Birth of Emmanuelle | Hospital Birth

January 14, 2021

This moment has been years in the making. I have been photographing this family since Noemie’s very first pregnancy and met them ever year after that. A few years ago she asked me if birth photography was something I would be interested in. I sure was very willing to do it, but our timing had to be perfect. As I now live in Europe and travel home for only a few months or weeks, I was not there when she was due for her 2nd and 3rd.

Last year when we met for our yearly session, she was jokingly asking me when I’d be back so she could time her pregnancy with my trip home. We kind of laughed about it, thinking it would be some kind of divine luck if it worked!

Few months later, I see her post announcing her pregnancy. I think I screamed! Her due date and my trip fit exactly!

Story is not over!

She’d already asked someone else because she thought, with Covid going on, that I wouldn’t be able to travel this year. So we let it slide. The situation changed again later as she told me that due the virus, no photographers were allowed in anyway, so even if it had been me, it would not have worked. 

Months passed and few days before her due date, she asked me if I was still interested, and when I’d be in my home town. Covid regulations had loosened up a bit in my region, so she was allowed two people in the delivery room with her. She asked for the second to be me and was waiting for the hospital to confirm her request. If it was a yes, we were hoping for perfect timing. I was in Canada, but not in my home town yet.  

Now for the funny part. I had planned to drive home on September 24th. Somehow, I had in my mind that this day was a Wednesday. So obviously I drove home on Wednesday … the 23rd. I only noticed my mistake on my way there. Well too bad. The drive was split in two and is 8 hours, I won’t turn back!

I got home and right away I received a text from Noemie who told me I sure would have a very busy day tomorrow. She was going to be induced early in the morning. 

I laughed. Loud. I arrived one day early entirely by mistake. I had almost cancelled my trip due to Covid. The other photographer was unavailable. We were at the bottom of the virus wave, so it was possible to have two extra people in the delivery room. The universe wanted this! The stars were aligned! We had good karma! You name it! It happened!

Thursday September 24th

And so on Thursday (not Wednesday) morning, September 24th, I went to the hospital to witness the most AMAZING experience/moment I have ever photographed. One reason it took me so long to post this blog is that I feel like I can never find the words to express how special and powerful this moment was. It’s ineffable (I always dreamt of using this word!) It really made me fall in love with birth photography.

I am forever grateful to have seen what giving birth is like before I experience it myself (when and if I have kids). I have realised now that I will never find the right words. It is something to be experienced, not talked about. So hopefully the photos will speak for themselves.

But before we get there, a little bit about the day and birth:

Noemie and Francis were at the hospital around 7:30 am that morning and I arrived at around 10:30am, a bit before the doctor came to break her water. She was at 2 cm, relaxed and cheerful. It’s her 4th child, so she knew the ropes. If this birth was like her others, it would be over quickly. (And it was!)

The staff stopped by sometimes to chat with us. There were discussions about the baby’s gender. The parents had kept it a surprise. It was such a friendly and laid back feel, you’d think you weren’t at the hospital. Plus, it was peaceful and quiet that morning, as no other births were happening at the same time. 

The room was the perfect stereotype of a small town place, where everybody knew each other. Jessica, the nurse present during the birth, is one of Noemie’s close friend, they went to school together. It so happens that she’s also one of my clients, same with the doctor. I have photographed both their families, and for Jessica, her wedding as well. 

Around 11:45 Noemie was given something to relax. So her and Francis were able to get some sleep (If we can call that sleep). Her “relaxation” lasted 20 minutes. After those were done, she started saying the contractions were more painful. By 12:10 they checked her, she was at 5 or 6 cm.  

Jessica said she didn’t dare go out to get lunch. She was betting on a 12:50 birth. I looked at the time and thought it impossible. In 40 minutes? Really? I had so often heard stories about how long it can take, I thought this was very optimistic!

Well, around 20 minutes later, Noemie felt like pushing. They checked her. She was at 10cm and ready. They prepared everything quickly and efficiently. By 12:36 she was pushing. And at 12:41, the baby was out. Emmanuelle, a healthy little girl!

Then came pure beauty. The look on Noemie and Francis’ face when they met their girl. The happiness in the room. Everybody looking at the newborn with admiration, love, and pride in their eyes. Time did stop for a little moment there.

The baby did skin-to-skin for a good hour before they weighted and measured her. When all was done and the parents were ready to move to their room, I packed my cameras and left. They sure needed to relax!

Some things to look for when you look at the photos

Look at the clock! You can clearly see the passing time.
It’s only after the birth was over that the staff told Francis he could take his mask off and could have done so the whole time. (Well, that will make the memories very 2020 specific!)

There will be more to come on this blog. I have done her newborn and family session as well! Stay tuned! And here is a preview!