got out of the tub and into the bed before the next one. I was only in there for about 10 minutes. Mitch was on my right side, Debbie on my left and Erin in position to bring my daughter into the world. I remember begging her, “Erin, Erin, Erin, get her out, get her out.” She was so calm. She said that was my job. I waited for her to tell me when to push, but the instinct was there. I was so scared to push. I knew I was going to tear, just like I did with Max. Contraction. My first real push. I screamed into Mitch’s shoulder. I’ve never heard myself make that sound before. I couldn’t help it though. It was the only sound I could make. I pushed for 4 hours with Max. There’s no way I could endure that. I asked how much longer and if it would be hours. I heard chuckles. Minutes, they said. Minutes. I had 3-4 more contractions, pushing 3-4 times with each one, screaming into Mitch’s shoulder, hearing the encouragement from my birth team.
Then… sweet relief. I felt my daughter leave my body and just like that, she was here. The feeling was euphoric. Absolutely euphoric. And the pain was completely gone. My eyes flew open for the first time in an hour. I heard her precious, precious cry. Felt her tiny body in my hands and brought her to my chest. She was here. Tears instantly flowed. And she was perfect. She never needed any oxygen or NICU time or time away from me, which is what we were prepared for. She even latched immediately. And somehow, I was able to give birth unmedicated. I consider myself a wuss when it comes to pain. In my head, giving birth naturally meant I could handle anything. To be honest, I didn’t think I could do it. But I did, thanks to my team.
The hour after was heavenly. I felt like I was in a cloud. I was so calm, peaceful and happy, and felt no pain. Debbie rubbed my feet and my legs while I breathed in Marigold. I got to see Mitch hold his daughter for the first time. I got to watch Krystalin take her measurements. I missed all that with Max because I had passed out from pain and exhaustion. But not this time. I didn’t want to leave the room. It was so warm and peaceful.
Erin telling me how wonderful I did and me completely not believing her. I still don’t.
These women are GEMS.
All images above: Liz Cook Photography
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to the song ‘Who You Say I Am’ by Hillsong. I’m one of those people that listens to the same song 500 times and never gets tired of it. I’d play it on my phone and put it by my belly so she could hear it. I’ve listened to it so much that it’s one of Max’s highly requested songs. It was in my labor and delivery playlist playing on shuffle with about 30 other songs the entire time we were in the hospital. When she was placed on my chest, that song was playing. Somehow throughout everything happening in the room, my attention went to the music for a few seconds. It gives me CHILLS to know that was the song playing when she came Earthside. After losing our other baby, the pain we felt (and still feel) from that, the year we spent trying for her, finally getting pregnant, the greenhouse, having the scare, all those appointments, having her so, so close… and having it all coming to fruition when she was born… and that song was playing. God is so, so amazing.
DOCTORS VS MIDWIVES / MEDICATED VS UNMEDICATED
I also wanted to touch a little on using doctors vs. midwives/medicated vs. non-medicated/no doula vs. doula. And let me preface this with this statement: There is no right, perfect road to take. Do your research and pick what’s best for you and your family. With Max, I was with the doctors, I was medicated and did not have a doula. My labor was 30+ hours, I tore basically to the 3rd degree, I had to have corrective surgery 6 months postpartum and wasn’t fully healed until 10 months postpartum, in constant pain the entire 10 months. I feel if I was better prepared, had someone with me during his labor to help my body move, it could have gone differently. With Marigold, we hired Debbie and went to the midwives. She gave me exercises to do to prepare my body for birth. My labor was 14 hours (only 1 hour being true, active labor), I was not medicated, I was with the midwives and doula, and only had a superficial 1st degree tear that honestly, I never would have known I had if Erin hadn’t told me. It never hurt. Bottom line, if I had to have 100 more babies, I would be with the midwives and Debbie for all of them.
At my 4 week checkup appointment, it was like a family reunion. We brought Marigold in so they could meet her. I saw Amy, Erin and Katie. We talked in the room for 20 minutes, just catching up. Aside from being tired (I mean, who isn’t?) I feel 1000000% better than I did with Max. There were no concerns to address. I’m healing up perfectly and am in zero pain.
To these people, I never, ever, ever could have done what I did with you. Thank you will never be enough.
Erin Baird: My midwife. My beasty new BFF. She was funny when I needed humor and strong when I needed support. She told me the options available and I made my own choices off her expert recommendations. She supported everything I wanted with Marigold’s birth. I said from the beginning that if my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing, I was safe and the baby was safe, I did not want any medication. I begged for something after every contraction the last hour, but she stood my ground for me when I couldn’t, encouraged me and is the reason I made it through to the end the way I originally wanted.
Katie Page: Katie was another midwife that I saw frequently. Sometimes you just instantly connect with people, and Katie is one of them. She was always checking in on me, checking my chart to see my progress. If Erin couldn’t have been there to deliver, I would have wanted it to be Katie. She wasn’t on shift for another week at the hospital, but she was there for my 4 week check up, and I loved seeing her. Turns out, we grew up in the same small town in Texas, went to the same middle and high school and would have been in the same graduating class if I hadn’t moved. We probably passed each other in the halls on multiple occasions, never knowing that our paths would cross years and years later in Virginia. Crazy!
Debbie Perdew: My doula. Even though my eyes were closed the whole time, I could feel her hands on me and I could hear her words of encouragement. She held me up (literally) and prayed for me through the contractions. She took care of me after the birth and her words and presence soothed me in a way only Debbie could do. Pregnant friends, hire a doula. And if you’re in the area, hire Debbie. I couldn’t have done it without her.
Amy Crabtree: Our wonderful ultrasound technician. Amy has such a calming presence about her. When our ultrasounds were first scheduled, we were both scared, but she made our biweekly appointments a breeze. I loved knowing it was her I was going to see, and we’d pick up our conversation where we left off each time.
Krystalin Mays: We met through Max’s birth. She was the nurse assigned to me and stayed long past the end of her shift to help deliver him. By God’s perfect timing, she was on shift when we arrived at the hospital and came back on shift about an hour before Marigold arrived. She went above and beyond for me, and I know she did much more behind the scenes. She made my whole experience stressless and seamless. I’m so, so grateful for her.
Liz Cook: My photographer, but most importantly, my friend. She rearranged her life so she could be there for Marigold’s birth. It was so important to me that it was her in the room, documenting these precious minutes I’d never be able to fully remember. Everything happened SO fast and she was there, giving those moments back to us with each click.
All the other incredible, amazing, wonderful, supportive nurses on the labor and delivery floor and of course, you guys! I could feel every prayer being sent up throughout our pregnancy and when we were in the hospital. I truly believe everything happened the way it did because of your prayers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Last but most important, Mitch. The best father to our children and husband I could ever ask for. I love you.
Images below: Bump Meet Baby Photography