Now, some of you might be thinking, "where has she been?!"  My online presence over the past year has been minimal due to my complicated pregnancy and the fact that there was no way I could work my day job and keep up with photographing for clients at the same time.  I've been away from my camera for too long, and couldn't wait to get back to it!  So when my doctor asked me the day before my due date if I wanted to just come in and get it over with, I said "Yes please!"  I was already dilated to six centimeters and 100% effaced, so why not?

There are decided advantages to scheduling your baby's birth.  With my first two sons, my water broke suddenly in the wee hours of the morning, so I rolled out of bed all haggard and exhausted from the previous day's nesting activities and off to the hospital I went looking like crap.  Not this time!  My induction was scheduled for noon on March 18th.  I took full advantage of this and slept in until 9 a.m., then spent the rest of the morning making myself look nice before heading down to the Mercy Family Birthplace.  If you're hiring a photographer to come to the hospital do document your baby's birth, it is definitely advantageous to know ahead of time when you will be in labor.

Once we got settled in and school was out, my sons joined me and Mike at the hospital to say goodbye to mommy's great big tummy, and to wait for the arrival of their new little brother!

The doctor came in and broke my water at 5:45 p.m.  I had my first contraction within five minutes, and we knew the wait time wouldn't be long!

By 7:30 p.m. the contractions were going strong and steady.  Daniel kept a close watch over the monitors, and every time he saw the "mountains" starting to rise he would quietly warn me that another contraction was on its way.  Matthew stayed at my bedside most of the time, holding my hand and anxiously watching my face as the contractions came and went.  He was so concerned for his mommy.  I am very proud to be raising such great little men!

In case you're wondering "What's up with the watch?" I'll tell you this:  a watch with a second hand is the BEST focal point to have.  A digital watch that counts seconds works just as well; fixing your eyes on those seconds and watching them tick away during those moments of excruciating pain helps to keep you focused on your breathing and also helps you to know that even though you are in a world of hurt, the pain IS in fact passing with every second.  I can't imagine going through labor without one.

As if being in a hurt locker isn't fun enough, the hospital's only anesthesiologist was stuck in trauma and wasn't able to administer the epidural at the scheduled time.  No pain meds?  No problem--I am a birthing champion, and sailed through those waves of pain like a boss.  By 8:50 p.m. baby Gabe was almost here and the contractions were at their most painful!  A few minutes later the anesthesiologist came sweeping into the room, apologized for being so late, and administered sweet relief in the form of a spinal block (it was too far into the labor for an epidural at this point).  Epic timing on his part, since I was starting to feel the urge to push just seconds before he entered the room.  Once the spinal block was taken care of, my fabulous doctor was at my bedside and it was time for things to get moving--and FAST.  

Our gorgeous baby, Gabriel Jacob Shawn Davidson, made his graceful entrance into the world at 9:12 p.m. on March 18th, 2016, weighing 8 pounds and 1 ounce--a full pound more than I had estimated, and then some.

Baby Gabe did NOT like getting his feet prints taken. Gabe does, however, looooove a warm bath!

Mike, Grandma Helen, and Gabe's big brothers Matthew and Daniel, ogling over the new addition to our family :)

Daniel was amazed at how tiny his new brother's hands are!  He and Matthew are so in love with their new baby!

As fabulous as everything went, getting Gabe into the world wasn't all sunshine and roses.  I tested positive for Group B Strep during the pregnancy, so I had to have two rounds of antibiotics before I could give birth; once he was out, he developed a fever on the second day and we had to stay in the hospital an extra two days so that he could have a couple rounds of his own antibiotics to guard against any infections.  Overall though, I couldn't have asked for a better labor, doctor, anesthesiologist or better nurses.

Everyone at Mercy was awesome!  

Last but definitely not least, I have to give special thanks and major kudos here to my good friend Jennifer for taking all of the beautiful photos you see in this blog post.  These images will be priceless treasures that only grow in sentimental value as the years pass and our family grows. THANK YOU, girlfriend, from the bottom of my heart!  MUAH!!!