medicated childbirth

A Rush of Love: My VBAC Birth Story

I love to read birth stories. I read online birth stories voraciously while I was pregnant, finding hope and strength in each woman's experience of bringing her child into the world. I read because I wanted to know what it was like to give birth vaginally.  My twins were born via c-section 5 years ago and I really wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time around.

I especially liked stories where the mom gave birth swiftly, serenely and without meds. Because that's the kind of birth I wanted.
This is not one of those birth stories.
But that's ok. I am proud to have it as my birth story.
Here it is: My 60 hour VBAC.
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I woke up on Monday morning, October 22nd, at 2am with a "different" contraction. Since I had been having strong Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, I wondered if I would know the difference when real labor started. I did. The contraction hurt and the BH contractions were just "intense." I was so excited! I was 40 weeks 6 days pregnant and so ready for him to be here.
I got up and labored in the living room until sunrise. I walked around, swaying and breathing through the contractions. They came about every 5-7 minutes. I was sure that I would be holding my baby by that afternoon.
(Facebook updates in bold.) Oct 22nd. 8am: Silas decided that today will be his birthday! Will update when he is here!!
I called my doula and she came over around 10am. I was smiling and still so happy, laboring on the birth ball. My twins didn't have school that day (teacher service day), so we called a friend and had them go over and play for the day.
Aaron, Kate (my doula) and I spent the day laboring through the contractions. A hot bag of rice on my lower back became my best friend. We even took the rice bag on the two walks we took that day.  Kate would hold the rice bag on my back and Aaron would hold my hands. It was a beautiful fall day. (Aaron and Kate got a kick out of our neighbors and drivers rubberneck at me as I stopped and swayed through my contractions).

Oct 22nd. 2pm: 12 hours into labor. Still at home and working through contractions with my doula and Aaron. Doing well!

No baby by mid-afternoon, but I was sure that by dinnertime I would be holding my sweet Silas. My contractions were getting more intense as the day went on. I started using low "oh" noises as a labor technique. The contractions were getting anywhere from 3-5 min apart. My goal was to labor at home as long as possible and hopefully get to the hospital when I was 6cm or so, maybe even in transition.
Aaron was getting worried that I was going to squat and drop the baby at home so around 7pm we decided it was time to go to the hospital. Oy! Laboring in the car is a pain in the....butt? back? uterus? Not sure, but it sucked! Thankfully we are only about 10-15 min away but it was enough time for me to have 3 contractions on the way there.
We got to the room and the nurse wanted to check me. I absolutely hate internal exams and even wrote on my birth plan: "Wants minimum vaginal checks." I told her that she could check me as long as she was really gentle but I was sure that I was really far along. "After all," I told her, "I've been in labor since 2am this  morning."
"We'll see," she said. And checked. She was not gentle. And that wasn't even the worst part.
"It feels like you are about a 2, and 80% effaced."
I was in total and complete shock. Stunned. Horrified. How could this happen? How could I only be at a 2???? And I had had no further effacement since my doctor's appointment five days prior.
The nurse left (rather smugly, I thought) and I had my first emotional breakdown. How could I keep this up? It had been 18 hours already--could I even do this? I wanted the VBAC so badly!
We stayed at the hospital for another 4 hours, the contractions coming every 5 minutes. My doctor was on call that night and she checked me at 10:30.
"You're at a 3, 90% effaced. Do you want to go home? We could give you something to help you sleep."
After a few anguished glances at Aaron and Kate I decided that yes, I wanted to go home.
"Ok," my doctor said. "I'll write you a prescription for Ambian. Go home, take a hot bath and come back when your contractions are stronger and closer together."
So we left. Another car ride in labor.
Kate dropped me off at home and went to spend the night at a friend's house. Aaron went to get the prescription. My best friend, who was watching my boys for me, wished me luck and left too. Aaron called and said that the pharmacy was running really slowly and he wouldn't be home for about an hour and a half. I then realized that I didn't have any support at home.
I labored in a hot bath alone (had to fill it up twice). It was pretty awful. I prayed,  "Lord, give me strength, give me strength" through every contraction. I prayed Aaron would get home soon. Soon. Soon!
He finally got home around midnight and I took the Ambian (it was a tiny pill) and we laid down on the couch to sleep.
At 2:30am I woke up in crazy pain, convinced that Greek gods had come into my living room and were dictating the script for each contraction. For Athena's contraction, I had to labor like this! Dionysus  Do this! Note to self: do not take Ambian while in labor. It makes you a little cray-cray. The Greek gods left after about two hours but the rest of the night was kind of a blur to me.
Oct 23. 8am: Going on 30 hours of labor. Hospital sent me home because I was only at 3 at 10:30 last night. Please pray for strength and encouragement for me. Emtional stress is harder than pain right now.
Kate came back over around 8am and Aaron took the boys to school for the day. My contractions were sporadic through-out the morning, around 9-10 minutes apart. I was able to doze in between them on the couch for a few hours. We decided to go for another walk (more rubbernecking from car drivers) and then I got serious about re-hydrating  After that the contractions picked up to about 5-7 minutes apart. They were getting more intense but not getting closer together. I had a few crying jags throughout the day, but I finally got my head in gear. The 22nd may not have been his birthday but the 23rd was going to be!!!Kate had me do all kinds of positioning all afternoon on the 23rd. I did a hands and knees swaying pose (it was adorable. My huge ba-donk-a-donk swaying in the air as I rested on my elbows...) trying to get the baby to move into a better position. She try to manually move him over to the center of my belly because we thought he was posterior (sunny-side up). We tried manual manipulation. We tried ice on one side of my belly and a heat wrap on the other. He moved some, giving us hope but after 2-3 hours of positioning techniques and countless contractions, he seemed to settle right back into his previous position, on my right side, on his side/posterior.

It was 7pm again, 24 hours since we first went to the hospital. I was over this. I needed to know what was going on, even though the contractions were still 7 minutes apart. I texted my mom and said, "Going to the hospital again. Not coming home without the baby." Enter car ride 3 from hell.We had an awesome nurse this time with a great sense of humor. She checked me."You are 3cm, 90% effaced."Yep. Same as 24 hours ago.

My doctor was on call again that night. She came in and said, "You are in what we call "Dysfunctional Labor".

Me: "Ya think?!"

And that is when my birth plan went out the window. I had wanted a low intervention, med-free labor. I didn't want an epidural or have to be confined to the bed.

But in that moment, I didn't care. It wasn't just that I believed that "all that matters is a healthy baby!" That phrase annoyed me so much during my pregnancy. Yes, I did want a healthy baby (and his stats were awesome the whole labor!), but what I wanted mattered too! I DID want my ideal labor and birth experience.

But, I had given it a good try. I had labored over 40 hours without any type of intervention. And nothing was happening. So, we moved on to plan B, C, and D.

And that was ok.

Oct 23. 8pm: 42 hours of labor at home. Went to the hospital again and had not progressed in dilation in 24 hours. Doctor said I was in dysfunctional labor. Currently have epidural to let me sleep and pitocin to help me dilate.

Cue emotional breakdown 5 (6? 7?) while I got the epidural. Everything I was "losing" hit me in that moment, coupled with my phobia of needles. Thankfully Aaron and the nurse helped keep me from hyperventilating. With the epidural in, I started to relax. My doctor really wanted me to sleep. I was so keyed up that I couldn't really fall asleep, but I was able to doze. Doctor came in at 2am. I was at 4cm and she broke my water (another thing on my birth plan that I didn't want to happen, but hey...whatever!)Oct 24. 10am: Going on 54 hours. At 8. Epidural is helping me cope.We were now in day 3. I was only dilating about 1cm every two hours. It was slow going. And the epidural was starting to wear off. I requested two "boosters" of pain relief. Sweet bliss...but they didn't last for long: one hour for the first and about 30 minutes for the second. Pretty soon all my pain relief was gone and my contractions were moving into the pushing stage.In all those birth stories I read, this is when those birthing women said "things got intense."

Um...yes. "Intense" would be "a" word to use. A nice word. A word that doesn't really describe what it means to be in that stage of labor.

One of my greatest fears about labor was that I would feel out of control, whether that meant I felt like people were "doing things to me" or that I would feel like I couldn't handle the labor itself. (Yes, I know, I am a control freak).

I felt like I was flirting with that out-of-control crazy feeling. Not quite Greek gods crazy but just a little bit...out of control.

I alternative prayed silently "God, help me! Give me strength, give me strength!" in the 1-2 minute respite I had in between contractions or repeated out loud "I can do this. I can do this. Damn-it-I-can-do-this!"

The praying and swearing seemed to work pretty well.

I started pushing at hour 59. During that final hour, my husband, doula and two nurses kept telling me I was doing great. All I could think was, "Am I doing anything??? Is it ever going to end?? Oh, God, it has to end!!"

I slipped over into the out-of-control. I had my final emotional breakdown. But it was almost over. Through my tears and two gut-wrenching screams, when I thought I had no strength left, I pushed my baby into the world (and the nurse who told me to stop screaming? I kinda wanted to punch her in the face).

Oct 24. 1:52pm: Silas is here!!! Brit and baby are well. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement. Silas came in at 8-3.

I said and felt so many things in those first moments. My first thought when I saw my son when the doctor held him up?
"He has a little butt!"Ok, let me explain this weird, first thought. My twins were so tiny when they were born (3 lbs 13 oz and 4 lbs 12 oz) and they were so skinny that they had no fat, no butt cheeks. They were so frail and weak.But Silas had cheeks.I got to hold him on my chest right after he was born. And in that moment, I realized that this is what I wanted out of my birth. Not the low-intervention, labor-in-the-tub, no-epidural, push-the-way-I-want-to-push, whatever. I wanted to feel that instant rush of love and connection that I missed when my twins were born via c-section and rushed away to the NICU without even a kiss from their terrified new mother.

But this time, the rush was there. Through tears and exclamations of "Precious baby! Happy Birthday! I am so freakin' glad that is over!" I fell in love with my son.

Oct. 24. 3pm: Got to have Silas skin to skin for an hour after he was born and he nursed wonderfully. Filled with love. However, I feel like I got hit by a semi....three times.

My labor didn't go the way I wanted it to. I didn't get my birth plan.

But I got my moment. My rush of love.

After 60 hours of labor, I got to meet my precious, wonderful son, Silas Edward Meng.
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First Moments of Motherhood: Emma Claire's Birth Story

At the start of each year, we often take time for self-reflection, starting new projects and making resolutions. Many of us begin the new year with hopes to improve ourselves. What a perfect time to feature a series of posts on gaining wisdom! Over the course of this month, we'll continue to post interviews with experienced mothers and feature stories written by women about what they've learned, and are continuing to learn, about motherhood. Thank you for starting the new year with us. We wish you all a very happy and inspired year of growth! ~TMC I'm going to start this post off with a humdinger of a sentence:

I had an elective induction.

Before the Natural Birth Police storm my front door, I should share the back story to my daughter's birth story.

When I was 14 years old, I met a boy at church camp. We fell hopelessly in love with one another at 21 and married at 22. Vowing to love and honor him in sickness and in health, I discovered that I was no longer staring at the 15 year old boy I met so long ago. As the words left my mouth, as I gave myself to him only and him completely, he stood before me in an iconic dress blues uniform. Deep blue coat with red piping, gold buttons adorned with the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor - he was beautiful in every way. With his chest out, shoulders back, and pride few can fathom, he vowed the same to me. Four years prior, he was pledging to defend the United States and her Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He promised to sacrifice his day to day for the freedom of this country; knowing full well that it may demand the ultimate cost of his life.

On August 14, 2010 I became the wife of a United States Marine.

I didn't know then how much it would define my life. I didn't comprehend how marrying a marine would determine a good percentage of my existence. I wouldn't say that I was misinformed or ignorant - I just simply wasn't aware. One of my good friends, a Navy chaplain, performed our wedding ceremony. As he addressed us, in front of our friends and family, he told me of the responsibility that I would have as a marine spouse. I remember walking down the aisle after our "first kiss as husband and wife" and having a pit in the bottom of my stomach. I was terrified, happy, anxious, scared, and excited ... all at the same time! I knew in my gut that life had changed for me - for us.

 

 photo by: Sabrena Deal/S. Carter Studios (http://www.scarterstudios.com/index2.php)

A year and a half after our wedding I was helping my husband pack his belongings for yet another deployment. We had thought long and hard about when we wanted to start trying for a baby and we determined that after he returned from his 7 month deployment, we would begin trying. While he was gone, I made every effort I could to get my body "baby ready." After gaining a significant amount of weight on birth control, I promised myself I would lose at least 30 pounds while he was gone. It seems like a lofty goal, but I did it. I took myself off of the birth control immediately after he left so that I had an ample amount of time to recover. I bought fertility tests and a fertility monitor, pregnancy tests, and did a ton of research on the most effective ways to get pregnant.

I became what I like to call a "Knock Me Up Nutjob." My focus was all on a baby.

April 2012 arrived, my husband returned home. I was ready. He was ready.

April 2012 passed, and I still wasn't pregnant.

Punch me in the face.

May 2012 arrived. I decided to stop obsessing.

May 21, 2012 arrived and so did the two pink lines. I was pregnant. I peed on 8 pregnancy tests just to be sure. Panic ensued. I feared miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, anything and everything. To top all of this off, we found out that my husband would be heading to recruiting school and we had a move coming up.

Though I would not define my pregnancy as difficult, everyone else tells me it was. I had serious morning sickness resulting in having to use two anti-nausea medications just to get me to eat even just a little bit of food. In my first two trimesters I lost a total of 30 pounds. In addition, I faced uncertainty of the health of my child. (You can read that story here.)

Despite any illness or difficulty in pregnancy, my husband had to leave for recruiting school in San Diego at the beginning of my third trimester. His parting words were, "Don't have that baby until I get back." So ... I crossed my legs and held on for a long 8 weeks without him. About 3 weeks into his schooling, he called to tell me where we were expected to move so he could recruit for the Marine Corps the next three years. Basically the conversation went like this:

Him: "So ... we're moving to Wyoming." Me: "Haha, okay... I'll get to work on finding us a house up there."

We were expected to be in Wyoming on February 2, 2013. I should mention, however, that my due date was January 21, 2013.

From the beginning, I shared with my midwife that I would be moving and we weren't sure when exactly, but it would be before I delivered or immediately after. She is used to working with military families and promised to help in any way she could. As soon as we found out when we were expected to move you can imagine the panic that came into my life. Not only did I have to find us a house in a place we've never been, find renters for the home we own in North Carolina, plan our movers, transfer all of our information and utilities, and 5,508 other things  ... I ALSO had to deliver a child. The stress took its toll on my body and I began having contractions at 37 weeks. Many mornings I would be standing in my bathroom hunched over the counter just praying and asking God that "this was it" and that "my Emma was on her way." Needless to say ... it wasn't time. At my 38 week appointment my midwife determined that (sorry if men are reading this) my "cervix was viable for induction." Now, before anyone loses their cool and starts yelling about "unnecessary interventions by medical professionals" here's what you should know ...

I asked to be induced. 

My midwife, as much as she didn't want to admit it, did NOT want to induce me, but understood why it had to be done. Her only stipulation was that it be done at 39 weeks, and if my cervix wasn't ready, at 40 weeks. My health, along with my baby's health, were of her utmost importance. I was scheduled to be induced the following Monday on January 14, 2013. I breathed a sigh of relief.

On that Monday evening I walked into the hospital, I was placed in a room, and the process started. Cytotec was placed, and contractions increased. More Cytotec was given. I dilated a little bit. At 3:30AM my water broke on its own and Pitocin was administered.

Now, for all of you women clutching the computer screen and screaming "NOOOOOO!!! NO PITOCIN!!!!!!!!!!!" - just hold on and bear with me. It gets worse before it gets better. The Pitocin did its work and I was contracting, but unfortunately it made me very sick. With my vomiting and crying and increased contractions came a great amount of panic. I barely remember this point, but my husband told me it was hard to watch. I clutched his hand, I leaned against my mom's chest, and I remember uttering the words I didn't want to say, but knew I had to ...

"I need the epidural now."

I knew going into my induction that epidural would be on the table. Despite my desire to have an epidural-free labor, I understood that my labor would be lengthy and that it would be unrealistic of me (after a certain point) to go without. I had promised myself to try, but as soon as I lost control or I was not progressing, I vowed that I would get an epidural - without shame. (That's the key point! No shame!) In the 13 hours that I was in the hospital I had only dilated 3cm. I requested Zofran for my nausea and Stadol for my pain and I waited on the anesthesiologist.

He arrived. And I wanted to kiss him on his mouth. But I'm a married woman.

As he administered my epidural I talked to him about how I shouldn't have gone to college, but instead invested all of that money into a boob job and lyposuction so that I could be Miss America. He tried to muffle his laughter and hide his face, but really, the ridiculousness that poured out of my mouth (thank you, Sir Stadol) was too good not to laugh at. He made a quick exit, my husband went home to shower, and my mom and stepdad took some naps.

Exactly an hour and a half after my epidural was administered, I was checked.

And I was 10cm.

And my husband was at home. Showering.

He sprinted into my room to find me smiling and happy and in Stadol-world. Then I started to come back to reality. To come off the high, if you will. It was time to push. They dialed back my epidural. I began to feel everything. Every contraction, in all it's strength, it was surreal. To go from feeling nothing to feeling everything. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and pushed some more. I laughed and chatted in between pushes. My mom to my right, husband to my left. My mom, who has seven children of her own, assured me I was doing well. But my baby wasn't coming. The nurse had this look on her face, puzzled, like something wasn't right here. She said she would be back and was hoping that my midwife could help things along.

In came my midwife, and she had to turn my baby who had spent the past hour of pushing being slammed against my pelvic bone. The poor girl. She was turned, and I started to push some more. They kept telling me to let the contractions build. I held onto my husband's bicep (which is part of the reason I was knocked up in the first place ... ironic.) and I pushed with all my might. The contractions continued to build. I remember talking in between them, trying to keep my spirits up. And then there was "that push." You know the push I'm talking about. The push where everyone shrieks, "WE CAN SEE HER HEAD!" Only, my mom added, "AND SHE'S SO BALD!" 

As soon as they saw head I was pushing like a crazy person. Every contraction I pushed harder and harder and harder. Then the burning. Oh the burning.

I breathed.

I pushed.

It burned more.

I breathed.

I pushed.

Her head was out.

Her shoulders.

And then I got the green light. My midwife says, "Okay, if you can reach go ahead and pull her out."

So I did. I reached and I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her right out. I sat her on my stomach. My eyes filled with giant tears, she started to cry a loud, healthy cry. I did it. I had a baby.

At 3:41PM on January 15, 2013 after almost 24 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing, I had delivered a 7lbs, 3.3oz baby girl that will forever wear the name, Emma Claire. She was dreamy and that moment immediately defined my existence. My husband held her in his arms as he paced around the hospital room. He stared at her like she had hung the moon. He was captivated and more in love with her than he ever thought possible. My mom stood in the background and texted my siblings who anxiously waited on me as I pushed for 305 years. We welcomed our daughter into this world. This crazy, hard to fathom, impossible to comprehend Marine Corps world.

With her new pink skin, wide blue eyes, and perfectly bald head, my daughter entered the world. Ten days later she would be moving to Wyoming. But that's another story for another day.

I have found that not all birth stories are the same. Would any woman love to have an all-natural birth with no medication and no interventions? Absolutely! We would also love it to be pain free, to glow the whole time, and to not poop on the table as we push. The reality is - the labor and delivery is just as unique as the child! During my moments of stress I would often say, "If only I had gotten pregnant two months later!" or "I wish we would have waited until we moved to begin trying to have a baby!" But now? I wouldn't dream of anything different. I prayed over and over that God would protect her from any affects of the induction and epidural. He did just that. Not once did her heart rate drop or increase. She was discharged 24 hours after her birth. Her lungs were strong. She was as healthy as a horse.

 

On August 14, 2010 my life changed dramatically as I became the wife of a marine.

On January 15, 2013 my life changed forever as I became a mother.

 

photo by: Megan Jones/Megan Jones Photography (meganmcjonesphotography.yolasite.com)

Levi's Birth Story, Part One

BW Levi

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. Today's post is written by Kerissa Scott, a regular attendee at the Motherhood Cafe.  Knowing her birth story, we asked her to share it and she graciously agreed.

Kerrisa's Story

Before I start I want to give a huge disclaimer/warning: For those of you who worry about every possible thing that may go wrong, this may not be a post you want to read. Also, I will try to remain as neutral and factual in relaying everything that happened, but just know that we did not have the best experience, and so I may go on some rants. Given all of that, I still think Levi’s story is amazing and beautiful, and has the power to touch lots of mamas, especially those who have been through similar situations. I believe so strongly that we as mothers have the power to affect our own and our babies’ healthcare. We have a mother’s intuition and a right to know everything and be active in every decision, and as you will read, that is exactly what I learned through this entire process.

The Beginning of It All:Maternity Pic

I was sitting on the toilet the night of June 10th, going to the bathroom (perhaps trying a little too hard)... and out of nowhere, I heard a pop. The gush didn’t happen until I stood up, and then, of course, came the massive panic. I was only 30 weeks. My baby was not ready to come, and yet my water had broken. At the time I was in college, single, and living in an apartment with two other girls. Thankfully one of them was home, so I screamed for her help (like she could really do anything... I just made her freak out more than I was). I was a nursing student and had been through OB class/clinicals, and I have always had a passion for newborns and birth - so I was pretty educated in the area. After a few minutes of panicking, I was able to calm myself and go into nurse mode of what I needed to do. My roommate got me a glass of water which I just kept chugging (your body is constantly making more amniotic fluid, so I knew if I drank, it would make more, hopefully replacing as much lost as possible). I lay down on the floor with a towel between my legs and started making phone calls. My roommate didn’t have a car at the time, so she couldn’t take me to the hospital. I couldn’t get in touch with my parents. (I swear I called them both 10+ times.) Finally I got in touch with my sister. I called the hospital to let them know what was going on and that we were on our way. Of course, because it’s the hospital, they doubted my water broke.  I was obviously ignorant and had just peed... enough to soak three bath towels...totally possible right? Ha.

When we got to the hospital, a lady from our church was already there waiting for us (my entire family has always been close with her). By now I had gotten in touch with my parents and they arrived very shortly after we did. I am still amazed at the response I got when we arrived at the Birth Center. I called telling them what happened, they knew I was only 30 weeks, I was leaking water by the gallon, and yet I stood at the little desk for 10 minutes before they took me back. I remember I just kept saying (I don’t know if it was out loud or to myself), “Why aren’t they doing anything”. They still did not believe that my water has broken.

When I finally got into a room, they had to run the litmus test to check for amniotic fluid. By now I had started having mild contractions, so as soon as they had scientific proof that my water did indeed break, they hooked me up to the monitors and started going to town with IVs. They gave me a steroid shot which is supposed to help the baby’s lungs develop faster - the lungs are one of the last things to fully develop, and yet very essential to life outside of the womb. They gave me meds to stop my contractions, and told me that their goal was to keep him in for at least 48 hours, but the best case scenario would be for him to stay in for 3 to 4 weeks.

Now, as I said before, I had been through nursing school and read all sorts of books, but I had NEVER heard of a baby staying in a mama whose water had broken for 3 to 4 weeks. I had always heard (as I’m sure most of you have) that you have to have the baby within 48 hours of your water breaking (due to risk of infection)... and they were talking 3-4 weeks?

Once they hooked me up to all the IVs and taken all the precautions, things quieted down a bit. My contractions had stopped (thankfully) and it was time to rest. They kept trying to get me to take a sleeping pill, which I refused (daily), if I was going to go into labor I certainly did not want a sleeping pill in my bloodstream. I talked with the Neonatal doctor whose purpose was to “prepare” me for whenever the baby did come. I was also knowledgeable about preemies though. I had done an internship in the NICU in high school and had clinicals for nursing school in there as well. My main concerns were that I still be able to have him vaginally (as long as no further complications arose), and I wanted to know if I would be able to hold him after he was born. The doctor assured me that the goal was to have him vaginally, but he could not promise me I would be able to hold him. That was when I finally broke down. This whole time in the hospital I was in nurse mode:  wanting to know everything they were giving me, all the details, possible side effects, everything. But once I was told I may not be able to hold my baby, it all became so much more real.

The Waiting Game

At this point, we just had to wait. Wait for the medicine to help his lungs.  Wait and hope I don’t have any more contractions. Just be calm and wait.

They did an ultrasound to estimate how big he was and measure how much fluid was left. They estimated 4 pounds - which is pretty big for a 30 week old. I was happy to hear that, but knew that the estimations aren’t very accurate, and being big didn’t necessarily mean he would be healthy.

I was still on magnesium sulfate, the medicine they give you to stop contractions, which at that point I thought was the worst medication ever created. It made me feel like total crap (understatement). You are only supposed to be on it for 48 hours total, and they almost tried to give me it for 72 hours.  This was the first mistake I caught and was adamant they double (and triple) check, as it can cause complications and damage if you take it longer. I ended up being right (doesn’t that feel so good?) and they started weaning me off it. There is always a risk going off it that your body will go back into labor, so they were watching me carefully. If I went into labor at any point, they would not stop it again, as it had been 48 hours. But alas, Levi behaved, and agreed to stay inside a little longer."Thumbs Up" from Kerrisa

As I’m writing this I am looking back on my daily updates for friends and family, and after one day on bed rest, I was complaining about how much my butt hurt.

“I am able to get up and use the bathroom (Thank God! Hate bed pans and catheters!), but other than that, I'm pretty much stuck in bed. My butt is already starting to hurt! Hard to imagine the possibility of being in here for weeks, but easier when I think of baby rather than myself. Mom has been a very good patient advocate - trying to see if I can get a shower at the moment. They have to ask the doctor.”

I have to say, my mom was AMAZING through this whole thing. She stayed with me in the hospital camping out on the pathetic pull out beds. She helped me learn what questions to ask, what to be pushy about and what wasn’t a big deal. More than anything, she was there for me, at a very lonely and scary time.

And she apparently was a very convincing advocate - because after three days in the hospital, I was able to shower! Hallelujah! It was definitely one of the best showers of my life. Afterwards, my mom, sister, and I all worked for over an hour to get all the tangles out of my matted hair. We made the floor slippery from using so much leave-in conditioner. I learned that it was best to braid my hair after that endeavor. That way, if it was a few days before I could shower again, at least it wouldn’t be a huge nest.

After taking me off the IVs, ensuring I was not going to go into labor, and finally letting me shower, they moved me to the mother-baby unit to wait. It was so nice to not be hooked to monitors 24/7 and be able to go to the bathroom by myself.  I had to have assistance over in the Birthing Center...it’s hard to go when you have someone over your shoulder. I finally felt I could relax. Before I was just constantly being checked on and really didn’t have any privacy at all.

While in waiting, I would be monitored once a day for half an hour and have an ultrasound once a week. The monitoring was called a non-stress test. They just watched the baby’s heart rate and any contractions. The ultrasound was different than the others. It was called a biophysical profile. It was essentially a test for the baby. He had to do a list of things in 30 minutes, wiggle his fingers, practice breathing, etc. It is so much harder to tell what you are looking at when there is little amniotic fluid - in a regular ultrasound, the fluid creates the nice dark contrasting background. Another downside to low amniotic fluid - there was no cushion for his kicking. I felt every little movement, and there were times I thought he was going to break my ribs!

Because I was leaking amniotic fluid constantly, I had to wear pads, which the nurse had to check every time I changed them for signs of infection. This was awkward for me - leaving a used pad lying out so someone could “check it out”. Sometimes the nurse would call in another nurse to look at it with her, just to be sure - so weird. If the discharge became greenish that was a sign of infection and they would need to induce me.

After a few days I started getting horrible nose bleeds because the air in the hospital is SO dry. I rejoiced when they brought me a humidifier. I was in online classes at the time so most of my day was spent reading and doing school work. One day my sister came and helped me make invitations for my baby shower (which now would happen after I had him).

I was on contact precautions because I had MRSA about 2 years earlier. Apparently after you have a positive MRSA test, you have to go back to the doctor and get 3 nasal swabs that come back negative. No one ever told me this and they couldn’t do the nasal swabs until I was off antibiotics. So this caused extra headache. I got in trouble for leaving my room. A lot of the nurses wouldn’t take my water jug out to refill it.  They would just bring in little styrofoam cups. I was drinking crazy amounts of water at this point so the little cups were not enough!

Several times I started having consistent contractions and they would move me over to the Birth Center, only for the contractions to stop. They would keep me there overnight to carefully monitor me, but come morning I would always end up back in my room. Whenever I was in the Birth Center I got very little sleep. They monitor you more frequently, and the beds are not as comfortable. I hated all the chaos of moving back and forth.

So Sunday night, June 20th, 10 days into my hospital stay, I decided not to tell anyone I was having contractions. I knew that even if this was the real thing, it would be a while before active labor, and I wanted some sleep! After a few hours, I was pretty sure I was in labor for real this time. The contractions would wake me up every now and then, but I just tried to rest as much as I could before being taken to the Birth Center. Around 6 a.m. I finally told the nurse that I had been having contractions all night. She hooked me up to the monitors and agreed that I was in labor, but doubted that it had been all night. My discharge had also started having a greenish tint, so they took me straight to the Birth Center.

The Big Event

It just so happened that the day I was in labor, a neonatal birthing specialist (I can’t remember her real title) was visiting from North Carolina. Because they didn’t believe I had been having contractions all night and they didn’t want them to stop again, the specialist recommended they put me on Pitocin, as I was showing signs of infection. I wish I had known enough to refuse this, or at least request they monitor me for another hour before making that decision, but at the time I was convinced that was what was best for my baby. I was having moderate contractions, but at noon, when they hooked up the Pitocin, everything changed.

Being induced (usually by Pitocin) always causes stronger, longer contractions. Add that onto me already being in labor. I wanted a natural labor, without pain interventions. I knew I could do it, everyone in Africa does it. (That’s what I kept telling myself!) My birth classes were supposed to be the next week so I hadn’t officially been through them. I had sat in on several through nursing classes, but was not able to take them as planned with my mom, so we didn’t really know how to work together. I remember being in total disbelief at how long it took to get a nurse, and how little they were willing to help. They let me get in the shower for a little bit which was absolutely amazing, but other than that I had to pretty much stay in the bed because they were worried about umbilical cord prolapse. I got to the point where I needed to do breathing exercises to get through the contractions, but in the moment I couldn’t. I needed my mom to tell me when to breathe, and she ended up making me hyperventilate because she was so caught up in the moment. We couldn’t even get a nurse to come help me breathe.

I don’t really remember how dilated I was in the morning - I’m thinking a 3 or 4. By 2:30, I was having a really hard time dealing with the pain and getting control. They checked me and I was a 7. I knew if it wasn’t going to get a ton worse, and would be over soon, I could do it. But the nurses told me it was going to get a lot worse and be several more hours (liars). So I gave in and they put in the order for the epidural. The anesthesiologist did not show up until 3, and no one thought to check my dilation THEN, because they had just checked it 30 minutes ago. Well, little did I know, I was in transition. As the anesthesiologist was putting a needle in my back, and I was being ordered to stay still, I was screaming, “The baby is coming. He is coming NOW!”. Once again, they didn’t believe me. But low and behold, as soon as the epidural was secure and I flopped on my back, they could see his head. I was told not to push, the neonatal team had to be called and prepare everything for my premature baby. After what seemed like forever, it was time to push. I don’t remember much as I was in that “zone”, but (per my orders) my mom secretly videotaped the delivery. I do remember the doctor telling me to reach down and feel the top of his head and I freakMama and Babyed out thinking he was TINY and that I was feeling the full circumference of his head (not just the crowning, overlapping skull bones). At one point, he was having bad decels so they gave me an episiotomy (which I specifically told them not to beforehand). They did so without even telling me they were doing it, or why. I wouldn’t have known this without the video, but the cord was wrapped around his neck. Everything happened so fast. The epidural was officially in at 3:15 and Levi was born at 3:33.

I didn’t really get to see him. My sister had walked in as they cut the cord and I kept asking her what he looked like, how he was doing, was he alive, etc. Everyone had left me and was paying attention to the baby. Finally, my mom was my amazing advocate again, and convinced the doctors to let me hold him. It was only for about 10 seconds, and then he started turning blue, but I got to hold him and kiss him and tell him everything was going to be ok.

Precious BoyI don’t remember delivering the placenta, but I do remember being sown back up. Even with the epidural (which had been turned off basically as soon as it was put in), I could feel all the tugging and thought to myself, I’m glad I got the epidural if it was only for this. Before I knew it, they were wheeling my baby out to the NICU, away from me.

 

Kerrisa's story continues here as she tells us about Levi's time in the NICU.

 

 

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Landon's Birth Story

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you.   I don’t normally put things off. I’m pretty crazy – and anything that can get done tomorrow is better done yesterday. But, when it came to Landon’s birth story, I am so glad I have given myself time to process what happened. I did jot notes down. Lots of them. They are in a notebook with so many memories from those early weeks. I am thankful that I have these notes to read, reflect and appreciate, and now see from a different perspective. I view my birth experience so differently now than I did those first few days.

My mom was going to come down for Landon’s birth. Of course, I believe that everyone, including my sweet baby, should be on time. I wasn’t going to be medically induced, but I just knew that he’d be here on time. So, we booked her flights from Vermont to be the week exactly surrounding Landon’s due date. He was due Saturday, November 14th, and we booked the flights to arrive in Lynchburg Wednesday, the 10th, and leave the next Wednesday, the 17th. I had my “last” OB appointment on Wednesday morning. I was checked and was thinning, and about 1-2 centimeters dilated. Later that afternoon, I went and picked my mom up from the airport. That afternoon we spent running business errands. I had to meet people all over town – per the norm. One of our employees was relieved that he was off “baby-watch duty” now that my mom was in town. (My husband, Michael, was working on a new house over an hour away with terrible cell service so he had designated helpers to keep an eye on me.) We went for a walk on the Blackwater Creek Trail, like usual. I was at Subway (where I had been eating lunch constantly — my “craving” — and since it’s nearby, I’d walk there) when I lost my plug. (TMI, sorry!) I lost my appetite as well, and we left. Our afternoon walk around the neighborhood was slightly less comfortable for me. I started feeling cramping and really wanted to just relax. When Michael got home that night we had what would be my last “meal” before delivery (which, as you’ll find out, wasn’t for quite some time!)

Thursday morning Another favorite place of mine during pregnancy was Target. No wonder it’s Landon’s favorite store now. Mom and I decided to go to Target to walk, just in case, because I was getting uncomfortable. In the store, I had to push the cart just so I could stop every now and then to bend over during these early contractions. I had the cashier in shock when she asked when I was due and I responded, “...in two days". I was uncomfortable enough to have my mom drive us home. Michael got done early that afternoon and was home. I felt contractions about 5-6 minutes apart, although they were varying in intensity. We decided to call the doctor's office to see what they thought.

**Here’s where I need to place a little background. Please excuse the intimate details. A few months before finding out we were pregnant with Landon, I had a miscarriage. With this first pregnancy, I felt nausea, exhaustion, everything. It was very real to me. We were excited. Four weeks after the first tests came back positive we had our first OB appointment scheduled. It included an ultrasound. They wanted to wait until they thought I was around 8-10 weeks along which is why they waited this amount of time. At the ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. I can’t tell anyone who hasn’t experienced this how heartbreaking it is – and if you have, my heart breaks for you as well. I had to have a D&C — three days later. It was such an emotional time. I felt like a failure and that my body couldn’t do what it was meant to. The doctor couldn’t give us any explanation as to WHY the baby stopped growing — just that he/she measured around 5 weeks. After this experience, I was so scared. When I took my first pregnancy test with Landon it was very early. At first, the line was so faint I couldn’t see it! I took another pregnancy each day for a week to see if the line was getting darker because this would mean that my body was producing more of the pregnancy hormone. I found out on a Friday at 5:35 that I was pregnant again, with Landon. I HAD to get in to see the doctor; to be reassured that this baby wasn’t gone already. They again made me wait for three weeks. It was agonizing. That first ultrasound appointment, I couldn’t even do a urine sample; I was too nervous. I couldn’t look at the screen and Michael said I didn’t take a breath until I saw him smile when he saw the heartbeat on the screen. It was such relief. However, I was still so scared. We didn’t tell people about the pregnancy until I was 17 weeks along. Each doctor’s appointment, I was still so nervous. I wanted them to reassure me – I wasn’t trusting my body. I knew I hadn’t “done” anything “wrong” with the first pregnancy, but I still couldn’t let myself trust myself. I didn’t have sickness, I was tired but not exhausted, I didn’t *show* until around 18 weeks. I WANTED those symptoms to reassure me that everything was okay. I wasn’t scared of delivery, and I planned on doing it without medication because I was *sure* I could do it. But, as you’ll find out, this loss had scared me into not trusting myself and blindly listening to people who didn’t have the same outlook as I did for my birth.

Back to Landon’s birth When we called, I was told to go in to the hospital since it was my first birth and I didn’t know what to expect. They put me in triage and started to monitor. Not much. But I was so uncomfortable! It felt like somebody was stabbing my back. I didn’t feel much of anything in front or low. They had me wait for an hour before telling me that it wasn’t time and I should go home. (Thursday night) I felt like a fool. We went back to the house. Michael made a fire and I lay in our bed that we had moved to the living room to be by the fireplace. I took a bath practically every 20-30 minutes to find relief. I would wake up in pain and grab his arm. Friday morning/early day I don’t remember much. I was told not to eat anything ever since calling the hospital Thursday because “it could be soon.” I was exhausted. Thank goodness I had been walking so much so I had some stamina! I refused to go back to the hospital, though, because I didn’t want to be sent home again. Michael and my mom finally convinced me to go back. It’s now Friday evening — around 5-6pm. We got to the driveway and I made Michael drive past. I wasn’t ready to go. Again, I couldn’t trust myself and didn’t want to be turned away. After being home for an hour, I couldn’t wait anymore. I was so weak that I couldn’t do anything to help with the pain. They put me in triage, again, and had me walk the halls for an hour before admitting me. I was 5cm. When they offered the bathtub, I was thrilled. I had sent in my birth plan a few weeks earlier and they said everything looked okay.

My water didn’t break and I had been there through the night, sleeping some, I think because I just didn’t have any calories in me to stay awake. I was given something light for the back pain. At 7cm the doctor broke my water. Then it got really painful. It was all in my back. I was expecting cramps – like menstrual cramps. I didn’t know what to do to help myself and although I *knew* I should move around, no nurse was encouraging this and I was so tired! Then they brought in the epidural video and said, “I know you weren’t planning on it, but you’ve been here for around 15 hours now so we wanted you to watch this.” I didn’t concentrate on it because the contractions were so strong – but I just remember seeing happy families. My major concern was I wanted to nurse Landon right away and I wanted him to be alert right after birth. They told me that epidural doesn’t affect babies’ alertness. I got a fever shortly after this. I asked for ginger ale, but quickly threw it up. I was told by the nurse I shouldn’t have had anything to eat/drink. I got the epidural because I just couldn’t go on and didn’t want to give up having a vaginal birth. At first, I was ashamed to admit having an epidural. Now, I can see that it was what I needed, given my experience, to continue birthing Landon myself. The nurses came and said I could push. But I couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t know where I was or wasn’t pushing. It was embarrassing. I wanted to push him out. I wanted to feel it. I know that’s crazy, but I feel like I missed that experience. I was so exhausted. The doctor came to use suction – telling me if I didn’t get Landon out they’d c-section.

The next thing I remember was seeing Michael’s face. He was by my side holding my leg. He looked like he had seen a ghost. The cord was around Landon’s neck – twice – and Michael thought he wasn’t going to survive. The doctor quickly undid the cord from his neck and Landon started crying. Color returned to Michael’s face. Then, just as quickly, it went white again. He wasn’t prepared for the amount of blood and thought I was dying. *I love him.* Landon was born absolutely posterior – face up and with a perfectly round head! (I had to convince people that I really did have a vaginal birth. “Are you sure?” they’d ask. “Yep, pretty positive!” ) Because I had a fever during labor – even though at birth it was gone – they took Landon took the NICU. He wasn’t feverish. He had great color, was crying, and even peed – twice – on the nurses while they were checking him. I didn’t get to nurse him right away. But I did get to hold him. It was the most amazing thing to see him on my chest. I remember not being able to grasp the idea that this was OUR BABY, yet at the same time, nothing in the world had ever felt more natural – more meant to be. They took him to the NICU – which I regret letting happen now, but didn’t know I could have said no. I’m just thankful he was healthy and that it was just precautionary.

Landon was born on his due date! Even after starting labor pains on Wednesday, my baby boy came right on time. He was born Saturday, November 14, 2010, 9:00 pm, 7lbs, 0oz. Very punctual - so much like his mama!

In my room, I finally got to eat – after three days. At this time, I didn’t care about all that had gone “not according to plan”. I was just so glad to have Landon here, safely. When they finally brought him in to me, around 1:30 am, I was so pleased that he took to nursing right away. I loved having him on me and we spent most of our time in the hospital nursing.

I’m glad I waited to formally write this because although I’m sure it sounds like there is some resentment toward the way things went, I truly feel like it was beautiful because it gave me a healthy, amazing boy. I can appreciate the lessons I learned and now trust myself, my body, so much more. I won’t regret anything about this birth because I couldn’t have asked for a better result. Landon is SUCH a JOY and I DID birth him! With future births, I do hope to use my knowledge and experience to have a different experience, but every birth is beautiful. Birthing your baby is the result of that amazing journey and each one is beautiful.

 

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Joanna's Birth Story, Part Two

Mama and Baby BW

On Monday, we shared Laura Mills' birth story. For some C-section Moms, the delivery process is relatively painless. However, for many, the post-partum period can be very difficult. Here are Laura's early thoughts on in her c-section recovery process. Thoughts from C-Section Recovery First of all, we have the best daughter in the history of babies. I realize there is a very long history of babies, but rest assured that she is the best. Ever.

The surgery was a huge success and my recovery is going better than anticipated. Each time a nurse checks my incision, they make a comment on how well it’s healing and how great I'm doing. (I know I'm the only one they ever say those things to because I just had the best daughter in history so they're simply recognizing my mad skills.) It took me a day or so to get back on my feet (literally) and move around "wirelessly" without an IV, catheter, and other fun medical equipment. I'm able to get in and out of bed on my own now. I can shower. I can use the bathroom. I can change diapers standing up. I feel like super woman! Thanks, Percocet!

Usually recovery is longer and harder than my experience. If I hadn't just given birth to the best daughter in history with the greatest husband in the galaxy, it would be harder for me, too. Jonathan, my husband, has been superhuman in taking care of me. Our parents have jumped at every opportunity to serve us and love us. Our incredible family and friends made sure to encourage us and love Joanna (although it's not very hard to love someone like her).

In terms of pain, it's a very real and expected part of recovery. Having a C-section is not a way to skip pain - it's just a different way to give birth. Rather than having one's pain take place in one (or two) concentrated days, the pain is spread out over weeks. The incision hurts in a sharp way without my beautiful drugs. Cramping and getting my piping back in order causes aches and lots of pressure. Walking, sitting up, adjusting, or just using stomach muscles at all can present a variety of pains.

The most rewarding pain of all has been trying to nurse. Our beautiful roly-poly needs to maintain her gorgeous curves and I happily oblige. The biggest hurdle we've encountered is her comfort level - she gets way too comfy while nursing and often falls asleep soon after latching. We have to keep her awake by keeping her cold and angry. It's a beautiful and beneficial torture technique. Not only do I have pain at the site of her nursing (obviously), but my uterus contracts while she goes at it. Nursing helps my uterus go back to its original shape and location, therefore helping me get back to my original shape.

BIG thanks to the nurses at Virginia Baptist Hospital. I'm nothing short of impressed with their professionalism, compassion, insight, and preparedness during this time. They answer our stupid questions without giving us a stupid tone, they bring extra slices of cheese cake, and they take the time to explain things to us until we understand what's going on.

If I knew then what I know now, I would still do it all again.

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Joanna's Birth Story

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July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. Getting Started It all started this morning as I awoke with a grumbly belly from not being able to eat since midnight. My surgery was at 1:45 and we had to arrive at 11:45. Thanks to an unexpected detour and U-turn, we arrived at 11:50. We registered, went upstairs, had my final weigh in (218lbs!) and were taken to our first room. After changing into a gown that didn't cover my butt at all (my bump far exceeded the average allotted circumference), I sat on a stretcher to answer questions confirming my medical history, etc. They recorded my blood pressure, took a urine sample and gave me a glorious IV that hurt like the dickens. (Because I was so dehydrated, they skipped the numbing drug and just stuck the big needle in first. Owies.)

Then we waited a half hour. 45 minutes. One hour. 90 minutes. Two hours.

We learned many things during these two hours. First of all, I was having contractions 2 minutes apart and barely felt them. Doc attributed the lack of pain to my thick cervix. It was stubbornly refusing to thin and Joanna never fully engaged. Good thing we were already planning a C-section! We also learned that there were several vaginal deliveries my doc had to make before us that backed up her surgical schedule. There was another patient preggo ahead of us that was getting sliced. They began prepping me at 4:00 immediately following Nate Berkus (thanks God!) and we started the fun!

Right before surgery I was admitted to the OR at 4:09. That freakin' epidural hurt. Holy Moses. At first it was refreshing to have my back cooled off by the ice cold rag she used to prep the area. The numbing shot wasn't bad. The epidural was put in slightly to the right, then slightly to the left, then again, and again, and again, and again, and another time for good measure, then one more time. They layed me on the surgical slab as my body went numb from my chest down. It was weird, exciting, and confusing! I was given an oxygen mask, my bed was tilted to the left because my breathing became more difficult given the 55 lb bowling ball still on my chest.

Jonathan entered the room looking like McDreamy and sat with me as they jostled me around. I asked when they would get started and she said that the baby was almost out. Oh! Okay!

"Great lungs!"

I heard crying. I heard the beautiful cries of my beautiful baby.

"Oh there's a big round head!"

Thanks, Nurse Obvious :)

They held her above the partition so I could catch a glimpse. Wow! She had hair! She's so round! She's gorgeous!

They took her to get cleaned up and I asked Jonathan to snap some photos...

"10 lb 4 oz"

(Holy crap. She really is 10 pounds!!!! YEAAA!)

She scored between an 8 and a 9 on her APGAR. Everything looked good! They were going to double check her for diabetes because of her size - no diabetes :) She had a condition where our blood types aren't compatible, so they wanted to keep an eye on her for potential jaundice issues.

Layer by layer, I was stitched back together as the nurses talked about what their kids would dress as for Halloween. Jonathan wheeled our little girl to the nursery to join her birthday buddies. Along the way she met up with the grandparents and they snapped tearfully-proud photos of their offspring's offspring.

I was then wheeled to a recovery room where I was fed ice chips and asked to wiggle my toes. I felt like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill - I couldn't do it at first but I just kept trying and trying. Those ice chips were so good. Oh my. Joanna joined us about an hour later and I was finally able to really get a good look at our contribution to society. She was so gorgeous!! While still paralyzed, I tried nursing and was mildly successful. She kept falling asleep but thankfully it didn't hurt me to breastfeed. I remember thinking that I'll be one of the few that has little issues with nursing.

Mama and Baby

Eventually I could move my leg but not my toes so they let me go to our mother-baby room. It's here where the nausea set in. Reminiscent of last winter, I couldn't keep anything down. It's a normal side effect of a C-section, especially for a pregnancy that already battled with nausea. I wasn't worried, nurses weren't worried, but I was really annoyed. At least I could taste popsicles and ice water. I was told that as soon as I passed gas, I could have a grilled cheese sandwich. I've never been so motivated to fart!

So as I wrote these thoughts, I was sitting in my electronic bed watching Craig Fergusen and listening to the beautiful snores of my brave husband. I love that guy. He gave me a beautiful gift of our daughter. And God gave us the greatest gifts of all - life and love.

 

If you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here.

 

The Motherhood Collective is on Facebook. Like us, then comment on our giveaway post for a chance to win a family photo shoot from Adam Barnes Fine Art Photography. Our contest ends when we hit 500 Likes!