A LONG PREGNANCY
We welcomed Royce Atlas into the world at 1:35am on Valentine's Day. He was born at home with two incredible midwives we feel blessed to have found shortly after moving to Charlotte last year.
This time around, doing a home birth was in our plans from the very beginning. In the 39th week of carrying our first son, Braxton, we decided to have him at home so we could do an intervention-free breech birth. With this decision came a lot of very last minute preparation and no time to wait around and anticipate his arrival.
Royce, on the other hand, felt like he hung around in the womb forever! We moved from Cleveland to Charlotte, started attending Elevation Church (whose Podcast we had been following for the past few years), looked for a midwife, did a ton of exploring in our new city, flew back to Ohio to shoot a wedding, and closed on a house three days before Royce's birth. While the couple weeks before his birth didn't feel as dramatic as Braxton's birth story, again everything fell into place over this long nine months through our faith and God's timing.
LABOR + DELIVERY
In the last month or so of carrying Royce I started to experience some sciatic pain and "lightening" as Baby moved head-down (something I never experienced with my first breech pregnancy). When contractions started coming on Sunday, February 12th, this pain was only heightened and continued to be where the source of my most painful contractions seemed to emerge. On Monday afternoon my water broke in spurts. I attempted to entertain three-year-old-attention-hungry Braxton while working through the contractions. When I found myself stuck on hands and knees desperately trying to put together Braxton's IKEA train track for him, I called my husband home from work and my midwives, Julie and Malia, to come set up camp.
With my birth team in place, I kept to myself with my inspirational music playlist. Brian put Braxton to bed, made sure I was settled and went in the other room to chat with our midwives. It was comforting to hear quiet talking and laughter in the next room as I engaged my tunnel vision to focus my labor. I'm an introvert and I'm an athlete. I found out during my first home birth that the combination of these two traits results in me completely blocking out everyone else and moving towards my "finish line." I joke that I have the most boring home births ever after I found out some woman have movies playing, have lights and music and back rubbing going on...
I could handle what felt like traditional contractions that had been coming and going on Monday, February 13th. It was those sciatic/hip contractions that were immobilizing. I did my best to find "comfortable" positions and stayed in them for long periods. It was when my midwife laid down to rest her eyes for a bit that things turned for the better. After only two minutes she shot straight up in bed and said definitively, "I'm going to go get you a TENS unit." After finding a 24-hour Walgreens she went out to purchase this marvelous little (TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) device that sends an electric current to stimulate deep, deep down into my nerve tissue. Shortly after putting it on I felt major relief and I was ready to push. It was as if the pain was causing such tension in my body that it was unable to do its job. After 15 minutes of working through the pushing, past the "ring of fire" (YIIIIKES, ladies, that moment—relatively short as it is—hurts more than pushing a breech bottom out first) and into the relieving freedom of reaching down to hold my baby.
And I mean RELIEF. It is like finishing a marathon–when you cross the finish line your legs are aching but your mind is soaring, freed from that tunnel of intense focus.
For the three years since Braxton's birth, I 've had this photo in my mind of my newborn in a hanging scale sling getting weighed for the first time. This was how Braxton was weighed, yet I missed my the photo op in all the adrenaline and excitement. This time around Julie wouldn't let me miss it. She weighed Royce at 7 pounds 6 ounces. She measured him at 20 inches long. His Apgar Score was 10/10.
ROYCE'S FIRST VISITOR
Shortly after the checkup as Julie and Malia were packing things up Braxton woke in the early hours of the morning and pranced into our bedroom. How incredible it was to introduce him to his little brother who was only a few hours old! I just cannot imagine doing labor and delivery any other way. I am so grateful to the women who devote so much love and education to practicing midwifery in this day and age. Thank you for helping bring these littles lives into the world!
Hi. I'm Suzanna.
I like running outside, eating real food and crafting beautiful images. I am captivated by documenting everyday life–revealing what authentic, adventurous and lovers of life we all are.