I only get to document a handful of births each year due to our wedding season and conflicting schedules. For that reason, each birth that I do get the opportunity to be present for photographing is a special treat for me.
Lauren and I met back in the fall to talk about whether or not I was available to photograph the birth of their firstborn. She was due on 12/22/14 and while normally that time of year is considered our off-season, we did happen to have a wedding booked for 1/3/15. We talked about what happens if I miss a birth and/or if I have a wedding on the day that one of my clients goes into labor (though, knock-on-wood, that hasn't happened yet), she and her husband Andy decided to go ahead and book me for their birth.
Fortunately for everyone, Lauren's labor started on New Year's Eve and I was called to head to the hospital on the morning of New Year's Day 2015! Ten days overdue is no picnic for any momma but Lauren hung in there and made it before the date that she would've been scheduled for induction. She actually talked to doctor into waiting until the 4th, since we had a wedding on the 3rd. I was so tickled when she told me that. Thankfully for her, she didn't have to wait that long for mister Finn to give up his lease on her uterus. Ha!
Labor was long. Long labors are so common, for first time moms especially. I can't even begin to tell you how tired Lauren and Andy were by the time she was ready to push. I have been to a lot of births and if there was ever a momma who had a reason to give up, it was this one. She worked so very hard. The doctor looked at Andy right after Lauren gave birth to a, basically, 9lb baby and said, "You know, a lot of moms cannot go this long without an epidural. (Mostly from sheer exhaustion) We are amazed by her stamina. You've got an awesome wife."
More than whether or not a family wants a natural or medically assisted labor and delivery, a scheduled c-section or whether they end up with any of the above without choosing it, more impressive to me than their choices are the interactions between couples during labor; Their abilities and desires to work together, trust each other, get really honest and vulnerable and then work hard, persevering to bring a baby into the room, the world. There are a lot of women out there who don't have a partner to support them during the birth of their child. So, I just want to recognize that it is a big deal to have someone with you who will be your person. Someone who will be present with words and hands to support whatever your birth choices are. As women we are wired to be strong but when we are not, and in our weakest moments, that is when we need that support. That support is what gives us our best chances of having the birth that we want.
Healthy babies are born in innumerable ways, on a daily basis throughout the world. Thank you to all the husbands, wives, partners, loved ones, doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors and birth support persons who encourage and educate families, every day, making it possible to have the births that we desire.
And to Lauren and Andy, congratulations on a beautiful, healthy family.
You make a great team.