Sisters. I'm the mother of two girls...and I grew up with three sisters. My younger sister, Noelle, and I spent our childhood side-by-side. Best friends, the sweetest of companions. I always envisioned us being together for all of life's big and little moments. But as happens, we both grew up and life pulled us in different geographical directions. Noelle and her husband, Brandon, moved to West Virginia for medical school. When I found out she was pregnant with her first baby, I couldn't have been more excited. But I was also a little heartbroken: would it be feasible for me to be there for such a monumental moment for her? Would it be possible for me to make it from Denver all the way to West Virginia?
I was also several months pregnant with my own baby at this time, which meant our children would be about 12 weeks apart. It seemed unlikely that I'd be able to make it out for her birth, even though I wanted to...badly.
Fast forward, and I gave birth on my due date to my 9 pound little girl, Eliza. My birth was beautiful and I had an amazing recovery. I told my sister that if she wanted me there...I would love to try and make it happen. We both agreed to approach it with open arms. I would schedule to fly out around 40.5 weeks (because all of us older sisters had our first babies around 41 weeks).
Lo and behold, I got a text message from Noelle at 4am on my sister's due date.
"I think I'm having contractions" she wrote.
"How far apart?" I asked.
"I think every 4-5 minutes" she responded.
OMG. I jumped out of bed and started throwing things into my camera bag. "Ryan!" I shouted to my husband, "We're going to Denver International Airport. NOW!" And so we did. We drove to DIA, and I booked a ticket for me and Eliza on the way to the airport.
Now, flying to West Virginia is NOT an easy feat. It often requires at least one transfer (especially when flying last minute) plus a 90-minute drive once you land in Pittsburgh. So I had quite the journey in front of me:
Denver --> Baltimore --> Pittsburgh PLUS renting a car and then driving through Pennsylvania to West Virginia. And I would also have to keep my 12 week old baby happy!
The entire trip I prayed that I would make it. I knew that my sister would do beautifully with or without me, but I wanted to document her story so badly. I knew how precious my birth photos had been for me...and I wanted to give that to her. But as I made my way across the country, I got updates from my brother-in-law that things were moving and moving quickly. She was throwing up when I landed in Baltimore, and I feared that baby Esme would make it way before we did.
But you know what, somehow...someway...I made it. I pulled up to the hospital in our rental car...ran upstairs...and found my little sister laboring like the rockstar that she is. With about an hour to spare both me (and my parents who were driving cross country) arrived.
Noelle's birth was so beautiful. So powerful. Brandon was able to deliver his daughter....and the joy on my sister's face just couldn't be matched. This birth story was by far one of the highlights of my career, and on the eve of Esme's first birthday...I'm so honored to share it with you!