This was a special request to travel to the St. Louis area to photograph Ashley’s birth. Ashley and I went to school together for many years….I can’t remember when I met her but it may have been as early as fourth grade when we were in Girl Scouts together! It’s funny how birth brings people together….after Facebook was invented, we connected on there over similar thoughts about the birth process. (We both love midwives.)
Getting to capture the expressions of husbands, siblings, and grandparents at births is one of my favorite things about this job! We took a risk but it worked out, and I’m glad because hers was a lovely, calm birth with a family focus. (And, P.S. don’t you love her home decor?!)
This was Ashley’s second home birth and she seemed a little anxious about the potential length of it because of how long her first baby was. Because it was her second and the first baby generally “paves the way” for subsequent babies, I suspected it would be faster than she thought it would be. But of course, one never knows for sure when it comes to birth. Thankfully, I was already planning to be in St. Louis for some other things and I had just enough travel time, despite a short hail delay around Springfield!
As soon as I arrived in town, my kids were asleep, my head hit the pillow…..and Ashley started texting me updates. Contractions were getting intense and she was starting to feel some nausea. She didn’t know what to do or what to tell me. To this doula, that nausea and indecision were clues that she was in transition, and it was time for me to go to work! It was probably for the best that I hadn’t fallen asleep at all, since that really makes it worse than no sleep at all. Birth photographers and doulas don’t need sleep. We can run on adrenaline instead!
I took a deep breath and started mentally going through my checklist before pushing myself to my feet. Such is the life of a doula-birth photographer.
As I was preparing my brain for work, Ashley told me her midwife was on her way and I should probably head over. It was close to midnight when I arrived, pulling up just in time to catch one of her midwives walking in the door. That kind of timing for a shot like that was going to make a good addition to her birth story!
We had been there for less than an hour….the midwives were putting their supplies in order, me composing some detail shots. Ashley had been quietly breathing through contractions and slipped in the pool when she suddenly started making different noises. Of course at this point in my experience, I was anticipating that change in a laboring mother’s tone that comes around transition time. I thought she had maybe an hour more to go, but within a few contractions she started pushing a baby out! Wow! I was really happy for her to be at this point, because I know how worried she had been. What a difference a baby makes!
And there she was – another girl!! Surprise gender reveals after birth make for the best pictures! <3