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Pensacola Birth Photographer: Celebrating Luke

Updated: Jul 24, 2018

There are some things that you don't really care to think about much when you join the Navy {military} life. So often, family "planning" revolves around deployment schedules, workups, and shore duty...but sometimes (actually, a lot of the time) God has a bigger plan. Sometimes babies come days or weeks after daddies leave for a long deployment. Sometimes they come just before daddies arrive home. That's just the nature of the "military lifestyle" beast.

The wonderful thing about the Navy community where we lived was the camaraderie. The sisterhood that you share with other women who are going or who have gone through exactly what you are is unlike any other. The shared tears, the joys, the adventures...those are all incredible things you get to have with people you otherwise might not have ever known. Those things make lasting impressions throughout your life, and are one of the many things I am extremely grateful for as a Navy spouse.

You have to lean on others, especially when your family is hundreds or thousands of miles away. You have to scoop up and hold tight to your people, and give grace. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, even when it's hard, and be strong, even when you don't feel like you are.

As we approached deployment last spring, I decided I would take a break from on-call work (attending births as a labor doula and birth photographer) to tend to my girls while my husband was away. With no family nearby, that kind of commitment is difficult to sustain. Shortly after I made that decision however, I received an email from Amy. Amy was a soon-to-be second time momma whose husband was in a sister squadron in the same Carrier Air Wing. Her husband would soon deploy with mine, and many others, and she was looking for doula support during her birth since her husband would be away.

There was never a moment in my head where I wasn't going to be there for her. More than anyone else, I knew that while there was no way I would ever replace her husband's presence, I would do my best to make sure she felt loved, cared for, and safe. You see, in a way, being her doula was therapeutic for me. She knew what I was going through, and I understood the magnitude of what she was experiencing. Together, we not only navigated the birth journey, but also the first weeks and months of deployment. That is a blessing, and something I will hold dear for the rest of my life.

Today, we celebrate Baby Luke's FIRST Birthday. When he was born, the end of the tunnel was far, and the light was small....but he was a shining star and the pick me up that we all needed. He continues to be a light for his family, and I'm so honored that I was able to help welcome him to this big world.

To read more about Luke's Birth Story, please scroll down. Amy was an absolute rockstar, steadfast in her determination, and nearly silent during the entire process. It truly was an inspiring sight to see!

I arrived to Amy's house (who happened to live maybe 5 minutes from me) around 3:30 pm on July 24, 2017. By this point, Amy was in a regular labor pattern with contractions lasting for one minute, with a 2-3 minute gap in between. Had we been further from the hospital, I would have suggested we leave sooner, but we only had a short 7 minute drive. Her contractions when I arrived were ones she could pretty much chat through. During that time, we tried different positions to see which felt best for her during her waves. We used many techniques, including reflexology (Can you find the comb?), counter pressure, hip squeezes, breathing exercises, and various birth ball positions to ease the sensation. All the while, even during the height of her waves, she remained calm and quiet. It was something else!

We enlisted the help of a stock pot from the kitchen when the nausea picked up. It was right about this point when we decided it would be a good time to head to the hospital. The last thing we wanted with a birth on the side of the road!

We arrived to the hospital sometime around 5pm, where we were greeted by a wonderful nursing staff. I'm a bit partial, as Amy's nurse was a former client (and home birth momma) whose birth I had documented the year before. Over the past several years, I became fast friends with many of the amazing labor and delivery nurses at our local hospital. That is something I look forward to here, as well.

Labor slowed just a bit upon arrival, but soon picked up as we settled in. We were quite prepared for a few more hours of labor, and utilizing some comfort measures to get Amy through her waves. One thing I remember from her birth is how warm she was (even in the freezing hospital room). My favorite go to in that circumstance is a damp rag on the forehand. Not only does it help cool a hard working momma, it also keeps hair out of the face and provides a minor competing stimulus to the brain (a real plus in the midst of a contraction.) You'll notice the rag throughout the labor and birth process.

Even as she approached and endured transition, Amy still managed to be all smiles. She was quietly determined, went within during each contraction, and flowed out with her contractions with peace and strength. She was truly incredible. At 6:39pm, she was completely dilated and effaced. With informed consent, the doctor ruptured her membranes. Immediately, Amy felt the urge to push, and together with her mother and nursing staff, we watched as she became a silent warrior momma.

As the next wave approached, she worked carefully and deliberately to bring her precious baby down. After her first set of pushes, she was crowning. Then, just two contractions after her water broke, she mustered up a full dose of grit and pushed precious Luke out at 6:46pm.

You can see it, right? The power and determination. This is one of my most favorite sets of birth images that I have captured because it fully embodies what motherhood is all about. Amy's strength was a humble one. One that came from her faith. She trusted in her body, and inner ability. She is every doula's dream client.

Baby Luke came out with a double nuchal cord (cord around the neck wrapped twice). While his cord wasn't particularly long, the nuchal cord posed no issue. He was a perfect healthy guy with a 9/9 APGAR, and a cry that let you know it!

If there ever was a more perfect birthday, I would be surprised. I can only think of one thing that would have made that evening better, and that is if his daddy could have been there.

Luke came out with a round head full of hair, covered in vernix, and 10 fingers and toes. As you can see, even after these little people have arrived, mommas often can't believe the perception they're presented with. The feeling of "Holy cow! I did it!" is all over her face, and preserving that detail and feeling is my passion. How blessed am I to get to experience that?!

I got to capture so many amazing firsts. The first LOOK (^), The first TOUCH (^)....

The first KISS...

The first LATCH...

The first cell phone photo ;)

The first time meeting GRANDMA...

The first time ADMIRING momma...and baby's first PATTYCAKE...

The first ESKIMO KISS...

...and the first LOOK for daddy <3

After a lovely hour of getting to know each other, getting a fast start at feeding (he was a pro!), and snuggling, it was time for Luke's measurements. The hospital staff was always respectful and encouraging of that first precious hour of skin to skin. It was a joy to watch Amy learn and bond with her precious boy whom she worked so hard to meet.

The little dude was 7 pounds and 4 ounces of delicious squish. He was not a fan of being away from momma, but quickly soothed himself by sucking his thumb. I noticed his affinity for his thumb while on momma. Before latching for the first time, he found his thumb and began sucking intently. The little details, things like that, those make these stories special. They are important, and must be documented.

The separation we endure as military spouses is never easy, but these moments show us how strong we can be. Though Luke's daddy was across the world when he was born, he has a documentary of his son's birth, little details and all.

This is the first birth video I ever captured for a client. It was impromptu, but done as a way to ensure that Luke's daddy would feel connected to his little guy's birth. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Now excuse me while I go learn all I can about videography for the next birth, I forgot how awesome this was!


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