The radiant Rachel Kelley, Harriet (4.5) and Ursula (20 months).
Rachel and her now husband had been planning on getting married and having children but their were still 3-5 years in the future when she conceived Harriet with an IUD in place. Rachel was happy she was in great shape at the time and even swam a mile in the ocean as part of a triathlon when she was 4 weeks pregnant. She was about 10 weeks along when they got the news and decided to just set thing in motion a bit earlier than planned.
Other than the need to monitor her IUD via ultrasound throughout, Rachel had a very healthy pregnancy. She had been seeing an OB who she'd just happened upon for well woman care but learned that nearly 1/3 of her patients delivered via cesarean and chose to switch to a midwife based practice around 20 weeks. They chose to deliver at a birth center and Rachel remembers being thoroughly comforted by the water. Labor progressed well and when she felt ready to birth, Harriet came out very quickly after only 13 minutes of pushing. Harriet emerged with the cord around her neck but summersaulted out with Rachel's next push and untangled herself. When Rachel birthed her placenta they needed to check it closely to make sure that her IUD came out and she didn't need to have a D&C. Her midwife did have to do a manual sweep which is when she realized Rachel had vasa previa. They still don't know why it wasn't caught on any of her ultrasounds but Rachel feels incredibly lucky that both she and Harriet were able to get through pregnancy and birth without complications as it could have been life threatening. Breastfeeding went very well for them both and Harriet continued to nurse until about 6 months into her pregnancy with Ursula.
Ursula was very much Rachel's planned baby and they conceived right away, she assumed things would go just as smoothly as with her first. Rachel and her husband both changed jobs when she was around 20 weeks pregnant and at 22-23 weeks she lost her mucous plug. She didn't fully realize what had happened but saw her midwife at a birthing class the next night who examined her. Rachel learned she was 1cm dilated and her cervix was soft, she'd also been having preterm contractions. Her midwife wanted Rachel to go on full bedrest but she was worried about her new job so she tired working part time for a week and then saw her midwives OB who put her on medication and partial bed rest for a month. The contractions continued when she was up and about however, which was their cue to put her on full bed rest for the next 10 weeks. Things weren't quite as planned but Rachel was able to care to term and found support online through facebook groups and Sidelines. She was even able to shift her role at work so she could keep working from home.
Rachel and her husband had wanted to have a home birth with Ursela but they were living with her mother-in-law at the time who wasn't exactly supportive. They decided to deliver at the birth center again and the day she started to have more intense contractions she thought she'd still have a couple days before things got serious and they needed to go in. She called her midwife who asked her to call back in about 45 minutes but when that time had passed her contractions were so intense that she wasn't able to call her. Rachel's husband was taking a nap with Harriet and also didn't realize how quickly things were moving. She called her midwife after about an hour who encouraged her to go ahead and come in. After hanging up the phone, she had one intense contraction that took her to transition. Rachel grabbed a bunch of towels and as they prepared to go to the parking garage, her water started breaking. Rachel's husband was trying to strap Harriet into the car and call his mom to come help them. His mom said she'd be back soon so they decided to wait and try to get ahold of the midwife again. In the interim, they'd Harriet had gotten out of her car seat and smashed her fingers in the car door, her husband was trying to get someone on the phone and Rachel felt the baby moving down through her pelvis. Her husband called 911, Harriet was crying, and Rachel need to push. In two quick pushes, Ursela came right out, let out a little cry and tried to latch right away.
All the happy hormones hit Rachel and she realized she had another girl and started telling everyone. Her husband hung up with the paramedics and got through to her midwife who instructed them to go back up stairs to their apartment to deliver her placenta. Rachel had an unexpected lotus birth and her midwife arrived about 20 minutes later. She says it was the most perfect day. She'd had a productive morning, gave birth to her baby just after 5pm, ate some delicious pizza and was in bed with her family by 8pm.
Breastfeeding has been more of a challenge this time as well. Rachel says that so many of her pregnancy and birth related decisions hinged upon her having successful nursing relationships. They struggled with latch and thrush and she's just getting over a bout of mastitis but is committed to continuing.
Rachel had repaired a shoulder injury and ab separation after her pregnancy with Harriet through physical therapy and exercise but that was all undone in her time on bedrest. She's recently started working out again and has been able to heal her ab separation a bit and get her shoulder feeling a bit better. She may be a skinny mom but that doesn't mean she's always been healthy or doesn't have to work to cultivate a positive self image. Teaching her girls to love the bodies they're in is a message she wants to pass on. She hopes they can learn to look past people's bodies and look inside to see who a person is. She was excited to lend herself and her story to a movement showing just how many variations of normal there truly are.