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  • Writer's picturePamela Buddenhagen

Photographing my first birth

So with the very first birth I'll ever photograph quickly approaching, I figured I would start this blog before before my client, who we'll call mom, even hits her due date. So this will end up being a little "baby journal blog". I'll add in the date and times I'm typing as well, this way mom can come back and look at this to see how everything played out on her photographer's end and what I get to see, experience and feel before, during and right after baby is born. We know when we're in labor nothing else that's going on matters or will be remembered too vividly (if at all), so these little details that she'll get to read will be a really neat experience for her. I think this will end up being a pretty cool blog for all to read, especially if you or someone you know may ever be interested in having their birth photographed and documented. So here goes.

Besides being a baby photographer, I run the home office for my husband's Appliance repair company, so I am extremely flexible when it comes to our photography business. After this first birth session is under my belt I will be advertising and changing some things around on my website, as this is something that I am very passionate about and would like for it to very much be a big part of my future and business. You can also stay tuned as I may also be adding on another service for moms to be that will blow you away. I am waiting to say anything about this until after this session. Seeing how this is a journal blog, I will most likely end up mentioning in the end IF it's something that I feel is right for me. Anyway, I got side tracked, like I was saying, I work from home and my kids are older, my dogs and cats are self sufficient (sometimes, haha) So I feel very comfortable taking on these birth sessions knowing that at any moment I will be dropping everything and running. The excitement of it all is highly gratifying, I truly believe I am going to love it and by the time you're done reading you'll know exactly how it all went and how I will be going forward with it all.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022 10:37am

I spoke with mom on Monday and she was feeling pressure, so we were both kind of excited about that. Always a good sign! She has an appointment tomorrow with her doctor and they will check to see if she is dilated at all. Her due date is July 20th but she's ready to go and I must say, I am too!! She is having a baby boy and her and dad are so excited as they have 3 girls at home. Over the past few days I have been getting my bag packed and making sure everything is ready to grab and go. I have extra SD cards packed, extra fully charged batteries for my camera as well as my flash (if that will be used) Aside from the main things I'll need for photographing, I wanted to make sure I had everything else I may personally need, so I took to my awesome group on facebook of birth photographers. I let them know I was waiting on my first time and they were very kind and offered tons of advice on what to bring. I have a sweatshirt packed, snacks, some gatorade, earbuds, phone charger, book, oh and they said Bring a change of clothes, fluids just go where the go, haha. Things I wouldn't think of never having been in this situation. I've only given birth, never been on the side of anyone doing so. I think about how amazing this is and how I cannot believe I will be watching a baby come into the world. The one thing I do have left to do is figure out what I'll wear, I'm actually going to do that as soon as I finish up with this entry as it's the one thing left I haven't done. I have a few clean disposable masks and I also need to find something to fold up and put in my bag to possibly sit on. Being the second person in the room there isn't always an extra chair, so on the floor it could be for me. Once I get that call and things are in motion there will be live updates going on in my Blooming Budds Chat group as well, so that should be exciting for everyone who will be following along. I want to say I'll update here tomorrow after mom's OB appointment, but you never know when I'll be back with new info. It's always a surprise that's for sure.

Thursday, July 14, 2022 10:29am

No news on mom's appointment as she hasn't gone in yet. I'm anxiously waiting to hear that's for sure. We are down to 6 days until her due date and she's hoping to hear something today that indicates "little mr" is coming sooner than next week. This morning I laid my clothes out that I'll be wearing to the hospital and am expecting my new book in the mail today from Amazon to bring along in case we end up with some waiting time. This book is actually reading material for my possible next big move. I think between photographing this birth and reading this book I will be 100 percent sure if it's my move or not. I'm thinking yes and I truly believe that things are put in our path for us. I'm staying cool in the AC today, may go float around in the pool again later on as well. My dogs have their own little pool that they go out in too. My husband and I also recently put up matching hammock swings in the backyard, so we've all been enjoying those too. Being a birth photographer means a big commitment to my clients and it means that I am on call 24/7, 2 weeks before the due date and up to 1 week after. What does that mean. Well, the obvious, that mom can call me anytime to tell me she is in labor and it's go time. But that also means I am committing to being here and ready to go. I will not book any vacations or even day trips that take me more than a half hour from home during these weeks. This is something I am very passionate about, it is something that is very exciting and I believe will be very rewarding. I'll be able to talk more to that after the birth of course and I can't wait. Swimming, reading, hanging with my daughters and husband is what I enjoy most, so I've been doing a lot of those things recently. I will still take on photo sessions while waiting for births as well, but they will be limited around due dates. I have a family that I photographed in the Tulip field in May, I also photographed their newborn back in November. They are a military family and are heading overseas and most likely will not ever be in New England again. She called me and asked if I would be able to do a last minute family session before they leave. I told her I was on call for a birth session but absolutely want to do this for her and that we could schedule for this Friday night and have Saturday planned for our backup. She was so happy as am I to get to leave them with these great photos of their family while they were in New England for the first time ever and just for a short 9 months and where their 4th baby was born. My daughter, Lizzy, who always comes as my assistant will hold my phone and make sure I don't get any "I'm in labor" texts or phone calls during our 45 minute session. I'll be back after with a mom and baby update.

11:14am

Mom is 3 centimeters dilated and everything looks good, now to continue the wait. I'm taking my oldest out for coffee now.

Friday, July 15, 2022, 10:13am

Still waiting on baby to make a move. The family that I was photographing tonight, is now tied up with some things concerning their big move, so we are rescheduling for tomorrow night with a backup date of Sunday afternoon. I just found out that Sunday night they leave for New York and will be flying out from there Monday morning. It makes me so happy that they so want to squeeze in this last minute session with me before heading off on their next journey across the world. I was able to give them wonderful photographs and memories to leave the US with.

2:30pm

So, silly mama got her due date mixed up. It is the 30th of July and not the 20th. We had a laugh together about that and then she explained to me exactly how to get to the maternity unit of the hospital for when I arrive. She has 3 little girls at home that all made their debut before their due dates so her fingers are crossed her little boy follows suit. My wedding anniversary is 7/26 and Randy and I have an overnight planned in Portsmouth and tickets for the Railway Explorer. We can switch days up to 7 days out so by Monday if baby is still hanging on we will be pushing our stay out 1 week and reassessing next week as the days go on.

Saturday, July 16, 2022, 7:55am

Today is my Nana’s birthday in heaven! I woke up about 6 this morning and was just kind of done sleeping. I made a pot of coffee and took out my book. I have the news on that’s telling me we have a heat wave coming this week. I think I’ll add a pair of shorts to my bag for the hospital just in case. I feel like i’m either going to be very warm while photographing or freezing if the air is blasting. No way of knowing which it’ll be so I’ll prepare myself for both. Mom’s last day of work was yesterday so she is officially on maternity leave. I’m sure she was very happy to wake up today not having to go go go. She was feeling quite exhausted yesterday when we were texting.

8:30pm

I’m sitting outside in my hammock, it’s a beautiful night. The humidity is definitely coming in but it’s nice out. We had a great family session at the Japanese flower garden and now this family is off to Hawaii. It was so wonderful getting to be a part of this family’s journey while residing in Rhode Island. They were talking about the weather there which is always 75-80 year round, imagine!! They’re going to learn how to surf and the kids were telling me what types of foods they were looking forward to. I got to meet grandma during this session as well and she was in some of the shots. I will never forget them and through my photographs they will always remember their experience with me. I have been put in the lives of so many people with photography and it couldn’t be more amazing.

(A shot my daughter Lizzy got)

Monday, July 18 2022

Mom wants to know “HOW AM I STILL PREGNANT” haha. So yes we are still waiting for baby and have been chatting through text. I was reading something about counter pressure on the hips and lower back during contractions and it seems to be a life saver, so I was asking mom if she had tried this technique before. She just found out about it herself so she is going to have her husband watch some videos and try that for her. We’re expecting a monster heat wave this week, 6 days of 90s in the forecast.

Thursday, July 21 2022 12:30

I woke up this morning as I did the past few mornings. Checked any messages, brewed my coffee and got to work. I was on the phone with an appliance customer when I saw my phone ding my birth mamas name. I was like “omg omg is this it” Then thought well she could just be texting. So I hang up and grab for my phone and it was indeed the message I’ve been waiting for all week. Her water broke this morning!! I was beyond excited, elated to as more like it. I called my husband and text my mom, best friend group chat and my brother and sis in law. I’m so ready to go. I was going to head to Walmart this morning for a bunch of things needed but of course now I have way better plans. So i ran out to Market Basket so the dogs have their food, because we were of course out of that. The market was packed as usual but they always have so many registers open. I can get in and out of there quicker than any other market. I picked up pizza flat bread crusts, sauce and cheese for the girls to make dinner tonight and a few other things I knew we were out of. I figured I’d get my dunkin cold brew now and enjoy that sucker while waiting. I checked my texts, non from mama so I got into the line that was 8 cars deep. Haha I was nervous I came home, went live in my Blooming Budds chat group and I’m now sitting in the backyard in the shade to let the dogs come out for a bit. We are in heat wave city this week. Our heat index is supposed to be 100 again today. Yesterday my mother in law came over and we went swimming, so that was nice. But getting out of the pool just made me feel hot and wet instead of cooled down. It’s brutal out here. I’m waiting for updates as the day goes on and will keep documenting here as well as by video. Her last text to me was at 11:44 and she is 4cm dilated but baby is still high up so they are not sure.

3:45pm

They are keeping her. She just text me to let me know they just broke more of her water and she is 5cm dilated. I am ready and waiting.

4:45pm

I figured I’d start dinner, as I was completely ready to go, just waiting on mama to dilate a bit more. Mid way through that I get a text from dad saying “mom” says come now. Come asap. I dropped everything, Randy said go I’ll take over, don’t speed. haha. I arrived about 25 minutes after that text message afraid I might miss it. Luckily when I got there even though things progressed so quickly mom thought it was time, it was not. So she was checked and was at 6cm and 90 percent effaced, so she was coming along nicely and I was so relieved I didn’t miss a thing. Goes to show me for my next birth that you just don’t know how quickly things will go. She was saying i’m so sorry I called you here too soon and you have to wait around. I promised her that I want it this way as opposed to running in as baby was coming out. When I got there I a nurse in the hallway said “you must be Pam” i said Yes!! She said great come this way they’re waiting for ya! The nurses and delivering doctor was amazing and so great to me. My biggest fear was being in someone’s way and having them upset with me so my plan was to be as close as I could be without being in their way. Well, they clearly realize at this hospital how much these photos mean to the parents hiring me. I was treated as important and like a part of their team. It was a wonderful first experience. So about 20 minutes after I arrived the anesthesiologist came up for the epidural. Being able to photograph this entire experience was so amazing. Mama was afraid of getting the epidural because of the pain and the fact that she’s had one before and it didn’t work. Dad held her hands and her labor nurse talked her through it. After about 15 minutes later she felt fantastic and was able to laugh and joke around. She took this time to check her phone and get some water. Now that her body was more relaxed she felt so exhausted so tried to close her eyes and relax for a little bit. The dr ended up giving her some pitocin as her contractions were regular they just weren’t strong enough to progress and this mama just wanted baby out. Once they started that, she continued to relax for about 20 minutes and then started to feel them again, mainly on her right side. She was pressing the button to higher the dose for her epidural but nothing was providing extra relief. The nurse called for the anesthesiologist, which unfortunately took a while to come back. In the mean time we tried hip squeezes, the delivering dr was doing a great job of walking her through breaths and her husband was right there squeezing her hand. Once her epidural was checked and it was determined that was indeed working, she let the dr check her and well, she was 9.5 cm and that’s why she was feeling what she was feeling. By the time they got the cart in and bed set up for her to put her legs up she was at 10 and ready to push. I was absolutely amazed watching this beautiful birth unfold and after just a few pushed baby’s head came out! The next push brought the rest of his body and oh the pictures!! The nurse and delivering dr were so great and knew how important it was to mom that I get these shots! After the placenta was delivered the doctor held it up for me to get a great shot and then moved the umbilical cord over it to form a heart. Mom and dad were in awe with their gorgeous, healthy new baby boy and capturing their emotions was magical.

I’m almost done editing and mom will soon have all of her photos and they will be on my website as well. I will be looking to book future birth sessions and am also registering to certify as a labor Duola so I can not just photograph this beautiful experience, but be a part of it and assist mom and her partner to make a birth plan that they want to achieve.

Welcome to the world, baby Roman


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