The Birth of Gus - an epidural-free induction for preeclampsia
On Friday, I asked my instagram followers what type of birth story they wanted me to blog next. I got so many great suggestions…and I’m eager to share a variety of stories over the next few weeks! But what stood out to me as I read your responses was that many of you wanted to hear more hospital stories and more induction stories (after all most women in the US give birth in the hospital).
Gus’ birth story stood out to me immediately. I’ve known Sara for over two years now…I had the honor of photographing her first birth…as well as her second. She is one of the strongest and bravest women I know. Both of her births went far different than she had planned or expected, but there was still so much beauty to be found. I want every woman I work with to know that you don’t need to give birth at home…in a birth pool…with twinkling lights…to have a magical and powerful birth experience. What makes birth stories so powerful is the emotional connection we have to our partners, ourselves, and our children. And that can be found at homes, at birth centers, in hospitals, and in operating rooms.
Sara was induced for preeclampsia for her first birth, and so her midwife and OB were watching her closely during her second pregnancy. Her blood pressure did begin to rise in her third trimester…coupled with some severe headaches…and so at 35 weeks, her providers decided the safest thing to do was to induce.
Sara wasn’t prepared or ready to meet her baby…and yet that was what needed to happen. Gus (her amazing husband) and Sara checked into St. Joes to begin the induction process. And because of the preeclampsia, Sara also had to be on magnesium, a drug that is used both for neuroprotection for preemies and for laboring women in danger of strokes. Because of the magnesium…Sara couldn’t get out of her bed. As you might imagine, pitocin coupled with magesium makes for an intense experience…and yet Sara still wanted to do this without an epidural (just as she’d done with her first).
It took some time for Sara’s body to realize what was happening…but once it did…things moved very fast. The same thing had happened with her first birth. I had almost missed it because she went from barely dilated to pushing in about an hour.
We were all more prepared this time, and as soon as Sara started to feel her contractions, I made my way to the hospital. She labored with such strength (all in bed) and before long, the urge to push came on strong. Her OB barely made it into the room to catch her baby.
Gus didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl…and got to announce that he had a son…his namesake…just after he was born.
The photos that followed are often typical for preterm deliveries. Sara was able to hold baby Gus briefly before he needed extra support. These images are so powerful. You can see the relief, the tenderness, and the worry in Sara’s face. I know that many NICU mamas and papas can probably relate to that mixture of emotion.
I went back a few days later to capture this dear family together in the NICU. Big sister got to meet her baby brother…and Sara and Gus got to snuggle their baby.
I’m SO glad that Sara and Gus invited me into their birth spaces, and I have no doubt that this story will touch and move many (just as it touched and moved me).