April 22, 2013

The search was different this time.  Not just a hunt for a home to raise their soon to be family of four, but a place to become that family.  An address where the newest member of their family would take his first breath, open his eyes for the first time, and start his new life.  At 6 months pregnant, Rachel Thurston, her husband, Grant, and their little girl, Nova, were looking for a house and a birthplace all in one, for Fairbanks would be born and raised in the same place– at home.
Getting pregnant is not a struggle for Rachel, something she knows is a blessing not to be taken for granted.  She also knows that can change at any time, and so she and Grant were anxious to expand their family  as soon as they could (beautiful Nova just turned two).
They were overjoyed to learn they were expecting but soon, found themselves relocating and homeless at the height of Rachel’s morning sickness.  Leaving the home where Nova was born (also a home birth) was bittersweet.  Would they find the perfect place for their son’s birth?  It proved to be a challenge, but eventually they found a space with the right “energy,” as Rachel described it.

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March 30th came before they knew it.  Spring had come alive in Orange County and in the middle of a breathtaking, sunny Saturday afternoon, Rachel went into active labor.  Her midwife prepared a tub in their living room and laid out the supplies they would need.

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In the comfort of her own new home, Rachel labored and let her body do what it was made to do– a notion both natural and seemingly impossible!  The second time around was notably easier than with her first child.  That being said, labor is labor, and natural is natural.

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“It feels like your brain and your body are scrambled up and then right before you’re about to burst into flames, your baby is in your arms,” Rachel said.

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As she leaned against her husband, baby Fairbanks made his grand entrance in an unforgettable way.  His water sac never broke, something extremely rare.  The midwife carefully removed it and lifted him out of the water and into his adoring mother’s arms.
The bond was instant.
Fairbanks Mitchell, after Rachel’s birthplace city in Alaska, and his father’s middle name, weighed in at just under 10 pounds.

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“I wish I could describe in any accuracy what that moment feels like,” Rachel said.  “It is the perfect cocktail of joy and relief and love. Like fireworks and falling flower petals and laughter and the best kind of tears. In that moment I had never felt so full and complete. You were here.”

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Fairbanks was pink and perfect and let out a big cry– music to his parents’ ears.  He looked almost identical to his big sister at birth– dark hair, glorious chubby cheeks, a button nose, 8 chins, and arm rolls.  Rachel immediately recognized him– he was HER baby.  HER son.  HER boy.

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Nova was anxious to meet her baby brother and begged to join the pool party.  And that was it.  They were together, a family of four.  Just like it was meant to be.

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There is nothing like it, no bond stronger than that between mother and child.  The capacity to love, the endless worrying, the connection– it’s just more.  More than you can ever experience any other way.  And Rachel says it’s worth every moment of discomfort, every second of intense pain.

“If someone were to tell you all it would take is 10 months of some discomfort and a day of crazy intense pain and then you could have a person in your life that you love more than anyone, never want to be away from, would do anything for… what would you say?” Rachel asks.  “I didn’t realize fully before having kids, but had I known what was in store for me there would be no way I would have ever turned it down.  One of my all time favorite people was waiting for me.   Someone I wold be closer to than anyone that ever existed.  Would I walk through fire to get them?  YES… and I dare say I did.”

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Baby Fairbanks, your mother loves you enough to sacrifice all that she has for your safety, your happiness, your well being.  For you made her a mother for the second time and her arms have been waiting to hold you her whole life.

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“My sweet little Bear. Very early this morning at approximately 3:30am, I lay awake staring at you in my arms. We had just changed your diapers and fed and there you were fast asleep inches from my face. You were laying on your favorite pillow with your head in the nook of my elbow. My forearm fell down your back and my hand fit perfectly around your little tush. Your toes peaked out from your jammies and your cheek smashed up against my body made your face appear even chubbier than it already is. I know this is your favorite place..and it’s mine too. I also know your favorite place will change and it won’t always be somewhere where I will be able to stare at you as you sleep. This makes me hold you even tighter.  That being said, I am excited to see all the favorite places you do find. The world and all the people in it wait for you and the change you will bring. Just know as much as you and I evolve, you in my arms will never stop being one of my favorite places. If you let me, I would stare at you for the rest of your life. I don’t care how creepy that sounds. You are my lucky charm, my little love, my greatest creation. I will look and wonder at you forever. xxoo-Mom”

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You can read, and more importantly see, more from this soulful mother, wife, and accomplished photographer on her website, Rachel Thurston, and blog here.  Her images have a way of capturing real, raw, and heart-piercing beauty.  A true talent, right there (and her husband is a photographer as well.  Twice the talent).  I’m honored to say we’re the kind of friends who have seen each other in spandex and sequins when we were dancing teens.  She is a special lady, indeed.
Photos c/o of Rachel Thurston

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  1. Sara Philip says:

    I love this cute birth story! Darling story, Beautiful pictures!

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