water birth at home | Kaneohe Birth photographer
THE BIRTH OF AUDREY KALEA
A year after we had moved back to Hawaii and as I was trying to re-start my birth photography business I had started in South Florida, I put out a call for a home birth. I hadn't documented one in a year and was aching for the intimate birth space that home births provide and to document an out of hospital birth.
My good friend and fellow birth photographer Annie Groves introduced me to the Custers, who had just moved to Hawaii and already had 3 girls. Fiona is a doula and we hit it off from the first day we met! Her husband Scottland was the newly appointed pastor at a church on Windward Oahu, so there were no coincidences in any of our minds that we were meant to meet and that God made that divine appointment for us.
I don't typically write out birth stories from my perspective other than to give a few key details here and there, but the Custers became friends and so their birth felt much more personal. Here is my recollection from that day:
On the day Fiona started having pretty intense contractions she texted me but told me not to come yet because she didn't think this was it... she had had strong contractions through the night but they were spread apart.
I had a gut feeling that this was it, and since Fiona lived in Kaneohe and I live on the North Shore, I decided to head to Kailua at around noon and eat lunch at my favorite crepe place then head to their home to see what was going on.
I walked into their house at around 2pm after chatting and deciding she would like to have that part of labor documented before she put her 2 youngest down for their afternoon naps even if her contractions were still around 10 minutes apart but very strong.
I think I walked in and saw her having a contraction right away. The next contractions came much closer than 10 minutes and the next much closer. I was sure she was progressing way faster than what we were expecting based on her patterns through the day and asked where her midwives were. Scottland told me Jaymie Lewis was on her way and that Selena Green was coming from the Leeward side, so she would take longer to get there. I prayed one of them would make it on time!
As Jaymie walked in and saw Fiona having a contraction, we just looked at each other and made a face. She was so close! Jaymie wasted no time and started blowing up the pool. By this point the two youngest were napping and their oldest, Olivia, helped us fill the tub with water and helped her mommy during contractions. She was an amazing little doula!
Selena made it just after 3pm and Fiona mentioned her contractions started to get back to back when she walked in.
Her birth team was all there and we could all see that she had finally relaxed and let go of whatever she was holding onto. Transition hit immediately just as her girls woke up from nap time and joined us in the living room.
Her water bag broke and few minutes later Audrey, who was still a surprise gender at that point, was born into her mother's arms.
What followed after were such tender moments that my heart melted into a little puddle. The girls found out they had another sister, checked out the placenta, saw when dad cut the cord and were there for the whole birth process. I loved how involved and prepared they all were, including little Emmy.
A gorgeous birth all around and I'm so thankful that I had the honor and privilege of being there to document their story.