What seems like eons ago (and was probably something like 6 months) my friend Mya asked me to be a pseudo labour coach and birth photographer for the birth of her second child. She had a long labour with her son and felt that it was most likely stalled by getting an early epidural. Being that I love anything birth/baby/photo related, I agreed in a heartbeat.
The plan, was to help Mya get to at least 6cm before getting an epidural (she had zero plans for a natural birth, just one that didn’t last quite as long as Wyatt’s) – and to, if nothing else, get pictures of the new little baby, being held up for the first time by the doctor.
With a completely insane, and ridiculous amount of pride, I can tell you, none of that and yet all of that, happened.
For weeks leading up to her due date, I was diligent about making sure my camera was charged, my plans were flexible and I was well rested. Although we had the above plan, we really didn’t have much more than that as far as expectations of how this would go. Due to not knowing if she and Scott would actually be comfortable with having someone in the room at birth, we were playing it by ear as to whether I would be in the room for the whole event, or just labour and then pop in as soon as the baby was born… I was just planning to go with the flow, and take everyone’s cues. And then it happened.
Something told me that the call was coming that night.
I went to bed early and had a rough time falling asleep. My phone rang at 11:45pm. Sure enough, it was Scott. As we were quickly making an action plan, I could hear Mya in the background yell “I’m getting the epidural!” and I responded back to her, even though I was talking to Scott “Of course you are!” Hah. It sounded like she had progressed fast, and in just about an hour, she had gone from first real contraction, to needing the epidural, stat. So instead of me heading to their house, they were heading straight to the hospital. Since things were bound to take a while in triage, I told Scott to call me when they got to the hospital; I would start heading over then.
I jumped in the shower.
My first thought as the hot water hit me was – “What are you doing? GET IN THE CAR” I had a strange feeling in my gut.
So I jumped out quickly, threw clothes on, shook The Hubs awake enough for him to ask “Mya?” and I ran out the door as fast as I could.
During the ten minute drive to the hospital, all I could feel was anxiety. If Mya was this far along, and needed the epidural right now, what use was I? How could I help? And the funniest one. Would she yell at me?!?! (LOL Mya)
Just as I was parking, Scott called again to let me know they had just arrived. I had no idea at the time, just how important it was that I didn’t wait until he called to leave my house.
It was 12:13am when I walked into the triage waiting area.
And poetically, all expectations and plans went out the window.
I spent a few minutes quickly cleaning off my memory card in my camera, and I am so thankful I did it then.
At about 12:30am, I heard a door open, huffing/puffing and the sound of a wheelchair. Then Mya yelling “Come on Lady!”
As we took a short elevator ride, between a contraction, Mya told me about how her water had just broken, and she was getting her epidural asap.
The mood changed as we exited the elevator. Mya hit a seemingly never ending contraction. With nurses flying around us to get things set up (the room was barely ready for us) I could tell that something was changing. Mya’s breathing was changing. One nurse asked “Are you pushing?” Mya replied “No, I don’t think so…. yes, YES I AM, where is my epidural?!” Moments later, she was checked, and it was confirmed. This baby was coming. Now.
A triumphant Mya beamed at us, with her fists in the air.
My feet were still stuck in place, at the door, by the bags. We hadn’t talked through this part. And I had no idea what to do.
Without thinking, I opened my bag, put my camera over my shoulder, and held out my hands to Mya while her husband applied counter pressure. We stayed like that for another contraction or two. I remember saying something to Mya about how she was having this baby, naturally. No epidural. It didn’t phase her, she was confident and strong.
A few minutes later, it was pushing time, and I stayed right there. I never asked if it was okay, I just hoped it was and held on to her hand tightly. It was strangely calm as Mya pushed, we counted, and the minutes ticked by.
At 12:56am the smallest little baby I had ever seen in person came into the world.
I slipped from Mya’s side, and did my best to try and capture it all.
I had these huge desires to give Mya a picture birth story. I wanted to capture every second of it. From hospital arrival, to birth. From the Scott’s hand in hers to Mya’s newly manicured toes. From belly to baby. Sometimes things don’t go the way we plan them.
Sometimes they go better.
I didn’t get every photograph I wanted to give to Mya. But instead, I was given a huge gift.
Because attending one of my best friend’s births is unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Since she didn’t have to deal with all of the epidural aftermath, Mya was ready to see her little girl right after the doc finished up.
She took her daughter in her arms and said “Jaye, this is Lane Amelia”
And boy is she amazing.
And so is her Mama.
After helping everyone get settled in post-partum, I slipped quietly back out the hospital doors. The way I came. Surrounded by darkness, feeling as if the world had just moved under my feet.
I drove home with a smile on my face, snuck back into bed as if I had never gotten out at all and woke up for work the next morning.
Such a whirlwind experience. An incredible experience that I am so blessed to have been a part of.
I never quite understood birth photographers. How they devote that amount of unknown time to their clients. But now I do. I could do that. In a heartbeat.
It was such an honour. Thank you so much, Mya and Scott. And little Lane.