Welcome to the family, Lily Grace.

This should be the easiest blog post ever, yet my brain is all over the place.

Every family that has allowed me into their lives, holds a permanent place in my heart. Every birth is so completely unique and exhilarating in its own way. I don't know how my heart could ever forget how it felt to be a part of each and every one. I can say after meeting, consulting and working so closely with my clients that I form a bit of an attachment to them. Not in the way that we see each other at holidays, or talk frequently on the phone.. but in a way I cannot help but feel as a result of being allowed to play a tiny role in such an intimate and life changing event. I can imagine doctors who deliver babies all day, every day.. still remember each one, and their hearts, as well as their minds, just expand exponentially in order to make room for each new life they help safely into this world. I am by no means comparing myself to a doctor, but I'd like to think that as every new birth experience happens before my lens, my heart will grow to hold on to each new life and each new family completed by the arrival.

All of this said, how can I possibly begin to describe what it felt like to be beside my closest, nearest, dearest, spectacular, loving, and insanely supportive best friend?

Jess and her husband Rich have been in my life (and the lives of my family) for almost ten years. I obviously knew full well that I would stop at nothing to be at Lily's birth, so for nine months I sort of imagined this post being effortless to write, so... what's the deal?

I do my very best to dig deep for all of my clients, as blogging doesn't come naturally to me.. in fact I sort of dread it. It's not that I struggle with expressing myself (ask my husband), it's just that I've never been one to yell my feelings from the rooftops, let alone blog about them for the internet to read. But, just like with the photographs I capture, I believe every Mama deserves an outside perspective on the brilliance that was their labor. I want you, Jess (yes, you in particular), to always have this to look back on when you have a rough day or night, I want these images and words to remind you of how proud you should always be of yourself. No matter the day, or how you might feel, remember how strong and amazing you were while bringing another perfect life into this sometimes dull and angry world.

Jess and Rich arrived at Hoboken University Medical Center at 7am for Jess' scheduled induction per her doctors orders. Lily was measuring big and at 38 weeks they were worried that Jess would not be able to deliver naturally like she had with Daisy, her first daughter. In my experience I've had mainly evening start times for inductions, so not only did this entire process move quickly, I arrived around 1:30 and was home by 8:30pm!

For once while driving to a delivery I wasn't met with my usual anxiety, but I was filled with genuine excitement! Walking through the door of room 518, I was met with hugs, smiles, and casual calmness, as though we were sitting around their living room. Something amazing can be said for close friendships, beyond the normal comfort that time spent together can bring, and in this particular situation, when a woman is at their most vulnerable, that relaxed atmosphere could not be more appreciated.

Everything about Lily's birth was on point, and pretty miraculous. Jess was started on Pitocin by 11:30am, was 5cm by 12:20, 6cm by 2pm, almost 8cm by 4;30, and was 9 3/4cm two hours later (we are all a bit intense when it comes to Harry Potter references so I got quite the kick out of that one.. plus, you know.. her name is Lily). After all was prepped and set up, Jess was ready to push at about 7:15, with about 4 really good pushes, and a few breaks to wait for contractions, Lily made her debut at 7:38pm at a healthy and happy 9.3lbs and 20 inches.

In the years I've known Jess I have never come to doubt her strength, so I'm not sure how to say that I was blown away by how amazingly she handled her entire delivery without sounding as though I ever doubted her to begin with. I didn't expect anything less from my dear, insanely tough friend. The days leading up to Lily's discharge brought with them jaundice, the waiting game that involves lots of bilirubin testing, and the question of what treatment is best as the days and hours roll by. Unfortunately, as the hours passed, Lily's levels rose, and she required phototherapy restricting her from being discharged when originally expected. As if delivering a 9lb baby wasn't enough to prove what a super mom she is, being sent home without your baby requires a level of strength no mother would ever hope necessary. As a friend I felt completely helpless, as all I could do was assure her that she had no other options, and handcuffing herself to the waiting room couch would only add to the stress she was under. At home her family surrounded her with support and delicious Italian yums courtesy of Jess's talented mom, Theresa. After a long day without Lily, Jess was finally given the go ahead to bring Lily home and complete her beautiful family of four on Sunday, July 31.

As a photographer, I could not have been more honored to play a small part in such a beautiful day. As a friend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be there with you. I cannot wait to watch our girls continue to grow and love one another the way we do: as friends and honorary sisters.

Welcome home, Lily Grace.


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