seattle hospital birth

Tessa's Birth Story | Seattle Birth Photographer

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Baby Tessa kept everyone on their toes. Contractions started at 32 weeks gestation — the same time her older sister was born. So into the hospital went Katie for steroid shots, magnesium and a few days of monitoring. No one thought she’d stay in until her induction date. But she did! And the surprises did not end there.

Katie labored like an absolute champ. Contractions aren’t known for being pleasant, and pitocin contractions even less so. The sensations of labor are very intense, and every woman needs a solid birth partner. Someone to squeeze your hips, remind you to center your breath, and whisper words of encouragement. Katie worked hard and knew it was time to get an epidural going to help with pain management. A couple hours of rest (watching video messages from the kids back home) and then it was time to push.

After months of waiting, wondering what she will be like, the uncertainty of pregnancy, this baby is only moments away. Katie pushed their baby closer and closer to this world. A couple contractions after crowning it became apparent that Tessa was not moving any closer to delivery. The doctor called shoulder dystocia and an entire team flooded the room, prepped to help a baby in distress.

Katie cried out in fear. “No!” We all had so many fears and questions racing through our minds. How long will she be stuck? Will she be OK? The medical team was calm, professional, and knowledgeable — everything you need in a moment of crisis. The doctor attempted multiple maneuvers and Cam and I coached Katie to push with everything she had in her. She was so brave and strong and 90 seconds later, their baby was born.

Tessa. 10 lb 7.5 oz.

There was only time for a moment’s connection. Mama’s hands on that warm, damp head. She was whisked away to the warmer for the NICU team to assess. After this intense delivery, Tessa was a bit limp and there was palpable tension in the room as we waited to hear that reassuring cry.

The rate of shoulder dystocia is around 1 in every 100 births, but nearly 10% of all newborns require some form of neonatal resuscitation during that transition from womb to world. It is not terribly uncommon for a new baby to be administered positive pressure ventilation. Warming beds, drying and stimulating the infant, clearing the airway — these are all steps care providers take to ensure a baby begins to use those lungs to breathe outside of their once watery home.

“Good, strong heart rate,” they noted. “This is good news,” I told Katie. She replied, “I heard a pop. I heard a pop when she was born!” Her nurse and OB calmly reassured Katie that everyone was doing what they could, but for a few agonizing moments, there were no answers.

Finally, a cry from across the room.

The best sound in the entire world.

Our collective relief. But none so relieved as the mother who heard her baby’s first wail — a signal that she was here to stay.

When they finally brought that smushy babe over, Katie’s worries melted into tears of relieved joy. Anyone who has birthed a baby knows that nothing compares to the reassuring weight of your child against your chest. They had their first hellos, minutes of snuggling and whispering and admiring this newest miracle. Then it was off to the NICU for Tessa for some X rays and observation.

As a side note, did you see the size of that placenta?! One of the most impressive I’ve laid eyes on. Baby Tessa fractured her humerus at birth, but she has recovered splendidly with just a little splinting. Our bodies are so incredible, and Tessa’s birth reminded me once again why I count myself lucky to be invited to document the birth stories of Seattle families. Birth is sometimes peaceful, sometimes dramatic. But always miraculous.

Wren's Birth Story | Seattle Birth Photographer

A birth story - annotated.

When I walk in and a second time mama looks like this - I know things are going to happen FAST. I steady my breathing, steady my camera and start to shoot.

When I walk in and a second time mama looks like this - I know things are going to happen FAST. I steady my breathing, steady my camera and start to shoot.

Shannon continues to work through intense contractions and I wonder aloud, "Where's Hal?" A  nurse informs me that he's in the waiting room with their 2 year old son. Everything is happening so fast that the grandparents have yet to arrive. They're on toddler duty and it's not clear they'll get here in time.

Shannon continues to work through intense contractions and I wonder aloud, "Where's Hal?" A  nurse informs me that he's in the waiting room with their 2 year old son. Everything is happening so fast that the grandparents have yet to arrive. They're on toddler duty and it's not clear they'll get here in time.

The midwife lets Shannon know that her baby will be born with the next couple of pushes. Does she want someone to go get Hal? No one is here to watch Bowie yet. It wasn't in the plans to have him in the delivery room. What will we do? "I'll watch him!" I call out at the last minute. Not really sure where that came from or what I was planning to do, but I just couldn't stand the thought of Dad missing the birth of his son.

The midwife lets Shannon know that her baby will be born with the next couple of pushes. Does she want someone to go get Hal? No one is here to watch Bowie yet. It wasn't in the plans to have him in the delivery room. What will we do? "I'll watch him!" I call out at the last minute. Not really sure where that came from or what I was planning to do, but I just couldn't stand the thought of Dad missing the birth of his son.

Suddenly he's there and all is right. Grandparents arrived just as a nurse was coming to get him. We're having a baby - RIGHT NOW!

Suddenly he's there and all is right. Grandparents arrived just as a nurse was coming to get him. We're having a baby - RIGHT NOW!

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The midwife passes her baby between her legs and lays him gently on the bed. He's finally here. The one they've been dreaming of. The next few images show what's known as "the birth pause." I had never seen it before as many providers place the child directly on mom's chest. But when undisturbed, many women take a moment, take some breaths and look over their baby before bringing him in close.

The midwife passes her baby between her legs and lays him gently on the bed. He's finally here. The one they've been dreaming of. The next few images show what's known as "the birth pause." I had never seen it before as many providers place the child directly on mom's chest. But when undisturbed, many women take a moment, take some breaths and look over their baby before bringing him in close.

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Tears and hugs all around. There's a new soul in the world.

Tears and hugs all around. There's a new soul in the world.

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The placenta really doesn't get enough credit. Sure, the baby is the real star. But stop to consider for a moment - in addition to growing an entire being, a birthing woman also grew an extra organ. It kind of blows my mind.

The placenta really doesn't get enough credit. Sure, the baby is the real star. But stop to consider for a moment - in addition to growing an entire being, a birthing woman also grew an extra organ. It kind of blows my mind.

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I always love to capture the first time a new baby locks eyes with with camera. Welcome to the world, Little One.

I always love to capture the first time a new baby locks eyes with with camera. Welcome to the world, Little One.

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I will always remember this moment. We were making small talk and oohing over the baby as I photographed little details and they all got acquainted. Shannon and Hal knew that it was my daughter's birthday this morning - I had just left a pancake breakfast to meet them at the hospital. "What's her name?" Hal asked. "Wren," I said, smiling.  Suddenly he burst into tears. "That's HIS name!" This perfect tiny boy, shares a name and a birthday with my own daughter. The world is at times a very small and wondrously connected place.

I will always remember this moment. We were making small talk and oohing over the baby as I photographed little details and they all got acquainted. Shannon and Hal knew that it was my daughter's birthday this morning - I had just left a pancake breakfast to meet them at the hospital. "What's her name?" Hal asked. "Wren," I said, smiling.

Suddenly he burst into tears. "That's HIS name!" This perfect tiny boy, shares a name and a birthday with my own daughter. The world is at times a very small and wondrously connected place.

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Finally it was time to meet big brother. Those first reactions to a new baby are so priceless!

Finally it was time to meet big brother. Those first reactions to a new baby are so priceless!

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The wrinkly fingers and dried blood behind the ear. Shoulder fuzz and perfect neck creases. Fresh new babies are magic.

The wrinkly fingers and dried blood behind the ear. Shoulder fuzz and perfect neck creases. Fresh new babies are magic.

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It was a truly beautiful day. Shannon shared the most beautiful thoughts about her birth experience and her experience having a photographer present. Head to her  blog  to hear the story from her perspective.

It was a truly beautiful day. Shannon shared the most beautiful thoughts about her birth experience and her experience having a photographer present. Head to her blog to hear the story from her perspective.

Evangeline's Birth Story | Seattle Birth Photographer

Evangeline's mama knew she could do it. She knew that the women who came before her had done it and she knew the same power they exercised lived within her. LeAnna knew how to listen to her body, and to let it guide her through the contractions. Russell also knew she could do it and continued cooking Christmas dinner while she labored in their apartment. Upon arrival to the hospital LeAnna heard that she was completely effaced but not yet dilated. Still, she knew. She knew her baby was coming. It was less than two hours later that I got the call to come to the hospital. I could hear all the hustle and bustle in the background as Russell told me they were checked into their room and I just KNEW delivery was imminent. I was going to miss it.

No one could have guessed that a first time mama would dilate so quickly. That her baby would be born 35 minutes after my phone rang, 10 minutes before I arrived in the delivery room. But LeAnna knew she could do it and Evangeline knew exactly when and how she wanted to be born. This little Christmas miracle - this speeding bullet of a baby. She was welcomed by her parents, a breathless doula and smiling midwife. The strength of her mama (and the mothers before) brought her earthside. We all knew she could do it. And she did.