Archive for April, 2010

I spent this last weekend just outside Tahoe City, California shooting the type of wedding that would make almost any photographer drool.  Josh and Amy finally made it official and they did it in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We had their first meeting at the Painted Rock Lodge in Olympic Valley – just a mile or two down the road from the Squaw Valley 1960 Olympic Village. I took the the bridal party down to a park overlooking the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe – arguably the prettiest lake in the country. We even managed our way on to one of the ski lifts at the breathtaking Squaw Valley Ski Resort, and then finished things up at the Squaw Valley Chapel for an intimate and gorgeous ceremony. It was a wedding that I’ll never forget, and a weekend that made coming back to rainy old Portland a little tough. Here’s a link to Josh and Amy’s slideshow at alyssajul.com

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Well, if you’ve stopped by the blog lately you’ll have noticed that it’s been a while since my last update. In my defense, I feel like I had a pretty good excuse. On Tuesday, April 6, 2010 I finally gave birth to Mr. Carson Paul Westermann. Not only was my little man an entire week late, he did not make  his arrival easy on me.  I realize that if you’re here to read about photography and look at wedding pictures you might not care too much about birthing… but if you do, feel free to read on. Yes, I’ve categorized this post under “personal.”

Corey and I had put a fair amount of planning into what we wanted the birth of our first son to be like (low intervention, non-medicated, dim lights, soft music, etc.). Let’s just say that Carson heard our plans and laughed in our faces. By 9am on Monday morning my contractions were around 4 minutes apart, I was a little hesitant to drive to the hospital as I had already had two false alarms the week prior but I figured I’d be better safe than sorry. My mom was visiting from Wyoming and drove me up to St. Vincents and Corey met us there after a quick departure from work. The evaluation nurses hooked me up to the monitors and checked me out and when they announced that I was really truly in labor I was so relieved I almost squealed. I don’t think I could have stood to be pregnant any longer. Somehow going passed my due date felt like someone was playing a very cruel prank on me.

We headed back to labor and delivery room 327 and set up shop. I put on my comfy clothes, hooked up the iPod to the docking station and started what would turn out to be the longest 2 days of my life. It took no less than 3 people pressing on various spots on my back during contractions to combat my “back labor.”  My baby was head down at least, but was facing the wrong direction and the back of his noggin was wrecking havoc on my tailbone.

For all of you non-moms out there, the magic number in childbirth is 10cm (that’s how big the opening needs to be before they let you try and push out your baby).  Each contraction slowly gets you closer to 10cm and closer to being able to push. It took me 8 tough hours just to get to 5cm, and by that time I had to try something different. One cool thing about St. V’s is that they have a jacuzzi specifically designed for women to labor in and I decided to give it a shot. I spent a good 2 or 3 hours in the jacuzzi (which actually helped with my back labor quite a bit) eating orange popsicles and laboring away. In most cases women go from 5 to 10cm much more quickly than 0-5cm, so when I got out of the tub I was totally imagining that it was almost time to push…Boy was I wrong. My midwife informed me that I had only progressed 1cm further over the past 3 hours, not what I wanted to hear.

I was disheartened, but determined. My amazing team of helpers just became that much more encouraging and I plodded onward…and onward….and onward. By 4am (another 7 hours later) in the morning I still hadn’t even gotten to 9cm and I hadn’t slept in nearly 30 hours. I don’t really know how to describe the pain of contractions, especially ones that come right after eachother without any break, but suffice it to say that it hurt worse that anything I’d ever felt. I was so exhausted and I wanted so badly to be done that I was losing my focus and unable to control my breathing. I tried every single labor position that had ever been dreamed up, and even went back into the jacuzzi for a while. Nothing helped, still 9cm. At 630am I very gratefully let the anesthesiologist poke a big needle into my back and numb me from the shoulder blades down. I went into labor knowing that I wanted nothing to do with an epidural, but once I was numb it was one of the most relieving feelings I’ve experienced.

After 5 more hours of no progress I was scheduled for a C-section, the very last thing I wanted. I was so exausted at this point that I didn’t really have the energy to be angry or sad and I quickly accepted the fact that it was going to take surgery to get this boy out of me. Corey put on his scrubs and as they began to wheel me out of the  room I was informed that one of the women down the hall from me had a much greater emergency than me and her C-section had to happen first, I was going to have to wait. After a very long  hour they came back to take me down to the OR. Before leaving though, they decided to check me one last time just in case I had dialated that final cm… and I had. It was a little overwhelming to hear that it was time to start pushing after having already resigned myself to surgery and the roller coaster of emotion I was on almost made me wish I could just have the C-section and be done. But, just as I had for the last 32 hours, I decided to suck it up and give it my best shot. I pushed for 4 hours before they decided he was positioned too crooked to come out naturally. That’s when they brought out the vacuum. They put the little suction cup on his head and tried to help pull him out but it wasn’t meant to be. The doctor decided the risk of him getting stuck was just too great and so they put the vacumm away and put me back on the schedule for a C-section.

At 4:12 pm on Tuesday, 32 hours after checking into the hospital – Carson was delivered via Cesarean section. We spent the next 3 days at the hospital with doctors coming in every hour to give me pain meds, check my incision, or check Carson’s vitals. We finally got to come home last Friday and being in my own house never felt better.  It was the longest and most trying week of my life. But  it was worth it.st-vincents-baby-delivery-room-labor-2

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