This birth was adrenaline pumping for me over and over again.
I was at a maternity shoot and I get a call from my husband that one of my clients is in labour. He says her name and I thought, “No, you heard wrong, she’s for much later on. You sure it isn’t ____ or ____?” He was sure. My heart sank, it seemed way too early.
I will let her fill you in on the details in a moment.
For me, that whole night and evening I was on high alert. I knew it could be hours, it could be weeks. I woke up and put my scrubs on. Intuition told me, this is happening today. When I got the call to come, I got lucky with no traffic. My first sight upon walking in the door, was of her son crowning! I got to work quietly and efficiently. Years of experience and muscle memory kick in. Most of all I hoped for her sake that she would have a few minutes with him before he was rushed to NICU. That can be so rare for an early baby.
Her story as a first-time mom is so incredible. She walked this out with grace and joy even though she had no idea what to expect. And was facing this after pregnancy loss. I know it will be a riveting read for you and a reminder that birth is so unpredictable. You will also see the beautiful day they finally took their son home after overcoming a long NICU stay. Thank you Justine for sharing your story with us!
The pregnancy and birth of my rainbow baby wasn’t as straightforward as I’d hoped. I struggled with anxiety throughout my pregnancy (having fallen pregnant just 2 months after my miscarriage), developed gestational diabetes, and had a fall at around 7 months. It was likely the result of this fall that found me, two weeks later at around 5PM at my mother-in-law’s home, simply standing up from the bed after a nap and feeling a whoosh as my water broke at 7.5 months. I had wondered before if I’d know when my water broke and while this was early, I knew this was it. In a panic I told hubby what had just happened. He was calm, helping me to get my things and call our midwife before heading to the hospital. After speaking to the midwife we started praying that the baby stayed put. This was NOT part of the birth plan (a midwife-led water birth), but going into premature labour I was classed as high risk and had to be handed over to my gynae. We also called Marysol from the car and promised to keep her updated.
On arrival at the hospital we were greeted by the friendly face of Sr Valencia who I had come to know from my various visits to the labour ward. She strapped me onto the CTG machine to monitor baby and assured me that baby was doing fine, but that I had to be admitted as my water had definitely broken. I received my first steroid injection to strengthen baby’s lungs – just in case he decided to make an early arrival – and settled in for the night.
After midnight I started getting contractions which intensified around 2AM to the point that I needed to get out of bed and move around, but because we were trying to stop my labour I was promptly put back into bed and ordered to stay there – which was not easy. After a restless, sleepless night my contractions seemed to have eased off a bit by 8AM when I went in to have a scan with the gynae. He informed us that the tests they had done the previous night showed no infection markers so if the labour didn’t stop they would allow it to progress naturally as baby was in position. “But this could be a few days still, so relax and take it easy,” he said.
Back to my room I went to “relax and take it easy”… but two hours later I knew it wouldn’t be a few days. Around 10AM I started getting fairly intense contractions, but I was assured by the nurses that this wasn’t yet proper labour and I just needed to breathe through it. I spent the next hour-and-a-half between my bed and the bathroom (with hubby in tow) as the only relief I felt was while sitting on the toilet. It was just before midday when I sent hubby back to the nurses as I was convinced this WAS real labour and someone had to help me NOW. The nurse came as I was going back to the toilet saying it felt like I REALLY had to go, which seemed to startle her. She ordered me back to the bed in order to do an internal exam. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head as she declared that I was already 9cm!
Everything happened fairly quickly after that. Hubby called Marysol to inform her that this is happening NOW and I was swiftly moved to the delivery room as the Dr was summoned. Not long after getting to the delivery room I needed to start pushing. Somehow Marysol had flown through and arrived within 20 minutes of being notified. By 12h30 baby was crowning as hubby saw part of the head with a few of the pushes. I had already stopped focussing on anything outside myself and don’t even remember noticing Marysol arriving or taking any photos. At this point I was convinced I couldn’t go on anymore, couldn’t push any harder, and that he’d just be inside me forever.
I clearly remember laughing at some random commentary my husband was making (he’s a pretty funny guy) and Sr Valencia saying how not many women are laughing at this point. I guess we all cope in our own ways; mine was with laughter and the support of my amazing hubby.
He bent down and whispered to me, quietly telling me how he believed in me and how I was doing so great… and with his words of support and encouragement I pushed our beautiful rainbow boy into the world at 12:58 on 06 December 2016. He was placed on my chest immediately and we burst into tears as we greeted this life we had so longed for and awaited.
Due to his gestational age I could only hold him for a few minutes before he had to be whisked away to the NICU. I ordered hubby to go with him as I delivered the placenta and had a sitz bath. As soon as I was dried and dressed again, less than an hour after giving birth, I walked to the NICU to greet my beautiful baby boy.
The birth didn’t go according to plan at all but baby was here safely. I’d managed a completely drug-free natural birth and felt amazed at what our bodies can do. The support of the birth team was amazing: from the hospital nurses, to Dr Dumbrill, to the Birth Options midwives who had supported me through pregnancy. And the quiet support offered by Marysol was wonderful – she was there as support when I needed but never drew attention away from the job at hand and still managed to capture the moments as they happened. And now, all these months later, we can still look back at those beautiful images as a reminder of that amazing day.
Chanel is beaming. Her family is growing with a little girl on her way soon. If you missed her her son, Sion’s, birth story… you need to go cry your eyes out and watch. It’s the right thing to do. Here’s a look back at their maternity session with him and his baptism. I love walking a long road with my clients.
Now almost 3 years old, he’s becoming a big brother. We caught up an early Spring morning and had the beach to ourselves to capture their joyful expectancy and life as 3.
I can’t wait to meet their little girl. Both their babies are absolute miracles. Chanel and her story infuses me with hope. She’s lived it. Enjoy some highlights from their session.
Birth packages all include a mini-maternity session like this one complimentary. Its 30 minutes and so wonderfully quick that you will love it. We got this one done in just 27 minutes which is perfect for a toddler. If you are expecting and I’m fully booked for births or birth photography isn’t quite your thing, you can always book maternity/newborn sessions with me like this one. All of those packages include most gorgeous luxury heirloom album for you to enjoy all your photos of your screen and in your hands. Inquire here.
Their baby girl is here. Their family is now four. I met back up with Tiphaine and her family, this time at home (because newborn sessions are awesome at home). Your space is more incredible and personal for intimate photos than you can see. Her parents were in town so of course they are included. I’m all about the family affair! We even incorporated the dogs… but that was a bit of a crazy haired moment.
Be sure to see their Tokai Forrest maternity session right here if you missed it.
Welcome to the world sweet Allegra who slept her way through most of this session. I still can’t stop thinking about all-that-hair she was born with. Its magic!
Newborn sessions like these include your classic portraits that you might really want to frame and gift to family. But also are lifestyle in focus, getting all the unscripted moments in between and angles that are flattering but not as rigidly posed. You won’t see a baby in an unnatural position in a pot (awesome as that style is, it’s not mine). But you will see all her tiny details and portraits of her natural brand new beauty. Newborn sessions come in a package with a maternity session and a jaw dropping luxury album. Because I believe in printing images and holding them in your hands. Inquire here for more information.
Without further ado, Allegra is home and her brother is already a natural at this new role…
When I met Gwen, we clicked instantly. I understood her story and where she was coming from. It resonated with me. She’s wanting to share it a year later because it will probably resonate with some of you. If you missed it, start with their beautiful maternity session then come back to work your way through her story. She’s sharing it in her own words.
Their images are raw, poignant, and honest. For a little while there, we weren’t sure if an emergency c-section was needed. But Gwen had her instinct and had assembled a great team around her. You can feel the emotions of this dad (oh-how-fond-I-am of this dad, he makes me choke up with emotion) from trying to get her out the door to not knowing how this birth would turn out to meeting his baby and being surprised it was a boy to the tears. Proving real men do cry. He is a picture of a father fully present and invested in this birth. It was my honour to work with them as a couple and their tender family.
Gwen was assisted by the following team: Angela Wakeford from Birth Options Midwifery Team, Dr. Douglas Dumbrill at Life Vincent Pallotti and Doula Charlene Yared West. My gratitude to them for allowing me to work as another professional on the team. Without futher ado, their story. As always, shared with family permission.