Shaundi Lee Photography: Blog en-us (C) Shaundi Lee Photography (Shaundi Lee Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:29:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:29:00 GMT Shaundi Lee Photography: Blog 120 94 Averie's Birth Story Averie is here!!! :) We are so happy and she is perfect. She was born on Wednesday, August 21st 2019 at 3:33 pm.

On Tuesday, August 20th at 11:45 am, I had my 37 week midwife checkup at the Acclaim Nurse-Midwives group in Fort Worth, Texas. At this appointment my cervix was checked. The shift midwife informed me that I was dilated to a 1-2, she brought her hand out with thick bloody show. She was like, "Oh WOW! You don't usually see that! You can expect some contractions, and I will probably not see you at your appointment next week;)." So in the car on the way home, I called my mom in Utah and told her the news. She and Dad looked at flights, and remembering how quickly things happened with my last labor, Mom decided to jump on the next flight and arrive that same evening.


I had actually guessed that baby would be born on August 21st for a long time. When ever people asked me when I thought she would come, that was the date I said I had my money on! So after this appointment I felt like my hypothesis was confirmed and that God had been preparing me for a baby 19 days early. I went home and took a shower, shaved my legs, straightened my hair, as if to physically be getting ready to meet my baby, the same thing that I happened to do right before going into labor with my boys. Of course I wasn't sure. But there's just something about that mother instinct. 


My mom landed at 10:30 that night and Dreyson drove to pick her up. I had been having contractions since about 10 pm, they were about every 3-4 minutes and pretty strong - difficult to talk through. By about 12:30 I decided it was time to leave for the hospital. Dreyson called the Pippins and Sister Pippin was over right away to spend the night with the kids. My mom took this pic before we left the house.


We arrived at the hospital around 1:00 am. I was set up on the monitor before admission. At 1:51 am I was checked at 3 cm. They decided to let me labor for a while and see what happened. They wanted me at a 4-5 to be admitted. I walked the halls of the hospital for about an hour, did some squats. Then I layed back on the bed on my side on the bed with Dreyson holding my hand and focused on my breathing. It was painful and exhausting work. My contractions were strong, close, but irregular. I would say pain like 7/10 and every 2-3 mins for about a minute each. By 3:13 am I was checked at a 4. It was feeling like the longest night of my life. I was feeling extremely nauseous and threw up a good amount in the toilet and cleared my bowels - my body just eradicated like everything. Super fun, but another sign to me that baby was on her way. In my birth plan I requested no IV or saline lock, so I was pretty annoyed that I tested GBS +, because it meant I needed the IV attached for antibiotics after all. So I was walking all around attached to the dumb IV tower with all the cords, including in and out of the bathroom several times. 


I was finally admitted to the hospital at 4:00 am. Yes! This was really exciting because they said it should mean that I leave with a baby. I was mentally gearing up to push through the pain on a a night without sleep and meet my baby girl. 


Once admitted, I asked to be put in the tub suite that I was so excited for... it was one of the reasons I chose to go to this group of midwives at a hospital 40 minutes away. Dreyson and I had spent many many hours discussing birth options and I had finally convinced him that water labor was safe and we agreed that would be the plan, with bed delivery. And I had barely made it passed 37 weeks which is the requirement to use the tub, for which I was so excited! But when I asked for it they hesitated, and said I had to wait until I was 7 cm. WHAT! Are you kidding! What is the point of that! I wanted it now! They said water can slow down contractions so they like to wait until you are in the active phase of labor. I knew there was no hope in getting it then, because once I am a 7 I knew delivery would be imminent since my babies come so fast. I was SO bummed. 


I continued laboring on the bed for another two hours. The pain during each contraction was intense, and they were still long and close together. At this point I asked my mom to the bedside to rub my legs and back and press my hips during contractions while Dreyson held my hand and rubbed my arm. It was beautiful and bonding. I loved having my little team involved in working with my body. It was exactly how I had dreamed it. I was SO happy my mom had got there in time and was there to experience this with me, for the first time of my three kids. I was so happy, so grateful, so positive. I had read books and so many tips about keeping positive and calm during contractions and I had been killing it. I kept thinking back to Kyson's birth - how laboring together with Dreyson was one of my favorite parts, and how I called the doula too late because things progressed quite quickly. I knew things would probably pick up soon and would be over before I knew it. I wanted to treasure these memories forever and even had a nurse take pics for me. I was sure, compared to the length of Kyson's labor, that I was over halfway done and that she would be earth-side in a matter of hours. I was so well-prepared mentally. I can do this. I can do this. 

Around 7 am the fatigue for all of us started to really kick in. I was just so. tired. and asked to be checked in hopes of encouragement. Unfortunately it was not the best news. The shift change midwife (Katie) checked me at a 3-4, meaning I had not possibly not even made any true progress since arriving at the hospital six hours ago. 


This. About. Destroyed me. I felt so incredibly disappointed, discouraged and frustrated. What!! ALL of that and no progress??! What was wrong with me?? Why was this taking so long? How much longer could this take to make progress? How am I supposed to have the strength to push out a baby when I've already gone 36 hours without sleep? I broke down in tears. I had let myself down, I had let everyone down. I cried for a good ten minutes, and then fell asleep. 


When I woke up an hour later, I panicked. My contractions were gone. Like, gone. What had happened? I know it's silly, but I felt so guilty. It was my fault. I had given up near the end of my marathon and now it's over. I should have powered through, gone walking in the halls more, tried bouncing on the ball, or other techniques. But I had fallen asleep. "What had I done." I waited for an hour, hoping they would pick up again once I was awake, but no luck. 


At 9:00 am the midwife comes back in and said, "Honey, I'm sorry, but you're not in labor. We need to discharge you." I needed to go home. 


You know in the movies when the power goes out over an entire city and sections of light just shut off one after another until it's dark? Just imagine that happening in my brain. It's like all of the energy I had put into trusting my body just shut off and left me feeling nothing but a pit in my stomach. So much for believing in August 21st. So much for shaving my legs. So much for the Pippins, the photos, for walking the hallways, the dimmed lights, my husband getting out of work, for my mother flying across the country, for the suitcases we had brought with that first outfit I bought her. Everything that was perfect was now in vain and I was shattered. I was told to go home. I felt so embarrassed, and like a fraud. I really was in labor, I promise. I know I was. I had to be. That really happened, didn't it? I cried mournfully.


Dreyson brought up with the nurse the "dad side" of things, that we would have to pay for this 8 hour hospital stay on top of our future delivery charges, which was true. I asked if there was any way I could have a little more time to try to get things up and running, if by chance I could take a walk downstairs to the cafeteria and have some breakfast. Maybe some rest, food, and walking around was what my body needed to get going again. 


It wasn't. 


By 10:00 am I was dressed, bags packed, and we were ready to go out the door when all of a sudden midwife Katie came back in and she said, "Wait." She had noticed in my chart a concern for cholestasis, a liver complication in this pregnancy I was showing symptoms for but which had not been confirmed by bloodwork (came back negative). The most telling symptom of this complication is itching in the hands and feet, which she asked if I was still having and I said yes. She left to get a second opinion from another doctor, and then a little while later came back in and said, "We're having a baby." 


She continued that they usually induce patients with cholestasis at 37 weeks to reduce the risk of stillbirth, and I was already 37w2d. She asked for my consent to put me on pitocin. 


Throw me for a loop! But yes! My answer was yes. I was so grateful to know that baby was still healthy and that I could, in actuality, go home with a baby! Let's do this. 

I cried out tears of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. I tried to renew my energy. I put my hair up and put on that cute nursing bra I bought. I taped up the birth signs I had made, and it's as if they were prepared for this very moment. It's go time, Shaundi girl. You can do this!! 

But I'll admit - I was terrified. I really wanted to have a natural birth but was really scared of how intense my contractions might be on pitocin. At 11:20 they began my first dose and I hugged my pillow and cried in fear.

But it wasn't bad at all! In fact, because they started it at such a low dose, it felt too easy. I honestly wanted things to progress more quickly just to get it over with. Contractions were strong and 5 minutes apart, just like how labor normally begins. I was mostly in this half-awake limbo for several hours. My mom, Dreyson & I discussed the plots of the Wizard of Oz and Wicked forever to keep my mind off of things haha. That helped. 

By 2:00 pm I asked to be checked again and STILL no progress, she said 3.5 cm. But she did say I was 80% effaced and that she could break my water to get things going if we wanted, which we agreed to!!  

Breaking my water really changed things. Within the hour I had progressed to 5 cm. These contractions were close and intense!! I focused a lot on my breathing and relaxing. At this point I was laboring over the birthing ball with Dreyson squeezing my hips. I was letting out deep moans with each contraction and trying to not focus on the time. 


But before too long I finally felt like I was at my breaking point. I had been through so much throughout this laboring experience in the last 16 hours and, being only halfway dilated, I didn't believe I could do the final 5 cm on the depleted energy I had. Who knows how long it would take?? So I asked for an epidural. I needed a break. Midwife Katie comes in and kneels at my bedside. "Are you sure?" She asked. "No, I'm not sure!" I said. "But if it's just gonna keep taking this long, then yes, I want one! This is just too much." Her response was so empowering and I'll remember it forever. She said, "Listen, Shaundi. You can do whatever YOU want. You don't have to prove anything to me. If you want one, you can have one. But *you can do this*. You're almost to the point where things are gonna start getting real and your baby will be here soon." She suggested a few other pain management options, including nitrus oxide, which I honestly had never really put much thought into before, but I said, "Ok, lets try that." {In hindsight, I'm so proud of myself here. Feeling like I couldn't go on any longer and then finding it within me to keep going is probably the strongest thing I have ever done.}


At 3:15 I was laboring with the nitrus oxide on my hands and knees in the bed, and felt the head drop low. I said that I felt a ton of pressure. The staff all came in and started hustling about - My mind is in "labor land" at this point. I remember seeing Katie and asking her "Are you going to stay?" and she kept saying "I'm not leaving you." I knew that must mean I was close.

3:30 now and I switched to a recline in the bed. My mom and Dreyson were right there, giving me reassurance and encouragement. I took deep breaths into the mask and suddenly felt the need to push, and said, "Ok here it comes, here it comes, here she comes!" Dreyson asked if he could catch her and the midwife said, "Oh, totally!" He then asked me, "Do you need me here or can I catch the baby??" and I mustered out "CATCH. THE BABY." So he ran next to the the midwife right as baby's head was crowning. Within 30 seconds Averie's entire head was out and I don't even remember consciously pushing, I just kinda lifted my hips & eased it out. Dreyson caught her head as Katie was stretching me. Then she helped Dreyson tug her shoulder downwards and instructed me to push, and with one solid push, she was out!!!! Dreyson caught her like a champ. "Is she here??!" I asked in a blur. "She's here!" The room echoed as he placed her on my chest. Best. Feeling. In the World. 


"Hey sweetie. Hey. We did it." I repeated over and over, holding her against me. "We did it baby girl." She let out her first tiny cry. I victoriously announced, "I'm done!!!" 

She was born at 3:33 pm and weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz, 19.5" long. I had no tears or stitches, and felt like a million bucks afterward. I had the best birth team ever. Dreyson, my Mom, Katie, the nurses, everyone involved truly had my best interest in mind and were so supportive. Dreyson made me feel loved. My mom and Katie helped me feel strong and understood. Despite all the disappointments and the emotional rollercoaster I had been on, I felt so respected, heard, and empowered through the end. Special thanks to Mom for taking these pictures, she knows me too well;) She also happened to capture the live birth and the moments leading up to it on video and it's a forever treasure.

We were discharged 24 hours later & have been doing great since. We feel so lucky that Averie has joined our eternal family! We love you!!!

(Shaundi Lee Photography) Mon, 16 Sep 2019 02:36:25 GMT
Corey & Anna This autumn wedding was what dreams are made of! Anna & Corey were simply delightful and had me laughing behind camera constantly. Their fun personalities completely shone through in their bridals and during their entire wedding day! Can you even handle her gorgeous ring or that maroon tuxedo?? I also loved the grooms cake... Corey is a fireman so his firehose cake was just amazing! So grateful I could work with them and capture this incredible day!

(Shaundi Lee Photography) Wed, 10 Jul 2019 03:43:45 GMT
Robert & Kayla Wedding Day It was such a pleasure photographing the union of Robert & Kayla. As a photographer I got to be in on the getting-ready action, capture beautiful emotions during the ceremony & follow them out as husband & wife. It is such a privilege to be intimately involved & deliver images that truly tell the story of the best day of their lives. This couple had me crying, laughing, & dancing on the dance floor! They were a joy to work with & helped this collection come together as a true piece of art! 

(Shaundi Lee Photography) Thu, 06 Sep 2018 22:46:49 GMT
Robert & Kayla Engagements What a beautiful lakeside engagement session! They requested to do their session by the water as it holds special meaning for them. Robert LOVES to fish (check out their wedding for his fisherman's groom cake!) So we made sure to take some sunset portraits on my favorite Dallas dock. The soft evening light &  lush, spring Texas foliage were some of my favorite details of this shoot. And the couple was a ham! I got more than one photo of him squeezin' her booty (NOT posted;)).  This couple was fun & not afraid to just be themselves - LOVE that about them! 


(Shaundi Lee Photography) Mon, 03 Sep 2018 20:37:39 GMT
James & Eliza  

I met Eliza when I lived in Alabama for a year & we became sweet friends!! About the time I moved to Texas, she moved to Idaho for college. That same year she met her sweetheart James & they decided to seal the deal! I was able to fly to Idaho to photograph her wedding, her family flew in from Alabama, and his family from Guatemala, so there were literally people from across the globe coming to celebrate this couple! These images were taken the night before her wedding as that was when everyone was in town. It was a cold, overcast day but they were beaming the whole time so we didn't notice the cold! I love how weddings are such a special time for bringing families together! So grateful I could be apart of their day!


(Shaundi Lee Photography) Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:26:55 GMT
Adam & JayCee  

I met JayCee & Adam through church, we were all in charge of teaching the young children. They are such a sweet & happy couple and planned such a bright & beautiful wedding. Her bouquet of sunflowers & her yellow heels brought out her cheery personality. I also loved the sentimentality of her details; she brought a crocheted shawl that belonged to her grandmother to wear in one of her bridals. Adam was super easygoing & his family is hispanic, so their reception incorporated many hispanic traditions including tossing the groom, guests holding hands & running in a snake-like chain, and hours of dancing!! Such a fiesta!! So happy I could be a part of it:)


(Shaundi Lee Photography) Sat, 03 Feb 2018 06:16:10 GMT
Brennan & Jelica My brother Brennan is an incredible wedding videographer. He & his wife Jelica teamed up & now own the leading wedding photo/video team in Utah!! They travel to shoot weddings all over the world, hence, the film themed wedding & cake! Getting to shoot their wedding was one of the coolest things I've ever been privileged to do. Jelica is half Phillipino, half Taiwanese, and they both speak fluent Mandarin. Her family flew in for the wedding from Taiwan & I flew in from across the country to do this wedding, so the pressure was on!;) But these images speak for themselves & I was SO happy with the turnout. Gorgeous, magical, dear to my heart. 


(Shaundi Lee Photography) Wed, 01 Nov 2017 06:03:00 GMT
Sara Beth & Kyle Beautiful Alabama wedding. So many details to love!! 

(Shaundi Lee Photography) Sun, 01 Oct 2017 06:03:00 GMT
Awnaka & Parker Loved this beautiful & elegant wedding. So timeless.

(Shaundi Lee Photography) Sat, 01 Jul 2017 06:03:00 GMT