Demara’s Birth Story
I could start this birth story from the very beginning, when Tams and I met over FaceTime to see if I was a good match as a photographer and videographer, to share her planned home birth that was a few months away. I think we did click. We happened to meet in person at a community event and I thought she was the most beautiful person I’ve seen. Inside and out.
Fast forward to July 23rd when I learned she had a health issue that was threatening her home birth plans. But she was willing to readjust her sails and let the wind blow the way it was blowing. She was very thoughtful when updating me with her health reports. We were in touch. I tried my best to keep her confident that I was going to do anything in my power to share her birth no matter what.
One of our conversations was actually about her being concerned about meant how could I possibly handle a traumatic situation during labor, birth or after. I repeat: she was worried about me. She was the one with the uncertainty, with the fears (although I never saw a more calmed and strong person) and she wanted to let me know that if I was not ready to experience a traumatic situation, I was free to turn around and leave.
She got admitted at the hospital one day in September. She kept sending me updates. I was currently at a home birth, while being in contact with her. Induction started and I tried to reach out to 2 of my photographer back ups but none of them could make it. I was starting to think that I was going to fail Tams. Her last baby, after everything she had been through and I wasn’t going to be there. I was crushed.
The birth I was at went perfectly fine and about 2 hours after that last text with Tams, I reached out to see how things were, expecting an answer like “Baby is here!”. To my surprise, she texted back and said “Laboring”. So I knew I had to run.
Home birth mom understood completely that I had to leave and I run to my car to drive 35 minutes and try to make it in time. Tams’ Doula, Lyanne, texted me and said that she was at 8cm and taking a nap “for the big push”. I felt a little hope: I might get there in time!
I got to the hospital at 5 am, ran through the hallways, got to admission and almost threw my ID at the person at the desk. “She’s pushing!” I said, trying to tell them to admit me faster. I was so close to not-fail my client!
Got in the room and Tams was peacefully resting in her bed, while the room had dimmed lights, soft music, beautiful fragrance and some objects that were important to them: pieces of beautiful fabrics hanging from the doors, stones, some objects (she mentioned that represented their ancestors) and essential oils. That’s when I knew that, even though she couldn’t have a home birth, she was making that room look as home-y as possible. One thing that surprised me in the best way possible was that she was herself. Her head wrap, jewelry, her own gown, her necklace, everything was there.
Demaryl (her amazing partner) rested on the couch and Leanne stood right next to her, comforting, giving her ice packs, walking with her to the bathroom. Tams looked like she was in pain. She “felt like sweating” when she wasn’t. The magnesium on her IV was making her feel this way. From here it was almost like a puzzle, where blood sugar, blood pressure and Pitocin were the pieces that needed to fit in a perfect way. And they weren’t. When a contraction hit, she would talk to her baby and say “Baby, come down. That’s the way. Baby down, please!”
Time went by and baby wasn’t really coming. I started to realize that me speeding through the freeway and the hospital hallways was in vain. But I was completely happy to be there.
It was something amazing to watch: at times she was having some extremely intense contractions, at other times, she was just relaxing, chatting with us, dancing around and smiling. Always smiling. Her body didn’t really know how or when to produce the necessary hormones, so everything was up to that beeping machine that gave her lots and lots of fluids into her body. One thing that was for sure, she was constantly advocating for herself. She made very clear that if something happened after birth (and things like seizures and strokes were mentioned), she wanted baby to drink the donated breastmilk she had brought with her and which was in the refrigerator. She was determined but kind. She never forgot to say “thank you” to any person of the team or the hospital staff.
Time was still going by. Around 1 pm she was off of the Pitocin so she had time to be in bed and just relax while waiting for natural waves to kick in. And then something happened that I will always remember, for the rest of my days: we had a conversation about birth work, immigration, kids, husbands, Wisconsin, owning a business and much more. I thought she was such a wise woman and I engraved every one of her words in me.
A little later she decided to have her bag of waters ruptured and start Pitocin again to see if things would finally progress to bring her baby earth side.
While Pitocin kicked in, I played her and Lyanne some Zumba music and they danced. The room was filled with joy and laughter. We joked about Demaryl being a girl’s dad.
A little later, things started to get really intense. The uterine waves kept coming and coming, each time in a more intense way. Demaryl held her and gave her amazing hip squeezes while Lyanne held her hands, gave her cold towels and pointed a hand fan to her face.
I heard a growl. That growling that tells you the body is pushing. She told me in a whisper that baby was coming and I called the medical staff in. The male attending OB stood on the side while letting the female resident deliver the baby. Tams was on her feet, by the side of the bed and things were happening. The resident kept asking her to climb to the bed but Tams was out of this world, busy bringing life. The third time the resident ask her to move to the bed, I just told her “She’s having the baby now, she’s not going anywhere”. And in one big push, baby was here. Crying, like the rest of us.
Tams immediately took off her gown and put baby skin to skin. She was relieved, happy and alive. Things in the room where moving fast, but she was just soaking everything in and enjoying the miracle she just performed.
She laid on the bed to birth the placenta, and that’s when it hit her: she was ok. “You’re ok Tams. You’re alive, baby is perfect, you don’t have a scratch” I told her. “I’m ok?” She started crying, letting every fear go. Lyanne cried, Demaryl cried, I cried. Everything was perfect. Baby cried too, but Tams comforted her saying “Peace, peace”. And baby sooth, feeling that peace.
While baby latched, she noticed she produced colostrum and I could tell she was extremely grateful to her body that wasn’t failing her. She could feed her baby with her golden liquid.
So after 12 hours of that race through empty hospital hallways, I went home. But I was a different person. I had experienced something unique. A powerful woman, an amazing birth team, a body that even with challenges did everything it had to do: bring to this side of the skin a beautiful baby girl.