Birth photography is very appealing to me. The births of my own two children were, bar none, the most exhilarating events in my life. Oddly, my memories around those huge, sentinel events are sketchy at best - somewhere between the exhaustion, the adrenaline, and the, uh, pain, the particulars of those days exist in my head like a dream: little flashes and dim recollections. Fortunately, I took some very good advice and wrote down my birth stories while they were still fresh in my head, and can refer to them to remind me of the little details that otherwise would've been lost forever. Having a photographer there to document the events doesn't really stand in for the first-person narrative, but it certainly helps cement the reality of the day - the focus of a laboring woman's face, the wrinkles of a scrawny newborn's back, the faces of friends and family as they get the news... these only happen once, and unlike the details of a wedding, can't be planned for. Every birth is unique, every story written only once. You may remember Holly and Patrick from a few weeks ago - they were the stars of my very first blog post. At the time, Holly was nearing the end of her pregnancy, and we were all hoping that I might be able to photograph her birth when the time came. There are always a hundred possible reasons why the photographer might not make it to a birth - a scheduling conflict, a child care conflict, a baby that comes too quick, or an emergency trip into the operating room, to name a few - but the big obstacle looming around Holly's birth was my trip to Cape Hatteras - an entire week that happened to fall on top of her due date. In the car on the way back, I wondered aloud to my husband whether the fact that I hadn't heard anything might mean that she was still pregnant, and sure enough, I got the call that night.
Holly had already been in labor for well over 24 hours when she finally called me. She had planned to deliver at the Women's Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, but was ultimately transferred to the hospital after remaining at 8 centimeters for several hours. After an epidural and some medication to increase the strength and frequency of her contractions, she finally dilated completely and was ready to push.
All I can say is that I'm glad I live so close to the hospital! Holly woke me up at 12:20, these first few shots were taken around 12:40... and at 1:14am, they welcomed their new baby boy, Parker Iley:
Patrick: just a little excited to have a boy!
...the all-important grandparent calls:
...and the birth team - Sara, Mindy, Holly, and the little guy who brought them all together:
Holly and Patrick, it was an honor to help you welcome your sweet baby boy. I hope these photos will forever remind you of the day you became a family.