THE BIRTH OF BABY SULLIVAN | PHOENIX, AZ BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

Yesterday, along side my precious newborn, I received my copy of the summer issue of Midwifery Today- WITH ONE OF MY IMAGES ON THE COVER! EEK!! This birth was gorgeous, the mama was powerful, and the story is moving. Mama Ally even decided to share her birth story on the blog with our 50 favorite images. 


Mommy’s Got You

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth.  We attended a Bradley Method class.  We mentally prepared.  Our daughter crowned in the car and was born in the E.R. with our truck still running in the parking lot.  “We did it,” I told her as she was born.  “Mommy’s got you, sweet girl.”  I wanted the same for my son, natural and unmedicated.  We were blessed with the opportunity to deliver him at home.  We had no fear of being at home, we’d pretty much done it before.  We had more excitement about it than anything else.  

Let’s do this.  

On the morning of Sept 16th, 41 weeks 2 days, I lost my mucus plug.  No doubt in our minds, it was go-time.  Calls made, birth team on their way.  Our daughter woke up, her love and laughter fills our home, her presence alone brings me my strength.  Noon comes quickly and it’s our final goodbye to our family of three.  Great big hugs and kisses, tears as she says bye-bye.  My husband by my side coaching me through each contraction.  Lots of counter pressure.  Reminding me to stay strong.  He is my rock.  “Let’s do this.”  2PM and I beg my midwife to finally check dilation.  I had started to feel like I was never going to give birth at this point, like I hadn’t advanced at all.  I needed some hope that I was progressing.  But…I instructed her to not tell me if I wasn’t at least a 5.  A gentle smirk and a “You’re a 6!”  YES!  Fast forward a little bit and it felt as if contractions had stalled, more feelings of hopelessness.  It was sudden.  Whole-body take over.  Contractions came on strong and hard.  No resting.  My body went into overdrive.  He was coming and he wanted out now.  My baby boy was determined and so was I.  The contractions were on top of each other, molding into one.  This was transition and it meant business.  I COULD NOT stop pushing.  My midwives were trying to stop me.  To breathe.  To relax.  We could not stop.  The urge to push was indescribably strong.  Nothing like with my daughter, nor anything I had ever read about or had described to me.  I could not stop.  “You got this, Ally” was all I could hear my husband telling me.  Finally, a break, my body relaxed.  Contractions slowed down a bit and my body allowed me to more efficiently push my son out.  His head was out.  He was looking around.  A gentle first touch on his head and a “hi, sweet boy.”  A minute or so passes waiting for the next contraction.  Back to work.  He’s almost here.  A few more pushes and some gentle maneuvering from my midwife and I was pulling him onto my chest.  Our beautiful 9lb 10oz baby boy was finally here.  “We did it, son” was all I could think.  “Mommy’s got you.” 

My daughter’s birth was extremely chaotic.  My son’s was an incredibly intense greeting.  Being worlds apart different, their births are a sweet reminder to me that even when things don't exactly go as you had imagined, they are still perfect and exactly how they were meant to happen.  This was a raw and difficult delivery.  It tested me in all the right ways.  I found a strength in me that I never knew existed.  Trust in the process, enjoy the journey, appreciate the differences.  


Photographer: Katie Mathis

CNM: Wendi Cleckner

CPMs: Diane Ortega & Belinda Hodder from Willow Birth Center

BIRTH PLAYLIST | PHOENIX, AZ BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

I'm due in less than 4 weeks. FOUR weeks. That's 4 weeks left of only having two earthside babies and 4 weeks left of feeling like this kid is going to claw it's way out of me. 

Allow me a minute to cry over... everything. 

One thing I no longer have to shed some tears over is the fact that my labor playlist is done. And done in good timing as yesterday's shenanigans of going into prodromal labor. I often see friends and other mommies-to-be that they are need of music to play during their birth so I cracked my own whip and went digging to create the most beautiful birth and labor playlist of all time. Some songs are hand picked by me, others are plucked from the births I have been fortunante enough to attend. 

So pack your mini speakers in your hospital bag, charge your batteries and get ready to be in sync with your baby, birth partner, and body as you're about to take the best ride of your life. 

BIRTH STORY | Part 1

My estimated due date is June 1st and yesterday was May 8th, no one expected the baby to come this early but we did our best to go with the flow and get ready. My birth kit wasn't in, our AC is out in our master, we needed a birth tub, and I still haven't hung up my affirmations. 

It was 10:30am and I decided to call my midwife. My contractions were consistent, about 2-5 minutes apart at this point. I didn't think I wanted to be checked in labor but my denial that this wasn't labor convinced me to go ahead with it. My midwife came over and right as she walked in I was in the bathroom throwing up my breakfast. When my stomach settled down she checked me and I was 4-5 centimeters and 50% effaced. I wasn't totally convinced it was real yet and definitely wasn't ready for my birth team to be here yet, so I sent my midwife on her way and tried all the stuff to see if I could slow it down on my own. I took a bath, tried to nap, and drank 2oz of wine (judge me, I dare you.) Nothing slowed them down. At this point I was almost ready to admit to myself that it was time to meet the baby. 

At 3pm I decided to get my kids (with our nanny) from school to make as many last minute memories with them as my only two as possible. We went to Target, bought birthday cake mix and talked about all the excitement that could possibly go down today, tomorrow, or in the next few days. We were wrapping up our trip when I started feeling nauseas again and decided to checkout and head home. I wasn't teetering on false labor vs real labor anymore. I believed in my body and baby, I believed this was it. 

We called our birth team over around 4:30pm and within 40 minutes everyone was here. Midwife, student midwife, birth photographer and videographer all arrived. My husband and I went for a walk with our birth photographer, talked about my actual due date, and appreciated the cool weather we were blessed with on this day. A storm was coming through, dark skies and a light drizzle was exactly what I would want on this baby's birth day. 

"Things seemed to be

speeding up and getting more intense

with my contractions consistently

at 2 minutes apart."

When we got back we ordered dinner and my husband rushed off to buy a longer hose for the birth tub our birth photographer graciously brought over for us. It was lovely weather so I jumped in our backyard pool and quickly switched to the hot tub. I started feeling nauseous again and got out to shower and lay in my bed. Things seemed to be speeding up and getting more intense with my contractions consistently at 2 minutes apart. I was suggested to immediately start chugging water. And just like that, as soon as I finished a 30oz glass I laid down and contractions were gone for 20 minutes. That was it. It was over. I talked with my midwife and decided to send everyone home. I was disappointed in myself. I thought I was drinking enough water. I thought I was giving my baby everything it needed, but here I was, dehydrated. 

"This is by far the

most pain I felt all day.

I felt defeated."

I laid my head down for the night feeling drained and full of dismay. My eldest daughter (5 years old) came in with tears in her eyes and whimpered "I want the baby to come today." This is by far the most pain I felt all day. I felt defeated. She crawled into bed with us and I apologized while explaining that the baby wasn't ready yet and Mommy just needs to keep taking care of her body for the baby. 

As a birth worker, I've worked with many women who go into false labor and I can now say I see a whole different side of it. This is STILL your birth story. Don't worry about calling your birth team if you think you need them. I didn't want to waste their time. I didn't want to take them from their family. I didn't want to be the mom who cried wolf. As sad as I am for not progressing, I am thankful my birth team was willing to drop everything for me to be with me by my side in all the excitement. I may have went to bed with no contractions but yesterday was real to me and just part one of my birth story. 

Today I'm 36+4 according to my early ultrasound and 40 weeks according to my last cycle, and I'm still taking guess dates. 

Photography: Dianne Hamre

CAYSON'S NEWBORN SESSION | PHOENIX, AZ BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

As she bathed her newborn baby boy she wept, as she realized right then that she has never felt more alive than these last few days. This is motherhood. All too often we get brushed by the urge to cry as we witness our little miracles sharing, caring, and simply breathing. Nothing beats the overwhelming feeling of bursting into tears over what some could call "nothing".