Since I haven’t been able to do much birth photography lately, I was thrilled when Abbey asked me to photograph the birth of their little boy! It’s a special privilege to be invited into the O.R. for a cesarean section. Little Elijah was born surrounded by lots of love from friends and family, especially his big sister. Congratulations and welcome to the world Elijah!
Jenny and her husband invited me to photograph the birth of their fourth child, fairly late in the pregnancy. I was excited to learn that they were planning a home birth, and even though I knew I would be relocating soon, I was so happy that I could photograph a couple more Cincinnati area births before I left Ohio. My last two scheduled births both went pretty far past their due date, making things a little extra crazy for me during my last couple weeks in Cincinnati! 🙂
Jenny’s birth was a perfect example of how unpredictable birth can be! Finally she called late one night and let me know that her water had broken. Heavy contractions came not too long after that, and since a broken water can mean that things can go rather quickly, especially with a fourth baby, I decided I should go ahead and head down to Northern Kentucky to their house.
I arrived around midnight to Jenny laboring quietly and her sweet husband and children (except for the youngest, who was sleeping on the couch) helping out with the birth pool and tending to mama. We waited. The midwives arrived and did a little monitoring and chatting. We waited some more. Mama climbed into the birth pool and the rest of us dozed a little. And we waited a little more. Finally around sunrise, Jenny started to verbalize that she was getting discouraged and that she could tell that things were somehow different that her other labors. Even though I don’t think she was originally planning on it, she decided to get checked to see how she was progressing. Much to her dismay, the midwife discovered that she was about 3-4 cm dilated.
At that point, Jenny insisted that I head home and get a little sleep and come back when she was a little further along. At about 8 o’clock that morning, I drove home, ate a little, hugged my babies and took a nap. A little after 12 o’clock noon I got the call saying that Jenny felt like she had to push! I said goodbye to my boys, put on my shoes, got my things together and jumped in the car! I may or may not have been speeding all the way to Erlanger!
When I walked back into Jenny’s living room, guess what I found- that’s right, a squishy little baby boy that was born 10 minutes before my arrival. Ahh, birth. You always find a way to outsmart me. Bennett was born at 12:41 pm, weighed 9 lbs., 6 oz., and was 21 3/4 inches long.
Congratulations to this sweet, adorable family! Bennett was definitely worth the wait!
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I had the extreme pleasure of being invited to photograph Katie and Andy’s birth for a second time. Even though their little one decided to make her entrance in a big hurry and I was unable to photograph her actual birth, I still love the moments we were able to capture just afterward! I arrived about 30 minutes after she was born. Darn you, rush hour traffic!
Here is Katie’s version of her AMAZING birth story:
Congratulations! Katie and Andy!
What a treat! This time we get to hear mom’s version of the birth story in all of it’s wonderful detail. The slideshow is at the bottom. Enjoy!!
Willow’s Birth Story
Early on Wednesday morning, during my last week of work at Whole Foods, labor began. For the week prior, I had been having contractions every evening for about an hour, but they always stopped before I’d go to bed. I had been fully expecting a nighttime labor and birth for Willow, since a lot of mothers of toddlers have births after putting their older children to bed (and Audrey was born overnight), but Willow had a different plan.
At 6:30 am, Jamie went out to start my car for me while I ate breakfast and got Audrey up and ready to go to Jesika’s for the day. When I went to use the bathroom, I was losing my mucus plug, so I thought maybe today was the day. I started timing some contractions shortly after that, but they were pretty irregular so I brushed it off and continued to get ready for work. Jamie left for work and told me to call him if anything changed.
I texted my midwife to let her know I had been having 20-25 second contractions every 3-4 minutes and wondered if she thought I should stay home from work, which she did recommend. These contractions were still pretty irregular over the course of an hour, and although they were stronger than earlier in the week, still seemed mild. I went outside to turn my car back off and bring my already-packed lunch and work bag back inside. I called Jamie at 7:30 to let him know I wasn’t going to work and that he should come back home. He said, “already?” I think he had somewhat expected that though. 🙂
When he got home, Jamie got started on getting the house ready for the birth: vacuuming, cleaning our bathroom, etc. I decided to take a bath to wash my hair, as I knew after Willow was born it would be a few days before I had time to do that. 🙂 The water was great and definitely made the contractions more mild.
From 7:30 am until 9 am contractions were still mild and although more frequent, there were still a few an hour that were 7 to 9 minutes apart, so I assumed I was still fairly early in labor. My labor with Audrey was about 8 hours, so I had expected this labor to go faster.
At 9 am, I texted Jesika to see if she could head over (we had asked her to be Audrey’s support person during the birth) and she arrived around 10 am. Jamie asked if he should set up the birth tub, and since I still had some contractions spaced out longer than 5 minutes, I said no.
From 10 to 11:30 am things continued on fairly steadily, with contractions ranging from 50 seconds to 110 seconds and ranging from 3 to 8 minutes apart. Around 11 am, I did start having some stronger contractions that were about 2 1/2 minutes long, but they were only about 4 an hour, with milder, shorter contractions in between.
At 11:30, my midwife texted me to see how things were going. I let her know some contractions were 90 seconds long, but still irregular as far as timing. Some were 3 minutes apart, but some were 7 or 8 minutes apart. At 11:37 she asked if I wanted my other midwife to come over to check in and get some stuff set up. My exact answer was “It is so hard to say since it has been all morning. I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea in case in sneaks up on me ;)”. (Lesson learned for future births: even if I still have a few 7-8 minute breaks between contractions over the course of an hour, it could still be time to birth in a couple hours ☺)
My second midwife arrived by noon and started to get some things set up. I was still content laboring on my yoga mat on the floor, dropping onto all 4’s for stronger contractions, resting my shoulders on Audrey’s bean bag chair for support. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate with the doppler and all was good.
Audrey was an amazing and brave girl, hanging out throughout labor. We watched “The Brave Little Toaster” and Audrey and Jesika hung out at the kitchen table while Jamie set up the birth tub. We had prepared for her to stay during the birth by reading some books (My New Baby, Welcome with Love, & I’m a Big Sister), and I had shown her several birth videos, including one of her birth. We had discussed that Mama would ‘roar like a lion’ since I would be working so hard, so she was prepared when she heard me. I stay fairly quiet during labor until the last hour or so, but I wanted her to be as prepared as possible, as she is an extra-sensitive girl.
Between noon and 1 pm, labor started to ramp up, and I prepared to get in the tub. I wanted to change from my white bra to a black bra since we had a birth photographer coming (alas we should have called her sooner), so I went to our bedroom to do that. I had to stop twice to get on the floor for contractions, so I knew we were getting close. When I came back out to the living room, the tub was still not full, as we had to wait for the hot water heater to catch up. I got in anyway and it felt great. Since our photographer had still not arrived, Jamie took a few photos with his camera, while still supporting me with counter pressure during contractions. He was an amazing labor partner! By this time the rest of my birth team was arriving. I’m not sure the time. Pretty soon after that I started to feel pushy, and I knew Willow was starting to make her journey through the birth canal. Thank goodness our photographer arrived at this point or we wouldn’t have gotten our birth photos! 🙂 Since the tub was still not filled as much as it should’ve been, my midwife firmly told me that I either had to keep my butt down in the water or get out to birth Willow. I couldn’t imagine getting out of the tub, so I told her to have Jamie help keep my end down. I held on to the side of the tub to try and keep myself more upright so I could keep my whole end under the water. Pushing is intense! But amazing! My first hard push I could tell her head was near birthing, and knew to let my body do the pushing. My awareness throughout the last hour was always on my breath and keeping my voice deep and full, which truly helps! The second push I felt her head starting to crown- she had a lot of hair! It was amazing having my hand there, guiding her out into the world. The next push her head came out- that was the most intense of it all and still wonderful! There is nothing else in the world that feels that way- yes, painful but exhilarating, life-breathing, and powerful! My midwives told me the hardest part was over, and on the next contraction she would be fully born. It felt amazing to take a short breather, still in the water, knowing I was about to meet my daughter. The next contraction the rest of her body slipped out and I reached down to bring her up to me. She was beautiful! Her hair was black and straight- I couldn’t believe it! (Between my husband and I, we have every type of hair in our genes, but our first daughter is a curly red head, so straight and black is on the total opposite end of the spectrum!)
My first words after Willow’s birth were “That was amazing!”
And it truly was. I couldn’t imagine birthing any other way.
Later I learned that the only time Audrey started to seem even slightly overwhelmed is when I was pushing at the end. She saw me gripping the tub tight and thought I wanted to get out. She told Jesika they needed to help mama get out of the tub! She is such a sweet and brave girl.
After the birth, I was helped out of the tub and sat on the couch for skin-to-skin time. It was a magical time and the euphoria of birth was still high: holding my new baby, being surrounded by my husband, daughter, and birth team, and just soaking it all in. Jesika brought Audrey over to us on the couch so she could meet her sister. She wanted to sing to her, so we all sang “If You’re Happy and You Know it” and “Happy Birthday” to Willow. I’ll never forget that- it was so cute!
The next step was to get the placenta out. After about 45 minutes, my midwife thought it would be a good idea to try the Angelica tincture to help the placenta out. Almost immediately, I birthed the placenta. They prepared my herb bath and Willow and I took a wonderful bath together, which we would also do for the next 5 days.
We left the placenta intact for a couple hours. After we were ready to cut the cord, Jamie suggested that I do it, since he got to cut Audrey’s cord. That was another really awesome experience. And apparently I had the longest umbilical cord anyone had ever seen. 🙂
Welcome to the world, little Willow Grace. You are loved beyond measure!
Special thanks to:
my partner/husband/doula/utility man: Jamie
my brave and amazing daughter: Audrey
my amazing birth team: Pam, Meghan and Lori
my birth photographer: Erin
Audrey’s birth partner: Jesika
Cincy homebirth mamas who shared supplies and wisdom
my placenta encapsulator: Tiffany
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I awoke early Tuesday morning to a phone call from Nichole saying that she was pretty sure she was going to have a baby that day. She sounded especially excited, as is the usually the case for mamas that go past their due date! I stayed in touch with Nichole and her doula throughout the day and then headed up to Good Sam around 9 o’clock that night when Nichole was about 7cm dilated. I have learned from experience that this does not necessarily mean that a baby will appear soon, but one never can tell, so it is better to be safe than sorry! When I arrived, Nichole was resting as she had been laboring all day. Nichole’s awesome doula Connie spent a few hours trying some position changes to try and get baby to into the right position. Baby did rotate around into position beautifully, but Nichole’s was staying put at around 7cm. Her doctor suggested some Pitocin to increase the strength of her contractions. After a few more hours, she was 10cm and ready to begin pushing. It wasn’t long before Nichole welcomed little Charlie! She needed a tiny little jump start to start breathing on her own, and then quickly showed all of the nurses her feisty side. 🙂 As you’ll see from the slideshow, she is quite the little beauty.
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I had been in touch with Phil and Laura throughout the night on Monday, as Laura was making progress, but not very fast. Being that this was her first baby, I was expecting to things to move a slowly, as is sometimes the case. I was taken a bit by surprise when I got a call from Laura in the early morning hours on Tuesday, saying that she was 9 cm and almost ready to begin pushing! Now that is one way to get a birth photographer out of bed with a quickness! I didn’t even stop to brush my teeth, just threw on my clothes and flew out the door. Great! Rush hour traffic. Luckily, I made it to the hospital with time to spare AND time to brush my teeth. I arrived to a laid-back Laura, getting ready to push. When it was time, Laura worked extremely hard to bring her baby into the world, pushing for almost two hours. Just when she thought she couldn’t push any longer, their little one was born! Phil, who has a self-described weak stomach was planning on keeping a little distance from the action. We kept a chair directly behind him, but he did great! They didn’t find out ahead of time what they were having, so everyone was excited when they were surprised with a little girl. Congratulations to the both of you! I can tell little Chloe is already so very loved.
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I was so excited to work with Angela and Matthew partly because this was their first baby and that is always fun, but also because their doula is a friend of mine. Angela knew she wanted an unmedicated birth, and this was a birth in which everyone truly worked together. However nobody worked harder than Angela! Her and Matthew showed up at the hospital in early labor and were slightly disappointed that Angela was only a couple of centimeters dilated. They decided to stay and spent the day trying to move things along. Baby took his sweet time, and poor Angela was getting more and more exhausted. At one point, I went home for a few hours when we discovered she wasn’t as far along as we had hoped. When I returned, I was so amazed at how she had hung in there and stayed with the process like a champ. Over 24 hours and two doulas later, she welcomed her baby boy into her arms. Well done Angela and Matthew, and congratulations on your beautiful, natural birth and your adorable son!
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I am always amazed at mamas that can go past their due date with patience and grace. After a couple of onsets of false labor, Jessi made her way to the hospital. I arrived at about 2 am, as Jessi was comfortable and at about 5 or 6 centimeters. We chatted and waited until around 9:00am when adorable Avery was born. He needed a little help to transition to the world, but after a brief period in the special care nursery, he was reunited with his mama and daddy to plenty of hugs and kisses.
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I had the lovely pleasure of photographing Zachary and Blair’s wedding day. There was such an atmosphere of fun and relaxation, and I could tell right away that these two were definitely made for each other. From getting ready, to saying “I do”, they were both completely at ease. Although this was probably the largest bridal party I have ever photographed, it was easy to see that each and every person involved cared deeply for the happy couple. It was very hard to tell who was family and who was friend, and I would say that is a wonderful thing. Congratulations Zach and Blair! I wish you the very best in marriage and in life.