I got the opportunity to get to know Laura and Jeff while photographing them for Laura’s maternity shoot when Laura was 34 weeks pregnant. It’s always a pleasure to be able to do this as it gives me excellent insight into the personalities of parents and the parents get to see who they are inviting to photograph the birth of their baby!

The power of love

It’s January 20, a few days before Laura’s due date and just before midnight, Jeff sends me a message that they are on their way to the hospital as Laura is experiencing some aching in her belly. Only two hours later he texts me again to say they were sent home as Laura has regular contractions, but no dilation. I stay put and around 07:00 in the morning they return to the Unispital Basel. Dilation goes slowly, it takes Laura over 12 hours to get to two centimeters and I ask Jeff to contact me when she is at six centimeters. This happens early the next morning around 02:00 and then things begin to move quickly. When Jeff sends me a message at 03:43 that Laura is at eight centimeters I am instantly wide awake and when I jump in my car Celine Dion’s ‘Power of love’ is playing on the radio, a very fitting soundtrack for my drive. I arrive in a completely empty and silent parking lot and it feels like this baby is going to be born just for me, although I very much realize that my job here is an easy one!. The waiting is over, here we go!

Daddy is waiting for his son

A friendly nurse welcomes me and brings me to delivery room number 2. I’m happy to see that Laura is resting, although she needs to turn over every now and then because the baby’s heart rate is quite low. The atmosphere in the room is peaceful and I hear Jeff telling their unborn son that he is welcome and that they are waiting for him. Laura has an epidural but still feels the contractions and she and Jeff continue to utter caring words to each other during her breathing work. Slowly, the dilation proceeds to nine centimeters. The baby’s heart rate is still on the low side and the dilation phase takes quite long, so there is some talk about a potential caesarian. One of the midwives breaks Laura’s water to try to accelerate the process and she is given a higher dose of oxytocin.

This seems to work as the nurse finally feels the baby’s head and tells Laura to start ‘test’ pushing, which she does very naturally! In between pushes she also manages to find time and energy to compliment the nurse with her perfect matching red glasses and Crocs. The doctors arrive after 30 minutes of pushing because the birth has begun to move quickly. Regrettably, they ask Laura’s mother to leave the delivery room. I’m happy to see she can get a peek from behind the curtains, and at 08:24 she witnesses the birth of her grandson, Benjamin!

So special to see the knotted umbilical cord

Benjamin is a beautiful little baby with perfectly smooth, pink skin, 50 centimeters tall and he weighs 3500 grams. His eyes are wide open and he is incredibly alert. The nurse points me towards the knotted umbilical cord. This is a very rare sight and I’m grateful she tells me as it makes for a great photo. Meanwhile, Benjamin lets us know that he is cold by impressively testing his lungs with his first screams.

I am in awe of Laura’s achievement. The moment Benjamin came out, she transitioned from the full force and effort of labor into a calm and loving mother. I hear her speak to her son and am so grateful to witness and record the first moments of the Holgate’s as a family of three.