Birth photography holds a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite images that I have taken to date are birth photographs. With this being our first labor and delivery, Charles and I opted to have just the two of us in the delivery room. I am thankful Charles picked up my camera throughout the labor and delivery process and captured some of my favorite images to date. These will always be treasured!
November 27th: A week before Trace’s arrival at my 36-week appointment, I was 3cm dilated. I had low fluids and was having contractions at the appointment. My doctor requested that I spend a few minutes being monitored in her office to make sure everything was good. After being there about an hour, I was sent home to take it easy and drink lots of water. I went back the next day to have my fluids checked again, and thankfully my fluid levels had increased and contractions had stopped. The rest of the week, I took it easy and rested at home.
December 2nd: We celebrated our baby shower with family and friends that afternoon. It was great seeing everyone and celebrating Trace! By the end of that day, I was exhausted.
December 3rd: I woke up Monday morning with the urge to get as many gifts from our baby shower put away as possible. I even woke up in the middle of the night with the feeling to start putting away everything then, but I waited until morning. It took everything in me to wait. By the afternoon, I was writing thank you cards and handed them to Charles later that night to mail the next day. The funny thing is that I had several conversations with Trace about his arrival throughout pregnancy. My one request was to celebrate our baby shower and get thank you cards mailed before his arrival.
December 4th: On Tuesday, I woke up, showered, and spent the morning waiting for the AC repairman to arrive at our home. I was tired from the day before and spent the morning resting. Our repairman arrived shortly after lunch, fixed the issue, and left our house around 2:15 p.m.. About thirty minutes later, things changed.
My water began to break at 2:45 p.m. It was slow trickles of water every few minutes coming out. Around 3:00 p.m., I texted Charles to head home right after work because I thought I might be in labor. As water slowly continued to leak, I called him to head home sooner. I decided to take shower before we left for the hospital.
Before my water broke on that Tuesday afternoon, I fully expected to have another week or two before Trace’s arrival. His due date was December 24th, and I really thought we had a few weeks before he would arrive. I had packed most of the items for our hospital bag the weekend before. I made a list of items to add to the bag when the day actually came. My camera bag still needed to be packed. Batteries needed to be charged. I had laundry to finish. We had supper in the crockpot that had another hour to cook. I had yet to download the app to time and track contractions. Yet, all that did not matter that Tuesday afternoon as my water broke.
Charles arrived home a few minutes before 4:00 p.m. He grabbed my list of items that needed to be added to the hospital bag and finished packing. I downloaded an app to time contractions and began blowdrying my hair in between contractions. By 4:30 p.m. Charles called the nurse, and we headed to the hospital.
By 5:00 p.m. we arrived at the hospital and checked in. The nurse took us to triage, checked to see if my water had broke (it had), and shortly afterwards brought us to a room in labor and delivery. While walking down the hall to our room, the nurse turned to me and asked if we had a birth plan. I remember laughing and telling her that I thought we had a few more weeks to get our birth plan together.
We arrived in our room. I changed into a hospital gown and was checked. I was 5cm dilated.
The next couple of hours are little fuzzy. I opted to labor on the birth ball majority of the time with Charles sitting in front of me coaching me through contractions. I can remember looking at the clock thinking how quickly time was moving. I would focus on pictures on the wall when contractions became intense or think about all the places we wanted to travel with Trace or stories we would share with him. I went for words and thoughts that I knew would push me through the pain. Nausea and vomiting set in at one point. I can remember my legs beginning to tense up and shake. With all the information I read prior to delivery, I knew I needed to relax to keep labor progressing.
My goal with labor and delivery was to see if I could deliver naturally. However, I was open at any point to receive an epidural if I needed it. With photographing births, I have witnessed mamas endure very intense pain. I learned from my birth photography experiences to be open to changes in labor and delivery expectations. You may go into labor thinking you can do one thing (like deliver naturally), but after hours of enduring pain you may change your mind. With my labor experience, I could feel my body becoming very tense. I turned to Charles and asked him to let the nurse know I wanted an epidural.
By 8:15 p.m. I stood from the birth ball and walked over to the hospital bed to get into position to receive an epidural. That walk was the hardest. My legs were weak, and labor pains felt more intense when I stood up. I was so relieved once I sat down on the hospital bed. I kept reminding myself the pain would soon decrease. I kept focusing on the fact that as each minute passed, I was once step closer to being finished with labor.
Once the epidural was complete the nurse checked me again, and I was 8cm dilated.
Labor was completely different after receiving an epidural. I was relaxed. I remember talking with the nurses and my husband and even laughing at times. It surprised me how quickly my demeanor changed. I was tired, but excited to meet our little guy.
I remember thinking that maybe we could get a little sleep before beginning to push, but that is not what happened. I am not sure when it happened, but I remember the nurse checking me and saying I had reached 10cm. I began pushing, and the doctor arrived shortly afterwards.
When my doctor walked into the room, I remember her saying that she expected to see me for my appointment the next morning and not in labor tonight. Thankfully, she happened to be the doctor on call that night. Funny how things work out. I pushed. And pushed. And finally right before my last push, I asked my doctor if this could be my last push. I was tired. I can remember her saying that if you give this push everything you have, this could be your last push. So, that is what I did. With that last push, I gave it everything I had.
Charles “Trace” Anthony Hooker, III entered the world on Tuesday, December 4th at 9:47 p.m. weighing 7.8 lbs. and measuring 19.75 inches. He was healthy and perfect!
We did an hour of skin-to-skin with Trace laying on my chest. I was exhausted, but it felt amazing to hold our little man in my arms. Nine months of growing a baby, of talking to him and feeling his movements, and he was finally here.
We are so thankful for all the help, kind words, and support we have received over the last two weeks! It has made all the difference in caring for this little guy! And we are completely in love with Trace! Every day we see more of his personality coming through and fall more in love with him!
XOXO – Ashley