Earlier this week I was at a red light when a flatbed truck drove into the back of our car. Thankfully he hit me at an angle and I went up the curb into the island and not into the car in front of or a nearby tree. I was discharged from the hospital with only muscular injuries that will need some physical therapy and soon make a full recovery. Unfortunately, most of those injuries are on my right side (shoulder, neck and hip) as the seat belt jerked me back hardest there. That’s my shooting arm and the part of my body that I need to be the strongest to do my job. Its currently very weak and strained with some nerve damage. I have a road of recovery ahead.
We were a bit shaken up but so relieved this wasn’t worse and our kids weren’t involved. As an American expat, moments like these frame our Thanksgiving festivities today. We have so much to thankful to God for. This could have been catastrophic for our family if but for grace.
I was on-call for a birth so as soon as I could get to my phone in the hospital, I called my back-up to inform her to please be on higher alert as I didn’t know what the night and next day would look like. I was waiting on results and in no condition to go. She was ready to go during this time. This is key. Be leery to hire a birth photographer that doesn’t have an industry friend on her speed dial as a back up.
That was Monday night. She was ready.
Wednesday morning my client needed to go in for a c-section as there were concerns for how her baby was doing. My back up was unavailable, busy with her own clients.
I spoke with my physical therapist. I spoke with my husband. I deliberated what to do. I did not speak with my clients because they didn’t need this stress, they needed to stay focused on their baby. It’s not about me. My physical therapist gave me some tips for avoiding further injury and the endurance I would need. She assured me it would be tough and not medically advised, but I wouldn’t be putting my long term recovery in jeopardy.
I was not able to take any strong pain medication because that would leave me unable to operate my gear properly. It was going to be a tough day from a physical standpoint and being able to focus beyond the pain.
With my neck brace in place and taking some breaks in between, I managed to cover the whole birth start to finish. My clients were gentle and understanding. The hospital staff were accommodating of my less than agile self. The one mistake I made was not affixing a sign to myself saying “I was in a car accident, ignore the brace.” I was asked over a dozen times and didn’t want to keep drawing attention to myself.
Lesson learned for next time.
Let’s hope there is never a next time.
I came home totally exhausted and it will take some time to catch up on admin/editing as I give myself the rest my body needs. I am currently on a no-shooting-allowed doctor’s orders for two weeks and physical therapy for a few months. But when you are a birth worker, its a bigger commitment than some first realize. This is their once in a lifetime. Its their years of hoping leading up this moment. There’s a whole back story that’s unique to them. They have mentally prepared to have it covered, as its not just a financial but an its emotional investment.
Your life doesn’t stop in between, car accidents, deaths in the family, children’s birthday parties, big family events all happen and sometimes intersect with their birth. While I am sure they would have been gracious and let me out of my contract if there was no way I could physically do it or my back up would have cancelled her clients to be with mine, but it just didn’t sit right with me to do that to them. I take a small number of clients a year, in part, because I enjoy building a relationship with them.
Theirs is a birth I won’t soon forget.
I’m grateful to be alive and getting strong again to tell more stories like theirs.
Nothing puts Thanksgiving into perspective like new life and life preserved.
Special thanks to Dr. Jacky Searle and staff at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital for their kindness.