Writing a client’s birth story takes time but not too much thought. After all, as the photographer, I’m completely coherent the entire time. I’m not working through contractions or having multiple medications pushed through my IV. I’m not answering tons of questions or focusing on staying completely still while an epidural is being put into place. I’m an observer and a documenter. I’m not an active participant, let alone the one actually giving birth.
Sitting down to write out the story of your firstborn’s birth is a totally different ball game. Especially when your 6 week old is struggling to lay down for a nap. It’s been almost 7 weeks since I experienced his birth. An experience. That’s exactly what giving birth is. A wonderful, chaotic, miserable, beautiful, miraculous experience.
The night before my c-section and Graeme’s birth was much like every night before it. Neil and I attempted to make it special – one last date as a family of two – but ended up just eating dinner at Steak N Shake before heading home and watching Jimmy Fallon. The bags were packed, the car was loaded up. I baked cookies for the nurses, took a nice long shower, blew dry my hair, and to bed we went. It wasn’t a more fitful sleep than normal, for a 39+ week pregnant lady anyway.
6:00 am – Neil finished a few last minute things around the house, got the pups ready for the day, and I straightened my hair. Being SO pregnant and swollen and bloated, I already wasn’t looking my best. The least I could do for my pictures was to have decent hair. Ha!
6:40 am – We left the house, with what felt like everything we owned (I like to be prepared!), and headed to the hospital. While driving, Neil and I talked about it was our very last drive together as a family of two. It seemed like that’s all I could think about. Everything was the last time being just the two of us. It was bitter sweet for sure but I was too excited to get that little boy in my arms. The below picture was really important for my mom and I’m so glad I remembered to grab it before we left the house.
6:55 am – Neil grabbed us a great parking spot in the hospital parking garage and we headed to labor and delivery where we were greeted by the awesome night shift nurses who got us started. Instead of rooming us with the other c-section patient in the labor and delivery pre-surgery holding area, they roomed us in the labor and delivery triage room which was just off the nurses station. We appreciated that SO much because only Neil could join me in the pre-surgery holding area while we could have my parents, Neil’s parents, and our photographer in the triage room. Thanks Nurse Carla!
I wish I had a picture of it but as soon as they roomed me I used the adjoining restroom to apply my makeup for the day. I’m sure the nurses still talk about that c-section patient that just HAD to have makeup on to give birth. Seriously. I would have made fun of me.
7:30 am – Makenzie arrived! Again, SO happy and appreciative that they roomed me in the triage room so that I could have my photographer and visitors! I absolutely LOVE having these pictures to help me remember those moments! Because of my special situation – the gentle/family centered c-section I requested that had never been done in that hospital – I had MANY attendants that came and went during the couple of hours that we waited. Everyone involved came to introduce themselves and run through what their job was. Even a nursing student!
Our parents slowly started coming by. I’m so glad I have this picture of my mom and I! Exposed belly and all!
8:30 am – Call me crazy but I actually prayed I would go into labor the morning of my c-section just so I could experience at least SOME actual labor. I had Braxton Hicks since my second trimester and some days were worse than others… So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that I was actually having real labor contractions! Sure, they were uncomfortable (early labor) but they were happening and I was cloud nine!
My dad was really worried. It was cute.
Around 9am they notified me that the previous c-section was going a tad longer than expected so I probably wouldn’t be going back until 10:30. I was more than ready to meet our son but completely understood. I took a few minutes to check to make sure my blog post announcing my c-section published correctly and found out that several comments were already waiting for me!
10:30 am – Thanks, Neil, for this sweet picture of my dear friend Makenzie! And thank you, Makenzie, for being there for us on the most important day of our lives!
It’s go time!
Neil waited outside the surgery suite while they positioned me, hooked me up, and started my spinal.
Love this iPhone pic of Makenzie and Neil right before Neil joined me! Makenzie had to wait outside until surgery was over… Also LOVE the picture on the left – Neil snapped it right as they started cutting me open. It’s the last picture of me before I became a mother. Surreal!
11:01 am – Graeme was born! MY baby boy was finally here!
The picture on the left, in case you can’t tell, is his little butt! Right after that picture was taken, my phone was handed off to my nurse anesthetist so I don’t have a picture of when Dr. Savells held him up and said, Here’s your baby boy Rachael! But I remember it well!!
As part of the gentle/family centered c-section, Graeme was handed directly to me so I could hold him while they finished me up. I was sort of in a fog… apparently my blood pressure dropped quite a bit… but I wasn’t about to mention feeling funny. I was afraid they’d take him off of me. I had such an amazing nurse anesthetist, she took the best care of me and I was feeling great in no time! Because of where he was laying on me, I couldn’t see him very well so most of the time I had my eyes closed and just relished the feeling of him being there and was calmed by the sound of his cries. It’s weird to want to hear your baby cry but right after the birth, it’s the most beautiful sound in the world!
Also part of the gentle/family centered c-section, they did Graeme’s newborn assessment while he was on me. The second assessment was while Neil was holding him, skin to skin. Here he had stopped crying, which was also a beautiful thing. I remember I kept saying “Hi Graeme! Hi!” and I think he realized that even though he was no longer inside me, that he was still with me. Sigh.
Seeing Neil hold him brought tears to my eyes… I was a beautiful sight!
Kay, my kick-butt nurse anesthetist and Dr. Savells, the best OB ever!! I love that she actually looked up from sewing me back together for a picture!
Makenzie, still outside of the surgery suite, was shooting through the tiny window in the door. I am SO grateful that she did this, even though seconds later she was reprimanded by another nurse for doing so.
11:35 am – Recovery room. Graeme and I both were exhausted and were able to rest if only for a minute before they started “messing” with us again. Feeling his little body skin to skin on mine was so worth all the pain I felt while pregnant. Just that one thing made it all OK.
Another newborn assessment and weighing!
9 pounds, 6 ounces, and 20.2 inches long <3
First breastfeeding attempt = success!
Makenzie had been waiting a while for them to give Graeme is bath, we both wanted to pictures, but after what seemed like forever, she asked if she could go to lunch. She’d been working for 4 hours! Of course she could go eat! And what do you know… Not long after she left, it was time for his birth sponge bath! One of the nurses took control of my phone and took pictures, Neil assisted with the bath, and Graeme screamed bloody murder. I too was in distress at that time but only because they started my post c-section assessment, which included massaging my abdomen to help my uterus contract down. Talk about PAIN. Oh my goodness. The worst I’ve ever felt in my life.
He screamed throughout his first sponge bath but once they returned him to my arms we were both at ease. I love that just my presence is all he needs. He promptly fell asleep and I basked in his soft skin, his beautiful face, his long fingers, and perfect lips. Oh my. I still look at him like that today.
Around 1 pm – They wheeled us out of labor and delivery and to the maternal newborn unit. Our family followed. In attendance, my mom, dad, and grandma, and Neil’s mom, dad, and sister. Watching Neil show him off was so precious! What a proud daddy! He’d waited so long for that moment!
My mom meeting her first ever grand baby.
My mom and dad
Neil’s mom meeting her third grand baby and my grandma holding her third great grand baby!
Neil’s sister meeting her second nephew <3
Makenzie had worked her tail off for hours and I had grown extremely tired so our first family of three photo wasn’t taken until later that night by Neil’s sister. Thankful to have this!