From the first moment I met Nicole and Tony, I could see that they were a very connected couple. They researched together, they planned their birth together, they communicated together and they were committed to laboring “together” in every sense of the word.
They were first time parents, and they decided to hire a birth photographer to document their precious first moments with their son. They chose to have their first child at Kaiser Roseville Hospital and came prepared with a birth plan, some beautiful calming music, and a deeply connected, and determined attitude. Throughout their birth day, I was in awe of their strength as a couple and touched by their love and commitment to each other. I was also deeply impressed by the absolute care and presence of the staff at Kaiser Roseville at honoring both the requests and space of my clients through their labor.
First time mother Nicole was completely supported in her birth and I had the honor of watching her step into motherhood with such dedication. As a birth photographer, I document a visual narrative of the births I witness. But I know that every story is deeper than photographs for my laboring mamas. So, after delivering her birth photography gallery, I asked Nicole if she had any reflections on her experience becoming a mother. This is what she shared with me. Here is Nicole’s birth story, in her own words:
“As regular contractions began I became nervous and anxious. Not knowing the intensity that would come or even the slightest idea of how labor and delivery would pan out. I woke my husband on April 26,2019 at 3am. I told him what I was feeling. He suggested a walk. We walked around the block, I slowly waddled and paused at the contraction. Breathing in knowing what I was beginning to experience was just starting and it was nearing the time to meet our child that we had only imagined and dreamed about for years.
We arrived at the hospital at 9am. As a team with my midwife and nurse we decided to stay, despite only being 3cm dilated, but my contractions were 4 minutes apart. I thought to myself this is not what they taught us in birth class, I should be further dilated. I now know there is no textbook that can ever prepare you for what I was about to endure.
As the hours passed and the intensity of my contractions grew I became sentimental. I cried with my husband, not about the pain but about our life. The life that we were blessed with, this new, exciting experience, the life that was to come very soon with our son. My late grandmother kept creeping into my heart, I became emotional many times thinking I wish she was still with us here on Earth side to give words of encouragement and eventually to meet her great grandchild. I found comfort feeling her with me during this entire experience; labor, delivery, motherhood.
After several hours and little change in dilation I made the decision to have my waters broken. From here on time fast forwarded. As my transition began I had to remind myself of a phrase a good friend had told me “dig deep”. I was telling myself this still not fathoming what was to come. I lost track of time and even the space I was in. I remember glancing around the room thinking for a moment “Where am I? What am I doing?” The powerful contractions continued. I felt this would never end. In a moment of sobriety, I stopped my wrenching face and looked seriously at my nurse and asked her worriedly, “how long can someone do this for?!” I felt like I was going crazy.
I labored in the shower for some time. I felt I could not endure this power taking over me any longer. My husband asked for a moment alone. Everyone left the room. At this point I was on all 4s, screaming as I had never screamed in my life. The power was just too strong, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t walk away. He looked me deep in the eyes and reminded me of my wishes; he reminded me of this time nearing its end and it would not last for hours. He told me I was strong and beautiful and he knew I could do this. This pep talk is just what I needed to finish this journey.
Back in bed the power and sensations were stronger than ever. I felt like a bowling ball was making its way down to come through my lady parts. I see my nurse and midwife enter the room, relief came over me knowing we were near the end.
As I began to push I told myself I am too exhausted to do this, I couldn’t do this. There was no choice. The mirror in front of me displayed my life as a movie I was watching live. I could see a bulge coming, my midwife instructed me to bear down and push as hard as I could. I pushed, I pushed, I pushed. She told me to reach down and feel his head. I did, I wanted this to be over so bad. Feeling his head was the encouragement I needed to continue. She told me to push again. I see in the mirror his head crowing. Time to rest before the next push, but seeing his head I could not rest I needed him out. I dug deep and pushed harder than I ever though I could and he was out. The contractions immediately stopped. It was sobering.
I looked at my husband, he had just caught our baby, he was in disbelief. My son was born, very unexpectedly, with the same condition as my husband: aplasia cutis congenita. I had no idea that this was the case until after a quick skin to skin, cutting of the delayed placenta chord then he was brought to be examined by the medical team. I thought this was all very normal. It wasn’t until my husband joined me, next to the hospital table as my vagina is being sewed in various places; he had tears in his eyes but not happy tears. He told me what our son was born with, my reaction was “so, that’s ok, is that it?” I was so relieved for my baby to be here Earth side, nothing could take away the relief and euphoria I felt in that moment. My midwife’s beautiful smile helped me realize everything was the way it was supposed to be.
The birth of my son was something no one could have ever prepared me for. The confidence I had for myself both physically and spiritually got me to a certain point; my husband and support team and blind faith in my own power helped the rest of the way.
I am beyond pleased with how my birth story turned out. I am proud of myself for enduring what I did. I feel on top of the world, but exhausted with a newborn. I need a nap!”
Baby Abram was born at 1:30 am on a warm spring night. Nicole and Tony received enormous support and guidance from the staff at Kaiser Roseville on the genetic condition affecting his feet and ankles, and how to approach his healing and growth. Baby Abram is thriving and healing quickly and their whole family is grateful for the blessing that he brought into their lives.
Here are some later reflections from Nicole:
“When they say babies change fast, it’s true. His look changes every day. He came into this world as little skinny baby and now 6 weeks later his is filling in and become heavier in my arms. When he was born, his eyes couldn’t stay still constantly moving, but now he rests his gaze on me and smiles. It’s the most incredible feeling to know he knows who I am, his mother.”
And her journey into motherhood has just begun! Enjoy these images of baby Abram’s birth story.
To view another first-time mother’s hospital birth story, click here.