Birth of Lilia Reese - Colorado Springs Birth Photography

I knew in an instant that Sarah and Matt would be so fun to work with. Just weeks before their birth I was documenting the birth of her cousins second son, Jack. It was so awesome to be apart of both families births! 

From the moment I walked into the room it was clear that Sarah and Matt had this beautiful bond between them. There wasn't a dry eye in the room as we all watched them labor and birth together as a team. Encouraging music played in the background, and seemed to perfectly fit in with all of the emotion flooding the room. 

Lilia Reese was born into world, surrounded by some of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. And I had the great honor to document and freeze those moments in time for her parents to be able to look back on for a lifetime. Thank you Sarah and Matt, you make some of the very best parents in the world. 

Below is Sarah's story in her own words. Be sure to send her a kind word in the comments below the pictures. 


As I sit here, there is a chilly, gentle rain and I just can't bring myself to close the windows. I can feel something other than pain for the first time in just about 10 months. It feels good. It is not uncomfortable anymore. It's just: real.

I have been purposefully quiet on my blog for quite some time, waiting for the conclusion to present itself as to not just be complaining, but more be factual and purposeful.  The last 10 months (basically since my last post) have been very difficult. And this is probably not even the right word to use. I got pregnant.  With an IUD.  After we went through the most intense 2 years of my life of all kinds of growth.  God really doesn't give you more than you can handle? Then He knows more than me of what I can handle! The timing was insane to say the least. I remember collapsing on the bathroom floor thinking, Oh my God, help me. I just can't handle this right now. This was just too much. We had JUST moved back to Colorado, not even being back 2 months, where I had just started my new dream job and was working hard to get adjusted to the newness of it all.  I had just come off the intense high of studying for the past year for the CNIM, taking it and passing and then packing up all our things and moving in a whirlwind home when an opp presented itself. I needed more than a mental break. I needed to literally clock out of all of life for awhile and recharge.

Well, if someone had told me what pregnancy would do to me, I would have cried nonstop for the entire time, and well...I kinda did. Pregnancy hates me. I share the same feeling. Can we talk being the most sick I have EVER been? Morning sickness until week 24.  We are talking using every minute of every day trying not to puke. In my mask. On my scrubs. Everywhere. That stops finally, and pregnancy induced carpal tunnel takes over. Wrapping my wrists every night or I would wake with them unusable for the day's work.  Insane joint pain.  Waking up for months with the room spinning and ears ringing. Puking from the vertigo. This all never completely vanished. Week 24 I was also diagnosed with preeclampsia.  My uterus was pissed off at me and contracting for weeks prior to labor.  You name it, I had it.  Oddly, I was never afraid and knew it would be ok if I could just make it to the finish line. Thank God for modern and ancient medicine. Acupuncture and changing my diet helped tremendously. I thank God for my midwives and doulas who helped me navigate this completely unknown territory.  My cousin's wife, and dear friend, was pregnant the same time and I pretty much copied her every move as much as I could to get through it all!

Fast forward to week 34.  We have made it so far. Have I mentioned how CRAPPY you feel with preeclampsia?!  I literally felt like every single day was my last and I was on my death bed. I just kept taking one step forward a day as that's all I could handle.  To pretend to be feeling good and normal. My Lil daughter and I were gonna make this insane Tough Mudder ours! If we could just make it a couple more weeks....

High BP. Hospital visit. Sobbing.  All's normal. Going home. Prayers carried us by so many.  Insane emotional roller coaster of hormones and wants and wishes. My husband, Matt, could not have been MORE supportive this entire time if he wanted to. Team Voelker rocks.  I look at him and am so grateful for going on this journey with him.  God knew it would take a strong man to handle all this, and I guess subconsciously I knew I would need the same.  Picking up a man in the airport is highly recommended ;)

All looks good. Get to week 37. Losing amniotic fluid pretty rapidly. 16 to 6 in 3 days. Pulling trigger on inducing. Thank God.

Well, we sure fought for this one! Friday, June 17 we go to hospital to start the induction process. Naively, I thought we would have her that night if not sometime Saturday. Here's the birth story there....

We roll into the hospital 50-60% effaced and barely a 1 dilated. Gameplan: start with Cervidil to ripen the cervix and go from there. 12 hours later, I had effaced to 60-70% but no changes with dilation even though I was contracting frequently with pattern. Next up to bat: Cytotec. 12 more hours. No change. Super frustrating and defeating for me as this whole process had been so mentally and physically wearing.  I felt I only had enough energy to make it a certain distance and that was quickly being used up for nada.  Changed the plan a bit. Whoohoo! Now we are moving! Dilated 3-4 and 70-80% effaced.  Talk about a snails' pace! It's a marathon, Sarah. Embrace the pain. You got this.


Foley Bulb: I hate you. I love you. Talk about wowzer discomfort and pain. 40cc's are not fun inserting a giant water balloon.  Cervix hears my pleas and cooperates. Dilated to 4.5! My midwife comes and breaks my waters. Holy heck. That is a fun experience. Here we go. Freight train roaring out of the station. We are in active labor after 2 days. Sunday night I go through all I have learned with my Matt and I make it. I get though transition and honestly didn't even know I was. At this point, I am so beyond exhausted, but know the feeling is so similiar to my marathons, it's all good and I know I got this. It is a weird feeling not knowing what your body of 33 years is going to do.  Trusting it's every move is doing something and closing eyes and going with the flow.  There was a peace around me that I can't describe but meditative.  Staring at the shower head through contractions in the tub saved me. That small rip in the ceiling saved me. Staring and clocking out much like in a marathon.  This isn't pain. This is just what my body was meant for. This is just pressure. I can do this. Embrace it.

Well, Monday morning arrives. I feel the need to push. We try for what seems like hours. I remember saying over and over, I don't know how to do this. I don't know what to do. We figure out what is going on. Lilia is positioned sunny side up and causing extreme back labor for me. Coming down at an angle and lodging on my pelvis. Mylanta. Why would I expect this part to be easy? HA!

I put my running music on for my high.  It worked. I got my runners high in labor. This is when it all sunk in.  I physically could not do this without aid.  The fuel station was right here and I needed it at mile 25.  At this point, my contractions were starting to shut down, 1 every 10 minutes, probably out of protectiveness and sheer pain.  The plan was to move Lilia naturally while possible. Then administer pitocin to increase my contractions again to aid me in pushing productively. I literally could not handle the back labor.  I dreaded the 1 every 10 minute contractions, and couldn't handle more frequent.  Every contraction, baby's head rammed hard into my tailbone, bruising it more and more.  It felt like someone had a sledge hammer to my pelvis.  I needed help. I needed aid. Because of Lilia's angle, I could not get her out. 

I had a flashback to my Colorado Marathon.  I had trained so hard, but nothing can prepare you for race day.  I naively so many years back had left all my warm clothes in my checked bag at the start.  I waited, in the canyon's shade, for over an hour in 20 degrees up the canyon in shorts, a tank and long sleeve tech shirt. I burned all my fuel before even starting the 26.2 miles. Halfway though this race, I had to accept my body literally could not do what I had trained it to do. I had to let go of the dream race and embrace the slower pace with the goal of finishing the dang thing.  It became an enjoyable experience for me, the achiever, although so much of me was tempted to push anyway and be thoroughly disappointed at the end. I chose another ending.

Well, this is what happened to me in that moment somewhere between 5-8 am Monday, June 20th.  I had to decide. Be the stubborn, hard headed Sarah I have been known to be, or accept the help to heal my body and get through it.  I called for the dreaded epi and pit.  This was the time. My doulaand midwife agreed. This was when it was necessary.  At this point, I had been in labor since Friday evening, and active labor for over 10 hours.  You do the math.  It will hurt me to think about it.  I needed to conserve for the end.

Que sleep. Glorious sleep. Our plan worked. As I slept for 4-5 hours, my body worked with the pit to reposition our baby girl.  My coworker anesthesia had been the one on call and came to my aid when the epi was called for.  Ironically, but not, weeks before, we had been chatting in a case and they asked me what my preference was, drugs or none. I had shared all about not wanting drugs and no epi if possible. So you can imagine my surprise and relief when they walked in, already knowing my preferences and administered the most perfect dose of the perfect cocktail I could have asked for.  I could still feel, but with no pain. I was not numb, but could feel my body's cues.  It was the ideal situation.

Game time. I got to watch my daughter being born.  I got to push her out, which I needed so badly.  It was my exclamation point to the most difficult months of my life: that it was finished.  It was one of the highlights of my life. I thank God for that mirror that taught me what was needed and let me witness her first breath into this incredible world.  Matt caught her. Team Voelker!  I remember screaming, she's huge! For 2 weeks early (1 day away from 38 weeks), weighing 8 lbs 3 oz, I was so grateful she was OUT.  I fought for this Lil one. 

We named her Lilia Reese. Lilia means "All I have belongs to God" and "Beautiful flower" while Reese means "Ardent, fiery and enthusiastic."  We couldn't of a better name for what we had gone through.  Even after labor was a fight.  I was in and out of consciousness with the dizziness lingering.
Even though this insane experience, there was NOT ONE time that our baby Lil was in danger. From day 1.  I thank God for this and that it was all on me only.  Even after, my doula told me my placenta was super thick! The thickest she had seen.  And extremely healthy.  God protected us all. 

So recovery has been: Fun.  But I am a survivor! My life verse, Psalm 118:17 " For I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done" has been my rock.  It is now Lilia's verse, too.  IUD babies don't usually make it well.  There's like .005% chance of getting pregnant on an IUD, then 50% chance of miscarriage when removed.  We took the IUD out around week 8.  She pushed through that. Pushed through preeclampsia. We made it.

To make this experience even more loaded is this: The day Lil was born was Monday, June 20th at 3:59 pm.  The day of the Strawberry Moon, which happens once every 70 something years.  It signifies a time of harvest.  Matt and I are so grateful for this day.  It means so much in our lives.  To make it better, 3 weeks before we had Lil, our good friends gifted us an amazing piece of art that had a strawberry pink moon on it.  They didn't know! Lilia was also born on my Aunt's and my dear friend's birthdays, who has been like a 3rd grandma to me growing up.  

So, here I sit, with the rain, on the couch with my Lilia wrapped tight in her Solly wrap.  Holding her close, hearing her little coo's and thanking God for knowing more than I do and what is good for us. She is our gift.  Our Lil flower. I am so excited for the adventures we are going to have together. Life is amazing.  

My current song is Martina McBride's "Just around the corner" which has been on repeat for the last couple weeks of my pregnancy and also the time writing this. I will leave you with the lyrics. They held me with hope that God knew what He was doing and that the reward was Just Around the Corner. It was :) I am stronger!! With great sacrifice is great reward.  It truly was worth it. I love this Lil with all my heart. Thank God that "almost" year is over.

Onto the ADVENTURES, but YOU are our greatest Adventure.
We love you, Lilia Reese.
"Just Around The Corner"
Martina McBride

There's no good crash course
On how to win what you're fighting for
You find a little grace
When you lose your faith
And you set your sights once more

On a slow down deep breath
And the strength to take another step
And keep walking baby
Keep on walking baby

Just around the corner
The sun's a little warmer
The storm is blowing over
It's finally over
The weight that you've been holding
The faith that's been broken
Ain't broken any longer
And you'll be stronger
Just around the corner, corner
Just around the corner

It's a white flag in the air
It's the hit your knees kind a prayer
It's a you don't know, whose lifting
But you hope it's someone, somewhere
It's a reaching out kind of friend
Over and over again
It's a God send
A God send

Just around the corner
The sun's a little warmer
The storm is blowing over
It's finally over
The weight that you've been holding
The faith that's been broken
Ain't broken any longer
And you'll be stronger
Just around the corner, corner
Just around the corner

Ohh, yeah, yeah
Ohh, yeah
Ohh, yeah

A break in the clouds
Can't see it now
But it's out there
Hold your head up
One foot in front
Of the other

Just around the corner
The sun's a little warmer
The storm is blowing over
It's finally over
The weight that you've been holding
The faith that's been broken
Ain't broken any longer
And you'll be stronger
Just around the corner, corner
Just around the corner, corner

Just around the corner, corner
Just around the corner