As a photographer, I have a bucket list. A list of all those people and things that I want to take pictures of before I set down my camera and walk with Jesus. On that list there has been photograph a bare maternity belly, travel to another state for a client, and photograph the Eiffel tour at night with all it’s sparkling lights. Among that list, was to photograph the birth of a child. My list normally is formed by things that will shove me outside of my comfort zone, provide new kinds of sessions to my clients, or simply something I’m interested in trying. This birth session was added to the list for all three reasons. I want to provide something new to my clients, something that is not offered by any other photographer in Knox county. These sessions are completely and utterly memorable and they capture the first seconds you become a parent and most importantly, that first pivotal moment that your child sucked the air of this Earth into their beautiful tiny lungs and cried the first sounds of life! Christian and Katie opened their hearts and their hospital room to me and allowed me to photograph their special moments for them. So, without further
blabbering ado, I present to you the story and images of the birth of Ms. Koralyne
In a small town in Ohio, on the eve of a huge winter storm, I’m sitting at a local high school basketball game on assignment. It’s half time and I’m flipping through facebook, taking sips of my coke and watching the student section chatter with excitement on how this game will turn out…. then all of a sudden my phone buzzes. I’m rolling my eyes thinking it’s my husband out in the car asking me what the score is, but it’s not him. “Just wanted to let u kno Katie’s water just broke!” and like the idiot I am, I immediately stand up like I’m about the run out the door and head to the hospital that is an hour and a half away but I remind myself that labor takes time and that I should probably chill out and finish photographing this basketball game first because after all, these clients need their images too. I continue photographing the game, last buzzer sounds and they lose. (Tough game, they put up a good fight!)
I pack my bag away and I’m out the door to the car. I just keep saying “She’s finally in labor! I’ve got to get to the hospital!” and my husband, with a calm tone goes “Doesn’t she have to get to 3cm first? Isn’t that what you told them?” CRAP. Still can’t head out yet. This process has been so exciting with Katie and Christian. They are such an adorable couple. Ever since I photographed their maternity session, they were so open to the idea of this birth session. We all really connected and got along great which is what you need from your clients when you are a photographer. So, I go home and I sit. Then I lay. Then I finally tell myself that I must sleep with my phone on my forehead so I DO NOT miss text updates from Aunt-to-be, Liz.
At 9:30pm. TEXT: we are in triage at 1cm.
It’s 2:30am. TEXT: we are finally being admitted.
On to 4:30am. TEXT: started labor meds.
At 6:30am. TEXT: Epidural started
Finally, it’s 8:02am and I get a facebook message from Christian:
“Hey! I got new phone because my new one fried out and yeah……well with that being said I lost your number. So if I could have it again that would be awesometastical but I also wanted to tell you that she is 3 cm dilated just so you’re updated she is on pitocin as of about 2 hours ago and its helping out.”
I packed my bag, got the SUV keys, about to head out the door and my husband stops me and says “It’s a level two snow emergency, you aren’t the best driver (thanks honey…), are you sure you can make this trip?” My reply? What choice do I have. Here we are, we have waited 40 weeks for this beautiful baby girl’s arrival and to be there to capture this birth and I’m just going to throw it away because of snow?! I believe my exact quote was ‘Come hell or high snow, I am making it to this birth session!” and so I did. After carefully driving, a regular hour and a half trip became two and a half hours but I didn’t care. I was there at 10:30am. I was about to walk in and I didn’t know what I was about to see or hear (Sure, I’ve given birth to a child but it’s got to be completely different watching it!) and I was about to be the fly on the wall of the birth of a member of a new generation.
Walking in, I seen Aunt-to-be Liz walking out telling me that it has been slow going which made me
nervous thankful that I had time to collect myself before this baby’s arrived. I walked in to see poor Katie, IVs and all sleeping like her precious self and Christian and his momma sitting in chairs, on their phones, and you can tell they were working on limited sleep. It had been a long night. Christian greeted me with a smile and offered me a seat. So I sat, I adjusted my camera and I started to document the next eight hours, in what would become the most memorable moments of our lives.
So, I took pictures. Pictures of the hat she will soon wear, the melted snow droplets on the window that would perfectly depict the wet day that Koralyne arrived on, and the moment that Christian looked out the window at the snow and said ‘It’s crazy! Look at it all!’
I hadn’t ate since 8pm the night before and my stomach was getting the best of me. We were at 4 cm and I thought I would spend the time getting some food in my stomach and retain some energy before things got intense in the room. I felt so bad when Katie said ‘I am so hungry, I wish I could just eat SOMETHING!’ Katie is the kindest, sweetest person who genuinely cares for others and to see her laying there and hearing that she was in discomfort really tugged on the ole heart strings!
I asked Christian and his momma, Victoria, if they would like anything from the cafeteria while I went to get some food and Christian decided to join me. We got pizza. We sat. We ate. I finally said to him ‘I can’t believe in just a few hours, you are going to be a daddy!’ He replied with the most definite confidence that I wasn’t expecting, “I know. I’m excited. She’s going to be the most beautiful little girl.” He didn’t say it like it was something to be typically said, he didn’t say it with uncertainty, but he said it like he truly KNEW who she was going to be. He KNEW she was going to be beautiful and there was no doubt about it. It was wonderful to hear him so definite and prepared. It was unexpected since he was a first time father. Then we talked about politics since CNN was on and we headed back up to the room.
We came back, waited, and we were at 5cm. We watched ABC’s Revenge on the Netflix app on Christian’s phone. Minutes later, once Katie woke up, it seemed like all the events started happening so quickly. She was showing me all the things she had brought for Koralyne. Then, Katie started to feel discomforting pains. Christian was comforting her, rubbing her back, trying to do what he could to help. They finally they called a nurse. Katie’s pain was getting worse and measured at 6cm around 4:30pm. Victoria and Christian got on their phones and updated family, . We decided to go get dinner while Katie tried to rest a little more. While we walked down to the cafeteria, I said jokingly, “Ok, who wants to put bets on when this baby will be born?” Christian said, “Well I hope soon!” He was just so eager to meet his baby girl! Victoria reassured Christian that we still had awhile till baby’s arrived. I said “Honestly, I believe that 6:30pm is the perfect time for a Koralyne to be born!”. So, we got food. We ate. We talked more politics… maybe a little about the Olympics and then Victoria’s phone rang. She answered, talked, then hung up and said “Katie is at 8cm!” We got back up to the room and poor Katie’s pain was getting worse. The epidural was wearing off and the nurses were trying to do what they could to help but it wasn’t enough.
9cm. Katie was fighting hard to breathe through contractions. These last couple hours were hard on me. Watching Katie feel every moment of her birth, I just didn’t know how she was surviving it. She’s so strong. No doubt about it. We were now at 10cm. Victoria on one side, Christian on the other…. it was time to push. All eyes were on Katie. It was all her, all her strength and endurance to bring this little darling into the world. Everyone dedicating their words of encouragement to her and cheer her through this. “Come on, our little girl is coming! You can do this!” and “Listen, you need to breathe Katlyn! You have to breathe. You can do this!” Even I felt compelled to cheer Katie on. In that moment, I felt weak. Poor Katie’s birth plan has taken a detour with her epidural wearing off completely. Knowing full well that I had a fully medicated labor and didn’t feel a thing, I felt like Katie is such more of a woman that I am, and I told her that. I was thinking, how on earth does she continue to push?! How can any human being withstand all this pain?!
Katie continued to push. Christian was trying with all his might to comfort her the only ways he knew how by using a magazine to fan her then using an ice cold, water drenched wash cloth on her forehead. Katie was beet red. I honestly thought for a minute Katie was going to pass out. The nurses did too as smelling salts were on stand by. We were on our final pushes. We all were so ready to meet this beautiful baby girl and she was ready to meet her parents. Christian kept cheering, “Our little girl is coming, baby! Look! She’s almost here!”
It felt like slow motion when I was looking through my camera. I watched Katie pause, take a short gasp of air and push. Her head dropped back in relief like she had won and in the doctors hands, was held a beautiful, pink, brand new baby girl. Her cry was refreshing, that’s the only word I know to describe it because it just sounded so new. Katie raised her head and and looked at her tiny girl. Katie’s eyes said it all as baby laid on the belly of her momma, her cord was clamped and daddy cut the cord. Christian did not leave that baby’s side from the minute she was born up until the moment I left. The look on Katie’s face as she cuddled her baby skin to skin was something that I felt unworthy of photographing, it was so beautiful. Victoria’s cheering and comforting of Katie was essential to this baby’s birth and the look on her face when she held her newest grandbaby was pure joy.
These sessions will be something I continue to offer my clients. It would be wrong of me not to. I realize that these birth sessions should be essential to every parents list of ‘must-haves’ when wanting to document their pregnancy and the life of their child. It was incredibly eye opening to me how precious the gift of life is. I was outside looking in and it was a beautiful view. I want first thank Katie and Christian for allowing me to photograph these moments. I want to secondly thank their families for allowing me to be in the room when there could have been another family member standing there. You didn’t have to do that, but you did and I am thankful. Third, to my clients, who waited with me for the moment I got word of the water breaking to the moment Koralyne’s picture was post on facebook. You all rejoiced and supported this little family. You have made them feel loved beyond their expectations and I didn’t expect any less of you because that’s who we are right? We are all apart of this photography family. We are all supporting and complimenting one another on this journey called life. I don’t really understand how so many loving, beautiful, kind people are all connected by images but it gives me faith that this world can be a good place if we all find common ground.
I love you guys. Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like to know more about any of the services ENV Photography provides, you can click HERE or visit envphotographyy.com to look at galleries, pricing and how to contact me for booking.