Our family consists of Paul (aka Daddy or Daddy-Doo). He loves his little girls, wife and family more than anything in the world.
Velvet (aka MaMa Velvet or Mommy). I'm a photographer and very happy stay at home Mom who can't get enough time with my little ones!
Lily (aka Monster, Stinkerbutt and Sweet Pea). She's a very smart, talkative, opinionated and loving 9 year old!
Addison (aka Addi-Doo, Addi Bo Baddy and Turkey Butt). She's 5, spunky, energetic, snuggly, and full of so much sass!
Finally, we've got Scarlett (Munchkin Butt, Bo, and The Cheese Monster)! She's 3 years old and enjoys playing by herself, sneaking cheese, and playing pretend with everyone!
When Paul and I hear this, and we have on many occasions, we both say a giant thank you and then chuckle to ourselves as we walk away.
All of these compliments are welcomed, and appreciated, and tucked away in our back pockets for days where absolutely none of those statements above are even close to a shred of truth.
The internet fortunately or unfortunately allows people to have a direct connection with A LOT of individuals that otherwise wouldn't know about you or your personal life on a day to day basis.
Some of us are great at networking and placing our best foot forward for the world to see.
Which can be a great thing for your business or record keeping of all the adorable things your kids say between their giant temper tantrums and smearing of peanut butter on your bathroom walls.
This is generally what our family uses our social media platforms for.
I have my Facebook printed into a book at the end of the year every year, because sometimes life gets so hectic that I would completely forget that time Lily told me the dog licks her arms because she tastes like chicken, or Addison decided to get herself stuck on the tank of the toilet, or Scarlett's weird and very real necessity for all things dairy related.
Nevermind that last one, no one's gonna forget the cheese problem.
Paul and I are no where near perfect parents, friends, or partners.
We are both reminded on a daily basis that we are flawed, and human, and unworthy of the 3 lives that are entrusted to us for care, support, and nurturing.
We have both made mistakes when it comes to dealing with people in a mature manner and in the choices we make with our children when we are frustrated.
We are individual people working through this journey together.
We both have room to better ourselves.
So we make that choice everyday.
Not because we believe we're terrible people or parents, but because we believe that our next given day on this earth can grow us into the people we would like to be if we put the work and effort in now.
We work exceptionally hard, in our private lives, in our relationships with friends and family, and most importantly with our girls.
In those failures we promised on the day we were married to encourage each other to learn from them, and choose to attempt better the next time around.
When we fail, we apologize to those whom are affected.
Most usually that is our girls.
They are the ones who spend every day with us, the ones who push all our buttons, the ones who are burdened at times by our choices, and the ones who aren't old enough to truly understand why we do the things we do.
This is something EVERY parent struggles with.
We have all been in situations where we have said things to our children in the heat of the moment that we immediately regret.
Our children see us at our best and see us at our worst.
What is most important in recognizing our failures, is that we seize the opportunity to apologize sincerely, pick up the pieces, and better ourselves for the ones that we love and the ones that need us to be constantly growing.
If our children see us fail and never work to correct our mistakes we are doing them a great disservice.
One day, they will fail too, and if they have never seen someone own up to their mistakes, apologize, and work to correct any damage that may have been done, they won't know how to do it themselves.
Whatever journey your on is entirely new every day you open your eyes.
We surround ourselves with friends and family who love us and who want to help us grow as friends, as husband and wife, as parents, and as people.
On our road as a family we have had to make tough choices when it came to people we cared about in ways that directly affect our everyday family life and the lives of those who love us and those who don't.
Our support system has also had to tell us harsh truth at times, and that pill is never easy to swallow, but it has always improved us when we let it.
Our promise to each other, and to our family, is to always be striving to be better than we were yesterday and to not attack each other when we aren't successful.
We have 3 little ladies counting on us who need us to do that.
Thank you to the people who truly care about us, for never letting us take the easy route, for calling us out in a loving manner when needed, and for supporting and defending our family through all of our trials.
Thank you for understanding that we are not perfect and for reminding us in a constructive way to be better than we were yesterday.
Our hope is that everyone in this life has people who push them to be great so that every day we are on this earth is a little bit better than the last.
(A wonderful image of the 3 most important people in our lives by Hannah of Worlds Apart Studios)
Portions of this final part will be told by Lacey, and other portions by me.
We all experienced a slightly different story over the next few hours and I want to make sure that it's depicted correctly.
They rolled me down to the OR where everyone was waiting.
It was incredibly bright and cold.
While they prepped my belly for surgery the staff introduced themselves and explained what they were there to do.
It got really quiet after everyone was introduced...
"Hi! My name is Lacey! I'm here to have a baby!"
I was exhausted and hilarious.
Once I was all set up on the table they started to do the poke test to make sure my epidural was working correctly.
I could feel my belly about half way up which was too low to continue, so they continued to up my dosage with no change in feeling.
Eventually they decided that my epidural wouldn't be effective enough so they would switch me to a spinal.
As I hugged my new best doctor friend while they placed my spinal my legs disappeared!
The spinal had left me with zero feelings in either leg which was normal compared to the epidural which leaves you with no pain, but really heavy legs.
Once laid down again I informed my OBGYN that someone had chopped my legs off, and he joked that he could not confirm or deny that as my legs were currently hidden.
They brought Brandon in shortly after and he asked if I'd been making friends.
Apparently he'd been told of my awesome jokes.
They got started on the c section.
After a few minutes I started to feel a light burning sensation and brought it up to my anesthesiologist.
He offered me something to relax a bit more but made sure to tell me if the burning increased at all.
And it did.
They delivered Audrey and took her immediately to the baby station where I couldn't see her.
I hadn't heard any cry.
Then things went dark.
(as told to Velvet after! Please correct me if I'm wrong in any of this Brandon!!!)
They delivered Audrey and the first thing Brandon said was that she was black from head to toe and covered in meconium.
She wasn't breathing.
They vaccumed her lungs out 2 times and performed chest compressions on her for a minute and a half before she let out her very first week cry.
Once she cried they showed her to Lacey, which she doesn't remember.
They had to sedate Lacey because she was attempting to reach into her incision.
Her doctor and I had to hold her to the table until she was unconscious so that they could finish her surgery.
The c section they performed went perfectly, Lacey's body just didn't take to the epidural or the spinal like planned because she burns through medication quickly.
While they finished up I went with Audrey to the nursery so that they could treat her for the same infection her mother was fighting and run all of the tests needed to make sure her lungs were functioning properly.
The doctors had told my parents and I that the csection would take around an hour, and since Brandon and I hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was now dinnertime my Dad and I decided to run down the street and grab pizza.
When we got back with 15 minutes to spare, Mom hadn't heard anything.
About 10 minutes later we saw lots of nurses running past Lacey's recovery room and heard a baby cry.
We weren't allowed to go to the nursery, but we could hear Brandon talking to his little girl from the hallway.
I was aware from previous c sections that generally the baby doesn't leave the OR without the Mother.
So to hear Audrey and not now where Lacey was was the longest 10 minutes I've ever experienced.
No one could tell us anything, and they were all too busy attending to both Mom and Baby to deal with the two crying women in the hallway.
When an attendant finally came to tell us what was going on we got to hear about all of the OR issues and Audrey's complications.
We got right to praying in that hallway and didn't stop until Lacey was rolled into recovery.
She was still asleep, and we were told she wouldn't wake up for a while.
So we surrounded her and held her hand and ran our fingers through her hair while we talked about her babies sweet cry down the hall.
Every time we said her name Lacey would smile in her sleep.
It was the sweetest most heartbreaking thing.
After about 15 minutes Brandon came into the room to tell us that Audrey was ok, and that we could go see her if we'd like.
He also informed us that Audrey would need to be transferred to a different hospital where they had a nicu to treat her.
I pretty much turned into one giant sobbing mess.
Lacey was ok, Audrey was ok, but they wouldn't get to meet one another.
Brandon stayed with Lacey while we ran down to the nursery to meet Audrey for the first time.
I took my camera so that I could make sure to capture all those sweet details a Mommy notices first.
She was absolutely perfect.
She needed an IV for her antibiotics and other medications to help her fight off the cold they had both developed during labor, and she was attached to all sorts of monitors.
We could touch her, but not hold her.
So we did.
We laid hands on that sweet baby and sang and prayed and cried and loved her as best we could.
Her Mom would sing "You Are My Sunshine" to her all the time, so when she started fussing I warble cried my way through it hoping to bring her a little bit of peace till her Mommy could do it herself.
We spent about 15 minutes just soaking her in before Brandon told us that Lacey had woken up, so I hustled back to her room with camera in hand.
When I asked if she'd like to see photos, she declined.
The nurse informed her it might be an hour or two before she could possibly see her, so she quickly changed her mind.
We layed in bed together and I scrolled through all of her perfect details with her wonderful Mom and we both cried.
The hospital ended up deciding to make room for Lacey to be wheeled down to the nursery so that she could hold her baby before she was transferred to the nicu at a different hospital.
We were all ecstatic.
So, two hours after Audrey entered the world, she finally got to meet her Mommy face to face.
The entire room was sniffles and quiet sobs while we watched and recorded.
She sang her songs, and she quieted down and just stared.
There will be a 4th part.
Mommy and Baby are both fine and healthy and loving each other every day.
Thank you so much for giving Lacey and Brandon support through their journey and reading their experience!
Lacey woke up at 1am to one extremely painful contraction.
Fearing that it was caused by her body trying to work out the last of the pitocin she worked through a couple contractions on her own.
She was experiencing intense and painful back labor with contractions that were consistently 15 minutes apart.
She decided to wake up Brandon between 1:30 and 2:00 because she couldn't find a comfortable position to labor through and wanted someone to apply pressure to her lower back.
Around 3:45 she told Brandon to go back to sleep because she knew he would need all the rest he could get before Audrey came.
At 4am, when another contraction came on, I woke up to an irate Lacey demanding I get up and rub her back.
It was dark, and I may have uttered something about a big angry gray blob yelling at me, but I jumped up, and I applied that pressure.
She explained after her contraction had subsided what had been going on, and we found the only comfortable position she could find, which consisted of her laying on top of me with her back to my chest and a heating pad/pillow combination so that I could squeeze her hips together when she felt a contraction come on.
We laid like that for three and a half hours while Lacey passed out between contractions and I googled every article I could about pitocin and how long contractions should last after they stop administering.
Everything I found said that contractions should stop within an hour or two completely.
This meant that Lacey was in super real extra awesome labor.
Or as Lacey would call it now, the labor from hell.
I think both work.
I texted our Mom around 7:30 requesting that she wake up and get me coffee, as I had a 10 month pregnant lady holding me down.
When she finally wandered out 30 minutes later we brought her up to speed and downloaded a contraction tracking app!
That little thing was extra handy and let us know that Lacey's contractions had moved from 15 minutes apart to 10 minutes!
Everything kind of blurs together for the morning and the afternoon.
I didn't take any pictures until later that evening, cause I totally forgot in the moment.
We went on a couple of short walks.
Lacey hated those, because they brought her contractions up to 4 minutes apart and the back labor she was experiencing was extremely intense.
Between the walks she took 2 showers and tried to eat a sandwich and drink some water.
The showers slowed her contractions a bit and eased the pain, she couldn't keep any of the food down though.
Around 4pm our parents had officially decided that they would leave the NEXT morning IF she hadn't been admitted to the hospital.
Lacey's contractions had gone from an inconsistent 4-10 minutes apart to a very consistent 7 minutes at that time and Brandon called the hospital to let them know what was going on and see what their recommendation was.
Lacey was in lots of pain and was having a hard time supporting herself and breathing.
They told him to wait, and not to come in till she'd been having contractions 4-5 minutes apart for at least 1 hour.
So I started taking photos.
This was it.
Her hips and back hurt.
In between contractions she would sit on a chair or a birthing ball and the second she started to feel her muscles tightening we would help her stand, hold her up, and apply deep pressure to her hips and back.
It really helped her focus to be told when she was halfway through a contraction (they lasted about one and a half minutes each) and to have someone breathing with her as a reminder.
We all took turns, as each job was physically and emotionally taxing in it's own right.
It's really hard to watch someone you love be in so much pain.
All the while, her contractions were getting longer and closer together.
Audrey wasn't super fond of all those contractions either and started fighting back at the end of each one, causing muscle spasms for her poor Mama in the meantime!
Diesel and Layla spent a lot of time worrying about Mama and being close for support.
It was so incredibly sweet.
They are both pretty vivacious dogs, so this was definitely odd behavior for them!
This photo kills me every time.
It perfectly describes how all of us were feeling while watching Lacey make the physical sacrifices necessary to be a Mother.
It's such a powerful thing.
At 8:30 that evening Brandon and I looked at each other.
Lacey had been contracting for 30 minutes at 4 minutes apart.
We knew the hospital said to wait until it had been an hour, but it was time.
There was no comfortable positions, no relief, and one extremely tired Mama to be.
So we packed everything up in a hurry and headed to the hospital.
When we arrived they put Lacey in a triage room instead of admitting her.
When they checked her, they informed her that she was at 2-3 centimeters dialated and "not in active labor" therefore they couldn't admit her.
The urge to punch a nurse was strong with this one.
Especially as your watching your sister and wife cry in pain every 4 minutes for 2 minutes straight.
They agreed to let her stay in the triage room when Brandon and I said we couldn't take her home.
They offered her help in the form of pain medication and anti nausea meds.
She said yes, dear God please yes.
Once she was medicated, her contractions slowed down to around 7 minutes apart, and she passed out between them.
Brandon and I spent that time shoveling food that my parents had provided into our faces as fast as we could so that we weren't eating in front of the nauseous Mom to be.
On the pain meds she felt very dizzy and out of it, so whenever she had a contraction we would have to lift her to the end of the bed and take our supportive positions.
She could still feel every contraction as if she were un medicated but was at least getting a little bit of sleep in between.
3 hours later, when the morphine and anti nauseau started to wear off, they checked again to see if she was progressing.
She was officially at a solid 3cm dialated and they were willing to admit her even though she still wasn't "actively laboring".
They've really gotta come up with a different phrase.
So they moved us to a different labor room (the one she wanted cause it was purple!) and got her all set up with an IV and fluids.
She hadn't been able to hold anything down all day, and hadn't eaten much the day prior due to the failed inducement.
They inquired as to how the pain meds had worked and we let them know they hadn't actually done much for the pain, so they tried another mix that worked 1,000x better!
This happened to slow her contractions down to 15 minutes apart and she was able to get some good rest inbetween.
If you call being rendered unconscious "good rest".
But hey, at least one of us was sleeping, and what better person than the lady who had to push a baby out of her later!
Unforunately for Brandon and I, we weren't able to sleep.
The meds worked way better, but she could still feel every contraction, just halfway through them now.
So she would wake up from a dead sleep in excruciating pain at which point we couldn't move her.
So Brandon and I stayed awake and watched her contraction monitor.
When we would see that contraction start to rise we would hook one arm underneath her arms and one arm underneath her legs and lift her into a criss cross applesauce position at the end of her bed.
She would wake up shortly after and we'd have to remind her to breathe through the contractions.
Anytime she was awake she would beg for an epidural.
Something she had said she didn't want, but after 2 days of labor was demanding.
Her nurses had told us that she had to be dilated to at LEAST 4cm before they would consider it.
So from 11:30 to 6:30 am, we waited, and lifted, and applied pressure, and reassured, and breathed, and supported, and worked until all of our muscles gave out and we felt like we couldn't do it anymore.
Around 3:30am Lacey decided that she wanted direct eye contact through every contraction.
I mentioned to Brandon during one of her unconscious moments that I thought she may be trying to place herself inside one of our bodies to escape the pain, or at least that's what it felt like while she was boring into our souls with her eyeballs.
She is absolutely amazing and stronger than she even realizes.
When the nurse checked her at 6:30am she had the AMAZING news that she had dilated to 4cm and I'm pretty positive we all screamed epidural at the same time.
They advised against it because they thought it may "slow down" the labor process.
We advised that we no longer cared.
When the anesthesiologist came in to set everything up and go over the pros and cons Lacey mentioned that she was having terrible back labor.
"Oh, epidurals don't help with back labor."
I'm pretty sure she left the room immediately because of the penetrating death stare I supplied.
So I spent 20 minutes reassuring Lacey while they set up that my epidural had worked on my back labor and that she was just some stupid nurse who deserved to be punched in her dumb baby maker and that she should just continue walking right on out of the hospital and that I wished a 2 week labor upon her and all of her future offspring.
I think it made Lacey feel better.
If you've never been around for an epidural placement it goes something like this...
Force the pregnant lady to sit criss cross applesauce, chin to chest and rolled forward as much as possible.
Then sit still during a contraction while the angel of an anesthesiologist provides sweet relief in spinal catheter form.
I love that man, and I wasn't even the one contracting.
They laid Lacey back in her bed to let the epidural do it's work evenly throughout her body and Brandon and I stood at the foot of her bed watching intently.
We were officially at 27 hours of no sleep and LOTS of work and were praying that this epidural helped Lacey get some much needed pain relief and rest.
After 20 minutes she was feeling ZERO PAIN!
We all took a nap.
A well deserved 1 hour unconsciousness is probably a better description of what we did.
At 10:30, Lacey's OBGYN arrived and did a little celebration as he walked in the door!
He checked her and after 4 hours of sweet epidural bliss and relaxation she had progressed to 7-8 centimeters and was 100% effaced!
My Mom and Dad showed up to cheer on the Mama and bring the Daddy and Aunt some more food.
PaPa got right to asking Lacey when she was gonna clean herself up a bit and look presentable for that baby.
In gest of course.
Lacey was amused.
She grabbed quick naps here and there.
and by 1:30 was 10cm dilated and ready to push that baby into her birthday!
We got her birth mix going, 3 hours worth of music and she got to the really hard work.
About 1 hour in, I stopped photographing, and started helping.
Pushing is hard business and little Miss Thang didn't find it necessary to continue on her journey once she hit tailbone.
Nurses were spending time quietly setting up the baby station.
When Lacey's water broke they noticed meconium (baby's first bowel movement) in the amniotic fluid.
They had told her that for a baby that is almost 2 weeks late it is fairly normal and that the procedure after birth would be a bit different.
If Audrey didn't cry immediately that would take her to suction out her wind pipe before she enhaled anything.
If she did cry, she'd be placed on Mom!
Either way, they weren't overly concerned.
Around hour 4 and no progression of baby moving closer to birth Lacey had developed a fever and infection of 100.9.
It was officially too dangerous for her to continue pushing.
So Lacey made the choice of signing up for a C Section.
After sixty seven hours of laboring and little to no food or water Lacey and Brandon had the promise of a sweet baby girl in their arms.