Back in 2018, Matt & Hannah were my first ever birth clients and I met them a few weeks before their due date! They responded to my call out on Facebook for a pregnant Mama to take part in something very special and they knew exactly (thankfully!) what I was after! We met for coffee a few days later - Hannah admitted that she was very nervous to have someone else in their labour room as they are very private people but as their pregnancy was an IVF journey - they wanted to be able to look back and remember every minute of it. It was only three days after our meeting that Hannah hit the 38 week mark and I was officially on call!
On Monday 6th May I got a text message at 3am from Matt saying that Hannah's waters had broken so we were now on high alert! At 2pm they were on their way to the hospital - for both of us this was approximately 45-60 minutes away , both coming from different directions. Contractions were every 3-4 minutes and about a minute long - before they left they got the sausages out the freezer ready for their dinner - adamant they would be home later that day! Alas. no......labour for Hannah was going to be slow and painful. I joined them again at 10:30pm that evening and started documenting Hannah in labour - making an effort to capture as much of the bond between the two of them as possible.
Just before midnight it was revealed that Hannah was 3cm dilated. Having had contractions for 21 hours she chose to have an epidural to help her rest and sleep, gaining the strength that she would need for the latter part of her labour and delivery.
Having had an epidural myself I knew that Hannah would want to make the most of the rest and that in some cases it can slow things down so I hedged my bets and decided at 12:30am to dash home and grab some sleep myself. I had a text from Matt at 10am on the Tuesday sating 'get your bum here, it's a go'. I don't think anyone has ever seen me move so quickly - I left my home in Christchurch and drove to Salisbury - parked (at the furthest point from the labour ward I could possibly be) got lost finding the labour ward, but still at 11am! At approximately 11:30am it was decided that Hannah was going to have an assisted birth for both Hannah & Elsie's sake and she was born at 11:41 weighing 7lb 14oz - little Elsie Belle.
I try and stay around an hour- two hours after the birth - I go on my gut instinct but I take as many photo's as I can in that time. The bonding between your new baby and yourselves in this time are just pure magic and love, and more magic and more love.
Birth Photography is precious. It doesn't matter how many hours it goes on for - it will always remain a blur, some little snapshots and fragments of time are clear, but others not so much. It can be a great healing tool for those who may not experience the type of labour and birth they'd imagined but mostly is a huge reminder of your strength, courage and beauty.