Last week I photographed two births in two days, a first for me. Gemma Jet was born at 11:14am on Tuesday, April 17th. Gemma is Lani’s first baby, and though she and Dex planned to give birth in their home, they ended up transferring during labor to Swedish Hospital in Issaquah. It was a long, tough journey, but Gemma was born into a room full of love and joy.
Lani texted on Sunday evening saying she had been having mild contractions since the afternoon and had had some bloody show the day before. I thought things would likely pick up during the night, but it wasn’t until six in the morning that Dex texted saying that Lani’s contractions were now five minutes apart and so intense she couldn’t talk through them, though they weren’t ready for me to take pictures yet. Those are good signs that things are moving along, so I packed up and headed their direction, hoping to avoid traffic. I hung out at Starbucks for a couple of hours when Dex texted again saying they had summoned the midwife and I could come on over.
When I entered their house I could hear Lani vocalizing through a contraction, and I knew that she was working hard. The midwife arrived shortly after I did, and after watching a few contractions, offered to check Lani’s cervix to see how far along she was. Sadly, even with all the work Lani was doing, she was just two centimeters. The midwife recommended relaxing in a bath and distracting herself with movies until contractions got closer together. Knowing how hard Lani was working already, I wondered how long she’d be able to keep doing what she was doing. The midwife left, and I headed home, half expecting/hoping to be called right back. But the afternoon went on and no calls came.
After a preschool board meeting that evening, I texted Dex asking for an update. He said that contractions were still intense, but they had spaced out to twelve minutes apart, and he’d let me know when things changed. I went home and went to bed with my phone right next to me. At 2am Dex texted again saying Lani had transferred to the hospital to get some rest with an epidural. She was seven centimeters dilated. It was so good to hear that Lani had progressed so much and that she was able to rest now. At that point she had been laboring for well over twenty-four hours already, and she still had a ways to go. I joined them at three, and was SO impressed with the care Lani received in that hospital. When I transferred from the birth center to the hospital with my first child, I had to fight with the staff over things that were important to me: things like avoiding episiotomy and delaying cord clamping. But each request Lani and Dex brought up to the nurses or doctor was accepted as the way that staff preferred to do things anyway. What a great (and different) experience!
I am thrilled for Lani and Dex. They had a long struggle, but I know they’d say it was worth it to hold their sweet daughter in the end. Here are a few images from Tuesday, after transferring to the hospital.
Lani did such a great job birthing her daughter. Check out how she held her own feet as she pushed. Yes, there’s some yoga at work there.
Sweet Gemma weighed six pounds eight ounces and was twenty and a half inches long. One long, slim baby girl! Congratulations, Lani and Dex!