Welcome home, Baby Blake!

This will surely go down as the quickest, smoothest birth I will probably ever witness.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive Jacque's (pronounced "Jackie") inquiry back in February. While chatting VIA email, we discovered that we both entrusted our health, and the health of our children to the same physician, Dr Michelle Aristizabel. At the time I was just finishing up working directly with Dr A on the images for her first publication "Natural Labor and Birth: An Evidence-Based Guide to the Natural Birth Plan." Since I took part in shooting multiple active labors and births under her guidance, there was a natural weight lifted from my shoulders knowing I would be working with her as well as members of her team for Jacque's birth.

There is usually a tiny speck of fear walking into a hospital setting with doctors and nurses that have never been photographed by anyone other than their patients. Sometimes I am met with a bit of resistance, although most of the time my presence is quickly forgotten once my clients turn a corner in their active labor and delivery. Nevertheless, working with anyone from Wombkeepers, in any capacity, is literally always a pleasure. So in this instance I looked forward to every part of working with Jacque and her birth team.

Having discussed Jacque's first birth with her daughter Reese, knowing how quickly she labored, and that she would be coming from Staten Island all the way to Glen Ridge for her delivery, I knew when it was go time.. it was GO time.

Practically every aspect of this birth (from my perspective) could not have been timed more perfectly.

On the afternoon of October 1st, after her weekly checkup, Jacque informed me that she was already 3cm dilated. After a quick procedure in office, she was feeling like the baby could be coming very soon. Most births in my experience end up occurring in the middle of the night, with quite a few hours of "down time," but this time around, that was far from the truth.

At about 12:30pm, Jacque and her husband Ricky left Staten Island to head towards Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, NJ. Luckily my mom was on her way over for a usual visit, so other than for the rare weekend births, I didn't have to account for childcare (another amazing PLUS) for my daughter. By 1:30pm they arrived at the hospital and were admitted to labor and delivery with contractions only 3 minutes apart from each other. Needless to say, I was out of my house by 1;40pm and on my way! Jacque was already at 5cm when I was 5 minutes from the hospital, and by the time I parked and ran inside, within minutes she was checked again and already at 8cm.

When I arrived Ricky was doing his best to apply pressure to the small of Jacque's back to help relieve any pain he could, so when her doula Noelle arrived moments later you could feel the overall sense of relief that her presence and knowledge brought to the entire room. I applaud Ricky and would never wish to take away from the relief he was providing before Noelle arrived, but the job of a doula is not an easy one! I have to admit, that now while looking back, the hour between my arrival and the time leading up to Blake's birth felt more like a blur than any other birth I have had the honor to document.

Once her water broke, Jacque was ready to push, and within minutes, at 3:38 pm, Jacque and Ricky learned for the first time that they were the proud parents of two little girls.

I give them ALL the credit for being patient enough throughout their entire pregnancy to wait for such a beautiful surprise.

Baby Blake was born weighing a perfect 6.2lbs, with a head full of beautiful brown hair. She cried very little and was beyond content in Jacque's arms. Within a few moments, she was opening her eyes and soaking in her environment, even looking towards Daddy once she first heard his voice. .

This was a quick but far from an effortless birth, Jacque progressed so quickly that I cannot imagine the strength it took to withstand such pain and discomfort. All while standing either bedside or in her shower, without any pain medication or intervention of any kind. With the help of Noelle, Jacque proved to be such an amazing embodiment of strength and willpower. It was my absolute honor to witness how courageously she powered through such a fast and furious labor and birth.

I wish the Feinmel family all of the best this new life as a family of four can bring, and I thank them for allowing me to play such a small part in such a wonderful day.

Happy Birthday, Baby Blake, and welcome home.

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