Memphis Birth Photographer | Maverick
When Cece first reached out about photographing her birth, our biggest concern about my commute to Memphis from Nashville was that I'd be there much too early. First time momma's spend an average of 18 hours in labor. If there's one thing I've learned in this profession, it's how unpredictable birth is. Maverick was born less than six hour's from Cece's first contraction. I made it into the room two minutes before Maverick Grey was born. Here is the full story-
It was noon. I was shopping at Destination Maternity the day after my due date when I felt a sharp pain that made me close my eyes and stop walking because it took my breath away. I thought, “This is it! That was a contraction!” But seriously, after weeks of hoping that every little twinge was a contraction, I was still doubtful. My mom (the amazing soul that she is) had been staying with me and my husband, Eric, for a week and a half. She was there to help us before and after the baby arrived. The day was Friday; my mom went to a salon to get her hair done and relax (the first time she had left me), I went shopping, and Eric went to work.
With the pain dying down to just a dull ache, I decided to skip the rest of my shopping and drive home with high hopes that my labor had started. My dad, who I swear had some kind of sixth sense, called me on my way home to ask if I was feeling anything. I cheerfully replied that I wasn’t (I didn’t want to worry anyone in case it was false labor), we talked for a couple more minutes about the Bears game he was going to on Sunday (he didn’t make it), and hung up. I decided that if I was in labor that I should probably eat because it would be a long night and swung through the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home. I ate some of the fries on the drive but I had another contraction before I even got back to my house only a couple minutes away.
I got home and went to the bathroom to find my mucus plug was coming out. I’ll save you the gory details, but I got super excited because I knew that what I was feeling was probably for sure labor! I texted Eric to tell him I was in labor and he should think about coming home from work soon. However, once that plug was gone, shit got REAL.
I laid down on the bed in our master bedroom and my sweet puppies laid next to me-they knew their mama was hurting. Eric texted me to ask how far apart my contractions were but I hadn’t been timing them to know. I told them they were pretty intense and that he should come home sooner rather than later. Everything we had learned in our Lamaze class, reading books, and looking at articles and videos online said that contractions typically start slow and far apart for first time moms. I timed my contractions-just under 5 minutes apart. HOLY. SHIT. Eric called me to let me know he was on his way. There was nothing slow or easy about this labor. By this time, it was 1:05 pm. Just over an hour since my very first contraction! I just remember thinking there is no way I can do this for 18 hours (we had learned that was the average length of a first time labor). At that point, I didn’t know I wouldn’t have to wait 18, 12, or even 8 more hours to meet my baby boy.
I made Eric stay on the phone with me because the contractions were so intense. I already couldn’t walk or talk through them! One of Eric’s coworkers had taken his company truck to go run errands (of course, right?!) so he was taking the work truck they usually kept on site instead. It didn’t start and had to be jumped. IT DIDN’T START. Seriously. That happened. They got it jumped and E made it home in record time.
He called my mom as soon as he got home (I wouldn’t let him hang up on his drive home). By the time he got home I had moved to the office to have my contractions on the hardwood on all fours because I was so hot. I was nauseous and already thinking about heading to the hospital. My original birth plan was to labor at home as long as possible because I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth so I was super conflicted about going to the hospital only an hour and half after contractions had started. I had texted my birth photographer, Kailee, and my doula, Abby, to let them know what was going on. Once my mom got home and saw me laboring on all fours, already letting out primal groans during every contraction, she knew I was progressing. She helped Eric load up the car and we headed the 4 minutes to the hospital.
We were in the waiting room having a hell of time checking in. Word of advice-don’t ever ask a woman in labor to fill out a form. She will give you a look that could kill and will, you know, continue to ignore you and focus on labor. After finally getting checked in, I started puking up those French fries I had eaten only a couple hours before. Abby met me, Eric, and my mom at admissions and we all headed up to triage.
I don’t remember much in triage because the pain was so intense. I hardly opened my eyes. I tried to focus on my breathing, listen to my coaches, and work through the pain. We had a code word for an epidural (bacon cheeseburger) and after getting checked (I was 4 cm dilated), I threw all those coping skills out the window and said, “Fuck it, bacon cheeseburger”. We left triage to be taken to the labor & delivery room at 3:45 pm.
I didn’t know that my sweet baby would be joining us less than two hours later so my natural, unmedicated birth would happen! By the time my nurse got me hooked up to some fluids, the fetal monitor on, and the doctor in to check me, there was no time for an epidural. Those two hours in L&D were the longest and shortest of my life. I was trying to stay focused on meeting my baby but the pain kept overtaking my mind. I tried to focus on stuff outside of my body-my family and doula talking to me, the sound of my baby’s heartbeat, the sensation of Eric’s and Abby’s hands on my shoulders and back while I bounced on my birthing ball, but it was tough. I even weirdly liked when the nurse had trouble putting my IV in, because it was a different painful sensation to focus on. I don’t think I opened my eyes those entire two hours until my baby was coming.
He was coming! It was just before 5 pm. I told the doctor there was tons of pressure-he checked me. I was at an 8. HE WAS COMING. A couple minutes later, I felt a huge gush of my water breaking. I was super happy it had broken naturally, super weirded out by the freakiest sensation I had ever felt, and then super worried when the nurse said my water was green with my baby’s meconium. A few minutes after that, I said “my baby is coming and he’s coming out of my butt.” The medical staff all laughed and told me that he surely was not coming out of my butt, there was an alternate route they liked to take. I told them my body was pushing! My doctor checked me and told me I could push if I liked. All of a sudden everything hurt less and I got completely reenergized. I was going to meet my son!
I decided to push sitting up in a frog-like position. My nurse lowered the end of my bed so my feet were lower than my bottom and another nurse got me a bar to put over the top of the end of the bed to hold on to while I pushed. At 5:30 pm, my doctor told me the baby’s head was crowning and asked if I wanted to reach down and touch it. I did and a wave of energy, nervousness, and anticipation washed over me. I started pushing HARD. I wanted this baby out. Eric was holding my hand and counting an 8 count softly in my ear to help me push. As soon as I felt the baby’s head with my hand, I started pushing for a 16 count. His heart rate must have dipped because they put an oxygen mask on me for a couple pushes. Kailee walked in the room at 5:40, I pushed 2 more times, and at 5:42 pm, my son was born.
He came out and there was a wave of commotion. I opened my eyes and Eric was cutting the cord! There were more people in the room than when I had closed my eyes and they were all rushing around. Something was missing though. The cry! Why wasn’t my baby crying? Instead of placing my baby on my chest, they rushed him over to the warming table. After scrubbing him with a towel and some intense pats on his body, they grabbed machine with a long hose to suction out his mouth and lungs. FINALLY, we heard him cry. At the same time Eric and I both started crying and held each other so tight. We were so thankful to hear that cry.
Finally, I got to meet Maverick Grey. He was placed on my chest and I felt an overwhelming wave of relief, love, and bliss. I again closed my eyes like I had during my first contraction less than 6 hours before, but this time not to focus on pain, but rather to relish in this amazing feeling of holding my perfect, beautiful, newborn son in my arms.