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The day I caught a baby

Let start at the very beginning.

Mom was definitely not expecting this baby to come 3 weeks before their estimated date of birth. But as we all know, babies always have different plans.

Dad texted me at 3am that her water was broken. I didn't hear my phone as I wasn't supposed to be "on call"yet, so I -first panicked- read the text at 7 am when I woke up and asked him how things were, fearing he would say "We're all good, baby is here". But luckily, he just mentioned they were ok, still pregnant and the midwife would be there to check on them. I figured it was about to be go time, specially because I was about 1 hour away from them.

I took a shower, arranged child care, packed some snacks and left.

I got to their house (it was a planned home birth in the beautiful Chicago) and found Dad, toddler brother and Mom just chilling. But every time a contraction hit, she got a very intense feeling and pain on her bottom. I knew she was in labor, but also she was nervous about how unpredictable birth can be. (I gotta mention, with her first son, she got to 6 cm without even noticing, so the fact she was nervous had a reason).

The contractions were about 10 minutes apart, but very intense. And even when I was only hired to be a photographer/videographer, I decided to wear my Doula hat and help mom handle them. You know, nerves and anxiety during labor make everything more painful and hard to handle, so a comb and a TENS unit came out of my Doula bag (which I had luckily in my car) and we started working as a team.

We talked, shared stories and laughed. Dad asked me what had been the most hectic birth I ever attended and, little did I know, it was gonna be theirs.

Dad kept talking to the midwives and they were aware of the frequency of the contractions, which didn't sound so "labor-y". Every 10, 12, 15, 8 minutes.

I decided to step out for a bit, give them some space, get their toddler to sleep and just relax to get the oxytocin flowing. So I went to grab some lunch and came back about 15 minutes later and parked outside their house, just in case.

Dad called me about 10 minutes after I got there and told me Mom wanted to go to the hospital, she wasn't handling pain well and the intensity of the contractions was very hard to manage. I went upstairs and found Mom in a lot of pain, but also very determined to go to the hospital. The sounds she made reminded me of that last stage of labor where you *feel* like you can't do it but you're about to have your baby. So I knew it was showtime. I told her that we weren't gonna make it to the hospital so we had to take action right away and just wait for the ambulance. Calling 911 was a good idea anyways, since the baby was coming and if they needed help, I wasn't qualified to do so. Calling the midwife was urgent, so I Facetimed them. Now I had to tell Mom that baby was coming and if she let me, I was gonna help her. Starting by taking off her pants and Depends and letting her know she was ok, she was safe, baby wanted to meet her and I was with her. Then I went down to unlock the door so the paramedics could come up to the 2nd floor where we were.

Dad was handling FaceTime in two different phones, while holding his toddler in one arm and holding Mom's hand with the other. And he was panicking, obviously.

I got down on my knees (did I mention I was 33 weeks pregnant myself when this happened?) and started talking to Mom as calmed as possible, letting her know she was safe and baby was almost here.

Baby started crowning as I held a towel to their head (of course I didn't have gloves) and waited for them to emerge, I heard the sirens and the paramedics coming through the door. I told them to come up and as soon as they were there, baby was born. I gave them space to work, but stayed close to mom as we heard baby crying and told her baby was fine and so was she. I gave her water, told her how much of a badass she was and held her, as everything else around her was crazy. The EMT guys were not really trained to handle the situation (I now think a big part of their training should be exactly this type of event). I knew things like pulling the placenta out or clamping the cord weren't supposed to happen, so I told them that. I asked Dad if he was ok. Holding a toddler while being about to pass out is not a good thing. He was fine, but juggling the desire of mom to go to the hospital anyways, the midwives on the phone as they were racing to get there and the fact he had just experienced the most incredible -and hectic- birth.

Mom decided to go to the hospital anyways, enough rush for a day. I have to say, she was in awe, she was relieved, and she was surprised that her baby was another boy when she thought it was going to be a girl.

I picked the placenta from the floor, put it in a bag and gave it to the first responders in case they needed it at the hospital.

And so they went and about an hour after, Dad called me, still in shock but grateful about his son and girlfriend being safe.

I believe in "meant to be" and this was a clear example of that. I was meant to be there. I was so happy to have witnessed the miracle once again and this time, have helped a Mom trust her body to birth her baby. I felt like all of this situation is yet again a proof that babies are caught, not delivered.

A few days after birth I got this message:

"Good morning Jacinta, hope all is well. I just wanted to say thank you and God bless you that you were here with us. If it wasn't for you, I don't know what I would've done. It was truly a blessing in disguise that we hired you. But I have a question: I was wondering if you were willing to take a picture with our newest member of the family, to show him in the future who caught him like a baseball and who was there"

I said yes.

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