‘The meaning of support. We were a team. I looked to my husband with tears streaming down my face apologizing for being a failure. He lifted my chin, and told me he was proud of me.’

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“I began having strong menstrual cramps around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20th. Around 10:00 p.m., these cramps turned into labor contractions as they quickly intensified and were consistent/closer together. I hopped in the shower, dimmed the lights, turned on praise and worship music, and labored here for probably an hour until the water got cold. If was one of the most euphoric feelings being one with the contractions and connecting with my baby. We were in it together.

We then walked around our neighborhood for about 45 minutes waiting for our photographer Rachel. The contractions were around 3 minutes apart and lasted around 80 seconds at this point. I had to lean into my husband for support and comfort as they were really taking my breath away. The stars were so unbelievably bright that night. Our last walk together before our lives were about to change forever.

We headed to the hospital after our night stroll outside and this is where things got a little discouraging. The nurses on the night shift provided us a horrible experience and flipped my emotions and mindset to a dark place. The nurse had spoken of her daughter-in-law’s birth and how her baby died while I was laboring. It broke me emotionally. We decided to go home after 5 hours so I could labor feeling safe, as I knew fear/adrenaline closes your cervix. We got home around 5 a.m. and I was emotionally shot and exhausted as I had not slept and hardly eaten. My husband and I labored for 6 hours at home and the contractions were now beyond intense. I was having a hard time coping.

Rachel Veltri Photography

Around 12:00 p.m. my contractions were 2 minutes apart, some being back to back, and it sucked all energy out of me as most my contractions were now 90 seconds. We decided to go to the hospital then. The car ride to the hospital was excruciatingly painful. I couldn’t find a position that didn’t feel like I was tearing in half. Once we got to the hospital and in the elevator, I broke down sobbing as I was so emotionally and physically done and terrified of having another discouraging experience if that same nurse was still there.

But…

We got into our labor room and we had an angel of a nurse. I got checked and was 5cm dilated! I was so stoked hearing those words ‘you’re dilating,’ ‘you’re half way there.’ I was so relieved. By this time I had labored 12 hours unmedicated. My husband and I continued to labor for another 2.5 hours and when I was checked…

I hadn’t progressed…

Rachel Veltri Photography
Rachel Veltri Photography

I was devastated. Broken. Confused and so frustrated. I was doing everything I knew was right. Relaxed, opened jaw, breathing down and through the contractions. Doing everything to increase my oxytocin levels. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t progressing.

At this point, I knew if continued to push through unmedicated I might not have the energy to deliver him vaginally and risk complications during the pushing phase as I was dilating so slowly. It wasn’t worth risking his safety. So I lowered my pride on wanting an unmedicated birth and we made the decision to get the epidural. I looked to my husband with tears streaming down my face apologizing for being a failure. He just lifted my chin, kissed me and told me it was the best decision and he was so incredibly proud of me… the words I needed.

Rachel Veltri Photography
Rachel Veltri Photography

I didn’t dilate for 4 hours on the epidural and ended up needing my waters broken and Pitocin. I can’t describe the feeling of disappointment I had knowing my body wasn’t doing what it needed, what it was designed to do. So many doubts started brewing now. ‘My baby was breech for a reason,’ ‘my hips may be too narrow.’ All my doubts swarming my mind.

Another 2 hours later, I got checked again and I only dilated 1cm to a 6. I now was fighting and consumed by my doubts and fears that my body and baby were telling me a vaginal delivery wasn’t in my favor. They upped the Pitocin a bit and said they would check me in another 2 hours. At this point my husband grabbed my hand and we just got in prayer, praying over my body. He told me I needed to focus on the right things. My husband was my rock, my foundation, and got my mind where it needed to be. I am so thankful for this man. He’s truly my king.

Rachel Veltri Photography
Rachel Veltri Photography

The nurse came back at that 2 hour mark… and I dilated to a 8! It was such a relief and I was so thankful. It was music to my ears. We had finally turned a corner. It was a long road but at midnight I finally dilated to a 10. I had been in labor for 25.5 hours at this point. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. They then prepared me to be pushing for 2 to 2.5 hours as a first time mom…

But just 26 minutes later, my lil Jaden was born June 22nd at 12:41 a.m. and it was the most incredible moment in my life. Nothing mattered but him. The purest and the most powerful love ignited when he was laid on my chest. There are no words for that moment and all was perfect.

Rachel Veltri Photography

Was it the labor I wanted? No.

But it was a labor that brought my family even closer together. It was the most intimate experience laboring with my husband and birthing my son and I am so incredibly blessed. We were a team. A family.

Rachel Veltri Photography
Rachel Veltri Photography

Do I still have some disappointments with how things went…sure. In the beginning I often asked myself ‘what if’ but now I know everything happens for a reason and I realize just how amazing my experience truly was. My son is extremely healthy and I’m so full of joy even with all the crazy postpartum emotions.

I knew going in that no matter how much I planned, the unknown will always be a factor and things DO happen that are out of my control. There are so many components that need to fall together for birth and whether you have the birth you wanted or not, your story is powerful and has its own beauty.”

Rachel Veltri Photography

Rachel Veltri, the photographer of this incredibly intimate labor, said this couple was ‘the most graceful teammates’ she’s ever seen.

“I have been a photographer for 3 years, BUT I have never been asked to photograph someone giving birth. When I met Hannah, we were fast friends. She helped heal me during a very trying time in my career. I had been in a horrible snowboarding accident in January of 2018 that left me having to reconstructive leg surgery. During my recovery, I reached out to Hannah on a total act of hope. She’s a very successful fitness entrepreneur whose success touches an audience of half a million followers. So, when I wrote her during her pregnancy telling her to trust in me to take her maternity portraits for her, never in a million years did I think she would respond. But I was so wrong.

We did two maternity sessions together, then she asked me to photograph the most intimate moment of her life to date. I don’t have many words to describe what an honor that has been for me. Witnessing the moments before, during, and immediately after Hannah and Joshton delivered their son was all encompassing for me. They were the most graceful teammates I’ve ever seen working together. I’m proud to have been in that room with them for those 24 hours. I was most impressed by how gently Josh loved on Hannah during her whole labor – when she felt discouraged he was there to lift her, when she felt pain he was there to relieve her. The amount of poise that man displayed absolutely will be found in their son Jaden one day. The first thing I did when I got home from this life changing experience was go straight to my kids and hold them close to my heart, kissing every square inch of their bodies. Life is beautiful.”

Rachel Veltri Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Veltri Photography on behalf of the mother, Hannah Bower. Do you have a beautiful birthing experience to share? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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