A Birth Story: Jackson Paul
Birth photography. Absolutely incredible. I am SO thankful that Monica and Eric trusted me enough to invite me in to witness one of their biggest life moments: the birth of their first baby, Jackson Paul.
Up until this particular session, I had absolutely zero experience with birth photography. I've shot pregnancy announcements, maternity photos, and newborn photos, but never a birth. Because birth is so unpredictable, I was on call 24/7 leading up to his estimated due date, but little Jackson still wasn't ready to come out yet! Two days later, Monica texted me around 4:30am and told me that she thought her water broke and that *hopefully* today was the day. She would let me know after her prescheduled appointment with the doctor later that morning at 9am. I was SO excited. Probably almost as excited as she and Eric. I've worked with the two of them quite a bit and I was just SO over the moon that they were adding Jackson to their family.
I think that birth photos are such a perfect fit for me because I have such a passion for photography, but my educational background is in healthcare. I always found working in hospitals to be so rewarding just because of the variety of different patients I was able to work with. It was so nice to be back in that environment, but to be doing something completely different and something that I absolutely love. Instead of learning about someone's story and then never seeing them again, I've been able to get to know Monica and Eric really well over the past few months and this made a HUGE difference in me being there. It was such an incredible blessing being able to grow closer to them and really be able to call them my friends.
I ended up getting to the hospital around 2 pm to be sure I got in a few shots with the natural light coming in. We're in that phase in Cincinnati where it's cloudy and cold every day, so I knew I had to work quickly if I wanted any shots without using my flash.
We waited for hours. And hours and hours. After being checked again, her doctor came in around 9pm and told us that there wouldn't be a baby today, but the 22nd would be a better birthday anyways (and as a 22nd baby myself, I agree! What a great day!) Monica's contractions eventually started picking up, and she was in a lot of pain. She decided she wanted an epidural and a popsicle, and both made things a little easier on her. :)
Being able to be apart of this has convinced me that I will 100% invest in a good birth photographer when that time comes. These images tell such a story, and I'm so glad I was able to capture it. Monica and Eric were both so focused on each moment and I'm so glad I was able to capture so many of those moments for them to look back on and soak them all in again. As we were waiting, we would joke around and get excited about seeing Jackson's little face oh so soon. As Monica's contractions got closer and stronger, Eric really stepped up to comfort her, and it was an incredible thing to witness.
Throughout these hours, Monica's dedicated all of her attention to Jackson and safely delivering him. She was so focused that she probably didn't even notice Eric's unwavering love and dedication to her every need. As a new contraction would come, he would tell her to squeeze his hand and that she was doing such an incredible job. He was so enthusiastic about how strong she was and how proud of her he was. It was AMAZING to see the love he had for his wife and the absolute admiration that was on his face as we entered into the night. I am so thankful I was there to capture these moments for them and show them how beautiful their marriage is to me.
As time went on, Monica's epidural wasn't as strong as it needed to be and she was in a lot of pain. I loved everything about being there, but the one part of the day that was SO hard for me was not being able to take away her pain. As tears streamed down her face, all I wanted to do was make it not hurt anymore. After altering between handing her a fresh tissue and snapping a photo, I finally looked at her and said that I felt SO bad for being there and just taking pictures of her in pain. She managed a smile and said "no, no! I asked you to be here! This is all part of the process." She's just as sweet as can be. I'm happy to say that she told me it was worth it all after she heard Jackson cry for the first time! A little after midnight, their doctor came back and told Monica that things weren't progressing fast enough. Jackson was just too big (9 pounds 2 ounces!!) and needed a cesarean delivery. People flooded the room to start prepping Monica for surgery. Eric was handed a pile of protective gear and was instructed to put it on. After 21 hours of labor, it was finally almost time to meet little Jackson. However, Monica is SUCH a planner and this new plan was very scary to her. She called Eric over and in the craziness of everything going on, they prayed for a safe and successful surgery.
And just like that, Monica was taken away. Eric paced around the room, nervously waiting to be called back. In a matter of moments, the time came and I was left alone. The room that had held so much emotion throughout the day was now empty. I started looking back through all the photos that I had taken over the course of the past few hours and couldn't believe what just fit into the day.
Let me just say, I spent months looking forward to this day, to capture the story of Jackson entering into this world. I 100% knew that the day would start with just Monica and just Eric. Just two. I knew that by the end of the day there would be three with the edition of Jackson, but let me just say. It was the absolute CRAZIEST thing to watch them each go off and come back with a BABY. A beautiful, healthy baby boy. After a long day of laboring, Jackson Paul entered into this world at 1:16am on February 22nd. It was insane. I knew that they would have a baby at the end of this, but it absolutely blew my mind to see. I knew Monica and Eric before meeting them at the hospital and they seemed so complete together, but seeing them with Jackson? It's absolutely perfect. And I'm so glad I stayed to see them as a complete group of three at the end of the day. Even though I wasn't able to capture the look on either of their faces as they heard him cry for the first time or saw his precious little features, I was able to capture these INCREDIBLE moments. Of Monica taking in the details of the person she's been growing inside her for the past nine months. Of Eric completely head over heels in LOVE with his perfect little family. Of the Jackson looking up at his mom. Absolutely incredible. You don't need to have a vaginal birth to hire a birth photographer. You need someone who can capture these special moments for you because you need to focus on taking in and living in each of these moments. You need someone who can tell the story of how you brought your baby into this world.
This was such an INCREDIBLE opportunity and I am so thankful that Monica and Eric invited in on such an intimate moment in their life together. Meeting Jackson was amazing, but it was even more amazing to watch the love between his parents grow throughout the day. Birth photography is now an absolute favorite of mine, and it would be an honor to capture how your baby enters into the world, too. Please reach out if you're interested in birth photography! I would LOVE to tell you more about it.