Raleigh Birth Photographer
The Birth of Lainey
A Fast Natural Hospital Birth of a Surprise Baby Girl
At Rex Women Center in Raleigh, NC
As an artist I always feel like my role is often to piece together the story for my moms and their partners. The birth process can be hazy and very focused obviously on the labor at hand. And the birth floods right into the newborn stage of sleepless nights and cluster feeding, so the looking back on the power of their birth story is often forgotten until much later. I hear all the time after I deliver images how, “they didn’t even remember that happening” and how thankful moms and partners are to have the photos to jog back their memory through the long days of parenthood. That really is one of the beautiful aspects of birth photography, the visual processor once you’ve had a moment to breath that helps you remember your power, sacrifice and true beauty in motherhood.
But something I’ve also tried to start doing is to grab perspective from the mom herself, see the story from her eyes too. My part fo story is driven by the pictures and emotions but hers is all encompassing and with a birth as fast and unexpected as this one I knew my images and words would just not do it justice! So i reached out to Katie herself to share her story and turns out she is an incredible storyteller and writer! Her down to earth writing and sense of humor grabs you and I just loved reading through her words over and over. She has such a beautiful way of telling the story of this day that goes along so perfectly (in my opinion) with the photos too!
Lainey’s Birth Story
Written by her beautiful mother, Katie
I must do the dishes
For about three weeks I struggled to sleep, often resorting to the couch where I would fall asleep in an
upright position around 3 a.m. It was not the most ideal situation, but at the time it was the most
comfortable. At some point I would wake up, stumble to bed and sleep until about 9:30 a.m. For the last
week I woke up every morning with disdain thinking, “Well, I’m still pregnant.”
As I laid in bed on July 23, I woke up before I opened my eyes, it was before 8 a.m. I was flat as a
pancake on my back, how I frequently ended up while sleeping with this babe, when it felt as though I
lost my bladder. But I had emptied my bladder in the 3 o’clock hour. I immediately grabbed a tissue and
Googled, “How to tell if your water is leaking.” Dr. Google informed me that the Internet had made me
stupid and I, in fact, knew what was happening. After all, I was five days away from my due date with my
sixth pregnancy, third baby.
I headed to the bathroom. Yes, I knew my bag of waters had broken, and today would be the day. Even
after two healthy deliveries I felt a pit of nervousness in my stomach. This baby was coming … and I
needed to do the dishes that had been left in the sink the night before. I mean, when I think of first-
world problems, it’s my damn dirty-dish-filled sink.
Oh, I need to text Hanna
I put a panty liner in my underwear – no, not even a real pad – and made my way to the kitchen. I was
half-way through cleaning the dishes when I realized I needed to tell someone that I was in labor. I
immediately picked up the phone and sent a text to my best friend of 16 years, my husband of 11 years.
No, of course I didn’t. I sent a text to my birth photographer Hanna. It was 7:52 a.m. THEN I sent a text
to Jake, my husband.
Because I was on a roll of doing things I didn’t really need to worry with, I picked up a few art projects
from a camp Kaege completed two years ago and snapped photos of them so I could throw them away.
One less thing. Back to Jake … I didn’t pick up the phone. Nope, just casually sent him another text
asking if he planned to come home because I could just keep him posted as he continued to work. He
was coming home. As Jake walked in the door Kaege and Lawson were waking up. I’m not sure who told
them I was in labor and I’m not really sure how they responded, but they had come home early from
visiting Grandma and Papou in Florida in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, so I know they were excited.
Make an appointment
Because we were old pros at this parenting thing, we had no clue how to proceed next. Birthing class,
hospital tours and asking practical questions are so first-time parent moves. Because I hate to talk on
the phone, Jake called Rex hospital and asked if we needed to head to the hospital. Did I mention I
hadn’t had a contraction yet? As he called, I realized that the panty liner was in fact NOT made for
preggo women whose waters were leaking. Who knew?
I headed to the bathroom while Jake called my OB’s office, as directed by the hospital. I could overhear
him talking as they told him I needed to make an appointment. WTF? An appointment? Because we all
knew the baby would wait. The receptionist asked him how long it would take to get there, and he told
them 15 minutes. By this time he was standing in front of me on the phone as I sat on the toilet – and I
was 100 percent certain, and unable to deny it any longer, that my bag of waters was leaking. You
wouldn’t know I have a master’s degree, huh?
He responded, “9:15 a.m.,” as to simultaneously confirm
with them and ask me. I asked him what time it was – it was 9 a.m. Oh, ok. I thought they were going to
throw a 3 p.m. appointment at me. The woman on the line told him that it was fine if we were late.
I put on one of my favorite maternity outfits, a gray flowered top and a GAP jean skirt. It was the last
time I’d be sporting a maternity outfit, so I was going out in style – and comfort. We walked out the
front door and Jake took the last photo with my boys in my arms and a baby in my belly. It was 9:11 a.m.
You’re gonna go see my wife
We made it to my OB’s office and into a room relatively quickly. I vaguely remember the drive and I
definitely don’t remember the walk into the building. At this time my contractions had started, but they
were soft, and felt like a warm heat moving across my abdomen. I remember looking and talking with
Jake in the room as we waited for a doctor, but I don’t recall what was said. I wish I did.
My favorite doctor, Dr. Brimmage, walked into the room. Damn. Guess he wouldn’t be delivering my
baby. He said he would do a quick cervix check and test me to see if my bag of waters was in fact
leaking. Ha. Not necessary. As he pulled back from the cervix check I could feel more fluid come out. I
waited until he was out of the room before I asked Jake to hand me a tissue to clean myself. I was
dilated 4 cm and 70 percent effaced.
A few short minutes later, Dr. Brimmage opened the door and said, “You’re gonna go see my wife.” She
was the doctor on call. He was on call tomorrow but said he didn’t think I’d make it that long. I did
wonder if I could will the labor to wait. I told Dr. Brimmage that his wife was the only doctor in the
practice that I hadn’t met but that I looked forward to meeting her.
What are they waiting for?
We walked out of the Women’s Center to take the short stroll on the sidewalk to the Birthing Center
and I asked Jake to stop and take a picture of us. It was 10:21 a.m. and it’s the last photo I have on my
phone of us before the baby’s birth.
We walked into the Birthing Center, went upstairs and then checked in at a desk as if we were getting a
hotel room. They sent us to a waiting area that was in a different location than we had been with
Lawson nearly seven years ago. There were three or four other couples there. I decided to wait, standing
against the wall across from the seated area. It was 10:29 a.m. and I informed Hanna – remember our
birth photographer and the first to know of my waters – that my contractions were present but not
consistent yet. I wanted to ask her to come to the hospital straightaway. My gut told me to ask her to
come, but I am a rule follower to the core, and she waits until active labor (5 cm and when contractions are consistent) so I hushed my gut
and followed the book.
As we stood waiting for a room, we began to send out texts to parents and close friends. We text our
parents. We reached out to Cindy and Carl and asked them to go be with our boys since we knew Jake
wouldn’t be home for a while. I told a great friend and my Pure Barre instructor Denise that baby was
As I began shooting out texts my body began shooting out consistent contractions. I grabbed onto the
bar along the wall and would bear down as they would come. Sweat began to pour out of my body and
while I didn’t regret selecting the outfit I did, I did regret that you could see the armpit sweat stains in
my shirt. Something that my mother-in-law so lovingly pointed out later. Thanks. Meanwhile, the other
preggo mamas, all sitting there dolled up with make-up and hair done so perfectly and contraction-less,
were called one-by-one back to their rooms. It was fine. I was ready to have the baby in the hallway.
Put the gown on and get in bed
I was finally called back to make my way to a birthing room. I hadn’t brought my bag because
remember, old pros here, so Jake had to go back to the car and get it.
A few days earlier I had bought nearly every sports bra Motherhood Maternity sold and I came prepared
to birth this baby in the most perfect, and elegant bra. To me it screamed bold and sexy. The very two
words I think of during my previous labor experiences. No. Not at all. But this one was different. It was
my last and it was going to be on digital “film,” so I was ready. And Jake went to go get this all-
But as he walked back in the birthing room, I was already in the dreaded hospital gown and the ugliest
color gripper socks that have been created. They were a vivid sky-ish blue with pure white grippers and
came up to mid-calf. My calves are huge. I was so glad these socks could highlight this feature of my
body. Who buys this stuff? Could they at least coordinate with the nasty smock I have to throw on? My
attire was now dictated by my nurse and even my wedding rings had to come off.
Because I had a C-section with Kaege [nearly 10 YEARS AGO] I was considered higher-risk and required
to be ready for an emergency C-section. If my VBAC with a 10-lbs. baby didn’t rupture my uterus, I think
this one would have been fine. I also was told to get in the hospital bed. There would be no birthing
upright for me.
Go get something to eat
The nurse began to do the normal check-in procedures – have me sign a few things that pre-registration
didn’t cover (I wasn’t completely unprepared for this experience), and some other things that obviously
are not important because I don’t remember them. She then started to put my IV into my left arm. I
warned her that my veins are close to the surface and they roll, but she still blew out my vein with her
first attempt. At that point the contractions were tough, but that hurt! With the IV successfully in, I
began my first (and what ended up being my only) bag of antibiotics for group b strep. This was the first
time I had tested positive, so it was a new experience for me.
As I sat, chained to a bed, attached to an IV, in an ugly outfit, I told Jake to run up to Chick-fil-A and get
some lunch. Because I had called him at work so early he didn’t have breakfast and I knew he’d get a
queasy stomach if he didn’t eat something. And we had been to that Chick-fil-A before for a couple of
lunch dates and it was a good one. He told me no but said he was going to go check the vending
machine. He wasn’t gone long before he returned with a Mountain Dew and a pack of nuts.
Before this pregnancy Mountain Dew was my drug of choice, now I could barely tolerate it so it wasn’t a
big deal. However, I told my mom at 12:11 p.m. that they wouldn’t let me drink anything, so I asked her
to drink a Chick-fil-A Coke for me. This baby loved fountain Coca-Cola from Chick-fil-A. Me? Not so
I guess I’m sitting up
It was 12:09 p.m. and I sent a text to Hanna to keep her informed. I could ask for an epidural at any time
but hadn’t yet. And they still hadn’t checked my cervix so I couldn’t update any further.
Up to this time I was having some strong, but manageable contractions. I’ve done Pure Barre for years
and the breathing techniques were allowing me to handle them relatively easy. For a moment I even
thought that maybe I could do this without an epidural, something I NEVER thought I could – or even
wanted – to do. I felt God with me, and I knew He was giving me His strength.
Within a blink my contractions became intense and Jake asked if I could get an epidural. He has always
been good at determining when I’ve had enough and speaking for me. The nurse said she was going to
ask for one but was waiting to hear back from the lab on my bloodwork. She then told me to lie back so
she could check my cervix. She did an aggressive check and as she pulled away from me, I could feel the
remainder of my bag of waters follow her. I remember giving Jake a side glance with my eyes, following
with my head. At that point, I knew. I just knew. It was 12:50 p.m. and I was still dilated to 4 cm.
Jake asked me if I wanted him to text Hanna and I told him, “Yes.”
He sent her a text:
“Jake here. "They’re about to do epidural. Contractions are very regular and about 2 min apart. 4cm”
I wanted to tell her to get in the car but, again, I was only at 4 cm. The pain from the contractions
increased ten-fold and the nurse began to prep me for an epidural so I would be ready when the
anesthesiologist came in the room. She asked if I could sit up and I then asked if I could remain laying
down. She said not for the epidural, and I said, “Well I guess I’m sitting up.”
Hanna Here, I wanted to also add that my response was “K, let her get the epi and see if she can rest a bit. Let me know when they check her again or if things start to progress after the epidural” From my side of things contractions were still spaced out and she was hoping to get settled and comfy in their room. But I was fully ready to walk out the door.
The next text I received was 6 minutes later “no time for epi, baby on the way” I was in the car in under 2 minutes (20 minutes away)
Get me a hairband
I somehow sat up. Maybe Jake and the nurse helped me, maybe I did it on my own. As the nurse pulled
my legs around to hang off the side of the bed a flash of heat surged through my body. It was if every
pore in my body has a sweat bead sitting on its surface. She was quick to notice and asked if I had a hair
band. I told Jake to get my purse and with my eyes closed, focusing on the contractions, I reached in
with my left hand to grab a spare that I kept in there. She came behind me and pulled my hair into a
ponytail to get it off my drenched body.
As another contraction hit, I pushed my palms down on each side of my hips as I lifted my torso. I told
the nurse, “I feel like I need to push.” It was 1:01 p.m. She quickly came around to face me and asked if I
could lean back so she could check me. I couldn’t. I felt stuck in the position. I just wanted the pain to
stop. I took a breath and leaned back slightly. She was probably pushing my body back too, but we’ll just
pretend I was compliant.
I kept my head down, but I could feel the room door open. That’s when the nurse said, “I feel the head.”
The anesthesiologist promptly made a U-turn out of the room and I fell to my left side on the bed. It was
1:03 p.m. I kept my legs open, feet pressed to the bed and I prepared for another contraction. In that
moment I was thankful that Hanna was not there because I was not handling this labor gracefully. It was
not bold. It was not empowering. It was fast. It was intense. And it was painful. In my head I told God
that I was not strong enough for this and I needed Him to completely take over. And He did.
She doesn’t know what she’s having
I think Jake was at my left side and the nurse to my right as she called for help. Within seconds the room
was flooded with people and someone pulled me down onto my back. A different nurse bent my right
knee and shifted it toward my ear. I’m not sure if I followed suit with my left or if another nurse was
there doing the same. With one push, the baby came out past its shoulders. The doctor – yes, there was
a doctor who came in to catch the baby. I had never met her and didn’t even really see her, but I didn’t
care. It could have been the janitor so long as this baby came out – told me that I didn’t have to wait for
another contraction to push. She said it looked pretty uncomfortable and a simple push would do it. I
wanted to wait for a contraction so I could rest, but it was uncomfortable, almost a burning sensation so
I took a breath and pushed the baby out. It was 1:07 p.m.
They immediately put the baby on my chest and covered it with the standard hospital baby blanket to
keep it warm. I put my arms around it but didn’t immediately focus on the baby. I was in shock from the
events of the past 17 minutes. I held onto the baby and took some deep breaths, in through my nose
and out through my mouth, to really take in what just happened. Seriously 17 minutes.
It felt like I had the baby on my chest for at least a minute or two (but a picture snapped by Jake proved
it was much shorter), when my nurse said, “She doesn’t know what the baby is.” Since I didn’t have the
opportunity to meet Dr. Briscoe before she ran in to catch it, she didn’t know that baby’s gender was a
surprise to me. In my head I answered, “It’s a boy,” envisioning a little penis under that hospital blanket.
“Oh,” replied Dr. Briscoe. “It’s a girl!”
Jake swears I spent the next few minutes repeating “shut-up.” I remember no such thing. As Dr. Briscoe
finished saying “It’s a girl,” my head snapped left to look at Jake for confirmation. I couldn’t believe it.
And even as I write this recollection a year later, I still can’t believe we have a baby girl in our family. I
came to the hospital with a little boy’s outfit for the baby to wear home. I came to the hospital with a
killer list of boy names in tow. But I left with the sweetest little girl I could have ever hoped and prayed
I pulled this new baby girl further up to my chest and tried to take in every moment. She was fiery and
loud. And I was elated.
I’m in a black polo
Even as things had progressed so quickly, Jake had kept Hanna informed and after a text at 1:01 p.m.
that baby was on its way, she got in her car and made it to the hospital lobby by 1:35 p.m. She had only
ever met with me so as Jake went downstairs to greet her, he identified himself with clothing as if they
were on a blind date. I’m sure Hanna is used to it, but I thought it was funny and still have the text
conversation between them on my phone.
Hanna came up to my room and immediately started taking pictures. I so wish she could have been
there to capture the labor and mostly the shock on my face, but I think she captured the joy I felt. I was
secretly trying not to be too excited because boys are great, too, but to know what it’s like to have both
sons and a daughter is something I never thought I’d be able to experience and it’s special.
Finishing a chapter
I love surprises. But it’s hard to surprise me. Somehow, I always manage to find out a surprise and ruin it
for myself. But not this time, God had the ultimate surprise planned for me. Our fertility journey has
been a long and difficult road for me. I have experienced pure joy and unconditional love, and I have
also experienced loss, pain, resentment and anger. But in the end His plan is always greater than mine.
The pain that may come from that plan may not be easy, but it’s always better than my own.
Unless God changes our hearts, Lainey has completed our family. It’s both saddening and refreshing.
While it’s difficult to leave this part of our journey behind, we are thankful for the six children God has
blessed us with – three that we enjoy each day and three we will meet someday. Until then, I’m going to
go give my babies another kiss.