The most special invitation
Not many people invite their business partner along when they are giving birth.. but photographers know what their priorities are!
It was my great joy to attend the arrival of baby Agatha, it's amazing to be present at any birth and your friend's birth is even more special. I work with Aurelie on our sister photography business, Playground Portraits, providing natural school photography across the north-west.
When Aurelie told me that her previous labour had been around 2 hours long, we both knew that it was quite possible I might miss the whole thing. I'm about 20 minutes drive from Stepping Hill Hospital, where she was to have the baby, so Aurelie was clear we would just "wait and see" what happened.. and how fast!
A few days before due date, on 31 January, Aurelie was booked for an induction due to some minor concerns about reduced movements. With induction imminent, I arrived at the hospital and settled myself in the hospital cafe with my laptop, at about 6pm. But as baby was found to have a high heart rate the doctors weren't keen to induce yet. Hours passed waiting for the heart rate to settle down and hoping that contractions would start naturally.
They called their older children, Iris and Callum, to update them. "Have you had the baby yet?" they asked. Most urgently they wanted to know "Will we be going to school tomorrow?"
Anticipating that nothing would happen tonight Aurelie and husband Ruairi invited me up to the room to chat awhile before I went back home for the night. The midwives were very busy with other births, baby was being monitored and Aurelie was feeling tired and frustrated. She just wanted to go home and sleep.
Then at around midnight when I was getting prepared to go home, the midwives came announcing that they would start the induction. But after doing an examination and starting with the Prostaglandin, the midwife seemed doubtful anything would happen for a long while yet. We agreed that I would go home, with my phone next to me ready for a call from Ruairi if anything developed.
I was back in bed at about 2.30am. When I woke at 6.30am I found a text Aurelie had sent 15 minutes earlier "Things are happening we are moving to the labour room".
I was in my car straight away driving back to the hospital. As I wasn't getting regular updates I wasn't sure whether we were still hours away, or whether birth was imminent so I rushed as quickly as possible, without breaking any motoring laws and also buying a parking ticket.
Big mistake. I bought my parking ticket at 7:01am, and then as I rushed into the labour room baby had just arrived.
She had been born at 7:03am, probably whilst I was running up the stairs.
Well, we did say that it was likely I would miss it. But I didn't expect to miss it by only a few minutes!
With the most delicate feminine little face, here is Baby Agatha. Agatha's name had come to Aurelie in a dream whilst she was pregnant, back when she didn't even know she was having a girl.
She did protest about being taken away from mummy, but was very settled with baby, and unusually strong, holding her head up and looking around like a much older baby. Mummy and daddy were both clearly smitten.
Meanwhile, as they woke up at home, Iris and Callum were told by their grandmother that their baby sister had arrived. Keen to meet Agatha and also miss some school, they were brought over to the hospital. Aurelie couldn't wait to share Agatha with them and see the look on their faces.
Capturing special moments like this are one of the biggest joys of family photography. When Iris and Callum arrived and met Agatha for the first time, they were both full of questions and also concern for mummy. Big brother Callum, seemed especially enthralled, stroking Agatha's hair and examining at her tiny hands. I can see he will be quietly looking out for her for years to come.