The Birth of Raleigh - Fairbanks Birth Photographer

As I have written in recent entries, I am way behind on blogging. Way. And I’ve found myself in the quintessential procrastinator’s bind with this story: I wanted to sit on this birth story until I had the time and mental peace of mind to do it justice. But at the same time, I can’t justify sitting on it any longer because it’s too beautiful not to share.

So, here we are!

I was thrilled when Heather asked me to document the story of her third child’s birth. Heather and her husband Ben are in Fairbanks with the military, and this birth held a lot of weight for them: Ben had been deployed for the birth of their second child, and he was scheduled to deploy again just a few weeks after her due date with this baby. They were so looking forward to experiencing this birth and welcoming their baby boy earthside together.

Heather had a history of fairly fast labors, so I was posed to jump on my phone pretty much every second of every day leading up to her EDD. After one false alarm, early one morning the real deal arrived and we all flew into action. I joined Heather and Ben at Bassett Army Community Hospital. Though it soon became clear that Heather wouldn’t be able to have the water birth she had hoped for (the tub simply wasn’t available that day), she was able to rely on her plan for a natural birth and the hypnobirth techniques she had studied.

The connection between Heather and Ben was an amazing thing to watch. I have to tell you, it broke my heart into a million pieces – in the best possible way – to hear Heather whisper, “I’m so glad you’re here” to Ben in between contractions. They danced through labor together, literally: Ben took Heather’s lead and supported her while they swayed and leaned into the intensity of her surges. The staff at the hospital was amazingly supportive and did their best to provide the experience Heather wanted, offering her the shower (and even preparing to catch a baby in there, should it be necessary!) so she could have the relief of the water. Eventually, she ended up back in bed, and I watched her enter the “trance” so often described in hypnobirthing. She completely relaxed her body, her hands open and loose, and let transition wash over her. There’s simply no way to do it justice with words.

I typed a few notes on my phone during the quiet moments about what I wanted to write about this birth, and the main musing I had was that it’s really no mystery why the terminology and visual imagery of goddess gets used so frequently in the realm of birth. Heather was simply a goddess, radiant through the steepest climes. It was incredible to witness, and again grounded me in what an honor it is to be able to attend births.

And then, he was here. Raleigh was born with a sweet squawking cry. There was meconium in the amniotic fluid, so he had a quick little exam before he was received into the loving arms of his parents, but once he was there, it was clear their hearts were full.

Oh, Raleigh. I get a little choked up going back through these images!