From the Ambulance to the Birthing Tub | UF Birth Center | Jacksonville Birth Photography
Wow, this was quite a wild night! Larissa and her husband Matt were absolutely amazing and showed some fierce calm and focus as her birth took some epic twists and turns! Mama shared some of her thoughts from her evening with me, and I included a few details of my own. Bottom line: birthing moms are AWESOME, even in the face of obstacles!
I don't do all of my births in black and white, but this one just felt so right edited this way! A dramatic, timeless night!
How did you know that labor had begun?
"I was 40+6 weeks pregnant and getting discouraged about the baby arriving. That evening I rolled around in the grass with my son, trying to enjoy every possible second alone with him, because it was only a matter of time before baby sister arrived. For dinner, I had a spicy burrito. About 15 minutes after finishing my dinner, I felt a little achy and 'weird.' I went to the bathroom, and I had my 'bloody show!' The contractions started immediately and I went upstairs to relax."
How did you cope through your contractions?
"I put on my instrumental music station on Pandora. I snuggled on my bed, surrounded by pillows. With each contraction, I breathed through it, visualizing my body opening, or making way, for my baby girl to arrive. I also repeated to myself that this would only last a minute or so at the most and then I would get a break. I used the break in between contractions to let myself drift away with the music."
How did your husband help you through your labor?
"He timed the contractions and would slightly touch me. Just his presence relaxed me even further."
When did you decide to transfer to the birth center?
"I texted my doula right away after having my 'bloody show.' I took a picture and asked her if this was the start of things. She said yes! My husband called the birth center and our doula once he measured the length and frequency of the contractions."
Ready to photograph Larissa's birth, I arrived at the UF Birth Center and sipped coffee in the waiting room. I had been in touch via texting with their doula, Emily, and she said they would be arriving in about 25 minutes. But 25 minutes passed and they still hadn't come walking through the door! Their midwife, Bree, came and got me and told me that there had been a change of plans...
What was the hardest part about your labor and delivery?
"On our way to the birth center, there was an accident on the interstate. It blocked both lanes and the officers wouldn't let us through. By this time, my contractions were less than two minutes apart and getting closer together. My doula talked to the officers and they were able to agree to call an ambulance for me. I have never been transported in an ambulance before. No one could ride with me, so it was definitely a little scary, especially with contractions getting more intense and me feeling like I needed to push. The hardest part was being strapped in the stretcher. I couldn't move into a more comfortable position as contractions got more intense and more frequent. I was just hoping I would make it to the birth center before she was born! I just kept thinking about my body opening more and more with each contraction and that I was strong enough to survive this and birth my baby girl.
My heart sank for Larissa and Matt; I couldn't imagine being that far into labor and being completely stuck. So we waited. I imagined all of the scenarios that I could potentially be photographing when they arrived and planned my camera settings and lighting. Would there be a little baby in the ambulance? Would she deliver in the lobby? Could she make it upstairs to the birthing suite? The coffee had kicked in and I was jittery; I just wanted mama to arrive safe and sound to the place where she wanted to have this baby!
This was one of my favorite images of the night; doula Emily at the ambulance doors, not knowing if her client (and friend) had delivered her baby!
Thankfully, Larissa was doing well and baby hadn't been born quite yet. I was blown away by her calm, determined nature. She was so incredibly focused! Once in the birthing suite, she found her rhythm and swayed through contractions while Emily provided her famous double hip squeeze. When she got in the tub, she was so supported by her loving husband, Matt. His gentle touch reassured her that she had done amazing so far and that she was so close to meeting their daughter.
How long did you push? What were you thinking while you were pushing?
"I think I pushed for less than 30 minutes (things were a little fuzzy once I arrived at the birth center). I was focusing on holding her for the first time. I wanted her out ASAP!"
As Larissa was laboring in the tub, Matt grabbed his phone to turn on some music for her. I was really thrown for a loop when I suddenly heard the opening track to Star Wars playing! You know, the orchestra that plays while the words are scrolling into space? I looked up at him and whispered, "What? Really?" And he whispered back, "She wanted to labor to instrumental music, but I can't get to her phone...I have this playlist! It's instrumental!" I just HAD to get a picture of that awesome little detail! When I asked her about it afterwards, she said she didn't even hear the music playing at all. Talk about one focused mama!
She pushed with strength and grace for a short while and before we knew it, her beautiful little girl was here.
What was it like to meet your baby for the first time?
"I couldn't believe she was there on my chest! She was so cheesy and beautiful. I didn't expect her to have all the vernix on her; my son didn't have much. She had lots of hair. She looked a little like the ultrasound pictures, but it's always so different seeing the baby on the outside. I'm still deciding who she looks more like--me or my husband. I was so in love again, like when my son was born. I was also relieved that she was safe with me!"
It was such a special night to share with this sweet, go-with-the-flow couple. Baby Hazel was perfect in every way. She immediately latched on and wanted to be cuddled and breastfed all through the night, exactly as it should be! She had gorgeous features; long, whispy hair, sweet little toes, and the cutest little pout!
This birth was especially touching to me since it was in the exact birth center, suite, and birthing tub where my daughter was born! Larissa and Matt were one of the few families who have had the privilege of welcoming two children into the world at the UF Birth Center, as their two year old was also born in this very room! The UF Birth Center is such a special place, and an amazing option for Jacksonville families who want excellent care and a personalized, natural birth experience.
Welcome to our world, little Hazel! Your birth story is one that your parents won't ever forget!