The Birth of Otto

Chelsea contacted me last Fall, around Thanksgiving, about documenting the birth of her 5th baby. Her and I clicked super well over the phone, and she went on to tell me about her passion for birth and is even beginning to get into the work of birth photography! No wonder. I met her and her husband a few months later for coffee where she began to tell me the stories of her past births.

While I won’t divulge into each one, because those are her stories to tell, I will share that they were less than ideal. Two of her previous babies had arrived much earlier than expected (and we expected Otto to do the same) and at one birth, the doctor was responsible for what would certainly constitute a traumatic birth experience.

But this was a different baby, a different hospital, doctor, and experience all together.

Chelsea went into labor about a week before she was due making baby not just term, but healthy and strong and ready to enter the world! Her contractions started as just discomfort, which was also a different experience. They weren’t the typical contraction. Once at the hospital to ensure that some bleeding she’d experienced was ok, she was found to be in active labor!

I arrived and she was getting set up in her labor suite. The nurses were answering and asking questions, one of which, we all (who’ve birthed at a hospital) are familiar with,“Do you want an epidural?” Chelsea had birthed unmedicated before and knew she wanted to again, but when faced with the question during labor, it’s difficult at best to remember what you wanted before! With some thought between contractions, she decided that the birth of her baby was so close (she was 6 cm), and she wanted to keep working through the contractions unmedicated.

The most impactful thing about her labor from my point of view was when the nurse said the words, “This is your birth. You can deny or ask for anything you want.” Of course, within the realm of hospital policy, but such policy allowed for Chelsea to move around almost completely unmonitored. She could give birth in the position she wanted. She was empowered.

I assisted Dad in finding the right spots to apply counter pressure, which brought a lot of relief to her back labor. She went back and forth from the toilet to the bed a few times as her body was progressing. Eventually, her doctor arrived. Her OB was incredible! She came in with an encouraging presence. She offered support, and reminded her how close she was to meeting baby. She broke Chelsea’s water where she began to push about 10 minutes later. It didn’t take many pushes before Otto was out and on his Momma’s chest.

Having only preterm babies, she’d not experienced this moment and didn’t know what to do, as she expressed! We all told her she knew exactly what to do and that she was strong and had done an amazing job. Her baby was here, and he was whole and perfect.