Cara has always been a very special client. Early in her pregnancy, she hired me to document the birth of her second child. We connected instantly, finding that our lives paralleled in many ways and rapidly forging a friendship over the next several months. She was due with her second daughter on July 31, and informed me that her doctor had scheduled her for induction at 6 am on the Friday before. Great, I told her, and advised her to let me know once they were settled in their room and the induction process was starting. I knew from experience that it could sometimes take hours for them to get a Pitocin drip going, so we planned to play it by ear, but I wanted to leave as soon as they set up, as her first daughter came unusually fast and I expected this one to be the same, if not much faster. Thursday night she texted me to say the hospital had called and placed her on standby until lunchtime the following day. They said they would call her when they were ready for her to come in, but every bed was full and they would let her know when patients were discharged so she could head in. Anxious and a little heavy hearted, she waited for them to call the next morning. She waited and waited... and finally around 3 pm, she called and was able to speak directly to her doctor. I'm sorry, he told her, but some of the staff has called off and I won't be able to get you in for induction until late next week. I can't imagine the disappointment she must have felt, thinking that by then, she would have already had her sweet baby in her arms, only to find out it would be almost a week instead! She tried for days to bring on spontaneous labor, with no success... her due date came and went, like most mamas, and her induction was rescheduled for the following Thursday at 6 am.
At 7:50 am on Thursday, I woke up in a panic. Did I sleep through the call?! I picked up my phone and saw that all was quiet. I texted Cara immediately to check in. Quickly she responded, what a relief!
"Hi! I'm finally all settled. So weird I just grabbed my phone to text you. They JUST started pitocin drip...."
She also told me that they had just checked her, and that she was at 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. I told her I would get my kiddos squared away and head that direction and she said that was fine. A little more than an hour later, I texted to check in. When she didn't reply immediately, I got nervous and called. I hadn't eaten yet and was hoping to grab something on the way in, but when I called, I got no answer. I decided it was probably best to head straight to the hospital, just to be safe, but my navigation took me to a very confusing area so I called again. This time, her husband, Vince, answered, and I could hear her laboring in the background. Good news! Contractions were coming, but she was still at 3 cm, he told me. I asked if it was okay to stop for breakfast and he said he thought there was plenty of time, so I grabbed a bagel and some coffee and made the rest of the trip to the hospital. It was 45 minutes from the time I hung up the phone to the moment I reached the L&D section of the hospital. I was just outside her door and asking a nurse to confirm it was the right room, when another nurse walked by and said "I think they're delivering in there." I bolted inside (so glad nobody stopped me!) to find the baby already crowning and the doctor in position to catch! What a terrifying moment for a birth photographer! I quickly wove my way through the nurses and the doctor attending her, just in time to fire off one labor image as she roared her baby out, followed by the very first shot of baby, at the very moment of birth.
WHOA! That was close, my heart was pounding, Mama looked terrified, Dad had a look of shock and concern. How this incredible birthing mama had gone from 3 cm to baby in her arms in such a short time is just beyond comprehension! We were all so lucky I made it with just seconds to spare, but what an amazing, inspiring story it is... I am so honored to have been present to document both the birth of a baby, and the birth of a warrior.
Some of Cara's own words about sweet Willa's arrival:
"After my first birth, I was told i was a rapid laborer. I had my daughter from the start of the induction to holding her in three hours. So I knew I would go fast this time, but I had no idea just how fast. Literally in twenty-seven minutes, I had gone from three cm to holding my new baby... When you give birth that fast, there is absolutely no way your mind can wrap around what is going on. I didn't get to savor any moments... In fact, the pain was so intense, continual contractions with no room to breathe... It's really amazing how your mind takes you to a different dimension when you're feeling immense pain and agony. I have no real recollection of even giving birth. All I really remember is my daughter was blue, her eyes blood stained from the hemorrhages due to the severe pressure of me pushing her out so quickly, her not crying right away... I couldn't even look at her for a good ten minutes because I was so scared. I do remember when I came to, my husband was right there beside me telling me it was ok. I am so grateful he was there as he was my voice of reasoning when I had none. Kayla was there snapping away and I'm so grateful she was, because looking at these birth photos, I can see that my husband was really there, involved, and solidifies the fact that this man is the one that I love more than life. He was my rock that day. This beautiful creature that was just born has changed our life for the better in so many ways and she truly is a miracle. It was almost like she knew she was special and that we needed her in our life. I will cherish these pictures forever as they mean so much to me for so many different reasons. They say a picture speaks a thousand words... These pictures speak so much more than that."