This story has been featured on one of my favorite podcasts, The Birth Hour. Take a listen to hear Aleesha tell it in her own words!
Aleesha and Doug hired me to photograph the birth of their second child. Like many people who hire a birth photographer, they view birth as a transformative experience - something to be present with, something to celebrate. So they asked me along to document their journey, and what a journey it was!
Little Luella took her sweet time moving into just the right position for delivery. Early labor was a bit slow and drawn out, with Aleesha using the Miles Circuit to hopefully move things along. And then when active labor hit - BAM - it really took off.
I arrived at Northwest Hospital to find a cheerful, excited husband, a calm grandmother, a supportive midwife and a vomiting Aleesha. (transition anyone?) Between bouts of vomiting she said, “I hope they don’t send me home.” We all shared a smile over that - sensing this baby was indeed close to arrival and marveling at Aleesha’s strength and sense of focus.
Let’s have three cheers for an attentive husband, a cold wash cloth on the forehead, hydrotherapy (bath tubs are often called the midwife’s epidural) and counter pressure. This is what birth in the hospital can look like. It can be active, upright, and attended by the people who matter to you. The Northwest Hospital Midwives pride themselves on supporting physiological birth - and I’ve seen this level of care delivered by their practice again and again.
At the center of it all is a birthing person who knows what kind of delivery she wants to have, trusts the power of her own body and the powerful process that is birth. She rode the waves of a fast active labor and before long she was pushing.
Luella was limp and quiet at birth. When she didn’t respond to the stimulation of rubbing it was time for the newborn nurse to take her over to the warmer for a bit more support and a thorough assessment. This can be a very tense time for a family (and everyone at the birth), but as we’ve discussed before, 1 in 10 babies born requires SOME form of neonatal resuscitation. Sometimes they are stunned from the journey and they just need some time, some air, some help getting started in this strange new world.
Then there was big, lusty cry from the warming table and relieved laughter throughout the room. Welcome, little girl - we’re all so glad you’re here.
I love a newborn exam that takes place right there on the bed. No need to move baby from her mother’s arms. These first hours together are something you can never get back. They should be respected and revered.
Birth is simply the most miraculous event that happens every single day. I drove home in the stillness of the night, carrying Luella’s bright eyes in my memory. Brought to earth with strength, trust and compassion, surrounded by love and joy – surely there is a beautiful life ahead for this wondrous girl.