A 107 Minute Birth | UF Birth Center | Jacksonville Birth Photographer

 

Photography by Dallas Arthur Photography
Birth Place:  UF Health Birth Center
City: Jacksonville, Florida

This is the story of a little boy who made his way into our world in the early hours of a clear Halloween morning...in quite a hurry. I am proud of each and every one of my clients and the incredible feats that they accomplish with their strong, capable bodies. But with this mom, I was so proud of her and excited to tell her story even before I met her face to face. This is her (triumphant, exhilarating, redemptive) birth story.

 A proud mom breastfeeds her baby just minutes after his water birth at the UF Birth Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

Taylor and I met up for coffee for her preconsultation, and we eventually had to pry ourselves back to our real lives after chatting for almost two hours! She told me all about her previous three births, and that this baby would actually be her very first natural birth! She had been induced and had epidurals for her previous labors, even though they were quick and uncomplicated, because it was standard protocol at the hospitals she labored at. But for this baby, her last sweet addition to the family, she decided that she was going to do things on HER terms. She and her husband, Fabian, researched providers in town, figured out how to make it work with insurance, learned about birth, and worked tirelessly to prepare for this natural labor. They made the (excellent) decision to welcome their baby into the world in the top-notch care of the midwives of the UF Health Birth Center. When I had a phone call with them at 37 weeks, Fabian told me that he had been looking at Hypnobirthing videos on YouTube on his breaks at work...how awesome is that??

To know that they trusted me to be the one to tell their story just gave me goosebumps. When I say that being a part of your birth team is an absolute honor, I mean it. I'm humbled and grateful every time.

In the weeks leading up to Taylor's birth, she experienced every impending labor sign in the book. She lost her mucus plug and texted me. A few days later, she was checked at the birth center and was 4cm and 60% effaced, and texted me. A week later, she had a whole day of consistent contractions, starting at 10 minutes apart and getting down to 6 minutes apart, and I actually drove over to that side of town, just in case. And then they stopped. It was another full week before it was the real thing. My mama heart ached for her; to be so close to her baby and keep having these "practice contractions" must have been so frustrating. But she hung in there and patiently waited for her baby to come. And when he did...there was no more waiting. Period. This is where his 107 minute birth story REALLY begins!

 UF Health North building at night. Inside is the UF Birth Center, where pregnant moms can use natural labor to birth their babies with midwives.
 UF Health North emergency entrance. Parents enter these doors and head up to the UF Birth Center for waterbirths and other forms of natural childbirth.

I got a call from Taylor a few minutes after 11pm on the night before Halloween.

"I was ready to just go to bed without a shower, just ready to make it to the next day. I said out loud 'The one night I don't jump in the shower my water is going to break,' So I walked into the bathroom and before I closed the door I heard a pop and I paused, then felt a rush. Looked up at Fabian and said 'My water just broke!' He jumped out of the bed and yelled ''WHAT!? No, not right now!' (Our kids were sick.) Then he asked, 'Are you sure?' I showed him my soaked pants...'I'm sure!'"

Taylor told me that she hadn't had any contractions yet, but she suddenly had one while we were on the phone. I asked her to stay with me on the phone so that I could hear her through it, and her deep groan quickly told me that this was happening, and fast. I made a cup of coffee, grabbed my bags, and headed out into the night.

 An essential oil diffuser softly glows in the window as mom labors during her water birth at the UF Birth Center in Jacksonville, Florida.
 A sign says "Alice's Nest" to mark the birth room where Taylor had her baby at the UF Birth Center.

Despite the fact that things were happening quickly, when I walked into Alice's nest at the UF Health Birth Center, I felt a wash of calm run over me. The lights were dim, an essential oil diffuser had filled the room with the soothing scent of lavender, and I was greeted by a big hug and a whispered, "Hi! It's so good to see you!" from my friend Bree, one of the two talented midwives on call that evening.

 Woman resting in between contractions in a birthing tub at the UF Birth Center. This was her first natural waterbirth after three babies born in hospitals.

Taylor was in the birth tub, working hard but looking so peaceful. When you envision a woman who is just minutes away from giving birth, you don't often think of her as calm, focused, and tranquil. But when a woman is left to labor in her own way, on her own terms, that is often exactly what you see.

 A calm dad squats by the edge of a birth tub at the UF Birth Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He quietly encourages his wife, who is about to have their fourth child.
 A midwife patiently waits for mom to being pushing in the birth tub at the UF Birth Center.
 A midwife at the UF Birth Center waits for baby's head to be born during a water birth.

Patient hands and gentle words of encouragement.

 A laboring mom rests in between contractions during her natural labor at the UF Birth Center. A midwife looks onward and waits for baby to be born.
 A mom in labor rests her hands on her belly in the shape of a heart as she has a natural birth without medication.
 A loving father rests his hand on his wife and encourages her in her water birth at the UF Birth Center.

 "I just kept reminding myself relax and keep breathing. As the contraction grew stronger I would inhale deep and and exhale long and slow.  As soon as I started to push the pain went away all I could focus on was getting him out to see his little face."

 A strong mother pushes through the discomfort of a contraction while beginning to push her baby out in a birth tub at UF Health North.
 A midwife and dad support mother's perineum and baby's head during crowning in birth tub at UF Birth Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

Taylor's grace blended into focused effort as she started following her body's instincts to push. She curled up towards her belly and drew her legs back as she pushed and then sank back into the corner of the tub to rest in between contractions. 

Fabian was ready to not only meet his baby boy, but catch him, too! He had his hands ready to go, and was the very first person to touch his son's head as he was born.

 A patient dad waits for his son to be born at a birth center as a midwife looks on and offers encouragement.

Just a few minutes before baby was born, Taylor pushed so hard that her nose started bleeding. She didn't skip a beat or let it slow her down one bit. She had nosebleeds all through her pregnancy and she knew that she wasn't broken, but strong. One of the midwives quickly cleaned her up and she kept pushing, determined to meet her baby.

"I'm not sure how long I pushed but I was thinking if I just push really hard he will be here. Then I felt his head and could only think 'Push push push, he is almost here.'"

And then he was! Fabian ended up supporting Taylor's feet, and in a flash, their baby boy was here!

When Taylor saw her images for the first time, she said she was so happy that I got this shot of dad's face! That's a proud papa right there!

 An ecstatic dad watches his son being born and has a huge smile on his face as he leans over the waterbirth tub.
 Mom holds her baby tightly to her chest just moments after baby's birth. A midwife assesses the baby from the UF Birth Center.
 A mom holds her baby with dad's supporting hands as a newborn, with the umbilical cord still attached, takes his first breath and cries. Mom is in a birth tub at the UF Birth Center.

"I was in disbelief and happy all at the same time!"

Of course she was in disbelief...her entire labor, from water breaking to baby born, was only 107 minutes! Less than two hours!

 A new mom kisses her newborn son for the first time after giving birth naturally. The midwife clamps the umbilical cord and is prepping it for the father to cut.

Mom counted fingers and toes, dad cut the cord, and all was right with the world. Here he was, baby Dominic!

The midwives helped Taylor deliver her placenta and get into bed, so Fabian got in some baby snuggles and skin-to-skin! Oh I just adore those baby back wrinkles!

Your dad loves you so much, little guy. I was definitely teary while taking these shots!

The rest of the night slipped peacefully by. There was no rush to move to a recovery room, no other patients or staff there, just this precious, sacred space where two parents got to know their newest child.

One of the (many) reasons that I love the UF Health Birth Center is because the midwives offer a 'tour of the placenta.' I'm sure some families decline (it is a bloody organ after all), but all of the moms I have photographed here have found it fascinating. Taylor was particularly intrigued because she had chosen to encapsulate her placenta...herself! 

Dominic was quick to get the hang of his first meal on the outside, and he quietly grunted as he latched and ate. He barely cried or fussed at all once he was swaddled and in mama's arms.

This is photo dad looking at amazement at his postpartum wife is one of my very favorite images from this year. Fabian was such a wonderful support. 

"My husband kept saying on the way to the birth center just keep breathing. He also cheered me on the whole time. He practiced so many different massages and techniques to help me cope with contractions and get through labor. My labor was so fast, he was only able to rub my back once!"

Taylor has the coolest tattoos! But this one on her arm says it all: the sky is the limit.

Taylor took a well-deserved hot shower and Fabian got some more baby snuggles in. Dominic was so focused on his daddy's face.

Then it was time for a gentle newborn exam. He was 7 pounds and 14 ounces of pure sweetness.

On a whim, they had bought a newborn size superhero costume just a few days earlier, joking about a Halloween baby. Since Dominic was born 47 minutes into Halloween, it was only fitting that his first outfit be a costume! He was the cutest little superhero ever!

Shortly after 2am, Taylor's mom came over to meet her newest grandson. She was such a proud grandma!

This image makes me so emotional. They are just so proud!

When I came to their home to deliver their images, I realized again just how powerful birth photography is. Taylor's birth was quick, uncomplicated, and 100% medication free. And yet she still didn't remember so many details from her birth. She didn't remember the look on her husband's face when the baby was born, couldn't remember what that first latch was like, and wasn't even sure how long they were there. She said she remembered walking out to the car with me...which was funny because I actually left about 30 minutes before she did!

Birth brings on such a rush of hormones that it can impact the way that our memories are formed in our minds. Adrenaline seals in the big moments, like that rush when baby is born, but the details of those powerful minutes and hours swirl into a fog. Having a birth photographer helps you to reclaim your birth story and carry those special memories into your motherhood journey.

Taylor, I could not be more proud of you. You listened to your gut and did what was best for you and your family. And you rocked an incredible birth! Congratulations!

What will you remember from your baby's birth? I would love to be a part of your team and help you keep those precious memories forever! Let's talk!

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