Normally, I book my births quite a few months in advance, so once February rolled around I assumed I was on my own version of maternity leave. Having secured clients for June and July, I had planned to spend the weeks leading up to my own son's arrival prepping and overthinking in my usual fashion. Doing as much "relaxing" as a mom with a five year old could possibly hope for (I laugh every time the thought comes to mind, or when anyone tells me how I should be spending this time as though I have the slightest semblance of control). Since I have no idea when my little one will arrive, I thought it best to play it safe and avoid bookings in May, just in case my late April due date conflicted with a potential client.
...Then I received an inquiry from Victoria..on February 11th.
I think my husband genuinely thought something had snapped in my brain, because our due dates were only four weeks apart! I think under any other circumstance I would have had to agree with him. But, there was something about her email, and her need, that caught my attention and somehow pushed my usual worry aside. I wasn't sure why I felt like it would work out, when normally I would have overthought the math: "What if she goes two weeks late, and I go two weeks early?", "What if I go REALLY early?", "What if we are in labor at the same time, or I go into labor while with her?". I guess being in any hospital, albeit not the one I am supposed to deliver in, would have still been a not-so-bad situation, and I'm sure giving back a partial deposit or delayed editing would still be better than nothing at all.
Luckily, none of those thoughts really crossed my mind until, well...today really.
I am glad I took the chance, and was able to document this birthday for not only Victoria, but for baby Leandro as well.
Victoria texted me Sunday morning on March 1st at 6:50AM, having felt strong cramps since about 5AM around every four minutes. Her OBGYN thought it best that she make her way to Englewood Hospital to check and confirm if it was indeed "go-time." After arriving a bit after 7AM, she was hooked up to monitors that confirmed she was indeed in labor, After being admitted and checked, we found out she was already 3.5cm dilated!
Per usual, that's normally when I get myself together and head out to make my way over to the hospital. Given the short 20 minute ride on an early Sunday morning, I was lucky enough to encounter a smooth, traffic free ride to an open parking garage with plenty of parking to choose from. Unlike some of the births of which I've been a part, the morning (as well as the rest of the day) went pleasantly smooth. I arrived at 9AM and was greeted by Victoria's parents, Liza and Rex. We waited a few moments in the waiting area while the anesthesiologist performed Victoria's epidural, gaining access to her room only a few moments later.
Shortly after arriving in Victoria's room, she was checked and found to have reached a dilation of 4cm. With her epidural administered, Victoria was now comfortable, aside from the still lingering INSANE acid reflux and the frustration of being hungry and unable to eat. With the an epidural in effect, you're pretty much glued to your bed, so we were able to sit and chat. This gave me very little to photograph other than small room detail shots that I enjoy including in my galleries. Before I knew it, it was 12:25PM and her physician was back, ready to check her progress. Now at a dilation of 5cm, she decided it best to break Victoria's water to keep the progress moving steadily. Less than two hours later, Victoria was at 7cm leaving us all to believe baby boy would be here within a few hours. I myself, bet he would arrive by 4PM, and in true fashion, I jinxed it! Although Victoria's progress was nothing less than awesome by any means, once 4PM rolled around her speedy dilation started to slow (only slightly) leaving her at 8cm dilated rather than holding her son as I had predicted. Around this time Victoria received lots of encouragement and praise from family over the phone, all waiting patiently at home for this little man to arrive so they could finally make their way to the hospital to visit.
Come 5:45pm, she was checked one last time, before the change in staff, holding steady at about 8.5cm. Throughout the hours of labor and time spent with Victoria and her mom, it was so sweet to watch her mother care and comfort her own child, who was about to birth a child of her own. It's truly amazing that even when your baby (no matter how old) is having a baby of their own, your need to comfort and care for your child will always be front and center.
At this point, after barely sleeping the night before and knowing she still had a little bit of time to go, Victoria did her best to rest and close her eyes in an attempt to save some energy for the final stage of labor.
While Victoria closed her eyes I waddled myself downstairs to pick the least scary item from the cafeteria which, because of it being Sunday, had a very limited selection, I chose the safest foods I could grab and made my way back upstairs.
Once the new nursing and doctoral staff arrived to start their shifts a little after 7pm, Victoria's new nurse came in to introduce herself and decided it was time to try the peanut ball again to get this last stretch of labor over with as quickly as possible. Luckily, laying on her side with the ball between her knees was just what Victoria needed to push through to 10cm. By 8pm the new OBGYN on call stopped by to check her, finding she was ready to go! With some practice pushes and the help of the overhead mirror, Victoria quickly caught on to the form she needed to get the job done, and by 8:15pm she began actively pushing. With the help of her nurse, and the amazing support her mother Liza, at 8:50pm, baby Leandro was safe and not so sound (in the best way) on Victoria's belly.
Baby Leandro entered this world at 37 weeks, weighing a healthy 7.13lbs and reaching 20.5 inches long, with a full head of beautiful hair!
Once ready to receive visitors, Victoria's father Rex was able to finally enter her room to greet his first grandchild along with his wife. The look on both of their faces was honestly..adorable. They both encompassed happiness, relief, and absolute love all in the same wide smiles. Coupled with Victoria's happy cries, I can only imagine the grin I must have been wearing myself, seeing as though the joy in the room was palpable.
I am so happy that I didn't let my worry get in the way of accepting Victoria as a client, and I am beyond thrilled that I can sit here today, officially on maternity leave (for real this time) knowing I took a chance and it paid off. Delivering these images allows me to feel as though I played a small part in such a huge day for Victoria as well as for her family.
I hope they can all look back at these images with Leandro and show him, in a tangible way, how much love was waiting for him when he was delivered and how much joy his birth brought to those who care most for him.
Thank you Victoria, for allowing me to play a role in your big day, and for unknowingly forcing me to take a chance.
Happy Birthday Leandro.