That sweet picture you see above will forever be filled with so much emotion for me. It will always, always take me back to the moment when I realized I missed it. I missed Stevie’s birth!
Let me back up a bit. Jenn and Ford are the sweetest couple you’ll ever meet, and they have become our friends ever since photographing their wedding over 4 years ago. We’ve been right there with them, documenting every memorable milestone (maternity 1, maternity 2, newborn 1), and I was so sad that our family was leaving for vacation the same night that Jenn went into labor with her first daughter, Evelyn. Thankfully Elizabeth did a beautiful job capturing it in my place! But goodness I wanted to be there so badly.
When we found out Jenn was expecting again, I was so excited! I planned to stay in town (no family vacations this time!) to be sure I wouldn’t miss it. I love sweet Jenn, and she’s been just one step ahead of me on this mama journey. We’ve exchanged so many emails and texts throughout our first pregnancies, I was so excited to capture her 2nd daughter’s sweet birth.
I was texting with Jenn at about 8pm that night, and she let me know she was starting to feel contractions. The Doctor told her to stay and labor at home, so she did, and I was out to dinner with some girlfriends so I just kept checking my phone to stay updated. It wasn’t until 11pm that Jenn let me know she was headed for the hospital!
At 11:45pm, I got a text from Ford saying they just checked in but they were in triage. At 12:30am, he let me know she was at 4 centimeters and her contractions were about 2 – 3 minutes apart. I texted him back to let him know that all my bags were right by the door, and I was ready to go! But since she was only at 4 cm, I was going to get 1 more hour of sleep before heading to the hospital.
He asked the nurse her thoughts, and she said that if I were to head that way around 1:30am, that would be great.
Just as I was drifting off to sleep at 12:55am, I got a phone call. I picked up the phone to Ford’s voice a little frantic, “Nancy… you better come. Things are progressing and she’s feeling the urge to push. She’s at 7cm already.”
“Ok, Ford! I’m on my way. I’ll be there as soon as I can!”
I put on clothes and shoes faster than ever and didn’t do a thing to my hair or put on any make up. No time for that! I grabbed all my bags and snacks and photo gear and jumped in the car. I was pretty pleased that I was on my way at 1:00am – just 5 minutes after getting the phone call.
I was flyyyying down Capital Blvd at 1 in the morning, praying that no cops would see me, praying that I make it on time, changing my lenses and camera settings so I had it all in my hand ready to go when I arrived! I texted to let him know I was on the way, and for him to let me know when she’s at 10 cm. (I know, I know. Texting and driving! Speeding! Changing lenses for crying out loud! The thrill of being a birth photographer, I guess!)
He immediately texted back:
YOU GUYS. I’m not even kidding I have never felt such adrenaline in all my years of shooting! I just had to get there before the baby! Surely she would not go from 4 to 10 cm and push the baby out in one hour flat? That’s crazy. No one does that.
I got the best parking spot possible at the hospital, and once I got inside NO ONE was there to check me in or show me where to go. Help me Lord! At that moment, Jenn and Ford’s moms were both there to guide me. We literally ran through the lobby, the halls, to the elevator, and all the way down to get my visitor’s pass. Then the security man starts messing with me.
Security: “Ma’am, I think you need to take a picture of the best looking person in this hospital. Me!”
Me: “I’m so sorry but I really need that visitors pass RIGHT NOW because I’m photographing a birth and the baby is almost here!”
Security: “I don’t think you’re in any shape to push buttons on that camera. You’re huffin and puffin and it’s gonna be too shaky.”
Me: “Sir I REALLY need that pass. Can you give it to me please?”
Security: *waving the visitor pass sticker in front of me* “Are you sure you can do this? I think you need a picture of me first.”
Me: “I’M SURE. Give me the pass!”
Security: *slowly hands over the sticker* “Ok I guess I can do that…”
Me: “THANK YOU.” *snatching it from him and running down the hallway*
The room was directly ahead of me, and I opened the door as soon as I got to it. Thinking back, I probably should have knocked, but I just didn’t even care.
That’s when I saw the most beautiful, serene scene: a tiny bundle underneath the covers, Mama holding her new baby, and Daddy looking on in amazement.
I didn’t believe that Jenn would go from 4 to 10 and push the baby out in an hour flat, but that’s exactly what happened. Less than an hour, actually! Baby Stevie was born at 1:25am, and I opened that door at 1:35am.
At that moment, I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t, because my adrenaline was just so crazy, and I was still trying to catch my breath! I stayed there, photographing them until 3:30am, because I couldn’t believe I missed it. In retrospect I probably should have left and let them have family time, but I think I felt like I had to make up for it somehow. Plus, it’s just hard to leave a room with a brand new baby in it. There’s something so sacred and special about it.
I woke up early the next morning to come back to photograph sweet Evelyn meeting her baby sister for the first time. It was so special.
Baby Stevie came in her own way and on her own time, but it was perfect. Even though I missed it, it was perfect, because it was just how God planned it. And next time they have a baby, I’m planning on moving in with them for the week!
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