Birth Photography | James Garnett
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”- Wayne Dyer
I couldn’t make this birth and was extremely grateful for my back up photographer Lerissa form Lerissa Kemp Photography to step in (This is one of the many things you have to consider when booking a birth photographer, make sure she has a support system in place 😉 ) Even thought these images are not mine, I still love to share birth stories. I feel that they empower woman in their diversity and hope that they could challenge some of those rigid ideas around birth.
One of the things I love most about birth photography is that like every child, every birth is different. Their stories are different, their beginnings are different. This is a story that started with the Absa Cape Epic Entry.
“When you meet your soulmate, and you plan your life according to all the things you love to do together, you think life can not get better. Life is all about planning. Planning things the way you want it to be.
And then life happens….
We thought we would live life and do most of the things before we have children and before we are too old. That was our plan….
As a wife of a keen cyclist (and a keen cyclist herself), what better gift to give your husband than an ABSA Cape Epic entry? I thought it was a good idea to TRY to enter but in the back of my mind thought, “what is the chance?”. Yet I was one of the lucky 9-second people who managed to get an entry for 2016! I was over-the-moon and super excited and happy.
We started to prepare. We started to train harder than we have ever done before. We planned. We organised.
We trained, we ate, and we slept Epic.
In between we worked and somewhere in between life happened. Our focus was Epic, until one Friday afternoon, a month before the Epic, when my husband shared devastating news with me. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Our plans, hopes and dreams were shattered in minutes. All our hard work felt like a waste of time and energy.
As we got our minds around the disappointment, the fear and anxiety, my husband had a successful operation and has been cancer free ever since. The organiser of the Epic gracefully postponed our entry to 2017. We were preparing for our new journey to the ABSA Cape Epic 2017 when I discovered I was pregnant and the baby would be due on 24 December 2016.
The first thing that went through my mind was “what about the Epic?”!
I even tried to work out if I would manage to get fit and strong within a few weeks after having had the baby. I was making plans and trying to figure out a way because I still believed that there was a reason why I was one of the lucky 9-second people, but unfortunately we were left with the choice of entering or being refunded. We decided on the refund hoping to get another entry one day.
Two days after I have asked for my refund, I had a miscarriage.
I was devastated and was blaming myself for the miscarriage. Perhaps I am getting punished because I was disappointed that we won’t be able to do the Epic. So many thoughts and emotions crossed my mind.
My focus moved slightly away from the desperate need/want to do the ABSA Cape Epic and I have realised that events like this will always be there but having a baby doesn’t just happen. After all we have been married for more than 3 years with no luck. We have tried and planned and I started thinking that perhaps we were not meant to have children.
I’ve tried our last resort, the fertility lab. We had our first appointment where the doctor told us that we won’t be able to fall pregnant naturally or without any help. We had to think about all our options but our 2nd appointment never happened because I discovered I was pregnant.
Naturally! Without any help.
We were over the moon. Fear and anxiety was obviously a major thing and the first trimester was quite stressful for me. It turned out to be an awesome pregnancy without any issues or complications. I had a little bit of food aversion up until 16 weeks but otherwise I was healthy, and the little baby was healthy.
We have decided that we didn’t want to know the gender beforehand. We wanted a surprise. This was the best decision we have ever made and the anticipation and excitement of not knowing was wonderful. And oh, my word, what an awesome surprise it was!
My plan was to have a natural delivery but unfortunately things didn’t work out the way I have planned, which was okay because I have learned that life doesn’t always happen the way we plan it. Luckily, I was open minded about everything from the beginning and I was more than happy to do whatever was best for our little baby. 26 October, 38 weeks 4 days, was THE day.
I went for a nice relaxing pedicure that morning with my sister-in-law. I asked for pink toes because I teased and said I think I am expecting a little girl. From about 9am I started getting cramps which at that point in time I didn’t know was the start of my labour, in fact, it felt more like menstrual cramps and I could manage with it.
I expected severe pains from the word go as well as my water to break, just like in the movies.
I didn’t make much of it. After my pedicure I went to work. During my staff meeting my “menstrual cramps” started getting worse but I have put on a straight face and nobody noticed that I was experiencing some discomfort. At about 4pm I decided to go home, and I told Alasdair that I don’t think he should come home too late. I thought I will have a nice warm bath which will help with the “cramps”. And at that time, Alasdair came home. The bath didn’t help much. I contacted my doctor who advised that we should go to the hospital so that they could check me out. And that is when I contacted Sam to inform her that she should be on standby. Luckily my bags were packed. On the way to the hospital, in 17h30 rush hour traffic, my cramps got more intense and 3-4 minutes apart. We both realised that this is it, I am in labour. And yes, at the hospital they confirmed it, I was in active labour and I was about 4cm dilated, and no, I am not going back home. My doctor came at 9pm to check on me. And then she gave me the news.
My baby is not coming down ,
even though I am in full labour and I am dilating. On the examination both baby and I were still doing fine, and she said we could wait a while to see if baby will come down, but she was not very hopeful, and the possibility might be that baby can go into distress which is not what we want. And I obviously was not keen on the idea of being in labour for days. We’ve decided to opt for a caesarean while baby and I are still healthy and happy. After we made the call, things happened so quickly. So quick, that Lerissa, the photographer couldn’t make it in time to the hospital to capture the whole process. But at the end, the pictures afterwards speak a thousand words and will be treasured forever. Alasdair notified the family and they came immediately and waited in anticipation.
I was calm and relaxed and had a feeling of contentment. I was quite surprised that there was not a negative feeling of anxiety or nervousness. The time has come where we are going to meet our little BabyG. Our little surprise. My doctor and the staff were superb, and I knew I was in good hands, both of us were. A lot of pushing from the doctor, her assistant as well as the anaesthetist to push the baby down. And then, next moment, at 22h17pm the doctor pulled the baby out and lifted him in front of me… “It’s a boy!” she shouted.
A moment I will never forget. Tears of joy rolled down my face.
The family was super excited to meet BabyG and welcome him into the family. They didn’t mind waiting at 10pm after a long day of work to meet the new addition to the Garnett family. Lots of happiness, excitement, and adoration. A small family with a close bond and I never thought that a little baby can bring a family even closer together. Something special happened that night, something I can’t explain but I feel a warmth in my heart every time I look at the images from that night. This baby boy is so special and will be loved so much.
When that tiny little hand grabbed my finger
as if to say, “please mommy, don’t leave me, you are the only one I know, and I am not sure about this thing called world” and I looked at those fingers and saw pure perfection. I couldn’t believe that we made a tiny little human being. That little baby boy grew inside of me. He was growing for 9 months in my tummy. Pure perfection. I am in awe. I am content. This is pure love.
Even though I was the only person he knew, it was such an amazing sight when Alasdair took him, and he laid on his chest and he didn’t make a sound. He was happy and peaceful as if he knew this is his dad who is going to love him and take care of him. The bond between father and son started immediately.
A little baby boy climbed into our hearts and we will do our best to raise him to the best of our ability.”
Images By Lerissa Kemp Photography
Editing By Sam Schröder Photography
Music Slide Show By Sam Schröder Photography
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Why was I so desperate to have a natural birth?
Yes, it would have been a most empowering experience for me and yes my next one will be a VBAC, but was it really that important in the bigger scheme of things? At the end of it all we got what we set out to achieve – a human being that we could guide and mould and set free into the world for her to make her own impact. Maybe that trauma she and I both endured in getting her Earthside happened exactly how it was supposed to. That’s birth and even more so parenting – you set off on a course with big plans and that’s great, but there has to be flexibility and acceptance in changing course depending on whatever life (or your kid) throws at you.
After a minute or so we heard your first loud cry. It was glorious and we could finally breathe. Sr Lotter brought you to us and our hearts melted, my boy. You were beautiful. We checked for 10 fingers and 10 toes and we couldn’t stop looking at you. The happiest moment of our lives. You were born at 11:33 weighing 3.49kg and measuring 53cm.