January 17, 2017 ~ DeLand, FL ~ Birth Session: Lily Evangeline

Months before, when my best friend Emily wrote me asking me to shoot birth photos for her…
I burst into happy tears. It has been my dream for the past 2 years to shoot a birth, and it never happened.
So the last few months of 2016, I spent hours upon hours reading birth photographer tips,
watching birth videos on youtube (& bawling), staring at endless birth photos, and obsessing over what went in my go bag.

Because we were best friends, I was on call for what seemed like….forever. Instead of the usual 3-4 weeks,
I was on call for 5 weeks over Christmas. Every time the phone rang or a text buzzed late at night, my heart rate spiked.
I was in tune with every message and every feeling. I lost my mind, basically, for weeks.
But it seemed…..Lily would just take her time and enjoy her womb life.

Until one early Tuesday morning on January 17th at 5:55am when my phone rang,
and I sprang out of bed trying to find the light switch in the dark. It was Tricia, her doula & sister in law.
“Birth is imminent.” she said quietly. “Imminent?! HOW imminent.” I asked as I tried to regain air in my
lungs and remember if imminent meant what I thought it meant in 6th grade, which was “NOW”.

6:25am I’m out the door. I run to my car, throw all my gear and go bag in it, and hit the road.
6:30am, I’m about to pull onto the highway and I get a second call. My heart drops. “This can’t be good.”

It was Tricia again: “How fast can you get here? Karen (the midwife) just got here. She’s an 8(cm).”
Tears flooded my eyes as I resigned myself to the fact that I just got the call that I would miss Lily’s birth.
I told her “At the best….in 45 minutes. It takes me a full hour.” There was a little silence, then Tricia’s
steady voice: “Do what you have to do.” I flipped shut the phone, and floored it while praying:
“Dear Jesus. If You want me at Lily’s birth, please get me there in time. And please keep all the cops away
from this road because I’m going to do everything I can to get there. Please let me make it.”

And with that, I turned on my worship music….aaaaannnd broke every speed limit there was. 😉

I got there in 35 minutes flat.

1 hr and 10 minutes later, at 8:15am on her due date, Lily Evangeline Brower was born.
There was fog lifting off the lake and pink wisps in the brightening sky above. The whole world seemed hushed.
Lily Evangeline arrived with the dawn. Her Mother caught her and lifted her onto her chest
to the cheers of the 5 women in the room, and then….Lily let out her first strong cry.
She’ll be like her Mother, strong and brave, and beautiful. 

These are the pictures of her coming into the world……

I can’t put into words the honor and privilege it was to be present at Lily’s birth, or what it was like to
cheer on my best friend being so strong and courageous and determined amidst pain. It was magic and glory.
It was full of purpose, full of real life agony; beauty and tears and centuries of women cheering on their own,
hands reaching out, a baby truly being seen for the first time and rejoicing with the very first cry.
I’ve never been so confident in my life about doing something than photographing those hours of labor & birth.

But even more than that….a baby was born that day. Welcome to the world, Lily. You are so very loved.

– JM –

Midwife: Karen Kennedy of Agape Birth
Doula: Tricia Case