EARTHSIDE: RAINBOW BABY FINNLEY | PORTLAND, OREGON BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER | ANDALUZ WATERBIRTH CENTER
Marie hired me pretty early on in her pregnancy. It was one of those meetings where we met and talked over coffee and just immediately clicked. I could tell that birth photography was important to her and that she truly valued my work. I was thrilled when she decided to put her faith in me and hire me for her birth photos! She was birthing at Andaluz Waterbirth Center. I had worked with some of the midwives in the past, but only at home births...so this would be my first visit to the center. Marie also shared with me that this little girl would be a rainbow baby. A baby is one that is born after a loss. Marie and her husband have two boys (Marie's oldest being her step-son) and her youngest (Marie's first born) would be three when his little sister was born. But after having her 3 year old, Marie experienced a loss. I could feel the heartache when we talked. Finnley would be her rainbow baby. She also shared that Finnley was conceived via IVF. Fast forward a few months to the days that approached Marie's estimated due date. Marie had told me she expected that Finnley would be born early, but as the days went on, we both watched and waited. As we approached 42 weeks, my excitement and anticipation just kept growing, as I'm sure Marie's was as well. Her son had been board relatively quickly for a first born, so we were all expecting a quick delivery. For these Mamas, we tend to be on slightly higher alert, we keep our bags packed and with us just a little bit better than maybe a first time mom.
Marie had let me know that she was having a few contractions here and there, nothing regular, nothing serious. But on Tuesday May 9th I got the call that it was "Go Time." Seriously, those are the words she used as she started having another contraction on the phone. I quickly said "I'm on my way". The timing couldn't have been more perfect. The center is located just 15 minutes from me, but if it had been one or two hours earlier, it probably would have taken me 45 minutes to an hour to get there due to traffic. Also, my husband was out of town in Seattle, so for a couple of days I had backup childcare on call for me just in case. I kid you not, Marie called me just one hour after my husband got home from Seattle.
I grabbed my bags and ran out the door. I got to the birth center in 15 short minutes and it was completely empty. I panicked slightly thinking I was in the wrong place, so I pulled up my contracts on my phone and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that I was right where I needed to be. I anxiously photographed the outside of the building as I waited and soon saw the first midwife arrived. She let me in and we introduced ourselves. The rest of the birth time arrived shortly after and they prepared the room and began filling the tub. About 20 more minutes went by and Marie and Jason drove up. As they walked in the door, I could just tell that this baby was close to being born and boy was I right. Marie climbed into the birth tub and just 9 minutes (yes NINE minutes) after walking into the center (I know because my images are time stamped ;) ) sweet Finnley was born. It was truly an honor to be there and witness such beauty. Marie was able to push Finnley out all on her own, let Finnley be born in the water and then reach down and pull her Earthside.
Marie shared her story beautifully on her Instagram account and has given me permission to share, so I'll do that now...
I started going into labor around 3am on Tuesday, but then it tapered off and eventually stopped. I figured today wasn't the day and Jason's prediction of her being born on a Tuesday was wrong. Jason dished us up some Tillamook caramel and toffee crunch ice cream and we started an episode of Billions right before 7pm. Honestly, I was really grateful I got to finish my ice cream before the shenanigans began.
At 7pm intense contractions started 7 minutes apart out of nowhere. Within 30 minutes, contractions went to 5 minutes apart. By the time Jason helped me in the car around 8:30, I had to push. It was so intense and happening fast. I really thought Finnley might be born in the car on the freeway because I could feel her descending and my water broke. My amazing midwives were ready and I labored how I needed - all manner of primal growls I'm told. Jason was by my side the whole time - there's no way I could ever imagine going through babies, birth, parenthood in general without him. Finnley is a very lucky girl to get Jason as her dad and our boys as her big brothers.
Miss Finnley was born 2 hours later in the water and I caught her. The moment you hear your rainbow baby cry is a moment you never forget. All my tears were from the emotions of my daughter's birth, not the physical pains of birth. Jason and I literally have been through hell and back in our journey as parents. No one will ever understand the "trenches" of infertility or the cruel coldness of a loss unless they've battled through it themselves. Everything Jason and I have been through to get Finnley, was worth it.