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
It’s an honor that you let me capture yours.