Around Christmas time, I always do a photo swap with a photographer friend for holiday photos. 🙂 This year, I happened to come upon a makeup artists that was also willing to do a swap. She wasn’t a typical makeup artist though… she was an absolutely spectacular one.
Around January, Lindsey Jones of Lindsey Jones Makeup Artistry contacted me back and was finally ready for their photoshoot. What she had in mind was something I had always avoided to do – due to the fact that indoor photography can be challenging if lighting is bad. But despite this fear of the unknown and also needing to do this solo, I was also very much looking forward to doing this photoshoot. Honestly, I had been wanting to do something like this for a long time.
It turned out better than I expected and I felt, it was probably one of my favorite if not best photoshoots of all time.
When I arrived, everything was ready and almost perfect. The lighting was perfect. The room and environment was all set and ready. And, despite a pretty sick toddler, everything turned out better than I had hoped or could ask for. Lindsey and Harlin were both a joy to work with.
We had awesome moments. We had not so great moments. We had some moments where we needed to adjust things and change things up. But in the end, this was all about life and how unpredictable life really is. It was totally unposed – because posing didn’t work at all in this situation. All Lindsey did was to play with Harlin, as much as she could, and just enjoy an awesome Sunday morning with her daughter – doing things they loved most! It was in the midst of that play time that all the real smiles showed up.
Soo…. without further ado, here is are the photos documenting the “daily” life of Lindsey and her beautiful daughter Harlin (18 mo at this time).
Side note… This is how my makeup turned out for our photoshoot! 🙂
Ever since two years ago, during the holiday season, I’ve been doing photo-swaps with photographers and makeup artists. Most families need photos for their Christmas cards and what better way to get that done than to swap with another great artist.
This year, we bumped into an old friend and, ironically, she was the one that suggested the photo-swap 🙂 Without hesitation, I said “let’s do it!”.
Although we occasionally “bump” into each other, every time we do see each other it feels like no time has passed. It was an awesome time getting to know their now family of 4 and just spend time with them.
??? Did your kid injure his head ???
Of course, my husband being the way he is, he’d often respond with “I dropped him when he was small”. HA HA HA.. of course. But… usually “did your kid injure his head? or “did he hurt himself?” are the first two questions we’d get asked when people are curious enough to ask.
Honestly, we are actually grateful for those who are willing to educate themselves by feeding their curiosity by asking. It is definitely better than any contemptuous looks we might get or haven’t gotten. But all in all, it’s been easy. We’ve had numerous people approaching us and telling us what a great choice we made or that they had friends who had kids who had to wear helmets too. We’ve had so many more others saying how cute he is and how he looks really great in the helmet… like a football player (HAHAHA.)
How could you not find him cute? I know… my head is too swollen with pride :).
But if anyone were to ask…
“did you expect this to happen”
“do you know of anyone who has had it?”
I would honestly say.. I didn’t. It was definitely something we had to learn as we went along. And, ironically, in the 100s of people we know, and the churches we’ve been to, we didn’t know of one single family that had a child in a helmet. So… this was definitely something we had to learn from scratch.
Asher: Hebrew for happy/blessed
He has definitely been our bundle of joy.
He graced us with his presence on October 08, 2015. It was another long labor between 4-8 cm, but when he finally decided to come out, he came quickly with 4 pushes/10 minutes.
How did we find out we needed a helmet?
Within 2-3 months, Asher began to sleep, off and on, 6-9 hr stretches at night. Because he was such a great sleeper from the beginning, his head slowly started flattening on the left side. With all his hair, many probably didn’t even notice that this was happening. But for us, we saw that he would constantly sleep or roll his head to the flat spot.
Because of a combination of events, by the time our pediatrician caught it, it was too late to correct with other methods – both because he was much too mobile to reposition his sleep and his head was far too flat that he would automatically fall/turn onto the flat-spot during his sleep. If we caught it earlier, when he was younger, we might have been able to prevent it or correct it with other methods, but because we didn’t catch it earlier, we either had the choice to allow his head be flat, or to get the helmet.
We scheduled the consultation that same week.
In truth, we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t have any close friends – or even distant friends – who had to “go through this”. And in our numerous outings, I think I’ve only seen one or two children with a DOC band on. If I did pay attention to it, I didn’t really understand what it was for or even cared to ask. With all the unknowns and questions, we went in with open minds. We simply wanted Asher to have the ability to grow and develop the best that he can, without any hinderances to hold him back.
?? QUESTIONS ??
1) What is Plagiocephaly (play-gee-oh-sef-uh-lee)?
Plagiocephaly is otherwise known as “flat-head syndrome”. There are THREE main types of flattening:
2) What causes it?
In general, there are many causes and here are some of them that applied to us in someways…
1) “BACK ONLY” sleeping to reduce SIDS – a campaign that started in the 1990’s.
2) Womb position (don’t know.. he had quite a lot of room)
3) Too much use of baby swings, carseats and other “convenience devices”.
4) Not enough tummy time.
5) Not enough baby carrying.
6) Premature birth (Asher wasn’t really premature but he was one day from full-term)
some other causes:
1) Multiple Birth/Cramped space
2) Congenital torticollis – neck muscles are tight, causing baby’s head to tilt to one side more than the other.
Of course, all the cranial clinician would say that it’s not the parent’s fault. But, as parents, it was hard to not think.. what should we have done differently. Here are some personal thoughts:
1) We should have alternated side and back sleeping when he was younger. Of course, this brings up the question of.. what if he turned on to his tummy when we weren’t watching. I think that was the reason why we didn’t do this. I also tried for a little bit and saw that his sleep was not for the better.
2) We shouldn’t have put him in his rocking chair so often. He was sooo good sitting there and just playing. Of course, he didn’t really sit there for that long, but we did use it quite often.
3) We should have done even more tummy time with him.
As much as he would let us. He hated it. Even now he would rather walk than crawl.
4) We should have carried him more often. Even in a carrier, Asher went from 6 lbs 14 oz to 10 to 20 lbs quite quickly. It’s pretty hard to carry around such a heavy and big baby.
3) How often does plagiocephaly occur?
Flat-head occurs almost one in every two babies (47%). The differing severities cause 1 in 10 to actually require treatment.
Even though it’s supposed to be more common than not, both my husband and I have only seen children wearing DOC bands probably less than a handful of times. We don’t quite know why, and thought that once we’ve joined the DOC band group that we’ll see more, but honestly, we haven’t seen any at all.
4) What is the treatment?
The primary treatment for plagiocephaly is using the Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty band or commonly known as DOC band.
The DOC band is a made with hypoallergenic foam on the inside and plastic on the outside. It is fastened by velcro. Each DOC band is custom made for each child, and applies light pressure to redirect natural growth. The overall weight is less than 6 ounces and is worn for 23 hrs a day – with one hour rest for bath time and helmet cleaning.
5) What should you expect on your first visit with your cranial clinician?
This is where the “fun” part begins. 🙂
On our first visit to the Cranial Technologies in San Diego, we were brought into a consultation room. We got to meet the person who would oversee Asher’s treatment. In order to find out the “severity” of Asher’s case, we were told to take off all his clothes, except diapers, so they could take some images of his head. We were brought into a room with a BIG MACHINE. He was fitted with a mesh sock in order to get a more accurate photo of the contour of his head. Using the DSi system – Digital Surface Imaging – a machine with 15 high resolution cameras – they were and recreate a 360° photo of the skull up to a .25 millimeter accuracy.
The images below are samples of Asher’s head. A before (6 MO) and after (8 MO). These images below shows the progress of just 1.5-2 months. 🙂 It’s crazy how much changes.
Because the DSi is so fast, the clinician was able to see the results right away. We found out that Asher had a moderate to severe plagiocephaly. His flatness caused:
1) his right ear to become slightly lower than his left, and his left ear shifted a little forward.
2) his head was pushed upwards slightly
3) his forehead was pushed up and forward a little and his head became wider side to side
Because of his age, we were looking at a 3-3.5 month treatment (We are currently half way!!!)
Once we agreed to do the DOC band, they contacted our insurance. Once insurance was approved they sent the information to the manufacturer to create the custom DOC band. The helmet arrived within 2 weeks and that was our first consultation and fitting.
(excuse the photos.. these were from my phone)
For Asher, he required little or no adjustment at all. He barely knows it’s here. Occasionally he’ll touch it, but otherwise, it doesn’t phase him.
Overall, the helmet does add a little extra weight so most babies will need to “get used to it” a little. Even though it’s <6oz, it’s still added weight on a neck that needs so much strengthening, everyday, to hold up their large head weight! Asher definitely fell over more often than he used to. But with the DOC band, his neck is probably a lot stronger than if he didn’t wear it. Even after 1.5 months, he still falls over occasionally and plays bumper cars with it… just kidding. I venture that, when the band does come off, in July, he’ll probably need to relearn how to live without it. He’ll need to realize that falling down on his head does hurt and that if he bumps into something, he’ll no longer have something that pads his head. That will be a fun time (sarcasm).
6) What happens after the first fitting?
For us, we’ve been meeting up with our clinician every 2 weeks. Each appointment has only been 15 minutes or so. During those appointments, the clinician readjusts the helmet by shaving parts off to redirect/or allow growth in certain places.
So far, 2 months has gone by and just by looking at the pictures up above, you can totally see that Asher’s head has changed a lot. Even after the first 2 weeks, we could already see progress and his head slowly reforming. The progress is sooo encouraging.
7) Does it affect SLEEP O_o ?
Asher didn’t need to be retrained and it didn’t bother him or affect his sleep. There are three annoying things about the DOC band and sleep.
1) Because the DOC band is supposed to be somewhat loose and not tight or unmovable, it will slip downwards and forwards sometime, forcing his eyes closed.
2) I’m so used to bundling up a baby for sleep. Honestly, babies do sleep better when they are warmer. With the DOC band on, they have a higher tendency of overheating. SOOO, we had to keep his feet open (no footie pajamies) and he’s usually in thinner clothing.
On warmer nights, we usually put him in a short (goes up to his mid-thighs) tank or short-sleeve onesie TO make sure he’s not freezing, we would also put an A&A swaddle over him.
On colder nights, we would put a long (goes to his ankles) long/short-sleeve onesie that goes sleep onesie still put a swaddle on him just in case it becomes too cold.
3) Totally personal preference but, as you can see from the picture below, we placed a blanket under his shoulder so it evens out a little because the helmet does add <1mm. This keeps his head and shoulders on a flatter plane. Without it, his neck loses support a little.
I’ve also heard of some kid sleeping on their bellies, I actually don’t know whether or not that would be more comfortable, but in the end, your child knows best. If they end up on their belly and is breathing fine, that’s awesome. For ours, he hates being on his belly, so back sleeping has been his way to go.
7) Does the helmet stink after wearing it for 23 hours?
Honestly, no.. but that may be depending on the child. Asher can sweat quite a bit but the helmet actually doesn’t smell too badly. At first, I would wipe it down almost every time I changed his diaper or especially during the time he sweated quite a bit. But I eventually stopped because it didn’t make that much of a difference. I guess we were also lucky that Asher didn’t get the helmet during the hottest time of the year.
So how do you care for the helmet? Everyday, during his 1 hr break/bath time, we would wipe/scrub it down using a spray bottle of 70% alcohol and a bamboo cloth. Your clinician may tell you to do something different so please follow your clinician’s instructions. Instead of a cloth, some people may use a toothbrush. For us, this has been fine and we’ve not had any problems with stinky helmets or allergic reactions. Our helmet is definitely brown in the areas where it puts pressure on his skull, but as you go through the treatment, they shave portions of the helmet off anyways, so there’s really no need to fuss about it all too much.
I’m really glad that we made this choice. It has been educational and we’re grateful that we were able to give Asher the opportunity to develop the best that he can..
Why didn’t we decorate the helmet?
We didn’t really want to and just haven’t had the time. I did some research and there are some artists that do hand painted helmets and some vinyl and sign companies that do design wraps for the helmets, either for free or for a long price. But for us, we were okay just leaving it blank.
Some things to BEWARE of:
- There is ALOT OF unintentional head butting.. it can hurt quite a lot for parents who aren’t used to holding a baby with a helmet.
- It’s not really all that much fun to hold a baby with a helmet while breastfeeding. But with everything, you’ll get used to it and barely notice it after awhile.
- There are pillows with holes and also a thing called Tortle. We tried the pillow with a hole, but our clinician warned against it because night time is when babies develop the most and often times they also practice what they try to learn during the day – such as rolling over. We wanted to try the Tortle, but Asher actually didn’t like the Tortle at all. He fussed over that and didn’t fuss at all when we put on the DOC band.
Other than these things… it’s been a great experience. 🙂 We’ve been lucky to have so many supportive people around us. We definitely can’t wait to take it off in July. We’re so excited that maybe we might throw a party. LOL… we’ll see.
But for now, happy halfway point 😀
I just realized – February 8, 2017 – that I never completed this post! What better way to completing this than to show the results. 🙂
Asher and his clinician.
Asher first consultation was on March 24. It took 2 weeks for the helmet to be formed and created and our fitting/start of his DOC band treatment was on April 15 (2016). He completed his treatment on July 22. Total treatment was 3 months and 1 week :).
Seeing these images again, from the start to the end, it made me realize just how much he’s changed and how much he’s grown. Looking back, this experience was such a blur. But, looking back, I’m glad that we went through this – giving him every opportunity to develop at his utmost potential.
When we hit the finish-line, one of the main concerns and questions we had was…..
“Would he revert back or get a flat head, again, after his treatment?”
For us, it didn’t happen and Asher’s head is happy and shapely still. But perhaps it’s because, by the time he was done, he was all over the place. He’d sleep on his belly. He’d sleep on his back. He’d sleep in every position he could sleep in. Or maybe, it could have been that he was just old enough where his head wasn’t soft anymore. Whatever the reason, Andrew made a good statement about this. He said that perhaps babies don’t regress because “it’s harder to flatten a head that is shaped perfectly.”
And so he was right. 🙂
If someone were to ask me about my experience, what would I say to them…
Having gone through it myself, here are a few words of encouragement 🙂
1) Go with your gut instinct… If you feel something is wrong with the shape of the baby’s head or that you’ve noticed the baby’s movements restricted or that there is a habitual turning or falling into one direction due to a flat spot… go get a consultation. Better earlier than later and better now than never.
2) Ever experience is different. Not every DOC band experience is easy and not all DOC band experiences are the same.
3) With everything, it’s a journey that you learn as you go.
4) Don’t mind other people and their looks. Educate others when you can. You’ll find there are still a lot of really nice people out there that will encourage you for what you are doing for your child.
5) Everything will be a blur! 🙂 Enjoy every moment..
At 10.5 months.. our little Asher started walking. Helmet didn’t delay or stunt his development at all. He’s the same feisty, curious and confident little boy he always was.
Right about the time we moved to San Diego, we started our relationship with Kevin. We got to know him very well over the course of the past 3 years. Wow it’s been that long? Who knew that within those three years, he’d find the one sooo suited for him :).
Kevin and Rachel are truly one of the most special couples I know. Truly two people I’ve come to love very much! Both successful small plane pilots. Both with their eyes on missionary piloting. Both soo passionate for Christ and setting their hearts to serve Him in distant countries. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them!
We have the privilege to be their photographer.. both for their engagement and for their upcoming wedding. I sure can’t wait! Soo.. on with the photos!
This photoshoot was probably the closest to my heart!
It’s been such a joy to see Laura-Beth grow these past 2 years! She befriended us not too long after we relocated to San Diego! She was so young back then and now look at her – a beautiful mature woman of God.
Who knew that two years later, after a summer in Alaska, of all places, she would find the man of her dreams! Both amazing pilots and both have their hearts set on aviation missions. Can’t imagine a better man for her.
Can’t wait to see what’s in store for her! Can’t wait to see her during her wedding day!
We love you both!
This year Ax2D Photography did something fun for our holiday photoshoot!
A few months ago, we posted an offer on a Facebook page for mommies for a family photo swap with another photographer. Not too long after the post showed up on the page, a photographer responded! 🙂 That’s how we met up with Amanda Soto of Amanda Cory Photography or LBPO Photography.
Yesterday we did their photos at the same place we had ours done! It was a rough day, having to work with 3 kids plus our sick little one. Even though we were all over the place, it was fun to be around her family!
Recently there’s been a total chalkboard craze going around.. especially around the baby community!
For me, it’s been so much fun.. being able to be creative and making things that people get to see!
Here are some samples of custom chalkboards we’ve made so far!
If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com ORRR go to our Etsy Listing (which is at the bottom of this post!)
Some of our favorites!
Sorry this hasn’t gone through much of a grammatical review. Being also a new mother.. my brain feels like crap so please bear with me if this may be hard and perhaps REALLY long to read :).
It’s amazing how fast time flies. It feels like it was just yesterday that he surprised us 1 month early. And now, I’m relishing and enjoying the laugher and smiles of my 6-month-old baby boy. It’s hard not to panic. I often think:
“Oh my gosh, he’s already almost 6 months old! Where did the time go?”
“He’s going to crawl soon. He already can hold himself up a little in the crawling position.”
“He’s already learning to sit up, scoot backwards on his tummy and talking up a storm. ”
“We’re supposed to start solids soon!”
“We’ll need to childproof this apartment! Perhaps make him a special drawer that he can take things out of and throw on the floor (Totally not looking forward to this).”
How time truly flies.
Looking at him, I still can’t believe that only a few months ago, I was still carrying him in my belly. Time went by so quickly. I think it was definitely God’s grace that everything went so easily and smoothly during this pregnancy – especially having lost the first one through a miscarriage. I could only hope and have faith that everything would go perfectly, if God so willed, during his birth as well.
Being a first time parent, buying the things the baby needed was easy.
Crib and bassinet or pack-n-play? Check!
Stroller and carseat? Check!
Clothing? Wait till after the baby shower!
Nursing pillow? Check!
Breast-pump, bottles and breastfeeding cover? Check!
It was the path and the choice of how the baby was going to arrive that was the hardest decision that I had to make. Would it be:
A scheduled c-section?
An emergency c-section?
With an epidural?
Induced and maybe then an epidural or not?
It’s hard to know what to expect. And even though many people said there is no shame in using an epidural, for me, there was really only one choice, one route for me. More so, it was for my baby’s sake as well as for my own curiosity as to how much my body could take. For me, as long as the baby’s life wasn’t at stake and I was physically capable, unmedicated/natural birth was the only option for me. I believe that our female bodies were created to handle natural birth. As to how, I really didn’t understand until after the matter. But at that time, the only doubts and questions I had in my mind were firstly, would I be able to “pull off” my choice of a natural/unmedicated birth? Would my body be able to handle the fated “pains of childbirth” that Genesis 3:16 so said? Would everything run smoothly in that I would be able to do natural birth without interference of any kind? Coming from someone who has never broken a bone or felt any pain through injury, this was going to be a decision as well as an experience of a lifetime. Because I knew how big this choice was, I made sure I would be as prepared as possible.
A Doula & A Weekend Birthing Class
After reading and talking to a friend about how beneficial it was for her to have a doula by her side while going through her first natural birth, we decided to also hire a doula – which was such a surprise to me that Andrew would agree on this. Recommended by our doctor, we hired Leigh Fenly of Tranquility in Birth. With Leigh, we wrote up our birthing plan and got to talk about what we wanted for vaccinations. Funny thing is, we were supposed to meet up with Leigh again, a third time, to go over what to expect during labor – birthing positions and breathing techniques I could use during labor – but unfortunately that never happened. Well, it did happen, but it happened during labor instead of before. Go figure! So whatever knowledge we gained about what to expect before going to the hospital- 5/4-1-1 was the most important – and during labor – the different stages of labor – we got from our birthing class at Grossmont and the really detailed and full of information booklet that we got to walk home with after our birthing class at Sharp. This class was amazingly fun because we took it with another couple that we were close to and also pregnant with their first. Funny thing is, they were expecting at the same time we were – more so they were supposed to be ahead of us in regards to due date.
Monthly, Weekly Doctors Visit & Chiro??
Next to my monthly, then weekly, checkups with my OBGYN, I believe that going to the chiropractor was probably the second most important part that led to my having such a semi-smooth birthing experience with Aiden. At around mid-pregnancy, I started going to see Alyssa Cannon at Pure Life Wellness Chiropractic twice a week. There, she performed the Webster technique on me (for more info, please go to: http://icpa4kids.com/about/webster_technique_history.htm). But simply put, the Webster technique focused on pelvic and sacral alignment, as well as the loosening of the round ligament – a ligament that supports the uterus and is only present during pregnancy. All these adjustments, together, helped to encourage and provide the baby with an unobstructed route through, as well as ample space to move around during the pregnancy – which in turn allows the baby enough room to turn to the right birth position when ready. Because these adjustments were so effective – in terms of my overall well-being – I definitely looked forward to my appointments every week. Carrying a baby is no simple task. And with the adjustments, I always came out of the office feeling like new – especially since my hips were bothering me almost every week.
Right Womb Orientation and Dilation? Check! Baby’s possibly coming soon!
At the end of my pregnancy, I began to worry about the baby’s orientation in the womb. Some mothers could often tell where the baby is, but for me, I felt like the baby was ALL OVER THE PLACE! I was also hoping that all my chiropractic appointments had paid off. So, I had to find out whether or not the baby was facing the right way. And if the baby wasn’t facing the wrong way, we would have to evaluate all the options and to prepare for that possibility. So finally, Monday, September 16, during my 36 week appointment – also the appointment where the first dilation is checked – I finally asked to see whether the baby was facing the right direction. Usually ultrasounds aren’t given at a normal visit but because the patient load was low the nurse practitioner was really sweet and awesome, she consented on giving me an ultrasound. To my relief, it was confirmed that the baby was definitely facing downwards – exactly the way he should be. And to my surprise, during that same appointment, the Dr. announced that I was 1 cm dilated 100% effaced. Of course, as a warning, the doctor also said women could be stuck weeks at 1 cm. Also, she added, it’s common for women to have contractions after being checked for dilation, but they usually go away. So with this knowledge we went home thinking that we still had a lot of time until the baby would arrive.
Labor already? Oh my!
Around late afternoon of the same day I had my Dr’s appointment, I began feeling contractions. After what the doctor said, I ignored it. But soon enough, I began to see a pattern in my contractions. Not only did they last longer, but they came predictably and regularly. At around 5:30 pm, with each contraction, I started felling a slight numbing sensation. It was then that I finally messaged Andrew about how I was doing. After talking to him, I called the doula to ask for her opinion. She also stated that this often happens during routine exam of dilation and that I should wait it out and see whether or not it would go away in 24 hrs.
Late that night, around 10pm-12am, as the contractions kept on coming, I finally downloaded an app on my iPod touch to time the contractions. Without a doubt, they were 5 minutes apart, lasted 1 minute and this occurred for 1- 2+ hours. I called Leigh again and told her how I was doing. She said that if I was definitely worried, going to the hospital was my best bet. So, I waited till Andrew got back at 11:00pm. When he entered through the door, I told him about my contractions. So, without hesitation, we started packing the bags in preparation to leave for the hospital. We didn’t expect that the baby would come one month early so we didn’t pack our bags earlier. While we were packing though, Andrew kept on looking at me and asked me how I was doing. The reason he asked was because I didn’t look at all like I was in labor. Because I seemed to be doing so well, Andrew suggested that I get some sleep. And if when we woke up and the contractions were still there, we would definitely go in the morning. So, that night, I ended up sleeping for 3 hours.
When I woke up in the morning, the contractions were definitely still present. We would have stayed around longer if it wasn’t for the fact that I started to bleed a little. This was something that I was never told. Bleeding could mean multiple things. Firstly, it could mean that you were going into labor, and the other bleeding could also mean something bad. So, to be careful, we left for the triage. On the way, because I knew that we wouldn’t be able to eat when we finally stepped through the doors of the hospital, we stopped at Einstein Bagels for breakfast and I got myself a large Jamba Juice to keep myself hydrated.
Arrival at Triage: Are you sure your in labor?
After breakfast, we arrived at the triage around 10:00am. They brought me into a little waiting area and hooked me up for 1 hour to monitor to see if contracts were indeed regular. They also monitored the baby’s heart rate for about an hour. Looking at me, the nurse was definitely skeptical – perhaps, like Andrew said earlier, I didn’t look a woman in labor. They also reiterated that the office visit could have created false/Braxton Hick contractions. So after the hour ended, the report showed that my contractions were somewhat regular. The final check would be to see if I was actually dilated. To their surprise, I was dilated to 4.5 cm, 100% effaced and station -1. Apparently 4cm was the magic number to move onto the birthing room. With a smile, the nurse announced, “You’re staying!” After all the paperwork was done, we were admitted and moved upstairs.
Arrival in Labor & Delivery
When we were finally assigned a room, we called Leigh, our Doula to come. She arrived not too long after. We walked around the hospital for a couple of hours. Went up and down the stairs. We did squats and lunges. I even walked with Andrew once. Amazingly, none of these bothered me as much. I usually hate stairs and get winded easily, but I guess I was running on adrenaline and was also looking forward to progressing forward that I just kept pushing forward, doing the stairs, squats and lunges.
At about 3:30 pm, Dr. Saffer walks in and checks to see if we’ve made progress. From my demeanor – or lack of pain – my guess was that he was probably thinking, “she might need to go home because she doesn’t look like she’s in labor at all”. It didn’t help also that my contractions didn’t seem to improve much. So he informed me that if, after this check, if I wasn’t dilated enough, they would have to send me home to get some rest and then come back later when my labor has progressed further. This definitely wasn’t something I wanted to do. But, yet again, I proved them wrong. When Dr. Saffer checked my dilation, he was just as surprise as the nurse early that morning. By my demeanor and by how I was reacting to the contractions, I didn’t look like I was already at 6 cm., 100% effaced and -1 station. I was still smiling and looking quite normal. So because I was already at 6cm, the Dr. said I was for sure staying. But, to speed things up, Dr. Saffer recommended popping the bags of water. And so, he did. Nothing fancy, he literally took what looked like a large crocheting needle, and reached in to pop the water. I felt a large gush of warm fluid come out. Part of me was glad my water didn’t break earlier, what a mess it could have made.
I battled every contraction as they came. At around 6pm, I was unfortunately still at 6 cm. Contractions definitely increased in pain. It got to the point where the pain started making my knees weak and legs buckle. To get through each contraction, we started switching into different birthing positions, trying different things out like swaying with Andrew and sitting on the yoga ball. All of these positions just made the pain more intense. I noticed that sitting down just added pressure to the pressure already there. In the end, I couldn’t find a comfortable position sitting and ended up resorting to sleeping on my side while I did my best to keep my breathing steady. In-out, in-out. It got me through each one. They asked if I could possibly walk, in order to get me more dilated, but at that point, I could barely stand up or use the restroom. My legs just felt weak.
Almost there but stuck!
At 7:20pm, nurse Tiffany comes back to checks my progress and dilation. To my relief, I was finally making progress and was at 8 cm. One hour later, at 8:20 pm, she came back again to check and I was at 9.5cm. But somehow I was stuck. This was where we hit a bit of a snag. Dr. Saffer comes back in and when he checks me he tells me that my labor couldn’t progress forward to pushing because I seem to be stuck at 9.5 cm. And there were two things keeping me from fully dilating to 10 cm. Firstly because of my contractions and my body being over stimulated, I couldn’t go to the restroom. Because I couldn’t go to the restroom, my bladder was full, which kept the baby from moving forward. To fix this, they ran a catheter to empty my bladder out. Easy, problem one fixed. Secondly, the more difficult one, was that one lip of my cervix was in the way and therefore obstructing the baby’s head from coming through. Apparently this is a common problem that many pregnant women face. But, to fix this, the Dr. suggested that while I push, he’d reach in to clear the baby through. So, when the next contraction came, he told me to push while he reached in to get the baby passed that second obstruction. I imagined this part hurting quite a bit but I was actually already so over stimulated by the pain of the contractions that at this point, any added pain was really not felt. Perhaps it’s just me. But because these two bumps were resolved, I felt the baby immediately dip down and I could definitely start feeling him crowning.
After this victory, I thought that I would be ready to push, but the Dr. said he had to walk away to see another patient for a C-section. I didn’t know when he would be come back. This was the more frustrating part because all I could do was wait. They were also waiting for me to feel the urge to push – or more so, to be at the point where there was enough pressure for me to feel like I was ready to push the baby out. This waiting period was probably one of the more difficult points of labor because I was so ready to get the baby out. I was so tired between contractions. I really wanted to sleep but I couldn’t because of the pain. The contractions were getting so difficult that each time they came, it would take my breath away before I could control it again. At one point, I almost felt like giving up – due to sheer exhaustion – but I had to conquer that thought and push myself to think that I was almost there, only a few more hours and the baby would be out. I would finally get to see my little one. I prayed for strength because I definitely was so tired and so weak at this point. They said it was now up to me to signal them that I was ready to push or felt enough pressure that I had to push. But of course, that wasn’t so simple because I couldn’t push or deliver the baby until the Dr. was available to deliver the baby.
Push, Breath, Push – The Hardest Part of Labor
At around 9:40 pm, what seemed like an eternity, Dr. Saffer finally comes back and asked if I was ready. I told him “yes, I believe so”. With those words, the whole room changed before my eyes into a “deliver the baby room”. He then looks at me seriously and throws another curve ball at me. He continues to tell me that as they were monitoring the heart rate, they noticed that the baby’s pulse would dip down at each contraction. This means that there is probably a cord wrapped around his neck. Because of this (and I guess my choice of natural birth) there were only two options left for me. One, the doctor can do a vacuum assisted delivery or I would have push the baby out myself. Of course he didn’t leave me much of a choice, and I remember saying that.
I finally gave them the “I’m ready”, or more so the “I think I’m ready”. So with these words the Dr. said, “let’s get this baby out”. Suddenly the whole room changed again before my eyes. All the staff arrived, both for me and for the baby. There were additional people due to the fact that the baby was a preemie. They were on standby just in case anything was wrong. This was the signal that I was to push whenever I felt the contraction come. After so many hours of the contractions, I was already so over stimulated and tired, honestly, I couldn’t feel what were contractions and what wasn’t. I actually asked “am I having a contraction”. The nurses of course laughed. They said that they’ve never seen a person ask whether or not a contraction was here or not. So, doing my best, whenever I felt the peak of the contraction, I said I’m ready. This was, probably the hardest part of the whole labor. I pushed with every fiber of my being but I felt like there was little fruit. Even when people were encouraging me that I was doing a good job, I didn’t feel like there was progress. It didn’t help also that I was pushing wrong. Also apparently my bit of moaning didn’t help the matter either. I just wanted progress at this point because I was so tired. I tried resting in between and even skipped a few contractions – which wasn’t the greatest idea because I was already so tired and still had to get my breathing aligned to get through the contraction itself. When I pushed again and again I was praised for getting further. People were telling me one or two more pushes and I felt like they kept on saying that even though I didn’t feel it. My legs were shaking and buckling, I was on the brink of leg cramps, my arms were tired, I was without sleep & energy, I didn’t know how much longer I could go on. Despite all of that, I knew I had to get the baby out. With more pushing, and more encouragement, after pushing for about 2.5 hours, I finally felt that he was almost here. With the steady coaching of the nurses counting down for me and telling me when to push & breath, I used all the last bit of my muscle strength and energy and felt the baby slide out. It was the best feeling ever.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD AIDEN HUANG 🙂
In no time, I heard the baby cry. I believe one of the first things I asked whether it was a boy or a girl – part of me was still hoping for a girl. But, of course, without a doubt, it was a boy. But despite this minuscule letdown, an all encompassing feeling of relief and contentment – finally coming to terms that we were having a boy – poured over me. It was a joyous feeling to know that Aiden was both well, alive and finally out. After Aiden’s arrival, they put him directly on my belly and began sucking out any liquid that might still be in his lungs while Andrew got to cut Aiden’s umbilical cord. After that, because he was a preemie, they whisked him away to quickly check his vitals and clean him up a little. Not too long after, they came back to put him directly on my chest – so his body temperature could warm up. The nurses then guided him to my chest, and without any hesitation, Aiden opened up his little mouth and latched on like a pro. It was like he knew who I was. He grabbed onto my face and my finger and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.
Our Stay at the Hospital, The 2nd Night & Going Home
After the baby was out, we waited awhile until I was ready to relocate to the room we will be in for 2 days. I was euphoric – both due to the lack of sleep and just having Aiden finally here. WE WERE FINALLY PARENTS! My parents-in-law came bearing food. I didn’t feel hungry at first and welcomed whatever they had with open arms. When I opened my mouth and took I bite, I finally noticed how famished I was. After one hour or so, I was finally ready to move. We packed up all our stuff and went upstairs to our room. The baby slept very well that night. For me, there was little rest because I had to wake up quite often as the nurses came in and out to check my vitals and how I was doing. We had no idea what we were doing and took things one step at a time. I was feeding Aiden every 2 hours and pumping after each feed. We watched for him to pee & poo and recorded all the times (Did you know that their poo is black at first? After a little less than a week, it becomes normal). Because he had a potential for jaundice – due to the little bruising he acquired, on the top of his head during delivery – we were even more paranoid.
The first day we were there some of our closest friends came by and visited. I even got my first taste of sashimi – thanks to my parents-in-law. One by one we took photos and smiled and talked. Things were so easy. Of course it wasn’t so easy that next night.
This is the part I believe most new parents don’t share or perhaps forget. But while we were in the hospital, after the second night, Aiden lost 8% of his weight. That second night, usually for the first child, is one night that parents have probably selectively forgotten. That terrible 2nd night was a night of no rest and comfort for a starving baby. I guess it was sort of a prelude to the upcoming sleepless nights – although, thank God, there weren’t that many of them with Aiden. I remember it was the first night I cried. I was pumping religiously but all I could get was, what seemed like, a few drops of colostrum. It didn’t seem enough to satiate. We cheated a bit and gave him more of the glucose water than we should have. But… we were so desperate. He cried his little heart out because he was so hungry and supposedly disoriented. But like all parents, we survived.
The next day, after getting the carseat installation checked by the nurse, we were discharged and brought Aiden into our little home for the first time!
6 Months Reflection
Even though Aiden was a preemie by 4 weeks, he surprised the doctors that have seen him. Most of them usually forget that he’s a preemie.
By the end of the first week he gained back the weight he lost. He was well fed, peed & pooed well, sunbathed as much as he could handle and soon enough, he was completely in the clear on his jaundice. By 2 weeks of age, he gained almost one pound. At two months, he doubled in weight. And still, after each doctor’s visit, they keep on forgetting that he was 1 month early because he was developing so well. 🙂
It’s definitely been a wild ride. When I look back at it all, I would do everything over again (minus having the stupid IV for strep..) After all the hard work of carrying the baby (which thank God, was easy for me) and going through a unmedicated/natural birth, it was totally worth it!
Of course it doesn’t end there. Everyday is a struggle, but yet, everyday is also a blessing. 🙂 It’s a love hate relationship. I love this little guy SOO much but yet… I hate that I haven’t had much sleep this past month… but I guess that’s what parenthood is all about. Taking things one day at a time, one stage at a time, one growth spurt at a time.
FINALLY, things I’ve learned after giving birth:
1) Find a hospital & OB that respects and supports natural birth. For a friend of mine, who had a breeched baby, she so happened to also be in a hospital that specializes in vaginal breech birth. So… the hospital is very important
2) Have a birthing plan if you need a sample, please feel free to email me 🙂 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Things like “don’t ask me if I’m in pain”, “no constant monitoring” or “no vacuum or forceps assisted delivery” can be very important if you are planning to do natural birth.
3) Things don’t always go as planned and things could easily get difficult. But as long as you have a good support team that is willing to work with you through every problem – especially a doctor that respects your birth choices – things will be fine. Take things one step at a time and one stage at a time.
4) Our bodies were very much made for birth. I never knew how much until I experienced it myself. Learning proper breathing – deep breath in and slowly blow out – was one method that worked for me. I was never really taught it but my body knew what to do. Having good concentration and a good breathing technique makes a whole world of difference in managing the pain. It’s what gets you through each contraction. Finding that quiet place… finding that way to be in the zone.
5) 2nd night nightmare… it’s totally worth it to have someone with you during the first two nights. In addition to the nurses coming in every hour or so, the baby, who was sleeping so well the first night, may not be sleeping so well the second. On the contrary, he/she may be up every hour crying and screaming because they’re hungry, wet, just pooped and still disoriented from having come out of the womb just the day before. Not only that.. you may not have enough collestrum to keep the baby satiated (even though it is actually plenty enough because their stomachs are so small but it also digests really fast and that’s why they wake up every hour). It was the first night I cried.. I was exhausted and I was so sad that he was crying so much and I couldn’t do anything.
6) Sleep… no sleep for the first 2 days if not the first week or month or so, but your body adjusts itself in a month or two. Take as many naps as you can. Forget about cleaning the house, hire a maid.. hahah. Or… if your MIL or your own mother is available.. have them stay with you for a month 😀 I recovered so much faster because of their help with cooking and their company.
7) Hire a doula, at least for the first time. She as a great intermediary person between me and my husband. Most of all, if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have progressed like I did. She walked with me up and down stairs.. coached me on squats and lunges. Although I felt like I was able to be in control without much help and, in the end, the only position that really helped me and made me comfortable was on my side and in a sorta of fetal position, she was an awesome photographer and documented the whole experiences wonderfully!
8) Take a birthing class if you aren’t going to hire a doula. We didn’t get to learn as much from our doula as we wanted to but because of the birthing class, i knew what to expect and look out for in terms of labor. If it wasn’t for that Saturday and Sunday class at Grossmont Sharp Hospital, I wouldn’t have known to keep an eye out for my contractions being 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 min long and continuing for 1+ hr (or for me.. it lasted almost a whole day in change).
9) Broken vessels on the face.. yup 🙂 if you look at some of the photos, I had little red dots all over my face. Hahha never knew that could happen but it did. 🙂 It was from all the pressure and intensity of pushing the baby out 🙂 Fun huh?
Some photos by our Tranquility in Birth | Leigh Fenly and some by us 🙂
Even though I might not be able to talk yet, and I babble a lot of what seems like nonsense, I know that I enjoy every moment I am with you. You are big and strong. You hold me up like I weight nothing. I love being on your shoulders or lifted high because it helps me see things from your perspective.
I thank you for being there for me through everything – through the dirty diapers and throw ups. You were there from the very beginning.. I heard your familiar voice and saw you face when I first opened my eyes.. well you were really just a blur but I knew you were there.
On this special day, i want to say I love you and wish you a very happy birthday! Oh yeah, mommy loves you a lot too!
1 Week Old
2 Weeks Old
3 Weeks Old
4 Weeks Old/1 Month Old
5 Weeks Old
6 Weeks Old
7 Weeks Old
8 Weeks Old/2 months Old
9 Weeks Old
10 Weeks Old
11 Weeks Old
12 Weeks Old
13 Weeks/3 months Old
14 Weeks Old
15 Weeks Old
Coming soon… early to mid-October!!
There’s always a moment in time where photographers need another photographer to capture them! At least for us, there’s always something missing when we try to take photos of ourselves!
For me (Amy) it was so much fun to be made up again. Not only that, it’s rare for us to be on the other side of the camera! As fun as it was, hahah.. I think we’ve concluded that we are much better photographers than models! Even so, it was a lot of fun, especially to document this new period in our lives!
A large ray of sunshine on a very typical SF day – cloudy, windy (5+ mph wind), freezing, short dress)
My brother and beautiful, soon to be, sister-in-law
Being the sister and to-be sister-in-law, it was such a big pleasure for us to be able to spend time just fellowshipping and getting to know them both in person and behind the camera. They were such good sports, especially as it was so cold in SF that day. I really think their smiles and love brought out the sunshine in the photos, even though it was completely overcast and dreary. We traveled from Golden Gate Park and ended at the Palace of Fine Arts – both of which are places we’ve never taken photos at before. Definitely can’t wait for their wedding next year! 🙂 Till then, ENJOY!
Makeup by: http://www.beautybyjill.com/
One of the major joys I’ve experienced from our relocating to San Diego is the friendships that we’ve been able to establish and grow. One, in particular, this beautiful woman, always brings a smile to my face because I’ve come to love her so much. To think that we’re almost 10 year apart… hahah makes me feel extra old.. but yet, it seems so appropriate…
These few college students, that I’ve grown to love, have definitely given me the opportunity to love upon them as an older sister, taking care of them, honing and sharpening my mothering skills. It’s definitely brought me so much joy to see them grow and change. I can’t help but thank them for letting me love upon them… in probably some of the only ways that I can.
For her successful passing of her instrument tests, I treated her out to a day at the zoo. 🙂 Here are some of the photos of her and us from that day! The rest of the zoo photos are in our zoo post: http://blog.ax2d.com/2013/02/20/presidents-day-san-deigo-zoo-visit-2-18-13-san-deigo-ca/
The reason why I named this post “beautiful no matter what” is because I don’t think there will be a moment in time where I won’t think of her as one of the most beautiful young woman I know. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her!
So here we go.. Ms. Kayla 🙂
A new year has begun… couldn’t help but look back at the year before. We’ve definitely changed a lot since the beginning of the year. But I guess, as a photographer, that should be our natural tendency. As someone wise once said.. “contentment breeds complacency”… and we are definitely not content =)
So seeing our progression and looking forward to more growth, we’re definitely looking forward to this new year!
So with that… we at Ax2D Photography wish you all a Happy New Year! YEAH to 2013 and all its possibilities!!! Have an awesome year to come!
Of all the couples we’ve had… these two had the most chemistry. They thrived in front of the camera – even when Kavita warned me that Jesse was a bit camera shy (which was totally opposite). Well.. or more like, he was NEVER shy around Kavita. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable weddings we’ve shot!