The phase from maternity session to birth-day transitions very quickly, and in the case of my most recent all natural birth session it was almost too quick!

Just a single week passed between my Milk Bath Maternity session with Susanna. She was preparing to welcome her third and final baby, Preston, into the world and she really wanted to make this birth a special one. All of her children were scheduled inductions, but she really wanted for this final baby to have his own story- and boy, did he ever!

On June 24

We had our scheduled maternity session- which was amazing! We really got to celebrate this season in her motherhood journey. It was a stunning experience to really dress her up and shower her and that sweet baby bump with a ton of attention, care, and consideration to create our own special works of art. With her induction date was set for just one week later, we really got to capture that belly at its peak (an achievement of its own).

The night before her induction, July 2nd, was a late night for our family because of the holiday fireworks and festivities. But, I tucked into bed that night with my alarm set for 6:15 am so that I could get up, shower, grab some food and coffee and meet the expectant parents at the hospital once they got to their labor and delivery room.

Oh, silly me for expecting it to work that perfectly… it’s never that cut and dry.

I woke up at 6am

To the sounds of my son playing in his room and I just happened to check my phone to see the time… and there they were, 4 missed calls from Susanna. She went into active labor at about 2:30 am and was going to arrive at the hospital at 4 am. I was already 2 hours behind the game. So I woke up my husband, told him what was going on, brushed my teeth, stepped into the shower to wash my hair (shampoo only- there was no time for any frills at this point), stepped out, dressed and walked out the door 5 minutes after my alarm was set to go off. I texted her so she knew I was on my way and she let me know she was at a 5 and about 90% effaced. So, there was no time to think, just DRIVE.

When I arrived at the hospital Susanna was visibly in labor, contracting regularly, and really uncomfortable in her hospital bed. She was joined by her husband, two kids (for the first few hours), and her mother who was operating as her birthing coach- equipped with essential oils, soothing music, and a can-do attitude! There was also a birthing pool set up in the room for Susanna to labor in- something she was eagerly waiting to do when I first saw her.

Susanna labored in the pool for about an hour and a half.

She began to question her ability to get through this all natural birth without any medication about an hour into the tub, but with the support of her mom and her husband she kept at it and allowed herself to set in to her breathing and the soothing water. At about 8:15 am she had an incredibly intense contraction and decided to call for an epidural… however, the anesthesiologist was tied up in a c-section prep and wouldn’t be available for an hour. With some panic, some tears, and some denial at first, Susanna settled in again and rode the waves of increasingly intense contractions knowing that there was no other option available to her. The nurses were having a difficult time checking her progress in the tub, and they were talking about getting her out to check when she started telling them that she was experiencing intense pressure and that her body wanted to start pushing. The nurses just told her they would check her progress when she got out of the tub, but that it seemed too soon for any sort of pushing to really assist her laboring.

She worked her way out of the tub between contractions. When she got to the bed she had another hugely painful contraction and she said, “I’m pushing… I’m pushing and I can’t stop.” Her doctor happened to be checking in on her at that time (on his way to that c-section mentioned above). But he saw the situation and said he was going to be delayed to the c-section. He checked her, determined she was at a 9/10 and that she was in a position to have this baby immediately. They told her to turn over onto her back because it was time to do this. We were all taken aback with how abruptly the delivery had arrived. Susanna laid on her back and with the biggest contraction and painful push the baby’s head came through, followed quickly by the rest of the baby at 8:41 am. He was here. It was practically in a single breath. It was an intense, abrupt, surprising, and absolutely beautiful all natural birth. We all were just stunned. It was such an emotional resolution to an intense labor.

“You did it! You did it Susan! You made it! He’s here!” -Susanna’s mother, Jenny

There were a few important wishes on Susanna’s list: to naturally go into labor, to deliver without medication, to have a third baby that weighed exactly 7 pounds 0 ounces like her other two children, and to have pictures of her kids meeting their new baby brother. I am happy to report that ALL of those wishes came true. It was a truly perfect pregnancy and delivery for her and I could not have been happier. When it’s your final baby, you want everything to be perfect, to be memorable, to allow you to truly be in the moment and cherish all of experiences one last time. I was so excited for her, so proud of her endurance through her labor, and so very grateful to be a part of this incredible journey. Being able to document this birth for her was such an honor. It takes a lot of trust to bring someone into such an intimate experience, but the benefit to that trust is that you can have those images to cherish and celebrate in how magical birth truly is.

Every birth is unique and memorable in its own way, but this all natural birth is going to stick with me for a long time.

Here’s to all the all natural birth mommas out there: you are rockstars! And here’s to little Preston, you’re already off to an amazing start buddy, and we can’t wait to watch you grow!

Preston Phillip Michael Ball-461