Friday, January 22, 2010

Birth is Beautiful and I just had a Front Row Seat!!

The benefit of having a best friend, is you get to see them give birth. Did you know this? If you have a best friend and she didn't let you watch her do this, then the two of you have not read the Official Rules of Best Friends. It's in there. There are some prerequisites involved. Like, you have to have argued, forgiven, cried together, etc.... Anyway, I digress. This is about birth!

While I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, I do have a pretty lengthy track list of ways to birth. So before you think I'm trying to get on a soapbox, about how to deliver YOUR baby, let me just explain the birth journey I've had.

Firstborn: Homebirth, no drugs, back labor 16 hours. "Ring of Fire" forever burned in my memory.
Twins: 7 hrs Natural labor, back labor, elbow presentation, Epidural :) C-section :(
4th Child: Natural labor for 10 hours, back labor, water shots, spinal block, VBAC

I can't think of many other options available for delivering a baby. So I've been around this birthing block extensively, but you know what? Every time I do it or see it, it truly is miraculous. No matter if it comes out of your nether regions, or straight out your tummy. If you're "a natural" or if you like to play cards while relaxing on the drugs. When a baby leaves the womb and breathes air in the world it is a moment unlike any other.

My bff, Gretchen, just birthed her fourth baby. Her first two births were epidurals all the way in the hospital. Third was no drugs, most of labor at home, then when she got to the hospital, nurses didn't believe her when she say she had to push. I whispered into her ear, "Push. What are they gonna do?" I didn't know that meant the baby would be born 2 minutes later onto the bed without anybody catching it! True story! (Obviously, I'm not a midwife.)

After all those fun births, she decided to mix it up a little bit and birth at home for baby #4. (Homebirths are totally, fully legal in Texas, unlike in the state I live) And in one of God's extravagent displays of affection for me, I was able to be there, in Texas, in the home, behind the camera, the day He unfolded the birthday of Gretchen's 4th baby.

The following pictures, while not necessarily graphic, may be highly emotional. Enter and enjoy. :)

Gretchen's water broke at 2:45 AM. While contractions quickly followed, they weren't all that consistent, nor exceedingly productive. So lets just call the first 7 hours of labor an introduction.

I took some photos of important stuff like baby hats and blankets.Gretchen made a phone call.We did some laundry and hung out in the living room. And Ed got right to work on this.That, my friends, is a kiddy pool. Usually content to be used for 3 year olds to splash in on hot summer days. But not this day! Oh, no! This day, the kiddy pool was steppin' up to a whole new level! It was embracing it's purpose as a birthing tub. Seriously. If all was to go as planned, those little fishies would be swimmin' round, not one, but two occupants!

Then, a couple hours later, we realized Gretchen's contractions were becoming even less consistent. The midwives explained, sometimes laboring mommies get so caught up in the excitment of being in labor and having people arrive and getting things ready, that their bodies actually forget to focus on the baby. And get this! They thought perhaps, I, Jody, was a distraction! Me?! Loud?! Easily excitable?! Really?!

They'd just met me. They probably didn't know me that well, but I played along and decided not to talk to Gretchen for an hour. She headed back to her room, to labor alone with her husband, while I hung out with the midwives.
Hmmm, those girls might know a thing or two, because Gretchen had consistent contractions every 8 minutes back in her bedroom. After, another hour or so, I was able to be around her again and not actually inhibit labor.

Then about 11:00, things started to be real consistent and Gretchen came back out to the living room and sat down and looked absolutely amazing to me. So I began snapping pictures, and she began looking away. Those pics are exactly 1 hour before birth. Wow!

Now, I'm not saying it was an easy labor by a-n-y stretch, of the imagination, but she handled it with grace and peace. Soon after these shots, she got into her birthing tub.
And then we had to add a little more water. Ed boiled some on the stove, which got too hot, so they balanced it with water from the hose. :)

And a mommy sitting in a kiddy pool is kind of a melancholy experience for a 3 year old. She'd really like to jump in there,too!
36 minutes before birth. Baby happy.
Mommy starting not to be so happy.
14 minutes till birth
10 minutes till...

3 minutes till...starts to push

Baby! And she, seriously, delivered that baby by herself! The midwife, made sure the head was safe, but Gretchen took her baby from her own body into her own arms. A truly astonishing sight. Brings tears to my eyes, even as I write it.

The rest of the pictures show another joy of home birth. The family is around to welcome and bond with the new baby immediately. Too precious.

Thank you, Gretchen, for letting me be a part of this. And for processing it as best I know how, with a lens. I love you.


Life on The Rowland Ranch said...

Wow!!!! So very precious! You captured this perfectly, Jody! Tears... And you?..a distraction? What?..I'm still not sure about that one, I'm thinking that baby Amelia was just itching to meet this "Mrs. Jody" and when she couldn't hear your voice anymore when she was in Mamma's room, she just decided she HAD to meet you in person!..that's my theory anyway. :) Love you and love the friendship you and Gretchen share.

Amy said...

That is just beautiful! You captured the moment so well. And Gretchen--congratulations! You look gorgeous and the baby is beautiful. I can only wish that I looked that peaceful in labor!

Malissa Cash said...

Absolutely beautiful-the baby, mommy and photography! You did a WONDERFUL job! Congrats Ed & Gretchen!

Edward and Gretchen said...


It was an honor to have you with us once again and wouldn't have been the same without you. Even though I was secretly hoping she'd come a little early, (Measuring 40 1/2 cm at 36 weeks had me a little scared. Thought I might have a 15 lb baby if she went to term.) I am grateful now that Amelia decided to wait for your arrival and go past her due date so we could have special time together before the birth too. If we decide to do it again, would it be too much to expect for you to be with us a fifth time around??? I love you and am thankful God gave you to me as a best friend.


Kelly said...

Amazing! What an awesome experience! Thank you both for sharing your pictures and your stories. Words can't do justice to the emotion that springs up when you see a new life enter the world.
So happy you were there. Gretchen you are amazing!

Denita said...

Thanks for sharing Gretchen's birth story. Not only did I love the story but I loved that she had on jewelry:) I think I'll have to incorporate that into my next homebirth.

Anonymous said...

You did an amazing job capturing this. I was tracking emotionally with the pictures as if it was happening as I read it.
That is quite a gift you have. Beautiful story. Congratulations to all. Thanks for sharing the miracle. Reminder to all of us that He is in control.
Mary Gaye

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh.. that was amazing to read/see! It brought tears to both my eyes and my 16 year old daughters. Absolutely beautiful <3

Jody said...

Girls, it was my great honor to be there that day. And it made me realize how much I've missed taking baby pics! There just aren't enough babies born around here.

Sweet baby Amelia is 2 weeks old tomorrow, and from what I hear, the whole house is completely smitten with her and fight about who gets to hold her!

Beka said...

Too precious! Nothing will ever top that experience! Aren't Rene'e and Rose Marie great!? They were at my water birth too!