This one gives me all the feels. It was my first.
From 37 weeks on, I checked and double checked my phone constantly, looking for any signs from a laboring momma. I have been obsessed with birth since my first pregnancy 12 years ago, and dreamed of being a birth photographer for almost 4 years. It was finally happening.
But this isn't my story. It's hers.
Her first birth was incredibly traumatic. She was young and unprepared. She trusted the doctors more than her own body. She agreed to every suggestion they made, leading her down a road of interventions that ultimately culminated in surgery. She had an adverse reaction to the epidural, leaving her foggy and unable to see or hold her baby for the first 4 hours of his life. She felt dis empowered and robbed of so many precious memories. She was so traumatized from the experience that she vowed she would never have more children.
But some things are just meant to be. She became pregnant again 7 years later. She was scared. But she was determined.
THIS TIME WOULD BE DIFFERENT. She made sure of it.
She did her research. She connected with other women, drawing strength and wisdom from their experiences. She assembled her birth team. She took back her power. And when the time came, she was ready.
Momma was convinced that this baby would make his appearance before Christmas. Christmas came and went. New years came and went. We all started to feel like he was never coming. I guess I don't blame him... it was a cold and snowy winter.
I finally got the call at 12:51 pm on January 12, after we had been hit with a major snow storm. The roads were crappy. The snow was still falling. I grabbed my gear, headed across town, and barreled into the snow-covered driveway - getting my car completely stuck at an angle.
When I came through the door, she was on hands and knees mid contraction. Her 8 year old was playing on his phone nearby, her 2 year old step son running Thomas the Train up and down the kitchen floor. Her mom was also there - someone she swore would not be present for this birth.
Her friend and doula arrived shortly after, taking over caring for her as I got my camera gear ready and started shooting.
We got her upstairs and into the pool. She kept saying that she didn’t feel anything in her abdomen - not at all what she would expect for contractions. Her abdomen never got hard or tightened - just a sharp stabbing pain on her cervix. Baby was posterior and momma was in for a long ride. Luckily she had amazing support.
Her friend didn’t leave her side from the time she arrived. She held her hand, rubbed her back, cooled her forehead with a wet washcloth. At one point, she threw off her socks and hopped into the pool to support momma in a new position. (She now has what is affectionately referred to as her “birth leggings”).
Her 8 year old son was there too, comforting his momma and helping her through contractions. He even got into the pool and helped apply pressure to her back. He kept us all laughing with his questions about birth and poop analogies.
Momma was exhausted. She spent weeks in prodromal labor. Her labor started the previous evening, ramping up that morning. She was dealing with a posterior baby. Even though this was her second baby, it was her first experience with active labor. After over an hour of pushing, baby was still not coming.
We looked at each other with concern. We knew how much this home birth meant to her. We also knew she was reaching the point of absolute exhaustion and everything we’d tried so far wasn’t working. We knew she wasn’t going to make it much longer without being transferred. But we were not ready to give up on her. And neither was she.
Her friend and doula decided to stand her up. She had almost no strength. I stepped in, helping to hoist her over her mom’s shoulders while her friend and doula supported her from the back and side. It took all four of us and all of momma's strength to make that transition. But then, it didn't take long...
“His head is out!”
Those words came about as fast as I had let go of momma and grabbed my camera. I rushed over to capture baby Zavien between worlds.
As soon as momma stood up, Zavien practically fell out into momma’s friend’s arms.
Momma turned around to see her baby, shocked that she actually did it!
She collapsed into the tub, exhausted and relieved, and took her baby into her arms for the first time.
SHE DID IT.
Big brother and grandma came rushing in from downstairs. They were so proud.
And big brother finally got to read a story to his baby brother as they snuggled together in mom’s bed.
SHE DID IT.
She did it at home, exactly as she dreamed of. Surrounded by the calm presence of people she loved. She trusted the wisdom of her body and SHE delivered her baby.
Read her story from her perspective here
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