The stunning Emily Sullivan with her daughter Charlotte (2.5) and son Teague (4 months). Emily's first pregnancy was lost to miscarriage which was incredibly difficult for her. The first two months after were especially trying until she learned she had quickly conceived Charlotte. Her pregnancy with Charlotte was great and Emily says that she absolutely loved being pregnant and even entertained the idea of surrogacy because she enjoyed it so much. Her water broke 9 days early and her labor was straight forward. She progressed without intervention other than a shot of Dilaudid to take the edge off the pain and was able to push her out in about 15 minutes. Charlotte didn't latch right away but they got the hang of things and Emily continued to nurse her until she weaned at 18 months old, well into her pregnancy with Teague. Emily says that her second pregnancy and birth could not have been more different. Having a toddler at home already definitely changed things and she carried post dates this time around. Her practice had recommended inducing at 41 weeks which she was uncertain about but when her blood pressure started to rise she felt it was time. She went into the hospital and they inserted cervidil overnight to ripen her cervix and she was grateful when contractions started on their own. Still they pushed pitocin and due to issues with the fetal monitors when she moved she was confined to the bed. Due to a suspected deceleration in Teague's heart rate and wanted to inserted an internal monitor as well. Labor progressed but the pace felt much slower when it came time to push however, she was able to get him out in just 5 minutes. He latched immediately and nursing has continued to go well. Emily says that just as people and children are unique and different our pregnancy and birth experiences are as well, and they are all worthy of embrace and celebration.
The joyful Jamie Pauhl and her daughter, Heidi (7 months). Jamie is also mother to Sophia Grace (stillborn December 5, 2013)*. Jamie became pregnant with her second daughter just 6-7 weeks after giving birth to her first. She was immeshed in grief and says that while she was absolutely not ready to have another baby she was able to embrace it after some time. Jamie's pregnancy was healthy physically but she struggled greatly with anxiety and stress and fear. She did not want to lose another baby and was adamant that she not carry Heidi past term. She saw midwives during the pregnancy, just as she had with her first but had an OB consult as well. Around 36 weeks, Jamie wanted her baby out. She asked her midwife to send her to the OB for induction but they told her that her cervix was not ready nor was her baby. By this time Jamie was in the hospital 2-3 times a week to check on her baby and make sure everything was okay. Every time she went in she tried to convince them to let her deliver and every time they said not yet, that her baby was okay but she was not ready. On October 16, Jamie felt more strongly than ever that it was time. She argued with her husband about it, called her OB and headed to the hospital and told him she needed her baby out. He told her she would need to speak with the specialists and NICU team incase her baby was too small or in trouble and only then would he consider induction. After weighing the risks Jamie still felt the same and soon after they gave her cervidil to ripen her cervix. 12 hours later the cervidil was removed and Jamie was able to proceed with labor without any further interventions. Heidi was born completely healthy and crawled right to her breast to begin feeding.
Jamie was overwhelmed with joy and relief but has still struggled quite a bit. After friends and family began to notice that something was off with her and she herself realized that she became paralyzed and unable to answer Heidi's cries she was evaluated and began therapy. She was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD and acknowledges that things right now are a bit of a roller coaster. She absolutely adores her daughter and has forged a beautiful bond with her but still deals with the constant, daily fear that she too may die.
Jamie started her process of navigating her loss via this project and documented both her pregnancy with Heidi and Sophie's loss with us. She wanted to return to bring it full circle and document her happy ending while both acknowledging her past and welcoming what lies ahead in her future as woman and mother.
*We photographed Jamie while pregnant with Heidi to document Sophia Grace's story. You can read that here: http://4thtrimesterbodies.com/jamie-pauhl/