Thought I’d “deliver” a fresh blog. A blog born a week and a day after photographing the birth of a baby for a couple. The second for the same couple. They know me. I know them. We’re friends outside of my profession. After the first child, they began calling me “Uncle Kent.” This time around, I knew more of what to expect. But I purposely did not look back to the photos from three years ago as to not let those influence how I’d “see” this one. I also promised myself and the couple that I’d remain more calm and make less photos. There were no issues the first time. I just wanted to give the mother as much peace and tranquility as possible.
The due date was the 21st. I had it in my head as the 18th. There were signs the baby might come on that Friday the 18th. It did not. Thankfully, it did not come on Saturday the 19th, as I was tied up for 12 hours on another job. On Sunday the 20th, late in the afternoon, I received a text. “You might want to take a nap,” it read. That just set me pacing more. There was no relaxation after that.
Tom Petty sang, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part.” I’d been preparing for the birth since soon after the first of the year. Basically training and being ready, by carrying my backpack full of gear, and two camera bodies, with me where ever I went. The phone was ever present, always on and charged. If the baby came really early, I was ready. The equipment was laid out in an orderly fashion, by a back door. It felt like what a firefighter must feel like. Get dressed, grab the gear and go!
When the due date got more close, I understood more, what it would be like to be one of the parents. Even with the experience of the first baby, this time I grew more anxious, and slept lighter. Every day leading up to the due date, the odds increased the baby would come and I’d be on the run. “Baby roulette.” The mother has never gone past her due date. That was useful information.
So. On that Sunday, the 20th, after the text message, the thought was “any minute now.” But the minutes passed to hours. By this point, the phone didn’t leave my hand and the ringer was set to “high.” It rang at 11:20 p.m. Game on. Living only a block from the hospital, I was able to make photos of the couple walking in, and making their way up to the birthing area. Early labor. False alarm. We were sent home a little before 1 a.m. Monday the 21st. All but exhausted, I took a hot shower and actually did crawl into bed.
The second call came at 4:20 a.m. The prior process of photos repeated its self. But this time was for real. I followed the progress in the room and outside, with mom and dad. A natural child birth with a midwife and a couple of nurses. Let me tell you. The mom is petite, but tough as nails. A baby boy was born at 6:42.
What a privilege. What an incredible experience. When things had settled down, I photographed the dad, carrying his newborn son down the hallway for measurements, footprints, etc. After 30-45 minutes there, the father and I made our way back to the room. The mother had gotten herself up, showered, was dressing in street clothes and applying makeup! Men. Do you really believe we are the tougher sex?!
Yours truly was allowed to hold the little guy as his dad made a photo. Babies must bring out the true joy in a person. I didn’t realize I was smiling so much until I saw the photo later.
What an experience! Was I tired? Exhausted? Well, I slept like a baby that night.