Jaime and Trevor had a plan. It was an ideal birth plan that involved labouring gently at home for some hours, during which time they would call their friend Bec to come over for extra support and they would call me to come and take some labour images at home, and finally they would call their friend Annie to come and stay with their daughter Isla when it came time for us to head to the hospital. It was a good plan but baby Archie was having none of it.
I received a call from Jaime as I was putting my kids to bed for the night. She sounded happy and fresh, and just wanted to update me that she was having some contractions which felt quite strong but were still irregular as it had only been an hour or so since the onset. Jaime is a midwife and I knew that she would know the right time to call me, so I told her to keep me posted over the next hour or so, and started getting myself organised for the long night ahead. I was starting to feel nervous an hour later. Something that I couldn’t put my finger on was making me feel like I needed to start moving but I was still waiting on the call asking me to come over. Suddenly my phone rang and it was Trevor saying that I was welcome to make my way over to their house whenever I felt ready. I didn’t waste any time and left immediately. When I knocked on the front door and was greeted by Trevor, I asked how things were going and he replied “Yeah good, I think we might need to head to the hospital soon!”
I peeked into the bathroom where Jaime was labouring in the bath and could see that she was deep in her zone. Her friend Bec was holding her hand and Trevor was whispering affirming words. I quietly knelt down in the doorway and it was a few minutes and a couple of contractions before she looked in my direction and gave me a half smile. I knew then that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital. The contractions were intense and coming almost on top of each other.
I had only been there about 10 minutes when a strong contraction swept over Jaime and her waters broke. She knew it was time to do something but was at that point of transition when things seem very confusing. She got out of the bath and Bec gently suggested maybe we needed to call an ambulance and I quickly agreed and got my phone. Right at that moment there was a knock on the door and I ran downstairs to find Annie who had come to mind Isla (who was sleeping soundly through all the action)! Annie’s expression of wide eyed excitement grew when I quickly told her that we were about to have a baby. After a couple of minutes on the phone to Emergency Services I handed them over to Annie so that I could get back to capturing this birth and making sure that every time Jaime opened her eyes she had someone smiling at her and reassuring her that we had this.
What ensued was some of the most incredible moments I’ve ever been witness to. Jaime reached a point of realisation that her baby was coming quickly and she got herself into an optimal birthing position. Bec prepared to catch this precious baby boy and Trevor didn’t miss a beat with the encouraging words of confidence that all would be well. Annie relayed the advice coming through the phone to Bec, and it was only a couple of minutes until she was passing beautiful baby Archie through to his mama. The ambulance crew arrived about 5 minutes later but by then we were all laughing at the lack of emergency and the perfect baby who was crying and turning a lovely shade of pink.
Archie’s birth affirmed in me just how natural this process is. How women who are well supported and feel safe, progress so beautifully and instinctively know how to birth their babies. It is with such a grateful heart that I am allowed to share this birth with all of you!! X
Mel’s pregnancy was relatively uneventful. Her baby was growing beautifully and Mel was fit and well. It wasn’t until the final weeks that things started to get interesting, when it was discovered that Mel’s baby wasn’t head down all ready for birth, but instead was sitting in a frank breech position (presenting bottom first). Mel was a first time mum so this situation wasn’t ideal, but as a midwife herself, she had enough knowledge to know that she could birth this baby naturally, but she would need to get her head in the game.
She attended the Breech Clinic at John Hunter Hospital where they went over everything and decided that she fitted the criteria to attempt a natural breech delivery. There was a chance this plan wouldn’t eventuate as any number of factors could have arisen, but with the unwavering support of her wonderful husband Ben, she decided to at least try for the natural birth she had envisaged all throughout her pregnancy.
As the weeks and days passed, we nervously waited for this baby to arrive. For Mel to achieve a natural birth she could not be induced and needed labour to begin spontaneously, but she remained calm and trusting of her body and baby as she passed the 41 week mark. Finally baby Zoe decided on the 10th of April, that it was the perfect day to meet her parents.
Mel spent most of her labour quietly contracting under the shower, with Ben tirelessly supporting and encouraging her, and her second support person Denise (also a midwife) ensuring she didn’t doubt her ability to birth her baby for a second. When she hit 2nd stage and baby Zoe was deep down and ready to be born, Mel moved to the bed where she could kneel and safely birth her baby without anyone needing to intervene.
It was only around 30 mins until beautiful baby Zoe arrived in a completely calm and controlled birth, with Mel gently breathing her out and no one touching the baby during delivery (which is the recommended approach for a successful vaginal breech birth).
I can’t adequately express how impressed and in awe I was at Mel’s courage and determination, nor can I thank her and Ben enough for generously sharing these rare and precious images, in the hope that they might inspire a healthier way of thinking around natural breech birth.
I have been so busy for the last 12 months witnessing amazing things! So many babies arriving into this world and so many families rejoicing in their arrival. In the crazy haste of it all, I have fallen ridiculously behind with my blog, but fear not! You can see snippets and slideshows and just general amazingness from many of the births I have been photographing over on my Facebook page.
Here’s a little insight. A compilation of some of my favourite moments of birth. A testament to the strength of women and to the love of their partners. Enjoy!
The first time I met the lovely Lucy, it was supposed to be just a relatively quick first meeting to discuss the impending arrival of her first baby and what she was hoping for in her birth photography. After coffees were drunk and lunches were eaten, we were still talking…and continued to for three hours! Lucy had recently finished a course in women’s wellness and she was absolutely pumped about her upcoming birth. She had so much faith in not only herself but also her birth team, and she was more than prepared mentally.
On the evening of Eddie’s birth I received a call from Lucy. She had been quietly labouring all day at home and things were progressing nicely. The incredible thing about that day was that Lucy’s Mum and Grandma (who live in England) were on a plane headed to Australia in the hope to be here to lend a hand when the baby arrived. They touched down in Sydney to the news that Lucy was in labour and they raced to Newcastle not knowing if they would make it in time for the birth.
It was a lovely sight when I walked into Belmont Birth Centre to see Lucy being supported by her Mum and Grandma and of course her hubby Shane. She hopped into the birth pool and with the gentle support of her lovely midwife Nancy, she handled her pain beautifully. In the end, sweet baby Eddie came out in a big hurry and surprised us all. Lucy and Shane were immediately besotted and entranced with this new little person. Their first family member.
The day before beautiful baby River arrived was Easter Monday. I spoke to Claire and asked her how she would feel about me traveling to the Hunter Valley to spend an impromptu night away with my 5 sisters, since she was not quite due yet. Claire is one of the loveliest people you could ever meet and of course she said “Go Kate! Have fun. If I need you, I’ll call.” I assured her that I would only be an hour away, I would have all my camera gear with me and would be ready to drop everything the second she called. As I had dinner with my sisters and sat around until well after midnight chatting, I had a feeling. I found myself checking my phone every 5 minutes. Sure enough, just as I was closing my eyes for the night, the phone beeped, and I was up and out the door.
I arrived at Claire and Nath’s house to find Claire well into established labour. The beautiful Belmont midwives were being amazing and attentive as always and little Orlando was helping support his mum with gentle pats on the arm and soft words. Claire’s mind was so focused on that baby, she didn’t show a moment of hesitation or doubt and it wasn’t long before baby River was delivered in the birth pool and thrust up into his mother’s waiting arms. The beauty and peace of that moment took my breath away.
The moments after River’s birth, when two brothers met for the first time, when a father embraced his two sons and when a mother put her new babe to her breast as the first rays of sunlight crept in through the windows…blissful, fleeting moments that I will never forget.
I knew the home birth of baby George would be beautiful, what I didn’t anticipate was how completely lovely Jenni would look in the midst of labour. When I arrived, just two hours before the birth, the midwives were already there, sitting comfortably on the couch sipping tea. Jenni and Bender were busy keeping little Addy entertained. It was four in the morning and she was awake with all the movement in the house, and with a sense of excitement she had no intentions of going back to bed. Something was going to happen, and she was not about to miss it!!
Jenni moved around the room with ease, her floral robe flowing around her looking like a birthing goddess. She was looking SO relaxed in fact that I honestly wondered if we had all arrived prematurely. But no, this experienced mum knew her body and knew her baby would be greeting us before long. So after an hour of wondering around, she gently stepped into the birth pool and within an hour baby George was being lifted up to his Mum’s chest, all covered in vernix and perfect, with big brother Will helping out down ‘the business end’.
Jenni and Bender had made the decision to leave George’s cord intact, and allow it to dry and fall away by itself in the days that followed his birth. The placenta was thoroughly checked over by the midwives and George had all his first checks, weighs and measurements before the birth team, including myself, walked outside into the beautiful early morning sun and left this family to soak in their new baby.
When I finally met Peta after several messages back and forth, she was just as I imagined -very sweet and gentle in nature, but with a determined side. I chatted with her and Michael for a couple of hours about their upcoming birth. It would be Peta’s first baby after a long wait, and a third child for Michael, who has two older boys. They expressed to me all that they wanted captured in their birth images. The first time Michael’s boys would see their new brother and the expression on the face of Peta’s mum, who had also been waiting so long to become a Grandma. I listened to Peta’s fears about how she would handle the labour and how hard it was to even fathom that this baby would soon be out of her belly and in her arms. We talked about her desire to birth her baby naturally and drug-free if possible.
I spent a small amount of time with Peta and Michael in the early hours of the morning during Peta’s early labour. She was to be induced the next day, but as often happens, she went into labour spontaneously the night before. After a few hours sleep back at home, I returned to the hospital to find things moving along nicely. Peta had just gotten out of the bath and was clearly in active labour. She was managing her contractions with Michaels constant words of encouragement. Peta’s mum was looking on with the mix of sheer delight, excitement, concern and empathy that only the mother of a birthing woman can clearly express. Peta showed such courage and birthed her baby exactly as she wanted, with her mum cheering her on and Michael’s older boys just outside. The room quickly became a place of celebration as we all welcomed this long-awaited baby boy, Bodhi.
Peta, it has been such a pleasure getting to know you and I can’t tell you how happy I was to see that beautiful boy being passed into your arms for the very first time. Bodhi is such a lucky boy to have chosen you as his mum. And Michael, thankyou so much for welcoming me in to your very private and sacred birth space. I know what a personal experience it was for you and I felt so privileged to be there. X
When I first met with Kass and Brett, the thing that struck me most was how much thought this pregnant mum had given to her upcoming birth. She had written up the most comprehensive birth plan I have ever read and there were no questions left unanswered about how she ideally wanted things to go. She was really hoping for a VBAC this time round. After failing to dilate during labour with her last baby, she hoped that this second time things were going to pan out differently. We discussed all the possibilities of what might happen and how she could potentially end up in theatre for another caesarian, but most of all we just hoped for a healthy baby at the end, any way it came.
When I arrived at the hospital Kass was looking comfortable after having had an epidural, so we had a chance to chat and laugh and she gave me the story of how her labour had unfolded so far. We just needed to wait for her Obstetrician to examine her and make the call on what would happen next. Unfortunately it turned out to be the same decision as last time, and off to theatre she headed. I was unable to go into theatre with them, but Brett did an amazing job of capturing all the moments of their beautiful daughter arriving into the world. Little Abigail was perfect and healthy and lovely and here! Kass didn’t fare so well during the surgery and had some serious complications, so after sitting in the waiting room for a couple of hours, I was eventually told that I wouldn’t be able to go into recovery.
On day three, I went back to the hospital to finally meet this new little girl, and she was so beautiful and so perfect that all the drama that surrounded her arrival just melted away.
You are amazing Kass! You demonstrated such resilience during the week of Abbey’s birth. Your children are blessed to have such a strong mum! And Brett, your love and concern for your wife was a beautiful thing to witness. I hope that this slideshow helps you to remember all the fun, laughter and beauty in Abigail’s birth. x
Between Christmas and holidays, I have fallen behind with my blog! I haven’t yet told you about the birth of Elliott back in October…
When I met Kate for the very first time over a coffee, we discussed the impending arrival of her first baby and how she was feeling about it all. She was filled with all the nervousness and uncertainty that women who have never experienced childbirth always are. They have not yet been convinced through experience of the awesome strength and endurance they are capable of. There was also some clarity in Kate’s mind though. She was sure she would be delivering her baby naturally, and that certainty paid off during the lengthy labour and delivery of beautiful Elliott. With her husband Scott supporting her, along with her Mum who had travelled from California to be present for this moment, Kate mustered the strength within her and little Elliott arrived healthy and safe to the delight of all who were waiting for him.
Thankyou Kate and Scott for welcoming me in to your sacred birth space. The pleasure was all mine. x
Here is a little slideshow of the peaceful arrival of beautiful Maggie, and the welcome into her family. I only arrived just 10 minutes or so before Maggie’s birth, but there was so much to capture afterwards, it didn’t matter. Maggie’s two big sisters were so looking forward to meeting her, and so after her Mum & Dad gazed at her and breathed her in, Maggie’s sisters and grandparents all arrived to meet their new family member. Maggie was welcomed with open arms and so much love.
It was such a joy for me to be witness to it.
October has been a busy month, and I have been falling behind with my blog! Although I’m not yet finished editing the images from the beautiful, perfect and speedy birth of Maggie, I wanted to share just a few that I love, and hopefully more will be coming soon! This serene Mum did such an amazing job of labour and delivery. So amazing in fact, that little Maggie arrived barely 10 minutes after me!! When I received Matt’s call at 5am to say that he and Val were just leaving for the hospital, I mistakenly interpreted his relaxed and casual tone for time up my sleeve! I’m still not entirely sure if he actually did think it would be a little while before we would be hearing those beautiful first cries, due to his wife’s calm demeanour, or if he is just super relaxed. Either way, I thought I had enough time to stop and go to the bathroom on the way into the hospital, when in reality I should have held on!
Maggie’s grandparents were all there to greet her immediately following birth, and her very excited big sisters too! It was such a special room to be a part of at that moment, and I feel so privileged to have been there.
Oh, and maggie was the most quiet, calm and captivating little newborn I’ve ever seen. She barely cried at all! She just lay placidly and wide eyed on her mum’s chest, taking in the room. I was a little bit in love with her…ok, alot!
Thankyou so much Val and Matt for allowing me to be involved in such an incredible moment and with such a lovely family! x