As a birth photographer, it’s normal to grow pretty close to my clients. I’m there for the most intimate, memorable, challenging, empowering day of their lives, and I care deeply about their birth experiences. I’ve been photographing births for long enough now (four years since my first!), that I’m starting to have a few repeat birth clients, and that just adds a whole other level to the birth client/birth photographer relationship.
When Diana told me that she was expecting their second, I was THRILLED. That transition to having two children is pretty cool, and Diana is an incredible mother. But even more than that usual excitement about a new baby, I was filled with hope that Diana’s second birth experience would be much, much different than her first. A little over two years ago, Diana gave birth after a very long labor that included interventions she hadn’t planned on. She had a beautiful baby girl, Evangeline, who was healthy, but I know there was some disappointment that Eva’s birth hadn’t happened the way Diana had hoped. I know that feeling myself and how powerful it can be. So many questions about why things happened the way they did, why my body didn’t work the way it was supposed to, why, why, why. So this time around, Diana worked and prepared and studied for a different birth. And I cheered her on, knowing that second babies can be SO much nicer to their mamas.
One of the big differences between first and second babies is that the second time around our bodies do MUCH of the work of labor ahead of time. This can lead to some frustration for mamas in the weeks leading up to their births because they’re having contractions that don’t seem to be going anywhere. But those contractions ARE doing great work to prepare for the main event, way more work than we can possibly think. Diana had a fabulous attitude as her due date came and went with no baby in sight. She knew her baby would come when she was ready. Days went by and baby stayed cozy, and like any pregnant mama would, Diana began to wonder if she should be doing something to help labor along. Forty-one weeks came and went and forty-two weeks loomed near. Still Diana wanted to trust her body and let baby choose her own timing, but she scheduled an induction for 42 weeks, just in case. As it turned out, there would be no need.
At her midwife appointment on Monday, Diana learned that she had made significant progress since her last visit a few days earlier. What she told me made me pretty certain that Diana would not be laboring long at all this time around. Tuesday morning, at 1am, Diana texted to tell me that she thought she may be in labor with contractions about six to seven minutes apart and thirty seconds to a minute in duration. She was waiting to hear back from the midwife and would call when they left for the hospital. I tried to go back to sleep, but that’s a hard thing to do when you get a text like that. Finally, Stephan called at 2:42am. They were at the hospital and had just been checked in triage. Diana was 6cm dilated and 90% effaced. I told him I’d see them there, got dressed, and headed out.
At 3:16, just as I was exiting the freeway, Diana texted again: Baby is here.She had gone from 6cm to babe in arms in twenty-five minutes. I was disappointed to have missed the actual birth, but my eyes filled with tears of happiness for Diana. She had got her wish: a completely natural, raw, empowering birth. She had done it!
When I arrived, Diana was still in shock that the whole thing was over. I began taking pictures of the newest life in the room: Vivica. A stunner, just like her sister with huge dark eyes and tons of dark hair. And those eyes took in every detail in the room. I love those wide-eyed, alert, unmedicated babies! There was lots of celebrating going on: cupcakes, balloons, sparkling cider, presents, and of course, the Happy Birthday song. Such a fun way to welcome a baby! Congratulations, Diana and Stephan! My heart is full of joy for you and your family. I can’t wait to see you again for some newborn photos!