“As a birth photographer, you are on call from the moment your client breaks the big news, ‘We’re on the way to the hospital,’ until precious baby takes it’s first look at Mom and Dad. When clients message us for live birth sessions, we have to be prepared in a variety of ways: setting our phones on loud, packing up equipment, and especially, being mentally prepared. Of all the numerous births I’ve captured, this time was different: A caesarean (C-section.) All of my previous experience had been with vaginal births.
After what was supposed to have been a routine check-up appointment with Dr. Baghdadi, the mom learned her blood pressure was dangerously high, thus getting her admitted and beginning her final chapter of her pregnancy — her desire of a vaginal birth. My client, Angel, has been through one C-section and a VBAC. She was so set on another vaginal birth, however, her little man decided he’d rather stay in mommy.
After having been admitted at only one centimeter dilated on Monday, March 5th, I received a message that they were starting a slow induction. So, I was on the clock. Contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart and everything looked right on track. By the end of day one, they had her on Pitocin level 7, quickening her contractions to two minutes apart. Tuesday came and went with no change to her cervix; she was still 1 centimeter dilated. We exchanged text messages and I was told they were going to try a Foley-Bulb to stretch her cervix in the morning. We both thought, ‘Great, I bet baby will be here by late tomorrow.’
Wednesday came and she was still at a 1 centimeter, but they started with the Foley-Bulb and it helped get Angel’s cervix to 3 to 4 centimeters dilated. They upped her level of Pitocin to a 9, so as soon as my husband came home from work, I got to take that ‘prep for a long night nap’ and had him babysit the phone for ‘the call,’ but yet, still nothing progressed.
Thursday came with Angel being at 3 centimeters dilated and 60% effacement. We exchanged many texts for updates and some great ‘you’ve got this’ memes to keep her spirits up. Day 4 into her induction, it was starting to slow on all aspects. Again, when my husband came home from work, I went to take my ‘prep for a long night nap.’ Good thing I did because we were in for a ride once 8 p.m. hit and Dr. Baghdadi saw no change. He was worried about the stress on baby.
I then got the text, ‘Come now, they’re taking him via C-section.’
I had been ready for the ‘go call’ for four days now… I was exhausted and I wasn’t even the one in labor. I grabbed my camera bag and rushed to Tacoma General where I find that Angel begged for just one more hour. I waited and took those moments in, capturing the calm in the room in that atmosphere. It was dark, quiet, there were words of encouragement on the walls and Angel’s doula was massaging her back giving her more calm.
Dr. B come into the room and stated, ‘It’s time and that baby — he is not descending. Mom has been in labor now for FOUR days with little change.’
My client started getting prepped for the Operating Room and I then asked Dr.B if I could capture her C-section.
Dr. B: ‘Have you ever photographed a C-section?’
Me: ‘No, but I have shot numerous births and feel I can stay out of your way.’
Dr. B: ‘OK, we’ll bring you a suit!’
I wanted to be there for my client and I knew it meant a lot to her to have these images. I have never seen a C-section — I have four daughters myself (6, 4, and twins almost 2 years old) and have had them all as vaginal births.
This was going to be a new experience. I reached out to my husband and explained that ‘I am scared, but I want to capture this,’ and of course he laid it on. I got the best response in support and love from him. I was ready to see this miracle happen now.
Angel is strong — one of the strongest moms I have captured to date! She was on the table and they began the section. I was capturing the most amazing, jaw dropping experience of my 5 year career. There is a lot to a C-section that isn’t lime-lighted — the ‘sew-up’ is way more in-depth that I imagined it would be. As I stood there watching it all, 3 nurses and 1 doctor started to ask if I was okay. I chuckled and asked, ‘Do I look like I’m about to fall out?’ Each of them said ‘yes’ and they brought me rolling chair to have a seat for the remainder.
Afterward as I was leaving, I turned back to Dad kneeling down just behind Angel’s head praying. I stopped and had to take just one more photo, one more for the sake of remembering things she’d have no knowledge about. He prayed in thanks for the safe arrival of his son and for his wife, her strength and health. My heart burst as the door closed behind me. I saw the love and sacrifice of this family at all angles today.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Shockley of Laura Shockley Photography in Tacoma, Washington. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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