I looked down at my phone, a message from Kylie told me what room she was in.
I stepped out of my car, grabbing my camera bag. I took a deep breath and visualised all my nervous energy flowing out through the souls of my feet, making room for calm. Not only was this Kylie’s first birth, it would be my first experience at a caesarean birth.
From the carpark I looked up at the hill in front of me, old brick buildings looking more like a hotel than a hospital. I felt like I had stepped back in time, so this was St John of God Mt Lawley.
I reached Kylie's room and was greeted by the biggest smiles. Excitement filled the room. Kylie laughed with her mum and cousin as she rubbed her belly. Soon she would transition into a mother.
I love documenting such moments because I never had this for myself.
No photos of my transition.
Regret is a powerful motive and it fills my soul to be able to capture these moments forever for other women on the cusp of motherhood.
What an honour it was to be invited to document such a transformative time. From Kylie's first email, to the moment she birthed her beautiful boy from her womb, to leaving her hospital room, surrounded by family gushing over this sweet new couple, you could tell just how much this little boy would be loved.
How did you find out about maternal-assisted caesareans (MAC)?
I was researching information on how to reduce risk and incidence of postnatal depression. I was informed by medical professionals that I was considered high risk due to family history and personal situation/social influences of being a single abandoned pregnant woman. As I was having a caesarean section, I wanted to contribute and help in the birth of my son as much as I could - to get as close to a natural birth as possible. I found online a few ladies chose this method to form a bond with baby more efficiently. This is what I needed as I feared there would be complications.
What was something you did to prepare for your MAC birth?
Practiced and reinacted the process with my obstetrician and anaesthetist - we practiced the putting on gloves, how I would place my hands on baby to lift him out - where and how I would position him on my chest after. I wanted to make sure I was able to follow through!
Tell me about your birth team and how they impacted your birth experience?
My obstetrician was very positive and supportive of my wish to be more involved in my birth - my anaesthetist was the same. The theatre staff were warm, positive and had good sense of humour...they even allowed me to play R&B music in the theatre. I felt very supported and safe. Lots of smiling confident people that reassured me everything was going to be ok.
My mum was my birth partner as my ex was no longer around. She is also a qualified theatre nurse so was handy to have around. She focused on me completely and kept me calm as I was nervous about the operation.
What are some of the details that you can remember about the operating room?
It was very light and bright and lots of theatre staff involved. It was clean and immaculate and I felt very safe as everyone was organised and had a role to play.
Did you feel anxious? Describe what helped you in those moments.
I felt excited at first with some anxiety - I guess it was the fear of the unknown being my first birth and baby. I had my mum there with me the whole time and as she is a qualified theatre nurse - I knew she was the best support person I could ever ask for. I felt at ease when I looked at her. She helped me with my breathing and remaining calm. The peak of my panic started when I could no longer move my legs...that feeling of being out of control. I had to breathe and remain calm and focus on the arrival of my son and how I was going to pull him out!
What were you most excited about as you got closer to catching your baby?
I was so excited about seeing his little face! Meeting this little guy that’s been kicking me so much. After everything I had been through whilst pregnant with him, I wanted so badly to hold him in my arms and welcome him into the world.
Was your experience as you had thought it would be or different?
It was all I thought it would be and more! It was the best experience of my life! I would definitely do a MAC birth again, it was so important for my bonding. I feel very close to my son and so glad I was involved in his birth in some way.
What was the most surprising part?
How light he was - he was as light as a feather to me as I pulled him out. He didn’t make a lot of noise - as he lay on my chest he was quiet, a little too quiet so after a few moments he was reviewed by the paediatrician – that’s when I heard him cry!
Describe the feeling when you brought your baby to your chest?
The overwhelming feeling of love was instant. Pride. Shock! And awe. He was finally here earth side. He was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t believe I made him! It was instant unconditional love.
What were some of your reactions to seeing your gallery?
Just absolute amazement - and it helped me remember little things like when my sons hand touched my lips, when I looked at my mother with some concern. I was in awe of the surgical photos - I was able to see a side of the birth that was visibly hidden at the time.
Was there something in particular that stood out to you or surprised you?
Yes - after my son was in my arms - I was no longer scared of the surgery or concerned of my numb legs - it was all about him and I knew my life had just changed forever for the better. I didn’t know I could love so completely till that moment.
If you're interested in having your birth journey documented, you can get in touch with me here or if you're still unsure and have some questions, just do the same and ask away – can’t wait to hear from you!