Edmonton Birth Photographer – The Outdoor Sunset Birth of Henry.

Edmonton Birth Photographer – The Outdoor Sunset Birth of Henry.

In Birth

What an incredible and extraordinary way to bring your baby into this world.

This was another one of those opportunities where I am so thankful that two of my favourite midwives have my number on speed dial. Heidi texts me just as I was finishing up my aerial silks fitness class with a picture of a white barn, a lilac tree and an open field and asks me, “What do you think of this place to have a baby?” Huh? I answer back. WHAT’S THIS NOW?! Ummm YES!!!! Then she tells me, third time mama 6cm. Holy um WHAT?!? AHHH!! My next question was this, “Do I have time to get there? I will need an hour”. She tells me YES! I was so excited I rushed out the door, quickly explaining why I was freaking out to my fellow “circuslings”and rushed out the door to meet up with Heidi, Tara and the Rush family about to welcome their third baby.

I made it. Lots of time to spare too, thank goodness. I felt like I could breathe again!

Adele was labouring wonderfully in the yard of her Uncle’s house where she stopped by earlier that day. She decided that being where she was at in labour she wanted to stick around and have the baby there. We were all welcomed with loving arms that night. I felt part of the family and this was my very first time meeting everyone.

The sun was gloriously shining and it was just starting to fall on the horizon, it was almost golden hour. THIS is amazing, you cannot ask for better lighting for a birth. Usually its in the middle of the night, little to no lights on and here I am, staring at a mama about to birth outside at sunset. OH. MY. GOODNESS. I am in heaven right now. When I arrived they were filling up the tub next to the white barn and the tub was in full sun. (If your a photographer you’ll know why I had to act quick). I thought to myself, we need to move this pool. We can’t see the sun setting and it’s not in the shade. I went over to Heidi and asked her, “Do you think we could move this pool”. Excitedly she answered, of course. It took 4 adults to move the already half filled pool, but I was determined. First I get called to an amazing outdoor birth, now I get to “choose” where to put the pool.  (Yes, there were SO many thoughts going through my head at this very moment!).

Alas we found the perfect spot, under a fully blossomed appletree with the sun shining behind. What happens next was simply amazing, I will let the pictures tell that story.

To read Henry’s full Birth Story, written by his Mama, please scroll to the bottom of this post.

Thank you Adele, Donny, Treena, Adele’s Uncle, Heidi & Tara. You are all just amazing, coming together to welcoming Henry in the most perfect way.

xoxoxo, Vannessa

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Henry’s Welcoming Party

Having moved back to Alberta after 5 years in Ottawa, I found myself pregnant with our third baby. Being a faithful supporter of Midwifery Care, I was super stressed out about the Midwife list in Alberta & worried about not being accepted into the care of a midwife… Then Heidi emailed me back!! It was a glorious day.
My first baby Huxley was born in 2013 via caesarian due to a failure to progress. She was in a frank breech position which introduced me to a most wonderful woman by the name of Betty Anne Daviss. Delivering in a hospital crushed my dreams of a peaceful homebirth. Huxley weighted 8lbs1oz.
Simon was born in 2015 weighing in at a whopping 9lbs6oz. He was my VBAC in a hospital with the epidural (but was a planned homebirth). After 25 hours of ‘active labor like’ contractions, I was screaming for the drugs. I remember telling my husband Donny and Betty Anne that I was going to drive myself to the hospital.
This time around I was worried about the pain and my lack of coping skills in the past so I re-read some of my favourite books and found some new ones in preparation for birth, hoping that I could find the inner strength to do what women have been doing for centuries. I had found this very interesting book about pain in child birth being a modern cultural ideology. That our fear causes the pain… No Fear No Pain!
I met with Heidi and instantly fell in love with her! We had some really good talks and discussed birthing in a pool, which I had never given much thought to. I was intrigued. So I found one on kijiji and bought it. As the months flew past, Heidi continued to renovate her home office. Then she started to put up some birth pictures and I took notice of one in particular. Of a woman laboring in a pool under Heidi’s gazebo (which ended up being a Vannessa Brown picture!). LOVED the idea of birthing outside! So I crossed my fingers and prayed for a beautiful May Day for my new babe to come earth side.
At 38 weeks, I had a day full of prodromal labor contractions and went to bed to have them go away. The following Monday, Donny and I had plans to go to Ikea. I woke up to a fierce contraction and lost my mucus plug. I woke up Donny saying I really wanted to go to Ikea but I am having good strong irregular contractions. He said ‘let’s pack up the kids and go….This will take forever! Lol’. I remember asking Donny if I should give Heidi a heads up but decided that I would have plenty of time. So off we went. We shopped for a good couple hours and I discovered that walking through the rushes helped manage the harder ones. We ate lunch and packed up to go run a couple errands while Simon had a nap in the van. The contractions got a little more intense that I was walking laps around the van. We realised that we had no food at home so Donny mentioned that he would run back into town after dropping me and the kids off at home. I said I didn’t want to go home alone, so we decided to go to my uncle’s house instead because I wanted to be with my good friend Treena. So he ran back to Walmart. When he was gone about an hour, I realised I should call Heidi. Being that the contractions were now regular but completely manageable I figured that I was still in early labor. Talking to Heidi, she asked when I was headed home. I told her I would call her back in a couple hours. Then she said that she would come hangout with us at Treena’s now!
Donny showed up and we had a picnic in order to feed our kids. My uncle came home from work and started to pump the tunes. We were having a party and it was so much fun. Feeling bad that I was keeping Heidi around when it would be awhile yet, we decided to do a check to see how far along I was. 6cm!!! Active labor punched me in the face and I panicked. I didn’t want to leave to go home, because it seemed so lonely there. I asked Treena if I could give birth in her yard. She said she would be honored. Donny ran home to get the car seat and stuff for babe. So I called my best friend to have her make me feel better about life. She laughed at me and made me laugh so hard that I peed myself. I love that Jodi! She got me grounded and put me into labor mode. Which was what I needed. Birthing is a woman’s party and I wished to have Jodi there. Calling her was second best.
Heidi mentioned that her friend Vannessa would love to come take pictures and I thought that would be awesome. Never thought about having a birth photographer.
At this point we decided that we should set up the tub. I remember my uncle panicking a bit but Heidi and I talked him from the ledge. Haha. Vannessa showed up and had the boys dragging the half full tub around the yard looking for the best spot. Which I feel helped Donny’s anxiety and took him away from digging at the dirt pile in the yard (he had given himself that job!). I kept giggling to myself because I could feel Donny rolling his eyes at finding the perfect spot for the pool.
The contractions were pretty strong but I felt good. I remembered this dream I had, where I bore down during the peaks and birthed my babe in 4 pushes! Thinking back on that dream, I found it really helped! Who knew?! Donny now had to come help me with the overwhelming fear that was starting to rise. He kept reminding me that Fear is Pain… and that I had to take one at a time (he also kept saying ‘Lose lips.. sway your hips” dork!). Which is what I had been doing and I needed to keep doing. He calmed my fear as it was mounting because I overheard Heidi say I would have my baby in an hour or so. Denial had been my main tool for coping. So getting into the tub meant push time and I wasn’t ready!! I started thinking this whole birth thing was dumb and wanted to head to the hospital. In my head I said to myself ‘It’s gonna take about 45 minutes of driving there, which equals 5000 contractions in the van without walking (worst idea ever!), then I wasn’t even guaranteed the epidural’… So out loud to Heidi, I asked her if we would make it to the hospital and she said I would have my baby in the van on route. So I got into the tub. I was also hoping for some relief from the sharpness. The pool was heaven.
I noticed that we had set up the pool in Sarge’s pooping area and I felt really bad for the Midwives and Donny that they had to sit around me in dog poop. Haha, they had set up a little picnic area off to the side where they were busy chatting and having a small party. I loved that they were friends and I got to listen to them not thinking about the discomfort of the pressure. I could really feel Henry starting to descend. Heidi asked if she could check to make sure my cervix was completely opened. It turned out I had a bit of a lip left, so she flipped it up during my next rush. Then things changed. (Memory note: my uncle kept coming out with boiling water wearing red oven mitts. I thought it was so funny because he always announced ‘more hot water!!’)
I remember crying through a couple contractions, feeling that it was too much, it was taking too long and I wanted my babe out! Heidi asked me to flip over to my back/bum side to change it up. Heidi mentioned that I should bring my knees up to my chest next contraction and man!! Did that hurt! Babe moved down a lot then. She totally tricked me! Ha. At one point I remember touching babe’s head as he was coming out and I got excited! Tara kept saying some very empowering comments and Donny kept rubbing my shoulders down towards my fingertips. Next thing I knew, my Baby was out and in my arms!! I noticed he was so quiet and I was concerned but everyone kept saying he was fine. The most perfect little face all covered in vernix just stared at me. He was beautiful. Then Donny told me he was a BOY! I knew it! Then all of a sudden, everyone was at pool side. Huxley said ‘But I wanted it to be a girl!’ and Simon was just full of wonder. I LOVED having my little family there to welcome their new brother! Henry weight 8lbs14oz of perfection and was born at 8:46pm. The picture-perfect sunset hour says Vannessa. I didn’t know it at the time but Henry was sunny side up.
Some important lessons I learned this time around was have a care provider that you trust 100%. Someone who loves their job so much that she adds to the party that is birth (And I had so much fun!!). That distractions are a great way cope with my fear of the pain. When I think back, I don’t feel like it was excruciating, that this time it was not nearly as painful as my previous labors/births. Maybe it was the healing that I needed. I also learned that I was the strength. ME!!

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