The first time Shannon Waters gave birth six years ago was smooth sailing.
The home birth was quiet, and Waters, a physician in British Columbia, was surrounded by her husband and midwife, The Huffington Post reported. Waters dreamt of having a similar experience the second time around.
Instead, her water broke as she lied in bed with her 6-year-old daughter, reading her a bedtime story.
“All of a sudden, the blankets were wet. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, what happened?’” she said.
When Waters saw pink in the liquid, she realized she needed to get to the hospital right away.
Even though Waters didn’t have the birthing plan she’d hoped for, she still ended up with a 5-pound healthy, happy newborn who she and her husband named Atira.
British Columbia-based birth and family photographer Ashley Marston captured raw images that show Waters as she went into labor early and unexpectedly.
“It’s empowering to see these,” Waters said, “and know that I did everything I could at that time to help bring our girl into the world.”
Waters described the onset of her labor as “chaotic.” Since she was delivering so early, she had to be transported to a different hospital. Also, the couple had their daughter in tow, who immediately fell asleep while Waters was being checked out in the assessment room.
Despite the uncertainty that comes with delivering early, Waters soon understood that everything may be happening for a reason.
“I was scared about going into labor early, but it turned out that my cousin, who is a paramedic, was my driver in the ambulance to the other hospital,” she said. “…That immediately made me feel a lot better, like, this may be happening in a way I didn’t plan, but maybe we’re being watched out for.
Things in the delivery room got “really intense,” Waters said. But, despite the more than a dozen people in the room, she decided to “completely” focus on her husband.
“I couldn’t have told you if anyone else was in the room,” she said.
Once she was fully dilated, the labor got really “painful” and she wasn’t sure how she was going to make it through.
“I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed, like I couldn’t do it,” Waters said. “…But then I was like, ‘OK Shannon, get a hold of yourself.’ It was happening whether I was ready or not.”
Little Atira came “after about five or six pushes,” Waters said. The couple had decided to keep the sex of the baby a mystery, so it was a “total surprise” when they found out they were parents to another daughter.
The doctors immediately took Atira to the NICU, since she was born premature.
“I got a chance to hold her for like a minute before they asked the pediatrics team to take her and check her.”
Even though Waters was worried, she said she tried to stay calm because Atira looked good when she held her and she knew they were in a “good hospital.”
About a half an hour later, Waters was able to see her newborn again.
“It was an incredibly emotional moment when I saw her in the NICU, which I think you can see in Ashley’s photos,” she said. “I’d just gone through this extremely intense experience—my water broke around 8:30 at night, and I think the baby was born a little after 3 a.m.—and then I saw her in an isolette.”
But, Atira was healthy. She spent about two more weeks in the NICU before she was able to go home.
Waters said she is “so grateful” that Marston documented the birth.
“It all happened so fast and seeing these photos has been incredibly healing for me, my husband and my daughter who had hoped to be there, but couldn’t be,” she said.
Even though it’s been more than four months since she gave birth, looking at the photos bring her back to that fateful day.
“Even telling this story now, four months later, the intensity of the experience has faded a little bit,” she said. “But when I look at these photos, I’m immediately back there. It’s empowering to see these and know that I did everything I could at that time to help bring our girl into the world. I was strong and it all turned out OK.”
Atira’s name means “earth mother,” Waters said, adding that it “definitely fits her personality.”
“She smiles and laughs a lot, especially with her doting older sister,” Waters said.
One of the best parts? The couple’s new “sweetheart” “hardly cries,” Waters said.
“We are very blessed,” the now-mother of two said.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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