the day I met you.

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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  • Nita - What a precious little girl – a wonderful reward for a challenging journey, Mary!

  • b stark - Oh. My.
    That precious little face.
    Congratulations Mary.

  • Maggtron Fortson - Absolutely beautiful! Love her name, too :)

  • Emily Last - I just loved this post and this baby girl and her mom and dad! I LOVE LOVE!

  • Jamie Sentz - I loved reading your story and her story. She will ask you in a few years and you can tell her all about her birth story and the labor of love you endured. I’m sorry you had back pain and I did too and would not wish that on any mother, but you endured and she is here. That’s what is important! enjoy her much!

  • Victoria Davey - What an adorable post!! Love it!!

  • Auntie Steph - Oh Mary, that is such a lovely story. She is so beautiful and I love how wonderful Matt was for you!

  • Shayna Gehl - This is just beautiful Mary. All of it. Beautifully written, beautiful Daphne, beautiful feeling I now have in my heart and soul. So happy for you both. I hope we are chatting about this in person some time.

  • Melody Martin - Awesome! Congratulations! :) She is so beautiful, and I don’t say that lightly.

  • Sarah Knight - great write up Mary, you are a war horse! and yes, they never make it very easy on us do they?

  • Mary Dougherty - Hah no they do not! Everything the Bible says about women in labor is true.

  • Melissa Roberts - This is great! I love birth stories!!

  • Sarah Frances Boyd - Mary great job writing down your birthy story! I wish I had…I think I still will :) (better do it soon before I forget!) I am so, so proud of you and seeing you be a mom is the BEST. I absolutely loved meeting little Daphne and I can’t wait to see you soon again. and the picture is SOOOO cute!

  • Ryan Boyd - What a great picture of Daphne and even better story to accompany it. I cannot wait to meet my niece and hold her in the not too distant future. Love you and Matt and little Daphne of course!

  • Holly 'Sayre' Taboada - I LOVE reading birthing stories! You articulate it soooo well! I also went natural with both my boogers…so worth it, but yet, so challenging! Congrats…Hest and Ty were at my house when they found out Daphne had finally made an appearance:)

  • Nie Paredes - Awesome job Mary and to your team too! Congrats to all of you! I am so excited for you!

  • Zachary Adams - You, my friend, are one of the strongest people I know. What an amazing story; it is truly beautiful!

  • Andrea Williams - Wow Mary, that is really impressive! Great article and what an adorable baby girl, I can’t wait to see Daphne in person:)

  • Daniella Shambach - Great birth story Mary! Way to go natural! I can attest that back labor is definitely the most excruciating thing since you don’t get relief from it like normal labor pains. I had it with my first, but thankfully didn’t with either of the girls. You’re one tough cookie. Natural childbirth is not for the faint of heart.

  • Mary Dougherty - yay! Sar I’m so glad you are her aunt and my sister :) you should write down the story… and it’s crazy how similar our experiences were…

  • Mary Dougherty - thanks Holly + awesome job on going natural with both. Agreed it’s a rollercoaster going natural but worth it!

  • Mary Dougherty - I’m super excited for her to meet uncle ryan!

  • Mary Dougherty - glad you can relate – I mean, not glad you experienced it, but it’s great to meet people who survived through it too :) haha you are awesome Dani!

  • Arryn Vogan - She really is a beauty! I loved reading your story! I can’t wait to see more pictures of your little one!

  • Mary Dougherty - oh jamie! Glad you can relate but not glad you also endured back labor – look forward to sharing stories with you and loving each day with her

  • Mary Dougherty - oh shayna so sweet of you! glad you enjoyed and i would love to be talking in person with you soon!

  • Mary Dougherty - thanks auntie steph! he was awesome and I’m thankful for that!

  • Mary Dougherty - melody! congrats to you as well! hope we get a chance to have our daughters meet or at least catch up – hope all is well

  • Mary Dougherty - aw thanks zach! just another hard workout.. okay no that doesn’t even compare :)

  • Mary Dougherty - thanks Arryn!

  • Mary Lou Michnovicz - Beautiful story Mary for that dear little Daphne! I love that hat and the fact that she’s just looking you over. She seems older than newborn.
    When Matthew was born he had his arms over his head and a visiting Dr had to reach in there and pull down his arm so he could get out! I just had to tell you that. Love you all Mema.

  • Amanda Armitage - Mary, I agree with Sarah. I failed at writing down my birth story quickly and now, a year later, I’ve forgotten much of it. Reading your blog post made me realize that I’d forgotten and I cried a little, at the fact that I’d forgotten to document it but also because your story brought back some memories. Such a sweet story. You have a gift for both photography and writing. Thank you for sharing!

  • a year together » Mary Dougherty Photography l New York Wedding Photographer - […] Your dad and I still look over at each other and can hardly believe you are ours. A year ago, minutes before you were born my midwife was telling me “he’s almost there” and everyone was cheering me to the finish line of labor. You came out and much to her surprise (and almost everyone else who guessed your gender) you were not a boy but a girl! Your dad was so happy as he hoped for a girl and I felt like I knew it all along. I had a dream a that we would have a girl a year before you came and I couldn’t tell if it was my mind playing tricks on me or a sign. So, when you came, in a way I felt like I knew you… even though it was the day we first met. […]

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