Updated: Jan 6, 2019
I received an inquiry asking for birth photography from Lorie during her first trimester.
We arranged to meet at Edison coffee house.
Shortly after arriving, a woman with wildly vivid colors in her hair walked in and sat down with me.
As soon as we started discussing her pregnancy, my heart leapt into my throat.
She was so refreshing to be around.
She was happy. Easy to get along with.
Like a genuine happy.
She had told me that she wanted the birth of her first child documented and found connection in my work.
After several meet ups throughout her trimesters, the day was nearing.
We kept in frequent contact.
Always keeping me in the loop.
As the due date came closer, I noticed the moon was full.
We joked about how the moon brings babies.
There is no proof to that theory but it seems to maybe have some hidden truth.
On Thanksgiving Day, at 4am, I received a text that they were heading to the birth center. Her water had broken at 9PM the previous evening but active labor did not start until much later.
I arrived to find the usual swing of things.
Breathing slowly through the contractions.
Between contractions, food and drink were encouraged.
Nutritional strength was needed.
8 or 9 hours had passed and the progression seemed to change.
Water was introduced to help relax Lorie.
With the water beading down her back she was able to find some relief.
She became more aware and seemingly tired.
Her midwife, Lauren, checked her as little as possible to keep infection at bay.
Once checked, realization hit.
The cervix would not thin past a 6. It was also slipping towards her tailbone.
She entered into the pool and tried to relax once more.
Contractions started peaking.
Suddenly, she flipped down and was roaring.
Her movements shed familiar light on what was happening.
Nitrous was introduced to aide Lorie.
Larry did not leave her side one time.
Silent in his helplessness but strong in his love for her, he repeated encouragement over and over.
"You're doing great, wifey."
6 more hours passed and the frustration was all over their faces.
Lauren suggested that Lorie rest as much as possible.
Resting or napping during labor can sometimes relax the pelvis and the body so baby can move like she needs to.
Baby WANTS to come out.
Our natural tension or resistance to the pain can prevent that from happening.
We left her and Larry to rest.
Around 8PM, I could hear defeated groans from the room next door.
I could hear the midwives and assistants trying to check her one last time.
When I entered, I found her sitting backwards on the toilet.
She had ripped off the lid off the toilet.
With her water breaking at 9PM the previous evening, this put us on a time clock.
Once waters have broken, mothers must deliver within 24 hours at a birthing center.
If baby does not arrive during this time frame, then mom and dad must transfer to a hospital.
9PM struck and she was still at a 6.
We needed to leave.
Every single measure was exhausted to help baby move down. To help thin out her cervix. However, sometimes it just won't budge.
We RACED to the hospital in Thanksgiving family traffic.
By a miracle, we arrived within 15 minutes or less.
Once we arrived, she was admitted.
At this point, Lorie was in so much pain she was literally throwing herself off the bed and onto the floor when the contractions would peak.
The event would knock Larry down with her.
When her 4'11 self was able to knock over her husband, he stared up at me incredulously. I was impressed with how much force she had but it was not the time to express that.
Once in the bed, Lorie drifted in and out of awareness. She was so tired.
So frustrated that her plan was not going accordingly.
The nurses had to find a vein four times in both arms and hands.
The veins were not cooperating.
Larry started losing his cool but didn't say a word to anyone.
He wanted the pain to stop for her.
He appeared flustered, irritated...you name it.
It seemed like forever for the epidural to be administered.
It took over half an hour to try and insert the medicine.
The space between spinal cords is very small on the average person.
However, when you attempt to administer the needle into someone's spine who is 4'11, it is even more tedious. It is even more important that she stay absolutely still during those powerful contractions.
Anyone who knows labor knows that this is incredibly hard to do.
I noticed Larry cursing under his breath every time the anesthesiologist said,
"We have to try again."
So then I started chatting.
Telling him that this was actually a good thing.
Their care providers were trying SO hard to make sure the final insertions were the correct and last ones in the midst of Lorie in her pain. While hospitals have a reputation for apathetic nurses and doctors with a God complex, these people were the exception to the rule.
Her anesthesiologist was thorough and kind.
Her nurses were amazing and her hospital midwife, Amy, was a champion.
With sweat dripping from the anesthesiologist's head from 4 attempts in her back, the medicine took affect.
Within minutes, Lorie was snoring and drifted sleep.
We sat on the couch next to her.
I was waiting for it.
Larry finally found the words.
He looked right at me and said,
"This was not the plan".
After 25 hours of going through the original plan, comes the natural regret that men tend to express once their loved ones are finally receive relief.
Out of Lorie's possible earshot, I let him vent.
It is my job to not intervene.
To only offer help when it is needed.
I tried my best to explain the hospital setting and how fortunate they were to have their team. Their midwives had privileges at this hospital so they were as close to the "plan", in a hospital, that they could possibly get in our area.
After all of the commotion, everyone rested for a few hours.
Around 2am, Lorie awoke.
She was complete. (10 cm)
It was time to push.
After several tries to push, Lorie couldn't push effectively.
She wasn't able to feel anything.
She genuinely thought she was pushing. However, she was only holding her breath in a way that made her think she was pushing.
It is hard to follow direction when you are detached from the sense of feeling.
After several tries, her midwife told her to rest once more.
Baby was not in distress. Her vitals were beautiful.
Lorie's' vitals were great as well.
It was down to a matter of loss of feeling.
They knew what Lorie wanted.
To push as naturally as possible.
With her health in good standing, she was able to respect the wishes of Lorie.
Amy would allow the medicine to wear off in the next hours to try pushing once more.
730 am rolled around.
By this time, Lorie was SO tired.
She was simply exhausted.
This time though, her baby was in the birth canal.
There was a point where I saw Amy's demeanor change, I knew we were cutting it razor thin.
She never said a word as she was lathering the most intimate parts of Lorie in oil, but I have seen that face countless times.
If she didn't push this baby out soon...and I mean soon, she would not be getting the birth she wanted. We were headed towards a cesarean.
Her water had broken so long ago.
We could literally see the baby's head.
Lorie was fighting it.
Her nurse came in and I exited the room.
I could hear her nurse coaching and encouraging Lorie to push in an effective manner.
She helped her change positions.
Through the grunts and groans, I could hear Larry speaking.
"Good job, wife."
"You can do this wifey."
"I love you, wife."
"You are doing amazing, wife."
Once Amy and I reentered the room, I saw that look again.
Lorie was fighting it and exhausted.
I then tried my hardest to persuade & encourage her.
With a tear in her eye, I summoned all of the women who birthed before us to say the words.
Listen to me.
We are too close.
I can see her head.
If you do not push her out now, you will not get these photos that you have been dreaming of. You can do this. Trust yourself."
(Full disclosure. I would have never resorted to that phrasing had she been in actual danger or if baby was in distress. This boiled down to a matter of encouragement. The reality that she wanted was RIGHT THERE. Every person in that room was rooting for her. She just had to muster the strength and will.)
10 minutes later, her daughter was born into loving hands.
The love and release that waved through that delivery room was palpable.
It could have been bottled.
After 36+ hours of labor, they had their daughter.
She was healthy and full of the color pink.
Thanks to her incredibly patient birth team and partner, she was able to have the birth she wanted. She fought HARD for it.
I snapped all of the postpartum images I could get.
For over two years they had tried to conceive.
Negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test.
And here they were.
Immersed in one another as a family.
Feeling joy for them, I left them to their long awaited bliss.
Please be sure to leave love down below in the comments for this new family.
Thank you for reading and showing them support. <3
Birth Center: Allen Birthing Center
Midwives: Amy & Lauren