Memories. Recounting my first C-Section Birth as a Photographer.

Being on the other side of birth as a birth professional is an incredible thing. As a mom that has gone through 3 births of my own, it’s quite the experience to go back into the birthing sphere when it’s not your own birth that you are experiencing.

The sounds, the smells, the familiarity, it brings back so much nostalgia. Watching other women meet their babies is an empowering and sacred experience that you won’t ever find me taking for granted.

Today is Margot’s birthday. I met Margot one year ago today(see the full blog post of her birth here) and my life has been changed ever since because Margot was my FIRST csection birth story. I won’t ever be able to forget the babies that I’ve watched come earthside in my career as a birth photographer, but Margot’s birth holds an especially sweet memory in my heart because she was my one of my firsts.

Margot’s mama Bethany is a photographer too and she was looking for a birth photographer to cover her upcoming csection. Of course I volunteered immediately, but I didn’t hold out hope that Bethany would choose me(she had a LOT of options among the list of photographers that had volunteered). But much to my surprise, she asked me to be there!

I met Bethany early early that morning at IU Health North in Carmel Indiana, before the sun was awake. Her and her husband were almost giggling together in their labor suite when I arrived, practically glowing while prepping for their rainbow baby’s arrival. Smiling, laughing, totally at ease and counting down the minutes.

A few moments later, the nurse came in and told us it was time. She helped Bethany with her blue cap and handed me and Dad some caps of our own. Shortly after we walked the halls together towards the operating theater and Dad said his temporary goodbye.

Being just outside the OR in that special waiting room is something. You could cut the air with a knife it was so thick. Bethany’s husband quietly waited, nervous. He was no stranger to csections and this was his 3rd experience, but it didn’t make things any easier. Knowing that your wife is willingly going through major abdominal surgery, for you and your family, for your baby, isn’t something that you take lightly and it showed.

It was completely quiet except for the mumbled chatter of the doctors through the OR door. I remember feeling like I was breathing too loudly, very nervous myself, checking and rechecking my camera and backup camera to make sure all of my settings were right.

Then the OR doors opened and they called us back.

I remember being surprised at how small and bright the operating room was. In my head I always imagined this large dim room with silver equipment and an open table with serious faced doctors confidently huddled over their patient (too many Grey’s anatomy episodes I guess). Instead it was a tiny in comparison and blindingly white, with happy doctors casually moving about and chatting. The room was lined with machines, so many machines, just waiting for action and glass cabinets filled to the brim with medical supplies. Half of it was dedicated just to Bethany and her medical team and the other half was for Margot’s arrival, with her own medical team patiently waiting on the other side with her warmer.

That’s when I got really nervous.

The warmer was so so so far away and was against the back wall. It was in such a position, that once Margot was born, there would be no way for Bethany to see what was going on. And that’s why I was there. Bethany had remarked to me at one point that the other side of the “blue drape” was a mystery to her, because she’s never been on the other side of it.

It was my job to be her eyes that day, so that she could have the memories and moments of Margot coming earthside.

It took a loooooong time for Margot to make her arrival. Most csection procedures take around 5 minutes but Margot’s took closer to 30. Apparently she liked her mama a lot and had shimmied up underneath her ribs, refusing to come out. The doctors eventually got out what I can only describe as medical crowbars, to help push back Bethany’s ribs to gain some more leverage on Margo. I now know that this is a very common instrument to be used but at the time it scared me a bit and Bethany too because she was feeling lots of physical pressure. Not to mention her body knew something was going on too, so she was shaking from adrenaline.

After about half an hour of coercing, Margot was here. Bethany had requested a clear drape so we all got to see her imerge before she was immediately swept off to the opposite side of the room. Margot was born 3 weeks early so immediate skin to skin wasn’t an option.

Margot was a faint dusty blue when she first arrived, perfectly content where she was but now confused and daised by the bright lights(can’t say I blame her). Her Daddy immediately joined her, taking some photos of his own to show Bethany, and proudly looking over his little girl.

My favorite photo of Margot is when they put this big bow hat on her. That was still the most adorable hospital hat I’ve seen to date!

After a while, Margot turned from that dusty blue to a beautiful pink and begrudgingly let us know how she felt about being removed from her mamas warm womb. A few minutes later, there was no more mystery and Bethany and Margot met. Tears flowed from all of us.

Happy Birthday Margot! Watching you come into this world will always be a joy that I want to remember. Thank you Bethany for welcoming me into your birthing space and for letting me be your eyes for those long and precious minutes <3