Life brings a certain amount of uncertainty. Plans can be made and plans can be changed. The plan was to photograph Austin’s birth on July 9 when his mommy was to have a c-section. But on Sunday, May 29 both those plans changed.
I first met Tess many years ago when her sister became college roommates with my oldest daughter, Jessica. Tess, like her sister, was very short with deep black curly hair. Over the course of the next decade, I would see Tess from time to time, including at the birth of her first son in September of 2014. Although Tess had planned for a vaginal birth, her little guy wasn’t having it and Aiden was born via cesarean.
On Saturday, May 28 Tess was experiencing what she hoped was Braxton Hicks but when the pain didn’t subside, Tess’s husband decided to take her to the hospital to be checked. Sure enough Tess was in labor, despite it was only her 34th week. The hospital she was suppose to deliver at, didn’t have a Level 1 NICU, and so they transported her to another hospital, where Tess would be having a vaginal birth.
When I arrived at 2pm, Tess was already at 10 cm., but had yet start to push. They were allowing the baby to move further into the birth canal before having her push. Finally at about 3:20pm, it was time and for the next 100 plus minutes, Tess would push until at 4:59 p.m., Austin was born.
For awhile, Tess didn’t believe she would be strong enough to push Austin out. As she pushed through three counts of ten, Tess struggled to push for such long periods. As her husband counted down from ten, I purposely whispered one ahead of him , joking if God had given us only nine fingers, we would be only counting to nine. Tess didn’t seem to mind pushing for shorter counts.
When the moments of those final pushes arrived, the room instantly became overran by hospital staff, including a resident doctor, a obgyn, a pediatrician, a respiratory therapist, and nursing staff. Austin appeared limp with his chest caving in on himself and the respiratory therapist, pediatrician, and nurses worked on him for several minutes before giving mom a quick glance of her new five pound six ounce baby and rushing him to the NICU.
Over the course of the next several hours, Austin would begin to breath room air and prove himself to be much stronger than many 34 week infants. Tess was able to feed him get some skin to skin time with him. When I left Cleveland, it appeared Austin wouldn’t be needing to stay as long as once thought and in short time would be able to join mom, dad, and big brother at home.