Kaitlyn reached out to me via Instagram after seeing some birth photography by me, and hearing about me from her fab midwife, Morgan Gaines of Flourish Midwifery. We chatted over email, then phone to answer all her questions…the holidays came and went, January we chatted about my coming to meet her and her husband Jimmy at her 36 week appointment with Morgan. Then covid happened. Damn covid. The birth space is so sacred, such a privilege to be present at, that I always make a point to meet my families before showing up in that sacred space. Covid prevented that from happening, but we got on the phone again and I assured her that we, as a family, were taking all the precautions necessary to stay healthy and that I would gladly wear a mask in the birth space. We talked about how she had been feeling, that this baby was her rainbow baby, and about excited she was to see how her dog Gerry, their beloved Bernese Mountain dog, would respond to the baby.
On Friday night, June 12th at 11:50 I got a text from Kaitlyn that it had “been a crazy emotional evening… in a crazy unexpected abrupt moment (their) beautiful dog, Gerry, left us. He had either a heart attack or a stroke and ER was unable to save him. Less than an hour later, my water broke. So things are still slow right now but I wanted to keep you in the loop.” I was heart broken for them. Lots of people have dogs and love their dogs, but that she had specifically spoken to me about Gerry and the baby girl in her belly, I knew this was a hard blow.
I had a newborn session on the books for Saturday, June 14th, but knowing Kaitlyn’s water had broken, I quickly emailed that mama and made arrangements to come on Sunday instead. I put myself to bed at midnight and at 6:28am I got the text from Jimmy: Kaitlyn is in active labor and Morgan said you should come.” Mad dash to dress, grab water and a banana, throw my equipment, mask, hand sanitizer in the car and hustle up to their home in Wells, Maine, a 30 minute drive. Those drives to a birth are always a daze; adrenaline-filled, dreamy excitement. Hoping the whole way there that I was called in time and didn’t miss the baby being born! I did have to slow down for a huge black bear that went galloping across Route 4, but made it to the house with plenty of time.
7:10am. The house was quiet when I entered – I let myself in. No one is coming to the door to greet you when there is a laboring mother! I spotted Morgan in the beautifully lit living room where the birthing tub was. I heard Kaitlynn let out a long, deep moan from upstairs and I smiled. I put my cameras together and over the next hour and 31 minutes Morgan and her two assistant midwives, Alicia and Jen, and myself cycle from upstairs to downstairs, observing, holding space, waiting, breathing, quiet, waiting, breathing, gathering, waiting. Kaitlyn moved through waves of contractions like a summer storm. You see the storm coming, the grass dry and thirsty below your feet. The hot sun shining on the other side of the sky beckons the storm to ward her. You want to the storm to come, you pray for it, and there is no stopping it. You want the thunder, the release of pressure and a heavy rain to cool the ground, the grass, so that life can move forward with the nourishment it needs. Kaitlyn and Jimmy needed this baby. They had waited so very long for her. They were thirsty for her, needed her in their arms the way that dry hot grass begged for rain in order to survive. Kaitlyn knew the end goal was there, to finally hold her baby in her arms. The storm of birth overcame her body – it was painful, fierce, slow. Inevitable. Powerful.
“How much longer until she’s here?!” She screamed.
“Not much longer,” Morgan replied. Calmly.
Kaitlyn pushed. Groaned. Screamed. Cried.
In the next moment the head was born. In the next moment (8:41am), her whole body slipped out into the world and into Morgan’s hands, then passed through Kaitlyn’s legs, and she slowly stood, curving her body around her baby girl, Primrose. Kaityln and Jimmy sobbed with happiness for a long time, letting the warm summer rain of that baby seep into all the dry, thirsty pores of their body, soaking her into their very souls.