My sister-in-law asked me to photograph the birth of her third daughter this past March. I was game but also a bit nervous. I knew how much raw energy was going to be swirling in that room, and would I be able to capture it all? We were on call for a few weeks, and the due date came and went. Just about two weeks later, a text message that regular contractions starting came through. My mom and I travelled down to their house in Connecticut so we could be around, just in case this was it. When we arrived it had already stalled. So we hunkered into bed and woke up the next morning to hang out with the other girls. Thus began the waiting for Ruby series of photos that led up to the birth. Play time with Gramma, led to bed time which led to another night sleeping over for just in case. The next day, Jenn was feeling fine enough that they decided to go do a grocery shop. Well, my mom and decided that probability wise the baby would end up coming on the schedule induction date two days later, so we packed up and drove home.
I was awoken the next morning at 6:30 with the ring of my phone, letting me know that Jenn was in labor and on the way to the hospital! Of course! Ruby was ready to give us all game from the beginning! The only information I had to go on was that she was in labor, but I didn't know how far along, so the drive was a mix of feeling hurried, and also with the feeling that this might take all day so I could relax. When I arrived there was an intense quiet through out the room. Turns out Jenn was fully dilated when she arrived, but her water had yet to break. An epidural had been called for, which wasn't part of the original birth plan, but in the end I think was her best choice. I arrived at about 8:45. As the epidural was being administered, I went and chatted with the doula for a bit in the waiting room. When we returned it was if Jenn was ready to have lunch and hang out. So much different in her attitude, she also said the needle didn't even hurt!
Soon after, the doctors checked in to see if she was ready to push, Jenn asked for another grace period, but it was only a little while. Once the pushing started my adrenaline picked up. I knew Jenn wanted photos of her seeing Ruby for the first time, but lighting and position was tricky. If you haven't seen a birth, the room is jam packed with people in a hospital. A team of medical professionals are on deck just in case they are needed, as well as the birthing nurses and doctor. I watched Jenn ride the contractions and put all of her might into pushing. Ruby ended up being a big baby, but just 20 minutes of pushing brought her into the world. It was pretty intense and magical to witness. I was feeling for poor Jenn, having no choice but to go through some major pain, but also feeling like I wanted to yell like a cheer leader for her, and was also paying attention to my angles, and lighting and the movement of what was happening.
The chord was a bit short so Ruby landed on Jenn's belly instead of her chest, which is why they are not displayed here. I watched as Jenn and Nick had a moment to absorb their new daughter as the medical team rushed about around them. It was as if they didn't exist to them. Just two hours later, Jenn was already up and eating and looked like she could run a marathon. I hung out with the new parents, eating Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and taking pictures of the little love. Watching the older sisters meet the new baby was also a hoot. Abigail, age 4, was really engaged while Clare, age, 2, was only there for mommy. There were questions about belly buttons, and why they their parents and to stay in the hospital. Cuties.
They arrived home the next day with Ruby. I was also there to witness the new sisters really understanding that this was the new baby and she was staying with them. There were offerings of toys, lots of little cuddles and fawning over new baby and mommy alike. What a trip! And now I'm looking forward to the next time someone invites me to capture their birth story, because what better story than the one where it all begins?