I had an absolutely beautiful, crisp Autumn drive to Coeur d'Alene, blasting my pre-birth music, and walked into their home first thing that morning. One of her adorable daughters let me know they were upstairs in the bedroom, and so I crept upstair to find mama laboring so perfectly in her bed (like she promised in her text lol). It seemed like only a few moments after that the midwives walked in to check on her and the baby: everyone was perfect! Mama knew she would be meeting her baby soon, but this labor felt...different.
Their bedroom was setup in these warm earth-tones, a macrame bassinet hanging from the ceiling with a perfectly picked "staying home" outfit with baby's name. There were ultrasound images of their baby resting on their bedside, candles lit, and birth affirmations surrounding her; an absolutely stunning birth space to labor in, swoon-worthy even.
I remember how peaceful and quiet everything was for most of her labor. Even during a contraction, she was so focused and barely made a sound...but what I remember even more vividly, is the moment she finally spoke and said, "I don't remember it being this hard, it shouldn't be taking this long. He should have been here by now...". Just then, one of her [four] daughters walked in to check on mommy. I could tell that she needed her girls, and welcomed her daughter with a big hug. The midwife asked her if she wanted to help check for baby's heart tones, and that little girl's face LIT UP like fireworks on 4th of July! Grinning from ear-to-ear, she listened to the "thump thump thump thump" of the baby's perfect heart rate. She gave mom one last big hug, and went back into her bedroom where grandma was reading stories to all her sisters.
The mood shifted the moment that door closed, as mom focused back in, and felt her body overcome with the feeling to PUUUUUUUUUSH! Her water broke. She instantly became uncomfortable in the water, and was carefully helped out of the pool by her partner and the midwives, down to the bedroom floor where she lay across a gorgeous sheepskin rug.
She felt sick.
She wanted to give up.
She so desperately wanted to meet her baby...
Fetal ejection reflex took over, and everyone jumped into position: baby was starting to crown! With a deep but gentle push, his head slid out. We waited for mom to have another contraction for his body to be born, and he gave us a little blink before one more mighty push, and he was out into dad's hands, and up on mom's chest. He gave us a really good lung-clearing scream, and the look on both of the parent's faces were priceless: PURE JOY!
Daddy was able to cut the cord right after the placenta was delivered, and the midwives poured a warm herbal bath into the steel tub she had labored in. Mom crawled in to enjoy the soothing herbs, and the hot water against her tired body. Dad snuggled on baby while mama relaxed for a few moments as the water cooled down, and then baby joined her in the herbs. What a beautiful moment we were all able to witness as they both looked him over, admiring their brand new human they had created so beautifully together. Once done with their herbal bath, mom and baby got comfy in bed, nursed for awhile, and ate a hearty postpartum meal prepared by her very own mama; What a glorious Golden Hour.
This just so happened to be Kayla's [from Spokane River Midwives] final catch to be fully certified as a Washington state-licensed midwife; it was an incredible honor being able to witness that monumental occasion, and capture it!! Congratulations, Kayla...you're one badass baby catcher. I cannot wait to share more birth space with you in the near future!!
Worth mentioning: baby J had a True Knot in his umbilical cord. He had amazing color right after birth, as well as a great APGAR score, with no issues with breathing after delivery. These are stereotypically shown as a huge issue, even deadly, but definitely not in all cases, here is a great video for you to check out on how well it slid up and down.
Natalie Bee is a Birth Photographer and Doula, a mother of four wildlings, and coffee junkie. She captures the beauty of motherhood and birth through a passionate photojournalist approach.