My Plus Size Journey To Motherhood - A Dallas Birth Photographer's Story
Welcome to the new, Kathryn J Birth Stories Blog! I'm so excited to have a place to share the amazing birth stories I am so humbly honored to document. Since my birth photography clients graciously invite me to be a part of one of the most personal experiences of their lives I thought what better way to launch the birth of my blog then to share my very own birth story.
A little over two years ago, when my son was born, I was not a Dallas Birth Photographer and regrettably I didn't hire one. One of the primary reasons was due to my own insecurities, which you will read more about below. The photos included in this story were taken by my amazing doula, Delilah Ray with Cherish Birth. Although I LOVE the images and will be forever grateful that these priceless moments were captured, next baby I will definitely be hiring one of my amazing colleagues in the Dallas Fort Worth Birth Photography community. I truly believe that quality photographs, documenting our lives most memorable moments, are one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to our family.
The Birth of Colby - July 5th 2015
I always wanted children, but as a plus size girl I was nervous and honestly a little embarrassed to get pregnant. It took almost 3 years to conceive and I never sought fertility help because I was too ashamed of my weight.
After getting a positive home pregnancy test, I immediately started to worry. Would the doctor be concerned about my size? Would they judge me for being overweight and pregnant? How would being plus size affect my pregnancy and desire for a natural, un medicated birth?
I was determined to do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and un medicated birth. I started with some research to ensure my medical provider (Magnolia OBGYN) was well known for supporting natural childbirth. I also decided I wanted the support of a doula. Searching for a doula brought out some more insecurities regarding being plus sized. Here I was a chunky girl and it seemed like ALL other natural birthing mamas were the super in shape, all organic type (nothing wrong with these woman, often times I wish I was these women). I was embarrassed because I felt being larger meant I had a lesser chance of achieving my natural goals, and again I was worried about possible judgment for being a big girl. Thankfully, I found an amazing doula, Delilah Ray with Cherish Birth. From our first conversation she helped me gain confidence and I felt like I could achieve my birth goals.
As my pregnancy progressed I continued to have concerns, sometimes silly ones. Would the ultrasound work as well on me since I had a fluffy tummy? Would I get a cute baby bump or just look fat? Would I automatically have complications? All this worrying was for nothing. I had a healthy pregnancy, no complications, clearly looked pregnant and never felt better.
My estimated due date was June 26th, but from the start I told myself I’d likely go late and always joked about having a 4th of July baby. The 4th of July came and went and in the early morning hours of July 5th I woke up around 3:30am for one of my many bathroom breaks. I noticed more than usual cramping and got excited thinking today might be the day! I remembered our doula saying to rest as much as possible during early labor so I quickly got back into bed and tried to go back to sleep. The cramping was pretty uncomfortable so I mainly dozed on and off until 4:30am. At this point I rolled over and felt two strange popping sensations. I immediately thought I wonder if that is my water breaking and sure enough when I went to get out of bed I felt a gush of fluid. I hurried to the bathroom and to my excitement it was my water breaking - LOTS of fluid - but to my disappointment, the fluid was not clear and instead was greenish brown. I knew the colored fluid meant baby had passed meconium and my original plans of laboring at home as long as possible were no longer an option we were comfortable with.
I woke up my husband told him today was the day and that we would need to head to the hospital sooner rather than later. I told him to go back to bed while I got ready. Contractions were already at 5 mins apart and strong, so showering, shaving my legs, drying my hair, etc., were all a little more difficult, but I was excited and wanted to look as normal as possible. All through the early morning I was in contact with our doula, which was great as she was able to provide additional info on meconium stained fluid and what that would mean for our birth plans.
We arrived at the hospital around 8:30 am, with contractions still approximately 5 mins apart, but with them getting more intense, I was having a bit more trouble walking and talking through them. At 9am I was checked and was 4cm dilated. My doula arrived and was already worth her weight in gold by applying counter pressure and being a positive and supportive addition to my birth environment.
Sadly, my lil man wasn’t tolerating contractions and his heart rate kept dropping, more than normal. An IV with fluids was suggested and I accepted. After IV and several position changes baby still wasn’t doing well so my Dr came in and discussed performing an amino infusion, which we also accepted. Our doula was fantastic at helping explain the pros and cons of what was suggested and making sure we were making informed decisions.
By 11:30am I started feeling nauseous and threw up, a lot! At 12:00 I was 7cm and things were picking up. From this point until baby was born is all a blur. I had the room dark and quiet and used lavender oil to stay calm and relaxed. l was in the zone, working during contractions and resting between them. I had a warm rice bag on my back and ice cold wash cloths for my face and stomach. I labored in many different positions including on the bed, next to the bed and even spent a good bit of time laboring on the toilet. I was so thankful to have my amazing husband, mother and doula by my side, constantly offering encouragement and comfort measures.
Through it all baby was still having some issues with his heart rate dropping during contractions, but he was doing just well enough for us to continue. I am very thankful I never felt that “I can’t do it” panic. I felt fully supported by my birth team and was confident my body knew what it was doing.
By 5:30pm I was 10cm, woo hoo, almost baby time! I felt a very strong urge to push and had been doing small involuntary pushes for the last 30 mins or so. I originally tried pushing using the squat bar but I wasn’t pushing effectively. I ended up lying back and using the squat bar to rest my feet, I needed to push against something. My husband had one hand and my doula had the other and with each push I would press against the squat bar and crunch forward. At this point baby really wasn’t tolerating the contractions and the drops in his heart rate were more concerning. My Dr very seriously told me that I needed to push very hard to get him out, sooner than later. I remember my doula leaning over and telling me I probably only had a few more contractions before they would recommend other options to get him out. I asked the Dr and doula if it was even possible to get him out in three contractions and they said yes, so I got to work!
Pushing was hard work but it was such an exciting time. It is truly amazing how adrenaline is a natural pain reliever. At 6:23pm our handsome lil man was born and it was such a rush. It was a huge relief, and I cried out “he’s here, I can’t believe he’s here”, followed by, “I did it, I did it!"
I’ll never forget the moment I held my son for the first time. He made everything worth it, all my efforts for a healthy pregnancy, all my preparation for an un medicated birth and of course the actual labor/birth.
Those first moments holding my son, I no longer had any insecurities about being plus size, I was a mother and on cloud 9.
I would love to capture your birth story! If you're looking for a Dallas Fort Worth Birth Photographer, contact me, I'd love to hear more about you and your birth plans.
Kathryn Johnson is a Dallas Fort Worth Birth Photographer who celebrates motherhood through maternity, birth and newborn photography.