In the wee hours of the night I got the call that Chiara was in labor. Things were progressing gradually and her incredible doula/sister had a feeling baby would be there soon. When I arrived at the farm I was overcome by the beautiful setting. The sun still hadn’t risen but you could hear the early morning birds and feel the cold morning chill. When I entered the farm house I was hit with the incredible smell of homemade soap, wall of family photos and only the faint sounds of Chiara progressing beautifully through labor.
The room was in almost complete darkness as Russell and Chiara held one another and Johanna (sister/doula of Loving Hands Doula Care) constantly sat by their side. Along with the 4 of us we had present Chiara’s mom (also a practicing hospital midwife) and Deb Fiore and her team from Carrboro Midwiffery. Basically it was a house full of birth loving strong women, Russell who was literally one of the most supportive husbands around and curious cats! The birth sisterhood energy in the room though was palpable!
Soon after I arrived Chiara decided it was time to get into the pool. She worked gracefully and intensely for several hours as the sunlight spilled into the space. Contractions started to slow down though so she was encouraged to get up and move around a little. Chiara had talked about how much she wanted to labor outside and have photos outside. I was so excited when the weather was warm enough and perfect for her to take multiple strolls all over the property.
When baby was still not descending in the late afternoon it was time for rest, get off her feet and try and let her body relax for the hard pushing to come. She had been trying so many different positions and movements over the last 20 hours that her body needed to just restore. All of her support women and me just sat about quietly and shared stories on the porch swing and waited.
It felt like a very long day and I know Chiara was feeling discouraged and exhausted. She was doing absolutely everything she possibly could with strength and peace but that baby was just in the wrong position (though we didn’t fully know it at the time) There are some births that just weigh heavily on your heart. Chiara’s journey was definitely one of them. Because after more than 40 hours of labor (I was present for about 30) it was decided baby’s position was longer head down. Mom had to make the very hard decision to go to the hospital to get checked, knowing that most likely she would be sent for an emergency Caesarean upon arrival. After all this planning and hope for a beautiful farm homebirth I think everyone felt that loss for Chiara. Thankfully everyone was healthy and little Eve was born in the early hours of the next morning.
I was personally unable to be in the OR for this little one’s birth, it felt emotional for me that we had come this far and I was having to go home. But at the same time I knew Chiara and Russel needed to process this for themselves, surrounded by the support of their amazing doula and family.
I was able to revisit them together on the farm a few weeks later. I wanted to capture a moment for them reminiscent of their birth story. So we did a little recreation of the “baby being placed on your chest” moment. I got to meet baby Eve, see her little curls and celebrate this new life with her and her beautiful strong parents.
I will always keep a special place in my heart for this story, some of my favorite images I’ve ever taken are from this birth but mostly because that day is one I’ll never forget. There was something about the beauty in her power the sisterhood peacefulness and the shared emotion of waiting that keeps me coming back. I just love that in birth, I know I will always learn something from the experience. I’m constantly growing and receiving the knowledge of the women and mothers who have gone before us, who have poured out their wisdom so that we can know the beauty and power in the way they bring life into the world.