Let me start by saying I'm pretty sure this Mama and her Doula, Ires, of www.ireswilbanks.com know the secrets to achieving what seemed to be the most peaceful birth I have ever witnessed. It's been less than 36 hours since Ayla was born, and I'm still in absolute awe of Aliya and all of her hard work.
It was about 9am when Aliya texted me with an update of her status. Light contractions that were fairly far apart, but nothing unusual for a first time mom. She had been awake since 3am and was hoping to get some rest while she still could. I did my happy dance, began prepping my gear, and waited patiently (ha!) to hear about any progress. I joke about my patience because I don't think I actually possess any. Just ask my husband, or..maybe don't! I never like to call/text too often at the first signs of labor since every birth is so completely unique, and the thought of disturbing at the worst possible moment makes me super anxious, For example, when an exhausted Mama has finally managed to close her eyes to take a much needed nap and the sound of my text disrupts her peaceful slumber!
I attempted to "relax" at home with my phone charged and at the ready, I knew Aliya wanted to labor as long as she could at home with Ires before heading to the hospital. I planned on meeting them to capture some in-home shots before following them to the hospital when the time was right.
Well, the time came MUCH sooner than anyone could have predicted!
At 4pm Aliya's best friend, Priscilla, called to inform me that she was indeed in full blown labor and they were heading to the hospital. So far in this dream career, I've only experienced long, slow moving births with first time moms whom I've worked. So, I planned on my usual routine of waiting to leave home until I knew mama was dilated, and admitted to the hospital. This time around something told me just to go ahead and get in the car, grab gas, and slowly make my way to the hospital. I even made sure to grab the issue of Harry Potter I've been milking for the last month just in case we were in for a long night! While at the gas station, Priscilla texted to let me know she was admitted, and by the time my tank was full I was getting on the turnpike. ALIYA WAS READY TO PUSH!
I live in East Rutherford which is about a 30 minute drive to Summit, so needless to say, I was sweating bullets the entire drive. I managed, in my panic, to send talk-to-text messages VIA Bluetooth with my ETA, and crossed my fingers that Ayla would wait until I arrived to make her grand entrance.
By 5pm I was running through the front doors of Overlook Hospital and asking anyone who looked remotely informed where I could find Labor & Delivery. On the elevator, I dropped to the floor in order to empty my bag and prep my camera, so that the second I entered the room I could start shooting. Much to my relief, Ayla held out for about two and a half more hours before finally making her debut. Those two hours gave me the opportunity to document what can only be described as one of the most magnificent births I have had the honor to witness. Aliya was calm and strong for the entirety of her natural labor and delivery, with encouragement and support from her husband, Athishay, her mom, Tami, her aunt Carole, her best friend, Priscilla, and her wonderful Doula, Ires. She powered through each contraction, almost as if she could barely feel them, and through her exhaustion, Aliya gracefully delivered 7.1lb, 19 inch long baby Ayla at 7:40pm on June 3rd.
During the course of her labor, family and friends began to trickle in from all over the state. In the blink of an eye the delivery room was full of smiling, exuberant, loved ones who couldn't wait to sneak a peak of their newest bundle of joy.
Ayla's birth was exhilarating to be a part of and such a pleasure to witness. I am so honored to have been chosen to capture these images for such a beautiful couple. The thought of Ayla one day looking back on these photographs, seeing the faces of those who love her most in her first moments of life, brings me joy and affirmation that this is the right career for me!
Welcome home Ayla Devi, and congratulations once again Aliya, Athishay and family!