This was my third birth, and my first experience with photographing a Hospital Birth. When Pookie (Milo) decided he was ready to come, he didn't waste any time. I arrived at the hospital shortly before my clients, and Milo made his appearance around an hour later. His birth, although quick, was so peaceful from the outside looking in. His momma was a pillar of complete strength and calm in the midst of medical bodies rushing around the room. Here's Milo's story told from the perspective of his mommy:
"For a while we had thought that we would want three children in our family. We already had both a son and a daughter but had felt that our family was not yet complete. A few months prior to conception, I had asked my older son if he liked the idea of another baby around. He said, “You already have a baby in your tummy. Her name is ‘Pookie’”. We had just started asking the Midwife about options to see if there were any issues but were incredibly blessed that we did not need to do anything for infertility. After trying to get pregnant for about a year we finally saw the positive pregnancy test we were hoping for. Immediately, this baby had the nickname, “Pookie” which continued through the pregnancy.
At nine weeks pregnant we went in to for our first appointment. The midwife had offered to do a blood test which was given to women who were 35 years old or older to see if there were any issues. This would also have the added bonus of telling us what the sex of our baby would be. I didn’t think a thing of it and agreed to have the test. I liked the idea of having the reassurance of knowing all was fine. We later received news which would really affect my pregnancy. I was told that I failed the blood test due to the presence of ‘Trisomy 8 Mosaicism’. The midwife, Maternal Fetal Specialists, and people at the lab had said that they had never seen this result. After many phone calls and visits to genetic counselors we heard from the laboratory that they actually didn’t know what was going on with my baby. Because I had ‘failed’ the test, we also had not yet found out whether he was a boy or a girl at that time. The lab said they had used the term “Trisomy 8 Mosaicism” as a ‘marker’ for the presence of something unknown. I was referred to a Maternal Fetal Specialist. We decided to do an amniocentesis, karyotype, and microarray to find out what was going on. Thankfully, all of these tests and all of our ultrasounds all looked good. We had panicked for about two and a half months. It was not until I was 22 weeks pregnant that we got the good news about him and that the amnio confirmed he was a boy. I cried more happy tears than I ever had in my life. We were told that either a. it was a lab error, b. the results that had an issue were confined to the placenta, or c. that the cells are confined to his brain or heart but that we really will never know that for sure unless he has surgery and they could then do a biopsy (ie: can’t do much about it). I then tried to relax a lot more during the remainder of the pregnancy. Everything else went quite well and ultrasounds continued to look good. He had a strong heartbeat and was always moving well.
My mother-in-law was out of town until March 11th in the morning. I kept saying my baby couldn’t come until she was back because she was supposed to watch my other two children. My daughter came at 42 weeks, my son at 40 weeks, but at 38 weeks Pookie was done waiting.
My husband had let me sleep the past couple days which was lovely. It had been spring break for the other kids and they had been home 4 days in a row. This was the final and 4th day of break and they were up early but my husband was letting me sleep in. At 10:30am I woke up from a dream that I had the baby at home. I was starting to have some contractions but that wasn't surprising since I had Braxton Hicks contractions starting around 20 weeks. I had also gone into the hospital two days prior at 3am because I thought my water had broken. Thankfully, my water had not broken at that time. When they had me hooked up to a machine - contractions were coming around every 6 minutes at that point. I said, "I bet I'm back pretty soon" - sure enough not 48hrs later we were back at the hospital.
From 10:30-11:30am I was thinking the contractions were pretty close together (although not getting more intense) so I started timing them - they were already about every 2 -5 min apart and lasting 30 seconds to 1 min...mostly 30-45 seconds. I wondered if it was the real thing or not. I decided to tell my husband that I thought it was possible so he should start getting ready. We called my mother-in-law and said 'why don't you go ahead and head here...just in case. She lives a little more than an hour away and thought it made sense for her to start heading our way. She took her time - stopping at the bank and re-packing....she got to our house at 2pm. By that time I was very anxious. I knew it was real labor because the contractions had become more and more intense. I was getting anxious and even feeling baby starting to drop lower. I had called my friend to come and either be with the kids or take me to the hospital.
I was in the bedroom trying to focus and listen to spa music while sitting on a birth ball but was still also trying to get ready and gear up to go. The other kids – ages 4 and 2 - were still popping in to ask me about snacks and show me toys, etc. It was really difficult to focus internally. I was getting so distracted and annoyed that we weren’t ready to leave yet. The hospital bags were still in the hallway…my mother-in-law wasn’t there yet.
I called our doula. She was in another city an hour away taking a class so we had to call our back-up doula instead - who I had just met the other day. I called the midwife. I called the birth photographer (Leslie with Novita Family Photostories). I forgot to call the hospital to tell them we were on our way. Leslie and our doula got to the hospital before we did!
Finally – my mother-in-law and my friend both arrived at the same time. I immediately gave them hugs and headed to the door.
I ended up sitting in the van for a few minutes (which seemed like forever) waiting for my husband to tell his mother some information about caring for the children. After a few contractions I started honking the horn. This baby was coming!!! It was a chilly March day and the van was not even on and getting warm yet.
When we arrived at the hospital they still needed to get a room ready. I was having a hard time focusing through contractions and knew Pookie was coming quicker than anticipated.
The nurse was awful - she was asking me questions and poking my belly through contractions (she really should have waited until I got through one to get a response!) They had to listen to my baby’s heart but I was upset that I couldn't get 'in the zone' with so much going on.
The midwife arrived. Apparently she had just caught someone’s baby who had hardly been at the hospital long at all. She checked my cervix - I was at a 5cm but I said I felt like I was farther along than that. The intern Midwife was there also. The Midwife had parked her car in the emergency lane and went to go move it.
The doula got the music set up. I wanted to get in the tub to relax but it took a while for the water to get warm...then it was too much water...by the time I got in the tub I was in there for just a few minutes when I thought my water had broken (it had). I said 'this baby is coming!' They got me out of the water quickly. I didn’t want to have my baby in the water. With my daughter they had said that I was quite tall and needed to make sure that I stayed low in the tub to be sure the baby was born in the water so they didn’t take a breath before hitting the water. I had to sign a consent form and that had freaked me out. I had said that I wanted to deliver out of the tub this time. The midwife was still not back from moving her car. I think I heard them mention that there was an OB on call who they may need to get in the room. Thankfully, the midwife arrived in time.
I changed out of the bathing suit and into a different skirt so to preserve some semblance of modesty.
Instead of laying on the bed I was on my knees leaning over the back of the bed which was propped up.
The midwife checked and said Pookie was at 3 station which meant he was coming! She said "If you want to get on your knees -you'll have this baby!"
I felt like i needed to push and It was just maybe 3-5 pushes (8 minutes according to the notes from our doula) and he was here! First his head and then they said "Don't push -just breathe and we'll wait for the shoulders".
I had no idea what was going on - everyone was behind me.
My husband had really wanted to ‘catch’ him but unfortunately the nurse and midwives had not read my birth plan (the birth photographer and the doula had read it days/weeks ahead of time).
I breathed through the next contraction and then they handed Pookie to me through my legs and up to my stomach where I held him. What do I do? Where do I sit? How do I turn? I knew he was still connected and the placenta hadn't come yet.
Slowly I turned to lay down and put him on my stomach - the umbilical cord was short. We collected cord blood. We did delayed clamping as much as we could and my husband cut the cord.
Pookie’s birth wasn’t as low key and hypnotic as the births of his older brother and sister. From the moment we arrived at the hospital until the time Pookie was born, it was only an hour that we were there! However, I am grateful that I was able to labor drug-free as I had hoped and forever grateful that there were no complications. More than anything I really believe that Pookie was a miracle for us. We were given just a 1-2% chance with the initial blood test results that our baby would be alright. He is here and beautiful and all is looking terrific. We are so thankful that he is a part of our family. Despite the craziness of the day, we are also very happy to have the photos as incredible memories which we can hold onto forever. Thank you, Leslie, for helping to tell the story of the arrival of our sweet little boy.
Milo (otherwise known as Pookie) -
Born March 12 2019 at 4:01pm 7lbs 13oz and 21in (21 and a 1/4 according to one nurse)
Milo was born at 38 weeks and 5 days approximately. "