As mothers, we all allow ourselves to daydream about the day we give birth. Our minds and hearts fill with images of the ideal, our souls overflow imagining "that moment" when you hear that first cry, and all is right with the world. Sometimes our first lesson as mothers and parents, is that life isn't always ideal, life doesn't always play out the way our hearts imagined. We have this moment where we put ourselves and our hearts desires to the side, and put our children first. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but watching it happen over and over again with being a birth photographer is profound stuff. Watching a mother's birth plan dissolve into nothingness, melt into something that looked NOTHING like her ideal. But you know what? There is immense beauty in the strength and vulnerability to let it all go, to trust in the Lord that He's got this, to let it all go and know you're doing the best for your baby. There is beauty in the letting go. There is beauty in the surrender.
Kelsey's first blow to her ideal birth plan was being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which resulted in a necessary induction at 38 weeks. 3 days later, she would finally meet her baby girl. Three. Days. Later. Her induction was started on a Tuesday at 5:00 pm with cervidil. Remember that time, 5:00pm. She would get doses every few hours, this continued until 3pm Wednesday. She wasn't showing much progress so her amazing midwife let her stop the medication, take a shower, eat some dinner, and rest for the evening. Wednesday night they resumed the cervidil and carried on through Thursday morning. By Thursday morning around 6am they stopped the cervidil and started pitocin, then around 6:30am they broke her water. She labored long, and hard for 2 days before she asked for the epidural. It brought her much needed relief from the contractions, but sweet River just couldn't tolerate the labor much longer. Around 4:30pm the decision was made that a csection would be the safest option for River. There were tears, admittedly, but there was peace. I've never seen a couple embrace so much change, and so many alterations to their "ideal birth", with such grace. I could feel the anxiety engulf the room though, and I asked if it was ok to pray over them and the medical staff. There is no greater honor than laying my hands on a family and praying the Lord's strength and peace over them. Shortly there after at 5:00pm on the dot, Thursday, a full 3 days later, River came safely earth-side... and she was perfect!
Kelsey and Ben, you taught me so much in those 3 days. Watching the love and respect you had for each other as husband and wife, and the confidence you had as new parents with the changing tide of this birth, it was inspiring to say the least. Thank you so much for inviting me into your lives. Thank you for reminding me why I love what I do.
Also I would be remiss if I didn't take this moment to thank Julie Ward, the wonderful midwife in this story. This was my last birth with her since she decided to spend more time with her family, and say goodbye to the on-call life. She fought so hard to give this momma every opportunity to have the birth she wanted. That should be every provider's ultimate goal, because at the end of this birth, there wasn't any doubt in Kelsey and Ben's mind that they were heard and supported. There were no what if's, there was no room for guilt, or second guessing. They knew they were given everything. Julie, the birth community will miss you more than you know. You loved your patients fiercely and fought for them just as hard. You became a dear friend. and a treasured jewel of camaraderie in the struggle of being a mom and on-call. Thank YOU for the gift of your friendship, thank you for the late night cups of coffee, thank you for being an ear to my endless struggles of seeking balance. Thank you for making my job such a joy! I love you friend!
And of course a shout out to the amazing Dr. Neely Dean for supporting this momma through her unexepected c-section, and for allowing me to capture the most epic series of c-section photos I've ever gotten! Love to you too Dr. Dean!