Mom seeing her beautiful girl for the first time after a scary c-section. The birth story that follows is from the perspective of the photographer.
This was my first time attending a birth as a birth photographer. It was Mom’s first baby and she was being induced 3 weeks early due to a condition called cholestasis and her plan was to have a natural, vaginal birth.
We all arrived at the hospital bright and early on a Monday morning. After being checked into a room and getting situated a nurse came in, introduced herself, and immediately started asking questions like, “when was the last time you ate?” and “have you ever had abdomial surgery before?” Once she had the answers she was looking for she quickly left the room.
This line of questioning struck me as odd and immediately raised red flags in my own head. I have two small children of my own so I know a little about the birthing process and what is involved. So why would the nurse ask those types questions if Mom was coming in for a “routine” induction where the goal was to have a vaginal birth? These sounded like questions one would ask a mom who was coming in for a “routine” cesarean birth. I was expecting to hear talk of pitocin and dilation and a plan of action. But, what do I know about inductions? I’m a photographer not a physician.
Within 5 minutes the nurse was back and informed the parents that she had spoken over the phone to the attending physican who had read Mom’s chart and was guessing that this was going to be a big baby. Therefore, she was ordering an ultrasound to get an “accurate reading”. Again, bells were going off. How on earth would the attending physician know that this was going to be a large baby when she hadn’t even laid hands on Mom? Besides, how large can a baby who is 3 weeks early really be? But what do I know?
So Mom and Dad head down stairs to radiation and within 30 minutes are holding a piece of paper that said the baby is 9lbs, 7oz, (+/- 27oz.) To say they had a look of shock on their faces would be an understatement. I am personally thinking that this is the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. EVER. Again, the baby is 3 weeks early and to me, Mom doesn’t look like she’s packing a 9 pounder. She doesn’t even look close. But, what do I know?
Within minutes of being back in their room, the nurse comes in with a phone in her hand. She said the doctor was on the line and she wanted to speak with Mom. They have a conversation for a few minutes and the look on Mom’s face turned from shock to disappointment. The last thing she said to the doctor was, “well, if you think that’s what’s best, then that’s what we’ll do.” A C-section was scheduled for 5 o’clock that evening.
My own births were vaginal. I had an epidural with my first and an unmedicated birth with my second. I’ve learned a few things from my own births, as well as other vaginal births I had attended over the years. I know that every birth is different. They can be messy and unpredicatable and they can long. I had never been a part of a cesarian birth before so this was going to be a new experience for me.
At precisely 5:15, Dad and I walked into the operating room and were instructed to stand over by Mom’s head. She was already on the operating table, feeling comfortably numb, and all the surgeons were ready to begin. The atmosphere was happy and calm and the room was filled with excitement as we awaited the arrival of a brand new baby. At 5:44pm the doctor lifted a screaming, beautiful, 7 pound baby girl over the curtain for her first debut.
The pediatrician told Dad and I that we could walk around the operating table over to the incubator to get a better look and snap a few pictures of Baby Girl. As a photographer, I have a natural curiosity of all things new and interesting and since I had never been awake in an operating room before I was curious as to what I would see on the other side of the curtain. I had prepared myself to see intestines, a bladder and possibly a uterus outside of Mom’s body along with a whole mess of blood. But it was nothing like that. It wasn’t even close. The area was clean and sterile and the only blood to be seen was on pieces of gauze that were in some kind of a numbered, hanging, system that looked like the shoe organizer in my closet. I was amazed.
Suddenly, the day’s turn of events made perfect sense to me. Why on earth would a doctor want to participate in an unpredictable, uncomfortable. induction that could literally take days when they could just perform a cesarian and be home by dinner time? No muss, no fuss. But, what do I know