I have this friend... actually, she is more like a long lost cousin. We are so much alike in so many ways - the fact that we are both named Nicole Marie is just a start. And like old friends, we are able to communicate volumes in just a few words or even just a sideways glance.
A few months ago, Nicole pitched me an idea. She was pregnant with her second child and was wondering if I would be willing to photograph the birth. Of course I said yes. Without a doubt. I have given birth twice before, and I have done numerous C-sections (on animals)... so I figured that being a passive observer would be easy. Besides, I figured since I wouldn't be the one dilating and contracting and pushing and tearing, it would be no sweat for me.
From a logistics standpoint, I got really lucky. Nicole was going to be induced, so I was able to arrange for child care. She gave me the play-by-play via text... ah, to give birth in the age of instant messaging. I arrived at the hospital around 10:30am and was greeted by Nicole, her husband Brian, her mom Phyllis and her stepdad David. What an amazing family - so open and loving... I felt like I had known them forever. Whatever concerns I had about intruding on their private family moment vanished as soon as I walked through the door.
I took about 2000 pictures that day. I probably would have taken more if it weren't for the hospital's rules, which included things like: no photos of the staff, no photos of procedures, no standing on the furniture. With all of those pictures, it was a bit difficult to decide which ones to share. So I chose a few of my favorites. I'll give the disclaimer now: if you are grossed out by pregnant bellies or the act of childbirth, you need to either exit this post muy pronto, or suck it up.
I'll stop talking now and let the photos show you the amazing event that unfolded on this day.
How did anyone ever give birth before the cell phone was invented?
Great Grandma Barbara wasn't able to be there physically,
so Phyllis gave frequent updates over the phone
I know this image is totally graphic, but it captures everything - Nicole's face shows the pain of childbirth, her mother-in-law's face shows the support and encouragement given by everyone. And little Kingston's face, in the bottom left corner, as he makes his debut.
Two small details I'd like to point out: 1) the tear in the corner
of Nicole's eye and 2) Kingston's tiny blue hands
Brian holding his son for the first time
Proud Grandma Chris in the background
Happy Birthday baby Kingston. You are loved.