Paige texted me on Wednesday November 1st at 5:30, just to let me know she was having some contractions, but that it could totally fizzle out and not to expect anything too soon. So I got my gear ready and went on with the evening, texting back and forth with my friend who I’ve seen growing this little being for the past 41 weeks.
I didn’t sleep very well, periodically checking my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed a text. I learned the next day, Paige and Bret also did not sleep well, as her contractions began to come closer together and then further apart throughout Thursday morning. I came by around 1:30 PM, in between shoots, to see how things were progressing and grab some shots of the scene. They had been taking walks and Bret had been rubbing her back as she utilized the birthing ball. At this point, she had been experiencing contractions off and on for over 24 hours. Her plan was to labor at home as long as possible, and to give birth totally naturally at the hospital in Port Charlotte.
At around 4:15 PM they texted me and said they were heading out to the hospital in a few, which was great because I was already down south, so I headed straight there. An hour later Paige texted that Bret forgot the hospital bag, and asked if I could grab it on my way down. But I was already in the hospital parking lot, so I asked my wife to grab it after work and bring it to us.
I ran into them in the lobby, where Paige was wheelchair bound, breathing low and very calm. A nurse stopped me and asked if I was planning on being in the room when Paige gave birth. I replied, yes of course, and she sternly warned me that I should not be there. That I, myself, would go into labor by witnessing this event. The three of us caught up with Laura, their incredible doula, and went to check-in. After Bret gave the attendant Paige’s information (first, he gave them his own personal information), we rolled up to the second floor. I think it was right around 6:00 PM.
Paige immediately disrobed and was gowned. The medical team checked her at 6 cm. She laid in the bed and labored hard with her team of Bret and Laura. The medical staff agreed to take her off the constant monitoring and Laura suggested that she move out of the bed. Paige told me later that this idea sounded terrible, as the pain was so great, and she did not wish to move. But she did get up, and hung on Bret through each contraction. Maybe around 6:30 or so she announced she had to use the restroom and sauntered into the private area. Bret followed and I observed the hospital room. Laura had gone to get some vitamin water for Paige and noticed the small pool of fluid on the floor. She yelled to her, “Did your water break!?” and as Paige casually came out of the restroom, she said “Yeah.”
Bret grabbed a birthing ball from the selection in the bathroom, and Paige began to labor on all fours with the ball’s assistance. Her contractions were deep and super steady. I could see them ripple through the sides of her body, something I had never seen. It was quite beautiful. Laura noted that her noises had changed, and that we may be close. Bret would tell her over and over again how great she was doing, and knew exactly what she needed through each individual contraction. The team agreed she needed to be checked once again to see the progress, and as Paige hoisted her leg over the bed for the exam, Laura and I saw that she was crowning. There was the beginning of that baby’s little head. I ran out to the nurse’s station in a hurry and announced there was a head. I don’t think anyone expected this part to happen so quickly, we had only been checked in for an hour. There wasn’t even a doctor in the area.
Paige was so calm, her doula was so calm, her husband was obviously excited, yet still very calm. But then this storm of nurses burst in and it feels like a tornado. They are yelling to each other certain orders, sternly instructing Paige not to push, and generally seem pretty panicked. Oh, and they let me know just how sincerely photography is not allowed at this point.
Bret has draped a washcloth over Paige’s forehead and she is so focused. Her eyes are closed and her body is doing the thing that she has been waiting for. I look closely at her face, expecting to see some form of pain, some form of struggle, but there is nothing. She is.. so calm.
The baby’s head has come out entirely, along with a tiny little hand, and a nurse has begun suctioning the mouth and nose. And then the doctor on call bursts in, and seems to pull the remainder of this child out of the womb. The baby cries and someone announces that it’s a boy. I just shoot as fast as I can, and I cry myself, watching the glowing faces of my friends who have just met their new baby boy. It is 7:14 PM, and Parker Joseph Patman is finally here.
Here are a few of the best moments: