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.
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!
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.
Tears and hugs all around. There's a new soul in the world.
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.
I always love to capture the first time a new baby locks eyes with with camera. Welcome to the world, Little One.
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.
Finally it was time to meet big brother. Those first reactions to a new baby are so priceless!
The wrinkly fingers and dried blood behind the ear. Shoulder fuzz and perfect neck creases. Fresh new babies are magic.
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.