Birth: Baby Atlee

"Friends gather here" hung above the entrance to the room in which Ryann bravely delivered baby Atlee, and it so well described the atmosphere of the night. As Todd and Ryann waited for their baby girl to make her arrival, some of their closest friends and family gathered around to encourage them, help them and celebrate with them once she arrived.

Ryann texted me around 8:30 Wednesday evening saying it was time. I arrived around 9:45 as they were filling the birth pool with hot water. Watching Ryann labor was beautiful. She calmly endured contraction after contraction, in between enjoying the jokes and stories her friends and family shared. I remember her saying they were a good distraction from the pain, and they were by her side the entire night.

Things didn't go as quickly as Ryann had hoped, as her previous deliveries (Atlee is #4) had gone fairly quickly. But Ryann was patient and strong. Around 5 a.m., things started progressing much more quickly. At 5:49 that morning, Miss Atlee entered the world with a full head of dark hair. She was perfect! Here's a little about the night from Ryann's point of view:

"We were pretty certain that we wouldn't make it to April, but clearly our little girl had a plan of her own. After months of hoping she would stay put just one more day, she arrived exactly 5 hours and 50 minutes late for her daddy's birthday. Dare I say she gets that from me?

It was tax day 2015. The day started like each of the days before, except I just felt like today had to be the day. I'd begrudgingly gotten ready for work. But I wasn't going to wear dress clothes, it was going to be a comfy kind of day. Because after all, I was 40 weeks pregnant ... and still pregnant, which, for me, was typical. In two of my last three pregnancies this was how it went. I woke up the morning of my due date and felt completely normal, yet I also felt a strange sense of impatience and stranger still a calm. It was like my body and my spirit knew today would be the day even if my head was getting the best of me.

I sat and finished what I was determined would be my last project while listening to Motown Pandora and bouncing on a large medicine ball. At the same time, I was timing contractions and intermittently taking walks around the Crossroads District and making calls to my midwife, father, and husband to make sure they knew things were finally happening. My two best friends had already been in the loop and knew things were happening and what to do when things got going. After hours of my coworkers asking if I thought I should leave, I reluctantly clocked out from my 8-hour shift at 4 p.m. (if I was still pregnant, why not keep working?) and headed home.

Our gracious roommates were keeping their two nieces and one nephew on top of our normal shared crew of five. So the house was alive with the buzzing of children and excitement of possibility. I finally decided to shower and try to test out the consistency of my contractions. Sure enough, after about 30+ minutes of hot water running over me and being calm, the contractions just kept coming. Around 7 p.m., I conceded and called our midwife and told her she should probably make her way over just for good measure. My best friend and roommate had cleared out our dining room for the birth pool and nervously cleaned in preparation for the birth.

When our midwife got to the house, we sat and chatted, and she observed me and my demeanor and how I handled the contractions. Around 9 p.m., we decided that it might be a little while yet as I was only dilated to maybe a 5. As the night wore on, I was surrounded by all the people I love the most: My very best friends, my husband and kids, and my family. At one point, the midwife came up to me and looked slightly concerned and asked "Do you want everyone here? Do you want the lights off? The music turned down?" I smiled at her slightly confused, "No," I responded, "it helps calm me. Their presence is exactly what I need." And it was true. Enjoying the excitement of the moment and soaking in each memory with everyone who was excitedly waiting for our sweet little girl was, for me, perfect.

The night wore on and my patience was being tested by my body and my sweet little girl. They were working perfectly together, but I was ready now. 12 a.m., 1 a.m., 2 a.m. passed, all with tolerable, very mild contractions and slow progression. By 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. I was tired, achy, and starting to wonder if she was, in fact, going to come. Then 5 a.m. came and the contractions had become intense. Deep-breathing, no-talking, struggling-to-concentrate intense. The birth pool became my sanctuary. Its warm water surrounded me and made my body seem weightless.

My husband got into the pool with me. Once I finally found a position that made me comfortable, the urge to push took over. One push, POP! ... my water broke. It is the strangest sensation when you're already submerged in water. Following the pop was a contraction that made me lose all sense of focus and calm. It was painful. I struggled to regain my focus and any sort of calm. All I could muster in that moment was the want to meet the little one I had dreamed of and for her to be OUT. Push two, her head ... A pain like I can't describe while waiting for a third contraction to find relief. Push three. Our world shifted. And in my arms was a beautiful little girl—the little girl we'd waited 9 long months for. Atlee Wynn had finally come earthside at 5:49 a.m. on April 16 to complete our family of now 6 in the comfort and love of our home. Her timing was her own and it has been every day since. She picked her own birthday just as I wanted her to. But she also honored and blessed us beyond measure by picking us to be her family."

Expecting a baby? Births are one of my favorite things to photograph, so please contact me if you're interested. I also do Fresh 48 and newborn sessions if that's more your style, too!