AKA: A planned induction that didn’t go at all as planned….
So let me just say that this was never supposed to be a blog post. This was never supposed to be a blog post because I was never supposed to take pictures of this, on this day, in the delivery room. But I’m getting ahead of myself--let me back up just a little bit.
Several months ago, I stood in my kitchen with my best friend as she held the results from a pregnancy test she had just finished taking in her hands. She was at my house when she took the test and I was honoured to be the first person who would learn that she just was a few days pregnant. Pregnant! Yay! Cue the jumping and hugging and tears! Fast forward 9 months and Sheri told me a couple of weeks ago that due to some health issues (nothing too threatening), they were going to start inducing her a few days before her due date. So I made plans to head to Fredericton to be there to support her and her partner as they prepared for the birth of their first child.
As far as I was aware, the induction process was a quick one and went something like this: go to doctor, doctor works magic, badda bing, badda boom, you have a baby! As we all learned the hard way, that’s not exactly what happens. At all. Apparently the induction process has the potential to span several days while several methods are attempted to bring on labour. And all of this was further complicated because baby decided he was going to take his sweet time and wasn’t exactly responding to the induction methods the way the medical team had anticipated.
A frustrating process for all involved. Actually, my plan was to head home the next day if nothing was happening because I had only planned to stay a couple of nights and I had already been there for three. But lo and behold, I awoke to Sheri gently shaking me awake. Her water had broken, it was time!!! Finally! Cue the (gentle) celebrations!
I had always wanted to photograph a birth but Sheri and I had discussed it in the months leading up to her due date and decided that I would take photos the day after (when everyone was all fresh, clean, and moderately rested), and I would leave the delivery room at some point before the real labour actually began. So when I got to the hospital, I left my camera in the trunk of my car.
As Sheri’s labour began and as her contractions worsened, I reached for my phone to take a few snaps of the whole process. Throughout the day as the hours rolled on, in between running to refill water glasses and ice chips and feeling helpless as I watched someone I love experience the most pain I have ever seen a human being experience, I continued to take snapshots.
Hours (and hours...did I mention...hours?) later came the moment we had all been waiting for. It was time to start pushing. Both Sheri and Tony (her partner) told me that I was welcome to stay and I was absolutely overjoyed! What unfolded was easily one of the most incredible and memorable experiences of my life.
The energy and the emotion in the softly lit room was overflowing with love, support, and anticipation. The doctor and a team of nurses (all women and most of them mothers themselves) surrounded us and spoke gentle words of encouragement as Sheri continued to work hard at bringing her baby into the world. Finally, she summoned all of the strength that remained inside of her and gave one last push. Her baby was here!
I have no idea how I ended up getting any photos at all during the minutes that followed, I just felt compelled to document and grabbed my phone again. I was shaking, I was crying, and through the flurry of activity, somehow, I managed to press the shutter button.
So here’s the thing and here’s what I learned: I have known Sheri for 8 years now and I thought I knew her as well as any best friend could know her best friend. But the absolute strength and quiet determination I witnessed in Sheri throughout that whole day was unlike anything I had ever seen before. She is an absolute warrior. And not only that, she is incredibly generous because by allowing me to be in the room and share that experience with her, she unknowingly gave me the best gift I have ever received.
To say that 2018 has been a monumental year for me is a vast understatement. I have shared a room with and bore witness to both death and birth and my soul has been permanently altered by both experiences.
And for the immense amount of love that surrounded both events, I am forever grateful.
The next day, there was a storm on the way (wtf November) and since I had been gone for several days already, I had to leave. So I packed up my things and set out on the road for home…..without my ‘next day’ in-hospital ‘good camera’ photos--I was crushed! But what I did have was a phone full of semi-blurry, poorly composed pictures and a heart exploding with gratitude and love for this insanely crazy beautiful life.
So there you have it. Things didn’t go exactly as planned--with the induction, the birth, or the photography. But as it turned out, I much prefer it that way anyway.