The Birth Story of Lucibelle | Louisville, Kentucky Birth Photographer
I have been putting off sharing this birth story because I knew I would have trouble finding the right words to convey how very special this story is. But, pretty Lucy has been here for an entire six months now (how?!), so I thought now would be a great time to reminisce about when she was born and the memories from her birthday.
Allison - this pretty, strong and courageous momma - is my best friend and has been every since we could talk and walk. Reason #1 this story is so special to me! Due to some issues in her family history regarding complications during labor and delivery, her pregnancy and delivery was considered very high risk. Due to the risk factors involved, she delivered sweet Lucy at a heart hospital with a large, incredible team of doctors that kept both Allison and Lucy safe and healthy. Rather than go into specifics, I thought I'd share a short video the local Indianapolis news station did on Allison and Nick's story and the hospital.
Needless to say, Allison and her husband Nick, along with their family and friends (and myself) were all over the moon excited to meet Miss Lucy. However, the excitement was always mixed with a small bit of nervousness as the risk factors were always in the back of everyone's mind, despite the amazing care Allison was receiving throughout her entire pregnancy and that she would receive during her well thought out and intricately planned delivery.
The morning of July 19, 2017 finally arrived, and Allison and Nick sat patiently, talking with the numerous doctors coming in to prep and check on Ally and laughing and making small talk with their family. Allison would be taken back to the OR, by herself, to deliver Lucy via cesarean section delivery. Since Ally would receive general anesthesia while delivering Lucy, Nick would have to wait in the waiting room with a cell phone to receive updates on how Allison and the baby were doing. The minutes ticked by slowly, and the family anxiously chatted in the waiting room, waiting to hear from the doctors. The call finally came - Lucy was here and healthy, and Allison was stable and doing well! Several minutes later a sweet nurse texted Nick a picture of his baby girl, and he was able to see her for the first time. More minutes ticked away as everyone waited for them to wheel Lucy out of the OR and take her to the NICU, which was in a completely separate hospital (luckily connected by a skywalk). When they wheeled Lucy through the doors the excitement and love in that hallway was indescribable. She was perfect in every way, the greatest blessing and gift possible.
From there, they took Lucy to the NICU where she stayed for nearly a week. Family members were slowly able to come meet her, two at a time, as the amazing NICU nurses stabilized and cared for her. Everyone was relieved and full of joy, but were still waiting to hear that Allison was out of the OR and stabilized in the ICU of the heart hospital next door. Soon after, they had Allison set up and ready for visitors. From then on (for the next seven days), family members took turns splitting their time between Allison and Lucy. Allison was able to see Lucy for the first time via Skype, and was able to receive updates from the nurses, ask questions and talk to Lucy as much as she wanted. Allison was finally able to meet Lucy for the first time, in person, the following day. Since Lucy would have to leave the NICU in the hospital she was in and be brought to the heart hospital where Allison was, the doctors and nurses wanted to be 100% sure that she was stable enough to endure the trip. Witnessing Allison meet and hold her sweet girl for the first time is truly something I can't put into words. This precious, tiny baby that Allison worked and fought so hard for, prayed for, planned for and risked her life for was finally in her arms. It is a moment I will never forget, and I am certain not a single person in the room will forget either. Allison had enough time with Lucy to hold her close and breathe her in, put her against her skin and feel her warmth, work on nursing for the first time, unwrap her and look at her tiny details and even change her diaper for the first time. All of these firsts that so many mothers get with their baby soon after delivery, but Allison had to wait over 24 hours for those priceless, long-awaited moments. Once they were able to spend some time together, Lucy was taken back to the NICU. This process continued for the next five days until Lucy was released and was able to stay in Allison's hospital room with her; family members taking turns spending time between Allison and Lucy and the sweet nurses bringing Lucy to Allison so they could bond and spend time together for short periods of time.
Needless to say, this was very hard for Allison and Nick. As a mother myself, I know how you dream about those first moments and days with your baby. Allison knew she wouldn't get that, and she understood that it was for both her's and Lucy's health and safety. Nevertheless, being away from the baby you carried for nearly nine months is heart-wrenching. I remember talking with Allison many times leading up to the birth of Lucy about how all mothers' birth stories are different. There's not one woman's story that is exactly alike another, and that's what makes it so special. You share the journey and experience with your baby and closest family members, and those are memories no-one can ever take away from you. For Allison, she will get to tell Lucy one day about how they wanted her so badly, they were willing to take the measures necessary to bring her into the world and to keep both of them safe, and that meant not having the typical, ordinary birth and postpartum experience many families get. I remember telling Allison that once you do finally get to hold Lucy it will be even more meaningful and powerful, knowing how hard she worked and sacrificed in order to have her baby in her arms. They would get their very special and unique time together and all the doctor's appointments, months of planning, worries, hard decisions and sacrifices would be well worth it.
While all of this was understood, it was obviously still very difficult for Allison and her family there supporting her through the journey. From the second I got to the hospital, I was in "photographer mode", not really allowing myself to feel emotions as I was documenting the moments leading up to Lucy's birth and after. I was able to capture everyone meeting the baby for the first time and their joy and priceless emotions. I was able to capture Lucy getting weighed and measured, her first feeding, her first diaper change. I also documented and witnessed the family getting to touch her little fingers and toes and hold her for the first time, all while Allison watched via Skype in another hospital. Once I felt I had captured enough, I put my camera away and went to sit with my best friend. My heart ached, knowing how hard it was for her to watch others experience all these firsts with her little girl when she hadn't even gotten to see her in person yet.
It's here where I have to say - Allison was beyond thankful, relieved and joyous that her little girl was healthy and in the arms of people that loved her. She felt so extremely blessed and grateful for the gift that God had given her, and for His hand through the entire process. But as a mother, it's hard not to long for your child, especially after just giving birth and going through the most intense, emotional experience of your life.
I sat with Allison and we cried together. She felt bad for even feeling sad about the situation, and I assured her she had every reason to feel that way. Every ounce of my being wanted to fix the situation so that my best friend didn't feel the heartache she was feeling, but all we could do was wait until the time was right for them to meet. That time finally came the following day. When we received the text from Nick, "get your camera ready, we're packing up now!" we all rushed around like crazy people, so excited that Ally was finally going to meet her sweet girl. The rest I won't try to explain.. That's what the pictures are for. What I can say is that I am so incredibly in awe and proud of my friend... Allison is absolutely one of the strongest women and mothers I know. God placed the dream of having a child on her heart many years ago, and despite the risks, she followed her heart with courage and strength and now has the most amazing, beautiful blessing that brings a smile to everyone's face she meets. It's pretty hard not to see God's hand at work through miracles like this, and saying that I was honored to be a part of this experience doesn't do how I truly feel justice. I just thank God for His faithfulness, His goodness, and His ability to bring beauty and blessings from unknown and sometimes scary places. If Lucy's birth story teaches anyone anything, it should be to trust God with your story and His plans for your life and to follow Him, even through the unknown. Through it all, He remains in control and and is working your story for good.
Thank you - to Nick and Allison and to the family that I've loved my whole life - for letting me be a part of this story. As I think back on this day and watch the video over again I cry big, happy tears. Your family is beautiful in every way and I love you all more than I can explain!
Now world, enjoy Miss Lucibelle's birth story!