This beautiful pandemic birth story took place at Summerlin Hospital.
One of my 2020 highlights while in the COVID-19 pandemic was documenting this beautiful family’s second birth story.
To say that the restrictions accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic have affected my ability to document life’s most important moments for families is a major understatement.
Having documented this family’s first birth, the idea of missing the opportunity with their second was stressful for all of us, and we waited on pins and needles in the weeks and months leading up to their due date, completely unsure of how things would look and whether it would even be an option. Luckily, by the time their due date came along, our cases and hospital capacity here in Nevada were looking much better and because I was certifying as a doula, I had the privilege of being able to attend while doula privileges were allowed. I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.
Be sure to read end to end to see their beautiful birth story in video!
Hannah and Christian are one of my favorite couples. They have a unique bond and a relationship that draws you in and makes you want to be in their presence. They naturally love each other and wear their emotions beautifully on the outside. They are also reserved and very private in many senses; being in their birth space both times felt almost reverent. Hannah was strong enough to set healthy boundaries and expectations around both birth experiences and voice her wishes; in both of their births, I worked my hardest to honor that space.
So many elements of Hannah’s labor were so similar to her first, from the time of day she labored to the way her labor progressed. She was fortunate enough to have the same room as her first delivery and her dear friend and fellow nurse as her labor nurse.
With both labors, they used many of the methods they had learned from the Spinning Babies techniques, and Christian was right in tune with knowing which one to help her with as she labored.
Their sweet girl did not want to rotate and come down, which prolonged her labor, even with all her dedication to position changes. Finally, she came down, and it was time!
Just like their previous birth, once she decided to come, it unraveled quickly, and they weren’t sure her doctor would make it in time, but also, just like last time, she did! And just like that- their sweet baby girl was here!
After cutting the cord and skin-to-skin, their sweet baby girl went to the radiant warmer for assessment and her newborn exam.
Quickly she was right back in her mama’s arms for more skin-to-skin and initial breastfeeding. Because their last delivery was preterm and their son transferred to the NICU, this period was both special and incredibly emotional for them.
And finally, their beautiful birth story film!
Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
‘By Her Side’ were the first words that came to mind thinking back on their birth story. There was not a moment that Brianne was not surrounded with love and support as she brought her precious Emerson earthside. You’ll see it all through her birth images and birth story film (be sure to check it out at the end of this post). I am excited to finally share this beautiful and special birth story.
This birth story is extra special because Brianne is my sweet friend and fellow birth photographer and artist behind Brianne Hidalgo Photos + Films here in Las Vegas. We have been backups for each other for the past year and have changed, and have had so many wonderful conversations and meetings of the minds on how to best serve our community and support each other. She has such a smart business sense and is community-minded, not to mention incredibly talented. I was so happy to have found her. So, when she asked me to document her own birth, I was ecstatic!
Brianne had delivered in the hospital with her daughter. She was excited about the opportunity to deliver at home with one of our local midwives Sherry Hopkins of Well Rounded Mama. Emily Espinosa a certified doula with Well Rounded Mama was her certified doula and was so in tune with Brianne and was so attentive and professional.
As it seems to happen most often, Brianne went into labor during nighttime. Right before she let me know that her water had broken and her contractions were irregular but becoming more and more consistent and would call when they became more regular and intense. Just a few hours later she called me to come on over! Since I live on the completely opposite side of town, I got ready and headed out immediately, arriving just after midnight.
Once I arrived, Brianne’s contractions intensified pretty quickly, yet she remained so focused and determined. Her husband and daughter stayed by her side, providing physical support and words of encouragement. It was so cute when her daughter even directed her to breathe through her contractions.
Brianne was so close, and to assist in the rotation of her baby, her birth team assisted her out of the tub and to her bed and side-lying. The lights were dimmed for rest.
The movement and position change was just what she needed and pretty quickly she had the urge to push. Things moved pretty quickly at this point and after just a few pushes, her sweet baby was in her arms.
At 0318 with her family by her side, Brianne delivered this sweet boy.
One of the things I love most about home births is the postpartum period after delivery. I love seeing how comfortable moms are at home in their beds, with their family members by their sides, with no rushed bonding or timelines. It feels so relaxed and natural.
And, finally, their birth story film. I love seeing birth stories through video; it adds such a beautiful element and shows emotion and moments that can’t be as fully captured in still images.
Thank you so much, Hidalgo family, for trusting me with your birth story!
Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
There are so many fears and doubts that can hold people back from documenting their birth. I understand so many of those fears and doubts.
Birth is one of life’s most intimate and life-changing moments we experience. You are vulnerable and at your rawest. I would argue that this is why you should document your birth story.
Birth is made up of moments that change us at our very core, moments that cannot be relived or redone. It is also one of the most emotional times in our lives. It can become hazy and fade quickly amidst the loss of sleep, physical changes, and fleeting memories.
Emily found me after seeing a birth story shared on social media and was immediately interested! She says that she hadn’t really considered documenting her birth until she saw this post, and then saw my name mentioned in the thread as a local birth photographer and videographer. She reached out to me, and I am so glad that she did!
One of Emily’s main drives in wanting to document her birth was the fact that her family lives out of the country. Emily and Daniel met while he was serving in the Air Force in Europe. Her family is all still overseas, and wanting to have a way to share their birth with her family was important to her. (Be sure to see their beautiful birth film at the end of the post!)
There was much anticipation and excitement in the months and weeks approaching their birth, and they were so happy to have a way to share that with family and friends who could not be by their sides.
As Daniel is still on active duty, their birth would take place at Mike O’Callaghan Hospital at Nellis Air Force Base here in Las Vegas. Because it is a military hospital, it was necessary for them to arrange clearance for me onto the base. This was the perfect opportunity for us to meet in person and have a nice coffee date (I meet all my birth clients before their birth either in person or via FaceTime). We talked about what was most important to her and Daniel, the types of images and footage they were most interested in, what her biggest fears and concerns were, and I got to see exactly where I needed to go when the big day came.
As Emily passed her due date, an induction of labor was set up.
One of Emily’s wishes was to tell the whole story of their birth experience to share with her family and friends. So, we decided that I would come as she was being admitted to the unit and capture some of the early details of checking in and getting settled, and then would head home and wait for active labor before returning. That way, they could get the rest they needed, all the while adding additional details to their birth story.
This was my first experience at our military hospital, and I was so impressed by their staff and the beautiful experience they gave Emily and Daniel. As a retired labor nurse of 19 years at another local hospital, I am always curious about how different care might be in other facilities. I do have to say each hospital has its own vibe and subtle differences. I think Nellis often gets a bad rap because it is a military hospital, but I have to say I walked away from this experience in awe of the care they provided this family.
After they were all settled in and the plan of care discussed and initiated, I stepped out and went home to get some rest and await their call for my return. In the early morning hours, Emily let me know that she had progressed and had an epidural placed for pain relief. It was the perfect time for me to head back, be close by, and be ready to document more of their story.
It had been almost 12 hours since their induction began, and Emily hadn’t really gotten much sleep but had received pain relief with her epidural placement, so she was able to finally squeeze in a small nap and some games with Daniel. It was a fun way to pass the time.
I love when clients bring personal items to keep at their bedside. It adds such a personal element and something beautiful to focus on. Emily kept a picture of her mother, who is no longer with her, at her bedside.
As the morning wore on, Emily became more and more uncomfortable and the staff did their best to keep her comfortable between position changes and adjustments to her epidural.
Even with the return of discomfort and the hours passed with no cervical change, Emily and Daniel remained positive and patient, trusting the process. I was really in awe of how strong Emily was. She kept such a beautiful attitude through it all.
As Emily labored through another shift change with still not much cervical change, her night shift nurse came in and advocated for Emily, trying everything she could to help her baby rotate. Her advocacy and interventions were just what Emily needed at this stage, and she quickly progressed to complete dilation and was soon ready to push.
Emily was a rock star who worked hard to deliver baby Daniel. Thank goodness this last stage was relatively quick after all those hours of laboring. There was some distress upon delivery, so baby Daniel was quickly taken to the radiant warmer for assessment and stabilization.
Daniel and Emily’s birth team were so coordinated and capable and worked seamlessly to assess and stabilize Daniel so that he could quickly return to his mama’s chest for skin-to-skin.
Finally, Emily had in her arms the baby she had worked so hard for, waited so patiently for, and anticipated for so long.
There was so much story, emotion, and intimate details throughout Emily and Daniel’s birth story, it is one of my favorites to date. So grateful to have been trusted in capturing it.
Nothing captures the emotions and beauty in birth better than video, and I love how beautiful their birth story is in film.
Sunday, June 7th, 2020
I am so excited to share another beautiful birth story from 2019. This mama found me over the summer as she was looking for a birth photographer for her third baby. This is the second client this year that hired me for their third birth, even though they hadn’t professionally documented their previous two births. I think many families feel guilty about hiring a birth photographer for their birth if they hadn’t for previous children because it can feel a little unfair. I have a totally different perspective.
I think that it is after your first birth, and maybe even second, that you really realize that the fears of being documented begin to diminish amid the desire to have those memories to look back on. What I love about documenting births with other children is that I always involve them in the birth story somehow, whether that be during labor or when they meet for the first time. Your family and your connection are a vital part of your birth story. They are often my favorite images and footage. What I would give to have my birth stories documented with my own children!
There really is nothing like birth and the deep story woven throughout each one. It seems that there are moments that we so easily vividly recall about the births of our children, holding them for the first time, the smells, and emotions. We are often times so exhausted by the point of delivery, and in those first sleepless days, that some of those memories can also be a bit vaguer, especially with the passage of time.
You didn’t get to see your spouse’s face as they spoke to your baby in the warmer or the tender way your loved ones touched you and worried over you. My job is always to capture the most important moments to you, and we talk about this in the weeks leading up to your delivery.
We decided on meeting in their home for our client meeting before her birth so that I could see her birth space and talk comfortably there; it was a great opportunity to meet the whole family. She wanted the girls involved if they felt comfortable with it but had decided she would leave that up to them. I was so excited once I saw their gorgeous home, she has it so beautifully and thoughtfully decorated and had printed images throughout her home. It was quite evident that capturing memories and documenting her family was a priority. That always makes a photographer’s heart swell.
She had delivered at home with her previous two and at different gestational ages with them both, so it was hard to say when she would deliver. She ended up going over this one. As with all of my clients, we frequently communicated as she had a fast labor history. Finally, on an October evening, I got a text that she was contracting regularly but wasn’t ready for me to come quite yet. I made sure that her doula had my number as well so that I could respond quickly when she was ready. And shortly after that first conversation, I got a text that it was time to go ahead and come on over!
Luckily, she lives not too far from me, so I got there pretty quickly. When I arrived, I quietly entered her birth space to find that she was moving quickly and had the occasional urge to push. I was in awe of her beautifully decorated birth space (that she decorated while laboring!), it was so well thought out and so full of so many meaningful and sentimental items. Her doula and midwife both spoke words of encouragement over her and guided her through those urges. Her husband moved in and out of the room between the girls and his wife.
Jessica ended up delivering 20 minutes after I arrived! She went so fast; I was just so grateful that I made it!
It was such a beautiful delivery, and Jessica made it all look so graceful! Her girls made it into the room after their baby was born; they were so adorable!
Monday, February 3rd, 2020
I am so excited to finally share this beautiful birth story of John Tito, born at home. I adore this family. I met them in 2018 when I documented their first delivery at home. I was in awe of the love they had for each other and the strength of this incredibly powerful mama.
Jennifer delivered her first at home, in the water, and stayed strong through a long labor, delivering their baby girl into her husband’s arms. It was beautiful to witness. Both mom and dad are first responders in our community, with mom being a paramedic and Greg being a firefighter for the city of Henderson.
I was so excited when Jennifer contacted me to document this birth story! There is nothing better than documenting a family as they grow. I was so excited that big sister would be there and that she intended to deliver in the water again.
As with my birth clients, I checked in frequently with Jennifer to see how she was feeling and how things were going as her due date approached. She had gone a week over with her first but felt like she was going to deliver sooner with this one. She is an incredibly busy woman and was in her last semester earning an advanced degree while working, and taking care of a toddler, so as that due date approached, she was so tired and ready to hold her baby in her arms.
I am an early riser and don’t sleep well while on call for births. I woke up at 3 am one morning and checked my phone, as usual, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything just as she texted me to let me know she was having pretty strong contractions, but they weren’t staying too regular quite yet, and that she would keep me posted. Although I have my gear ready at all times while on call, I made sure it was at the door, and I was showered, just in case, because they live about 40 minutes from me.
She updated me again at midday to let me know she had gone to the midwife to be checked and was dilated, and her contractions were still strong but not regular yet. So, I continued to wait! Late afternoon I got the call that it was time. Dads often call me by this point when moms are in active labor, and Greg did call me to let me know they had called the midwife to come, so I headed out there. He felt like she was going fast at this point, so I didn’t waste any time heading out there.
Jennifer was pretty uncomfortable when I arrived and was just ready to move into the tub.
Little Angelina was so cute and well-behaved as Jennifer labored in the water surrounded by her midwives and husband, coming over every so often to give her mama a kiss or drink of water.
Jennifer’s labor was similar to her last at almost the same time of day, right down to the hour. Both times she trusted her body and, between gentle touch and reassurances from her midwives and husband, labored with such strength.
Finally, Jennifer felt the urge to push and work and once again delivered their baby boy into her husband’s arms. It was just beautiful.
I am continually in awe that I witness such strength and beauty in women. I have been a part of the birth industry for almost 20 years now, and the beauty of birth has never faded.
Monday, January 27th, 2020
This is another beautiful Las Vegas birth story that I have been dying to share. It is incredibly emotional and moving. It holds a special place in my heart because I know this beautiful little family. When they asked me to document their birth, I was just so ecstatic. I am always dying a little on the inside when people I know and love are pregnant, hoping that they will invite me into their birth space. I also understand it is a big investment and such an intimate time in life, so I don’t take it personally when I am not.
I knew Hannah and Christian’s birth story would be emotional and so full of love because of who they are and the special relationship they have.
I worked labor and delivery with Hannah at Summerlin Hospital here in Las Vegas (she is such a compassionate and intelligent nurse), and I have had the pleasure of seeing their love grow and evolve over the past few years. I also had the pleasure of documenting their engagement session so to have the opportunity to document another momentous moment in their life was so exciting! I truly believe there is no more momentous and emotional time in our lives than the birth of our children!
Hannah and Christian are the sort of couple that draws you in. They are so deeply in love, and both so full of light, you can’t help but just smile on the inside when around them.
Once again, narrowing down images in sharing their birth story was incredibly hard; there are just so many beautiful ones!
I love when families choose both film and still images of their birth. I think that the two together tell so much more than just still images can, and each has unique details and emotions.
We talked off and on as their due date approached and as we got into September decided to set a date to meet and talk about the details that were most important to them in documenting their birth, the moments that they wanted me to focus on, and their birth plans. This helps me so much in making sure I honor your birth space and wishes.
Just days before our scheduled coffee date I received a message from Hannah that her water had broken and that she would be going in to be triaged. She was five weeks early, so there was some fear mixed in with all the anticipation.
Once they were admitted, settled in, and got some rest I headed in to capture some of the earlier details of their birth story before active labor really kicked in. We hadn’t really had a chance to talk about all those details and wishes and didn’t want to arrive when she was super uncomfortable and have her make those decisions.
I feel like we captured so much of their story because I moved in and out of the room a few times throughout their labor. Hannah and Christian had decided to keep their room quiet and free of guests (which is a pretty tough task when you know all the staff on the floor you deliver). I was really impressed by their decision, and you could just feel the healthy space that they built around themselves. I did my best to move in and out of the room at different stages of labor as unobtrusively as possible to capture details and then give them space.
They had just learned some of the Spinning Babies techniques, so got to work alternating through some of the techniques.
Things moved slowly for the first day, and although Hannah’s contractions were regular and had become more intense, there was no cervical change happening. Despite this, they both stayed positive and determined to give her body time, trying to take advantage of periods of rest while they could.
She was so great at changing positions frequently, and Christian was by her side at all times, supporting and encouraging her.
That evening her OB came in to evaluate Hannah and their baby, and together they made some changes to their plan of care and continued to labor. I stepped out of the room again to give them space and time for rest. They were becoming weary and needed that time alone. If the weather is good, I will often times sleep in my car, and that is exactly what I did while giving them the space they needed. In the early morning hours, I got a message from Hannah that things were really beginning to change, and she had become much more uncomfortable; they were ready for me to come back up.
Hannah had really hoped that her dear friend Lois would deliver her, and Lois was kind enough to come in both days while Hannah was laboring to care for her. When she arrived on shift that morning, things were progressing and changing quickly.
Her OB was called for delivery, and Hannah breathed through her contractions and the urge to push with the support of Christian and her nurse.
Luckily her doctor arrived quickly since her office was next door, and they prepared for delivery.
I mean, look at them. Their delivery was so emotionally charged and beautiful.
Because he was five weeks early, the incredible NICU team at Summerlin hospital attended her delivery. After some time on mom’s chest, he was taken to the radiant warmer for further assessment and oxygen supplementation.
Caden needed oxygen to maintain his color and oxygen saturation, so the decision to take him to the nursery for further evaluation was made. I could see the emotions and disappointment on both of their faces, but they both understood and knew there was a good chance because of his prematurity, this might be the case. Caden was bundled back up and taken back to Hannah’s arms before being transported to the nursery.
When I document your birth, I plan on staying 1-2 hours after delivery to capture those first moments bonding with your baby. Some of these moments might include skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, measurements, newborn assessments, and just those precious first hours of meeting your new baby face-to-face. Once again, we talk to come up with a plan for the moments that are most important to you!
When babies are transferred to the newborn nursery or NICU unit, there are restrictions on filming and photographing inside those spaces for many important reasons. Completing your birth story is important to me, so in these instances, there are a few options to continue in telling your story; I can come back to your birth space if the baby is transferred back in, your postpartum room, or wherever you are when your baby is released. Because the restrictions in the NICU included only two people being present at Caden’s bedside, and they didn’t want to be split up (understandably) for the next series of images and footage, we decided to wait until he was released from the NICU and back home safe and sound.
Caden spent eight days in NICU before coming home.
Little Caden was still so tiny but thriving and healthy. It was such a beautiful and tender moment to capture them at home with little Caden safe and sound in their arms. I am pretty sure my heart melted right out of my body by the end of their session. It was the perfect way to end their birth story; it all felt complete.
Look how tiny he was! You all know I have a thing for dad’s hands and their babies!
Christian is an incredibly talented artist and performer. I love that they wanted to incorporate that into their session because it is a part of their lives. He had spent plenty of time singing to little Caden while on the inside, so of course, had to capture some of that at home!
Monday, November 18th, 2019
This is a time of year I find myself reflecting on the past year as planning for the new one begins. In these times of reflection, I realize just how blessed I am. I have been in business now for almost 9 years, most of them as a studio newborn photographer. As I focused on rebranding into the genre of birth photography over the past year and a half, there have been so many moments of fear and doubt. Would I be able to make it in this genre? It is a different direction, and I knew that I would lose some clients in the transition and rebrand, which was so scary.
This is one of those birth stories that helped confirm that my role as a Las Vegas birth photographer and storyteller is exactly where I am made to be.
I met this beautiful family when they were pregnant with their oldest daughter as they were searching for a maternity and newborn photographer. I fell in love with them right away and truly enjoyed working with them. Courtney grew up here in Las Vegas and has deep roots within our community; she is so well-connected. You are instantly drawn into their love for each other, beautiful sense of humor, and family’s importance.
When they were pregnant with their second child, I had already filled my calendar, so I could not take them on for their newborn session. I was ecstatic, to say the least, when Courtney contacted me early this summer about documenting the birth of their third baby! They had not documented their last two births, so this would be something new for them. It was something that she wish she had after the fact with her other two, which I have found so many families say. I think is through the birth of our children that we see less of the fears and more of the importance of capturing every bit of it, the desire to hold every little detail. It is such a momentous moment in life and one that can’t be repeated.
We talked about their wishes and hopes in documenting their birth through their questionnaire, email communications, and our in-person meeting, so I really had a good feel for the moments that were most important to them. Of course, I truly believe that seeing your birth story in video captures even more than still, images can, and we captured so much of both!
It is always so hard to narrow down which images to show, and it was so hard with theirs; I have so many favorites.
Courtney had gone a week over with her first and close to her due date with their second, so we figured it would be right around there. Her due date came and went, and as she approached her 41st week, she started experiencing a lot of prodromal labor, something she really hadn’t had with the other two. She spent the entire weekend before her birth contracting off and on, especially at night, so by the end of the weekend was pretty exhausted. I was on high alert the whole time, often communicating with her, keeping my gear charged, packed, and by the door ready for that phone call. I finally got the call just after midnight Monday morning; she was going in to be checked as her contractions were progressively becoming stronger. Since her hospital was half an hour away, I quickly got ready and headed over, which was perfect because she was 6 cms when they checked her. By the time I arrived, she was ready to move from triage to their room.
Courtney had planned on laboring as much as she could without Pitocin and planned to hold off on getting an epidural until closer to delivery, as she had done with the other two. Luckily, St. Rose San Martin hospital here in Las Vegas has wireless monitoring available, so she was able to move freely throughout the room, change positions frequently, and continue to stand, which is the most comfortable position for her.
They had only been in the room for about an hour when things started progressing, and Courtney was ready for her epidural, so anesthesia was called. As she waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive, things changed very quickly, and her water broke after a string of intense contractions. It was soon clear that the baby was coming without an epidural, and her doctor was there.
A delivery table was quickly made for her as staff rushed about the room, and the hospital laborist was called when it was clear her OB would not make it in time. Things changed in mere minutes. Within one contraction of the laborist arriving at the bedside, their baby was here!
Things happened so quickly that it took everyone some time to process them. Aaron literally had to sit down and gather for a minute, and he saw some things (they are both morticians). He gathered himself and then got right back up there and encouraged and loved on Courtney and their new baby; it was such a tender and beautiful moment.
By the time they had delivered and spent that important first hour of skin-to-skin with their new baby, it was the early morning hours. In just a few hours, the siblings would be up and headed for school, so we decided to have me run home and freshen up and then come back and document them meeting little Alessandra before school started. This was something that was really important to Courtney and Aaron and we had really hoped that the timing would work out with the timing of their delivery, so it was perfect!
The siblings meeting their new baby sister was one of my favorite parts of it all; it was so tender and adorable! Both were totally smitten with their new baby sister and fascinated at every little detail they could take in.
And we weren’t done! Because they had documented newborn sessions with the older siblings, they wanted to come up with a good middle ground. Because I no longer photograph studio-posed newborn, we scheduled an in-home newborn session once they got home and settled. We captured a few posed images they could hang on their walls to remain cohesive and then continued with a more lifestyle session. It turned out so adorable. Big brother and sister were still just as smitten with their new baby, and it was so nice to see them all together in their home, where most of their memories are made!
Monday, November 11th, 2019
What an honor it has been to document the birth of Silas James. It was the first Henderson Hospital birth I was able to document.
I know I have said it before, but by the time I document these beautiful birth stories I have become so invested in the story that is so unique to each birth. After being a labor and delivery nurse here for the past 19 years (I retired this past March).
I have firsthand knowledge of the fact that each is so different and unique, even within the same families. Right up until the end of my career there were so many births that moved me deeply, and often brought tears to my eyes. As a birth photographer, I feel this even more intently. I think it is because of the totally different role in seeing birth through the eyes of a storyteller. I do my best to see the story in each birth, even in the smallest of moments, because that is often where they live. Although I do miss patient care, I feel deep in my soul that documenting them is exactly where I am supposed to be in this season of my life. It is a privilege I don’t take lightly!
I literally cried every single time I worked on their birth film because I had some first-hand knowledge of how hard they worked to hold this little man in their arms, and the emotions that led up to this moment.
This beautiful family found me while searching for a birth photographer in Las Vegas. Sarah requested a phone consultation early on, and through our conversation about their vision and wishes, I knew that it would be an incredible story. She is a nurse, so right away, we had that connection, and she shared with me early on that Ben is a photojournalist. Of course, I looked him up right away and was blown away by his work, and terrified at the same time! (I always feel more pressure when another photographer or filmmaker hires me). It is a big deal for another artist will turn over their moments to someone else, trusting that they don’t have to worry about what I am doing, and can truly live in the moment. Ben did it so graciously and truly did live in their space.
We talked in the weeks leading up to their birth, as I do with all my birth clients. I check in often to see how things are going and how they are feeling, especially once I start the ‘call’ period for births at 37-38 weeks. Sarah and Ben had a birth plan and a vision for what they wanted in their care and birth; a low intervention and unmedicated birth was their preference, but they were also flexible in knowing that things don’t always unfold as planned.
As her due date came and went, those fears that it wasn’t going to unfold as they had planned began to creep in, but she continued to advocate for the birth she wanted and followed her OB and high-risk to be sure everything was looking perfect. Once she was over a week past their due date, talk of induction began, and as her fluid levels dropped and her baby experienced a period of decreased fetal movement, the moment had come to go in and begin the induction period. We agreed to have me capture some of the early moments and return when active labor began.
First of all, let’s talk about how beautiful Sarah is. She is truly a stunning woman; I was excited about photographing her. They both are. I mean, how could they not make an adorable baby?
Because we knew the induction would be long, I captured some of those first moments they would want to remember as they checked in and got settled. Sarah was able to wear her own comfortable clothing, which was great, and the wireless monitoring available at Henderson Hospital really gave her the freedom to move about and stay somewhat comfortable.
Right after I had packed up and was ready to head out for a few hours of sleep and to give Sarah and Ben some space and rest before active labor began, little Silas had his first episode of distress. Her nurses were so great and were right on top of caring for her and her baby and worked hard to keep everyone comfortable while performing interventions.
They also knew they wanted both of their parents present for their birth. Ben’s mom was able to spend time with them in the week before delivery, waiting for Silas to arrive, and Sarah’s mom hopped on a plane as soon as she knew that the time had come. Their presence and love in their birth space really were so beautiful to observe. You could feel the anticipation and excitement throughout.
Within a few hours of starting the induction process, Sarah’s contractions had come on both intensely and frequently, with little break between. I got the call in the early morning hours that she had progressed quickly to 7 cms, so I jumped in the car and headed back while Sarah waited for her epidural.
Sarah received an epidural and never got comfortable enough to settle into some rest. Her husband and the mothers both took turns being at her side and comforting her, and I stepped out of the room for a couple of hours with the grandmas to really give them time alone to rest. The lack of sleep and pain was beginning to wear on both.
In the morning, Sarah’s doctor came in to evaluate their progress and discuss their care plan. Sarah had made no cervical change in hours and still had not rested or become comfortable. Her baby continued to have periods of distress but was quickly resolving at this point. They talked about options and he then stepped away to give Sarah and Ben time alone to make some decisions.
After talking and making some tough decisions, they both decided it was time to allow for a cesarean section. They were both exhausted, Sarah was still in pain, and Silas had periods of distress. Again, I stepped away to give them the space to work through all those emotions.
Photographers are not always allowed in the operating room for cesarean sections, with permission granted by anesthesia and the primary surgeon and guided by hospital policies. I do my best to be allowed into the operating room for births but I am always understanding and ready for permission not to be granted. Luckily, Sarah’s nurse and OB had advocated for me, and I was granted permission by anesthesia.
What I love is focusing on capturing the details that mom might not be seeing during labor and delivery so that she can see those moments she might not otherwise. Those moments between Ben and Silas at the warmer were just so moving.
Of course, back in the room family was waiting and anxious to meet little Silas.
Everyone then stepped out to give Sarah and Ben time alone with their baby and each other. These are always the most tender moments to observe.
I returned the next day to document a Fresh 48 session and little Sila’s first bath by mom and dad. There still had been zero sleep going on days now, but Sarah still looked so great and had already been up out of bed, was moving around well, and was anxious to get home.
Thursday, October 31st, 2019
I am so excited to share this beautiful birth story with permission from this beautiful family and their surrogate. I am so excited because it is such a beautiful story of hope and love all the way through.
I received an inquiry from Lizi (the surrogate} back in April as she searched for a local photographer to document this birth. I have to say that when she told me it was a surrogate birth, my heart skipped a beat. I have dreamed of documenting one because I am fascinated by the women willing to carry for another couple. It is a truly selfless act and brings such hope and joy to the families that hire them.
We had decided to have a FaceTime to ‘meet’ each other and ensure we were a good fit. I think this is such an important step in finding your birth photographer. Birth is an intimate and emotional time in your life; you want someone you feel confident in and comfortable with within your birth space. Of course, I loved her right from the beginning; she truly has a special light. After our conversation, she connected me with the parents, who live abroad. We also arranged a phone conversation, and once again, I stressed the importance of ensuring they were comfortable with me, my work, and documenting their birth. They shared some of their story with me, and I was completely drawn in. I could already tell just how beautiful they were inside and out.
Because of the distance between everyone, we couldn’t meet in person until Jane and Tim arrived in the States two weeks before the due date. We agreed to all meet at their OB appointment and sit down and have a nice meal or cup of coffee afterward to talk more. As their due dates approach, I frequently communicate with my clients with more frequency and details, and we had spoken often before this!
Lizi went into labor on a late Friday night two days after their arrival! Because of Lizi’s history of fast labor, they immediately traveled across town to the hospital they would be delivering at to be safe.
Just after midnight, Lizi’s husband texted us in the waiting room to let us know they had finally moved her to a room and were finishing up her admission, and then we would be allowed back into her labor room.
Just minutes later, her husband told us that sweet little Isla had decided to come quickly before the doctor arrived or before we could get back into the room. Talk about fast!
As we made a mad scramble down the hall, you could feel the excitement and anticipation from Jane and Tim.
Their long-awaited dream of meeting Isla and holding her in their arms had finally arrived. It was such an emotionally charged room!
Jane and Lizi had the most incredible bond; after all those months of walking this journey together, their connection was just so evident in how they spoke to and touched each other.
For my April through August clients, I offered a complimentary Fresh 48. I love these sessions because everything is still new, but everyone is a bit more rested. It gives me time to document the hour to two after birth and then step away for you to have that one-on-one time with your baby uninterrupted. So, the next day I could continue more of this beautiful story!
They were truly savoring, soaking in every little detail of their new baby and just getting to know each other. They were completely smitten!
Between our communication before their arrival, our time together in the waiting room, and just hearing more and more of their story the next day, I just really felt drawn into telling more of it, and we decided on a follow-up visit where I could capture some more of their story in audio to accompany their video would just re be amazing! Watch their video at the top of this post to hear it!
So while they stayed in the States for a couple of weeks to allow Isla the time to grow with Lizi’s breast milk close by, it gave me the perfect amount of time to come back when everyone was even more settled into a routine.
I could go back one more time and document them saying goodbye and heading back HOME. It was the perfect way to end our time together and complete their story; although I know their story is far from over, it is just the beginning.
I hope their story brings hope to other families and encourages them never to give up hope. No matter how birth occurs, it is always beautiful, and I truly believe each one holds so much depth and story. As I worked through their birth film, I became so emotionally invested in their whole story, it was such an emotional experience for me. As always, I just really wanted to tell it well, and each editing session truly left me in tears every single time.
Lizi had pumped a huge milk supply to send home with Isla (I told you she was incredible). I was completely in awe of her when it was all said and done.
Thursday, September 5th, 2019
It’s an honor that you let me capture yours.