The two nights before Roxy was born, I had uncomfortable and inconsistent contractions all night long. By the time Monday morning, August 8th, rolled around, I was sure Roxy had settled in for a few more days even though just hours earlier I was convinced we would be at the hospital ready to welcome her at any moment.
I remembered a photo my mom had taken in a bubble bath with me in her belly the morning she went into labor, so I wanted a similar one. Jose took this for me the night before Roxy was born.
These were both taken by Jose, one after the other. Both with my Pentax 645nii – the first is Kodak Portra 400 and the second is Ilford HP5.
Our boys took a bath soon after, and I wanted one last photo of them as just a pair of siblings before their sister arrived and made them a trio.
I drove Max to speech and occupational therapy that next morning, and the car ride increased the number and intensity of my contractions (as it usually does anyway), but I still mostly brushed them off. I used one of the giant exercise balls in the OT gym to sit on and ease my discomfort, at which point I decided I should probably call my midwife and get her opinion. They agreed I should come in for an exam to see if I was in early labor.
Jose left work and picked up Max from therapy while I drove over there, and met me at the office where my dad then drove our car home and my mom drove our kiddos home (so much to coordinate when this is your third baby!).
After an hour waiting to be seen at the midwife’s office, my contractions got more intense and closer together. Jose was timing them and his app hilariously finally said “you need to go to the hospital right away!” 😉 At which point we left the office without ever being seen for the exam.
Luckily, all of my bags were already in Jose’s car, and I had my parents bring my packed camera bag because I knew I wanted to photograph our experience as long as I could (using film!) while I was in labor. I may or may not have been inspired by meeting Sally Mann earlier in the summer. 😉 Documenting this process was an awesome distraction to have in between contractions and really helped take my mind off the pain. In case you’re curious, I also felt compelled to listen to Weezer while laboring in the car — specifically the song “Thank God for Girls.” 😉 The first shots below are from right after we left the midwife’s office. I had to labor from the backseat because both of our cars have recalls on the passenger side airbag that I didn’t want to chance.
We settled into our room around 12:30pm.
I loaded film and did some metering between contractions so I could hand the camera off to Jose from time to time. Of course he had to capture my love for all the ice I could get my hands on. 🙂
Our incredible midwife, Cara, monitored me for about three hours before they decided to admit me, just to be sure things were progressing.
I felt great between contractions and my amazing husband helped keep the mood light, as he always does. It really helped ease the pain quite a bit. And that lovely shower behind us in the photo below? Also one of my favorite pain relievers. That hot, running water felt so good on my low back during contractions.
Jose found a decently comfy spot to relax in between my contractions as well. 🙂 My favorite place to work through them was on top of an exercise ball while holding onto Jose as he kneeled down in front of me. This man is by far the most amazing partner I could ever ask for, and laboring with him by my side was an absolute pleasure. Our whole labor was so quiet and intimate, with just him and I holding each other and working through every contraction that brought us one step closer to our baby girl.
By the time I got to about 6cm, I decided I wanted an epidural. My first birth experience involved a long labor that ended in a c-section. For my second birth I went all-natural in an effort to reduce as many interventions as possible that could increase my chances for a repeat c-section — and I got the all-natural VBAC that I worked so hard for! This time around I gave myself permission to get an epidural if I wanted one, and after a while, it was obvious to me that I could keep going all-natural if I wanted to, but I was ready for pain relief so I could continue to fully enjoy the experience and hopefully have a less intense birth.
And I’m so glad that is what I opted for. I was able to relax and take short naps. And soon after I got the relief, my water broke and I felt the heavy pressure and need to push.
For some reason the epidural took much better on my right side than my left, but I was grateful because it left me just enough sensation to know how and when to push. I also knew based on my last experience that I needed to breathe into my contractions and push more gently, to help me have a not-so-difficult recovery after. And that’s exactly what I got thanks to Jose’s coaching, our incredible midwife, and the epidural that brought me just the right amount of relief.
Cara eased me through every push and every contraction. Jose held my hand and helped me find just the right amount of strength I needed to make it through to the end. And before I knew it, Roxy was on her way out and I pulled her up onto my chest in the most gentle and peaceful entrance into the world. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Jose captured our first photo together below (not film on this one — I stopped photographing with my film camera after I got my epidural and wanted to focus my energy on resting and then pushing).
I captured the below photos in our recovery room the next morning.
The honesty of the next photo was really important to me, too. Just me and my girl after our first night together. Un-showered, same robe I labored in, belly still swollen, attached to an IV for extra fluids, film camera in hand, tired as can be, more in love than ever.
Jose brought the boys up to meet her that day, too, and it was the sweetest moment ever.
And then, we brought her home.
The next day, we took her to her first doctor appointment.
And every day since, we have continued to immensely love on her as we always will forever and ever and ever.