the birth of luke alexander :: northern virginia birth photographer

Sometimes I question how any sane person could be a birth worker.

It’s not easy. The on-call lifestyle (4-5 weeks per client of your phone always being on…never leaving town…bags packed and ready to go), the long and unpredictable hours (usually overnight), being on your feet for hours … birth work is both physically and emotionally grueling. So why do we do it?

We do it because of women like Kara.

Kara’s labor started in the middle of the night Friday, September 20. With strong contractions only minutes apart, it seemed like the type of labor that was going to progress quickly. It turns out that this was just early, prodromal labor – but it was exhausting. The contractions stayed just regular and just strong enough to prevent a full night’s sleep for the next THREE nights (I’m thinking this baby boy was holding out to be born on his due date – which is exactly what ended up happening.) By Monday evening, active labor had arrived, but so had the kind of profound physical exhaustion that comes after several nights of no sleep. This story was not unfolding as planned. The decision was made to transfer to the hospital for an epidural and rest. For another 19 hours Kara labored and worked to bring her baby down, but in the end, a cesarean section became necessary for little Luke to make his way into the world. There were tears, and as Kara wrestled with this unexpected turn in her birth story, I leaned in and told her something that had become oh-so-clear to me across many hours of labor – how incredibly strong she was, strong enough to set aside her birth plan and do what she needed to do to have this baby.

Some cesarean mothers feel (or perhaps hear the message from others) that they have somehow “failed”. After being privileged to witness the final 28 hours of Kara’s labor, I want to tell the whole world that this mother is no failure. She is amazing. She is inspiring. She has more strength than perhaps anyone I have ever met. Strength to labor for four full days. Strength to surrender to the path her birth was taking, even though it wasn’t how she had envisioned it. Strength to lay down on that operating table and give herself over to the act of birthing her baby surgically.

Knowing the cesarean mamas that I do, I believe that c-section mamas have tremendous courage. It takes an incredible strength of heart to be open to whatever path your birthing may take, knowing that whatever happens is the right path for you and your baby. It takes incredible character to lay aside your plans and do whatever you need to do in order to bring your baby earthside. It takes incredible love to do the hard work of caring for a newborn while recovering from major surgery.

Kara, I am in awe of you. You are EVERY definition of a birthing goddess rockstar. I feel so incredibly privileged to have been a witness to your beautiful story, and it is for the honor and joy of telling stories like yours that I live this crazy life of a birth worker. Congratulations, mama. I hope you have a wonderful babymoon and I can’t wait for our newborn session.  xoxo

I would also like to give a HUGE shout-out to Kara’s care providers: first, the midwives from the NOVA Birth Center. Mayanne was with Kara for over 40 hours and she never even looked tired. Even at the hospital, Mayanne never stopped being Kara’s midwife. She was incredibly in tune with Kara’s needs throughout the entire process and the obvious love with which she served her was a beautiful thing to see. Also wonderful were the doctors and nurses at INOVA Fair Oaks, particularly Doctors Thiara and Pickford, and a nurse by the name of Diana. They went above and beyond in supporting and encouraging Kara and they welcomed her with open arms. The collaboration between all the members of Kara’s team was beautiful and rare. I know that even though things didn’t turn out as planned, having a supportive and respectful birth team made the process as easy and pleasant as possible.