While You Were Deployed - A Military Birth Story
What makes someone decide to document a part of their lives in photographs? Outside of my professional application, I find myself pulling my camera out any time I see something that inspires me, when the light is really beautiful, or maybe when I visualize what I think would make an amazing composition. But for the most part, and one of the reasons I ever picked up my camera in the first place, is because I've noticed someone or something that captivates me. A story, in part or in whole, that moves my soul.
When it comes to births, more and more women are beginning to realize the power of their experiences, documenting them and communicating that power and inspiration by sharing their stories.
In Caite's case, her motivation for hiring a birth photographer will have us all grabbing the tissues. You'll see, just scroll down through her images, read her story from her perspective, and tell me you didn't shed a tear.
Caite contacted me several months in advance of her due date, expressing her wishes: "I’ve decided to document this birth, as it’s my fourth and final baby, and unfortunately my husband is deployed. We thought he may be able to come back for the birth, but it’s looking like he won't be able to." Caite had a track record of fast labors and deliveries, and wanted to make sure she hired an experienced birth photographer, capable of making it to the hospital at a moment's notice. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to document and share her beautiful and moving story. I'm not sure I'd have the fortitude and grace that Caite displayed, going through labor and delivery without her partner by her side, but getting to be witness to her strength moved me beyond words. She is a true testament to the strength of a woman, and a military spouse. Scroll down and see for yourself.
Can you share with our readers a little about your family? Where are you from originally? How did you and your partner meet and end up living in Groton, CT?
My husband and I are both originally from New England. We met in San Diego when we were both stationed there and working in the same clinic. Bill ended up getting orders to Groton, Connecticut, and we were thrilled to be assigned to a duty station back home.
What was your pregnancy with baby like? Did you suffer from any morning sickness? Have any strange cravings?
My pregnancy with Harry was a whirlwind. Finding out I was pregnant was a huge, but welcomed surprise. I suffered from horrible morning sickness and was on more nausea medications than I can count. I was so happy to reach my second trimester and have the morning sickness wear off. While I was pregnant with Harry my sweet tooth was out of control and I was constantly craving desserts and anything sweet I could get my hands on.
Which part of your pregnancy did you enjoy the most? And the least?
I enjoyed my second and third trimesters the most. I loved how I looked pregnant and I felt great. I adored sporting my baby bump and feeling all of his kicks, rolls, and punches. He was very active in the womb. I definitely did not enjoy my first trimester because I was so sick, and also the fear of not knowing if your baby is okay or not. As much as Harry was a surprise, once the idea of him was there, we did not want to lose him!
What made you decide to follow your specific birth plan?
I worked in labor and delivery and I have seen so many failed birth plans. Ultimately what was important to me was going to the hospital pregnant and leaving there healthy, with a happy healthy baby boy.
Also I knew I did not want to have an unmedicated delivery. I had done them twice with my last two pregnancies, and while it was a great experience, I knew that I just did not have the strength to have an unmedicated delivery. Especially knowing that my husband and biggest support would most likely not be by my side. I wanted to focus my strength on getting through the birth without him and not focusing on the pain my body was experiencing
Birth photography is becoming more and more common now, but there's still a lot of mystery surrounding it, and skepticism from women who may feel hesitant to have such intimate moments recorded by a photographer, and potentially someone who is essentially a stranger. Can you tell us a little about what made you decide to have Harry's birth photographed? And why you chose dacia vu photography to have that honor?
This was my fourth pregnancy and delivery. I have always wanted a birth photographer but could never really justify the expense, as much as I wanted to capture the beauty and memory of my babies entry into this world. We found out that I was pregnant with Harry and that Bill was deploying all within a two week period. Both were very shocking as we weren’t expecting to get pregnant and my husband is on shore duty in the military and not really supposed to be deploying. So with knowing he might not be present for the birth, and this probably being our last baby we knew we wanted to capture these precious moments. We chose Dacia to be our photographer because not only did her work speak for itself, but when we met her I felt a connection with her. Dacia has this calm and peaceful presence, and I knew I wanted a calm a peaceful delivery and it just seemed natural that she should be a part of it.
What was your birth experience like?
My birth experience was everything I could have hoped it would be, with the exception of Bill not being there. My amazing mother-in-law was there to support me, my mom and a great friend had stepped up to take care of my kids so I didn’t have to worry about them, and I had the most amazing birth team. My midwife Suzanne was everything you could hope for in a midwife, she held my hand as I got my epidural, and coached me through my calm and peaceful delivery. My nurse Laura was calm and so reassuring during my delivery as well, my room was calm and full of peace. It was the perfect environment to welcome my sweet boy into. Full of laughter and love.
If you could do it again, would you choose the same birth plan? Would you still choose to have it all recorded in photographs?
I loved my birth so much, that I want to do it again just to do it the same way. It was perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. And of course I would record it in photographs!
What's been the grossest thing you've experienced since becoming parents?
The grossest thing I’ve experienced since becoming a parent is just being covered in someone else’s bodily fluids. Harry certainly doesn’t hold back either. I’ve been covered in his spit-up, pee, and poop multiple times and since he’s my fourth it definitely scares me that I’m not even phased by it.
What's the sweetest, most memorable moment of parenthood for you so far?
Harrison is the perfect baby, he’s so sweet and beautiful and I often find myself just staring at him in awe. If I stare at him too long I do find myself tearing up. I love that my other children feel the same way, my oldest will often tell me “mama he’s so cute, I just can’t stop smiling” and in those moments my heart feels so absolutely full.
What was your first thought when you found out the sex of your baby?
At first I was a little sad, because I always wanted another daughter, but once we knew he was a boy it just felt so right. We’d have our one daughter and these three awesome little boys. And now that he’s here, it just feels like this was absolutely how our family is supposed to be and any other way would be wrong.
What tips or advice would you give other parents as they experience their first few weeks of parenting and welcoming their newborn into their family?
I would say just soak it all in. Enjoy those sleepy baby snuggles and sweet newborn noises, they don’t last long. The saying the days are long but the years are short could not be more true. How did you break the news to your partner that you were expecting a baby?
I called him at work and told him on the phone. To say he was shocked would be an understatement lol. I would probably do it a little differently if I could, but hey you live and you learn.
What feelings have come up during this pregnancy about your baby?
I was so nervous about running a home and keeping four young kids alive without my husband directly by my side. Now that Harry’s here everything is so much better than I could have imagined. It’s like he had always belonged here and we were just waiting for him to complete our family.
Welcome earth side Harrison! You are certainly loved!