I've begun asking moms to recount their birth story in their own words. I want you to be able to feel a connection to the people you see in these images: Real moms and dads, just like you whose worlds have been irreversibly altered.
Tell me about your last week of pregnancy. How were you feeling and progressing?
"I felt like a million bucks. Honestly an hour before my water broke, I told Greg I felt so good that day. I wasn't experiencing any signs of labor. For example, no discharge, no mucus plug, I could stand on my feet all day, and she wasn't dropping."
As you can probably guess...that didn't last long!
"We took a walk before bed and I had a "normal" side stitch (which I am assuming was a sign of labor now.) My water broke at 10:25pm, no signs of contractions until close to 11:30pm. I notified everyone."
Who was present for the birth of your baby? What did you like about having them there?
"My midwife, her assistant midwife, our photographer, Sara, and my partner, Greg. Just having the chance to meet with everyone, they brought in a calming experience. I knew I wouldn't get stressed out or side-tracked having them there. I wouldn't have been able to be as calm or do what I needed to do without [my partner] there."
How did your labor progress?
"The adrenaline was running through me which I had no control over as soon as my water broke. I kept telling myself this is the race you've been preparing yourself for. I needed to conserve my energy and stay hydrated which is what I focused on. My labor progressed so fast, going from what I thought was period/poop cramps at 11:30 pm to 'I can't talk in between contractions' at 1:00 am."
Tell us about THE moment. How did your baby arrive?
"Once her head was out, I just felt the worse pain of my life from the front tearing. I knew I had one more push. I didn't like the fact that her head was just hanging out, which I know is normal, so I tried to restore my energy for the last push.
I pushed and then it all happened so fast.
I couldn't tell if my little one was out of the way but the midwife said, 'Are you ready? She's coming in between your legs.' I didn't think I was going to have the energy to even pick her up.
When I saw her, I was so afraid of not knowing how to pick up something so small but it comes naturally. Her presence gave me an all time high, restored my energy, relieving the stress and fear I had before.
Her little body felt so perfect in my hands. Our first bond, was everything I had pictured: letting her know she's safe and that her mama is and will always be here. I kept whispering to her she's safe and that I was there and finally she gave us a nice cry that we were all waiting for."
What fears, if any, did you have before hiring a birth photographer? What would you tell someone considering hiring a birth photographer?
"If pregnancy is as sentimental and as inspiring to them as it was for me before even going into labor, then a photographer is needed to capture the hardest but best moments in your life that happen so fast."
Welcome to the world, sweet Brayleigh. As you will one day see for yourself, you have had your parents in the palm of your hands since day one!