est. 2008

the day I met you.

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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Daphne, it’s been one week since you entered the world and captured my heart. It is both triumphant and bittersweet, to be holding you in my arms and realizing that time is not going to slow down. I’ve been savoring each day as I establish an entirely new rhythm to life that revolves around you. Your dad and I love getting to know you, but in order to start this story correctly I should tell you about the day we met.

You were anticipated to arrive on February 1st, which is not entirely true… for two reasons. Number one, due dates (in my opinion) are fairly ambiguous and while a good guide they are by no means definitive. Number two, at your first ultrasound they wanted to change the due date to Jan 27th since they thought it was more accurate. While I knew it was likely not accurate, it took a tearful car ride home (I also did not want a January birthday because we already had 3 in our immediate family) and a simple conversation with our midwife to change the date back.

On February 2nd I woke up and could tell something was changing. While your dad briefly considered staying home from the track meet, I convinced him to go knowing that it could be a day or two before you arrived. I went about that Saturday like any other, taking the dogs for a walk through deep snow, sewing some little baby shoes, and talking on the phone to a few friends. By the time your dad got home I was feeling as though things were progressing. While contractions were occurring with some regularity they were far apart and did not take effort to get through. We called our midwife to give her a heads up, and then went to bed to try and get some sleep.

Two hours later, at around 12:30am I woke up and began the most challenging physical event I’ll ever participate in : childbirth.

I was determined to have a natural birth if possible, and surrounded myself with people who could help me achieve that goal. Labor started out slowly, and I approached the first segment with hopeful anticipation. Contractions took concentration but were fairly easy to get through and I waited until 2:30 to wake up your dad to help me relax and focus. We stayed at home and one thing was clear from the beginning: I had back labor. It is the result of incorrect positioning, and you, little D, were facing my hip instead of facing my spine. Since I have nothing to compare my labor to, I can only assume that either everyone feels the same things that I do, or believe those who say that back labor can be excruciating, and agree with them.

Soon I was focusing only on the contractions, taking small comfort in the fact that I was at home. Although the clock ticked by very slowly I managed to stay at home until 8am. We checked in with our midwife around 7 and she suggested I either come to her office or go straight to the hospital to see where I was at. We decided to go to her office and avoid an early admittance to the hospital, and made the 30min drive to meet her. I was worried I would only be a few centimeters and have to spend more time at home, but much to my surprise and relief she found I was 8cm dilated. She suspected you would arrive before noon and we continued on to the hospital.

Our doula met us at the hospital and she and your dad helped to rub my back and ease the pain. I was happy to begin the second phase of labor in the hospital and was impressed with my performance to get to 8 cm thus far. It seemed as though the rest of the labor would unfold with equal predictability, but after a few hours it was clear that things were not progressing as hoped and things were starting to drag on. At 1pm I was 9cm and my water had not yet broken, so we decided to break it and see if that would bring us closer to meeting you.

The next few hours were the most challenging mentally and physically of my life. I wanted to give up, drop out, and just be done. If I hadn’t had the support of your dad, who kept encouraging me, and our doula and midwife who equally believed in me, things might have gone differently. While I got to the point where I fully understand why people choose to be paralyzed in sensation from the waist down with an epidural, what happened in the next few hours taught me more about myself, what I am capable of, and how miraculous it is to bring someone into the world. Yes, it demanded every ounce of energy and mental strength, but made your arrival even more beautiful.

You never did get in the correct position, and decided come down sideways. Your head turned to emerge in the occiput posterior position with your hand next to your face. You didn’t make it easy on me, but the best things in life never come easily.

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