It's Birth Week at KatieLew Photography this week, and I thought what would be a better way to end it than with my own birth story. Today, I'm sharing the birth of my second daughter Nora, and why I really regret not hiring a birth photographer.
When I found out I was pregnant again (only 6 months after having my oldest), I went through a variety of emotions. But mostly I knew, I wanted to have a completely different birth than I did with my oldest. Emersyn's birth was long, and scary for many reasons. I had pre-eclampsia, and she was born 5 weeks early. With Nora, I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible.
Home birth was always something that was at the back of my mind. My husband, Scott, wasn't comfortable with the idea, so we had decided to deliver at OU Med in OKC. But I was about 1/2 way through my pregnancy, and I still hadn't found anyone there I wanted to use. So I revisited the idea of a home birth and even a birth center birth. Scott and I talked it over, and interviewed a few midwives in Tulsa. On the drive home, I remember praying and being told that home birth was the path for us.
Fast forward to 40 weeks and a few days pregnant. I was showing signs of pre-elcampsia again and the midwife decided to do a home induction. Basically that was a lot of herbs and then eventually Castor Oil (do not take castor oil to start labor unless advised by your birth professional). It was disgusting, but it worked. That night, I was having contractions and went to bed expecting to wake up sometime in the night in labor.
Three o'clock in the morning and I woke up to lots of discomfort. It seemed to last for an hour and had no pattern. So I called my team. I got up around 4am and took a shower while Scott made me breakfast. It was around 5am when my doula, Tori, arrived and I think that's when labor really started to have a normal pattern. I was in contact with my midwife. She would get an update and tell us to call again in an hour. At this point, we all thought that Nora would make her appearance much later in the day.
Little did we all know that labor would progress very quickly. This is where the timing gets really mixed up for me. Around 6-7a things were really intense. We had been laboring in the living room with the birth ball, and at some point we moved into the bedroom to labor on the bed. I remember Tori or Scott calling the midwife (who was in Tulsa at this time) and they discussed her leaving. She was finally on her way. I really had wanted to labor in the birth pool, but it was with my midwife in Tulsa (about 1.5 hours away), so I had Scott and Tori prepare the bathtub so I could get some relief. Hot water is a wonderful method of pain relief, not just for birth, but any aches and pains you have.
I had one really intense contraction right after they hung up with the midwife, and I think either my water broke, or Nora just dropped down in the birth canal. But I felt a popping sensation. I yelled for them to call the midwife back. And my next contraction, my body started pushing all on its own. This is where my body took over and did what it was made to do. I climbed in the bath to ride it out until the midwife got there (still 1.5 hours away). I was told to pant through contractions to prevent Nora from coming out on her own. This was the hardest part of my entire birth. Trying to "not" have my baby. I was fighting against my body. With each contraction, my body would push. The best way I can describe it is like throwing up backwards. My body was convulsing downward instead of upward.
I was braced against the tub and holding Tori's hand. This part is a bit blurry for me about what was going on behind the scenes, but from what I've gathered after the fact. Scott or Tori called 911 and the midwife called her back up midwife, Cathy Morton CPM, who was luckily in town. I don't know how long I labored in the tub trying to resist having Nora, but it felt like an eternity. I didn't want to have my baby without anyone there that knew what to do. Once we got word that Cathy was 10 minutes away, I quit resisting. At some point, Emersyn had woken up and Scott was in the kitchen cutting grapes. Tori was on the phone with the EMTs who were on the way (despite us no longer needing them), and the midwives were all on their way.
Nora was born into the water (in my tub) sometime after 8a. We don't know the exact time of her birth. After she was born, it all is a big blur. The EMTs came, and so did Cathy. She helped deliver my placenta, and Nora remained attached to her placenta long after she was born because Cathy came so quickly, she was without her supplies. I took a shower and then rested on my bed. My midwife arrived after I had settled into bed and did all the examinations. She stayed until everything was cleaned up and we all had a clean bill of health.
Nora came fast and crazy, which is exactly like she is now at age 2. Her birth story is a depiction of her personality. I have images from her birth, and I'm very thankful to have something. Luckily, my doula had the thought to grab our camera. But honestly, I live with a huge regret of not hiring a birth photographer. I had the opportunity to hire one. I saw her Facebook posts all the time. I seriously considered hiring her, but I just never was 100% sure. So I didn't take the plunge. Looking back now, especially now that I'm a birth photographer myself, I am really sad that I don't have our birth story documented. The light in the bathroom was gorgeous! Haha.
I'm going to share the photos Tori, Scott, and I took with my camera. I have not edited these in any way. These are some of the only images I have from Nora's birth. And while I will always treasure them, looking back on them does make me sad that I didn't have a professional there to tell our story.
Most of these images are blurry, out of focus, or off color. And you know what, that's ok. It's now a part of our story. Nora's birth is part of the reason I'm so involved in birth work and the birth community. I'm thankful to have been able to have a home birth, and to my team for rocking it!
If you are reading this, first off thanks for making it this far! And if you're pregnant and considering birth photography, take the plunge. Contact me or another birth photographer in your area. I service most of Oklahoma, and I offer payment plans so the cost isn't due up front. I KNOW that if I had hired a birth photographer, I would NOT have regretted it.