It was almost time to pack up and head to a wedding when I got the text… “Today is the day!” it read. I stared at it for about two solid minutes. Yes, my client and friend WAS due today…. but did she mean that it was for real like today IS the day? I immediately called her, and sure enough, they were on their way to the hospital! I knew the chance of this birth falling on my ONLY November wedding was slim to none, and the bride was also a dear friend, so the mental anxiety I was facing was pretty harsh, not gonna lie. I called my sister, totally freaking out, told her to meet me at the church, I passed my gear off to her, began giving her a shot list as if she had no idea how to shoot a wedding, and that’s when she held her hand out… “CASEY. STOP. I GOT THIS. YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL AND HAVE A BABY!!!!!!” Tears filled my eyes as I said goodbye to my bride and friend, but also because I was heading to see one of the most beautiful miracles happen!
When I arrived at the hospital, the contractions were happening fairly strongly, but over the hours, I watched them become more and more painful for Elizabeth. She was such a champ though! Smile on her face, walking and running the halls with those closest to her, even doing lunges and squats around the unit! She did everything she could to progress this birth, and the reason for this is so heart warming…
Her husband, CJ, is in the military, and currently stationed on a boat. They rarely have internet time unless they’re at a port, but even then it’s very limited since they must share that time. The window of opportunity for him to be able to skype for the birth was EXTREMELY rare, but we all have been praying for it to work out. She was able to inform him that the time had finally come, and it just so happened to be on a day he was in Dubai, and had been granted access to the internet for a short amount of time. We knew this HAD to happen.
After hours and hours of strenuous labor, Elizabeth was exhausted… We were all asked to leave her to rest, and it was suggested that we grab dinner while out and about. Chad’s home was only nine minutes away from the hospital, so I got some food and headed to his place to figure out a plan of action. After I finished eating, I looked up the address where my sister was photographing the reception, and realized it was only about fifteen minutes down the road. I hopped in the car, and made it there just in time to photograph the last dance myself as well as some portraits of Hennie and Joey! As soon as everyone left, I rushed to my house to get Molly (Roman had been caring for her that whole day), got her food and some toys, packed a change of clothes and realized I needed to go shopping for coats (Old Navy sale hollaaaaaaa), and rushed back to Chad’s house to drop her off, which was *right* when I got the text that it was time to come back. CJ had just gotten off the ship at that point (I believe), and Elizabeth was still walking the halls, but was talking with him on the phone. Her grin was contagious, and I could see how happy she was just to hear his voice. But as we continued walking, Elizabeth began having to stop because contractions were getting much stronger. Her doula was incredible, and was there with her every step, every stop, and every breath. Throughout the night, things began slowing down.
At 5:30am, her sister and I decided to go grab breakfast for everyone, and when we got back, we found out that since Elizabeth had been in labor for almost 24 straight hours, the risk of infection was growing, and it was suggested to consider pitocin. She weighed the options, and it finally came down to agreeing to start that hard journey, and I was informed that it would take a few hours to really hit. At that point, I had only had 4 hours of sleep in two and a half days, so to say I was exhausted was an understatement. I asked if it’d be okay to run back to Chad’s house since he was at a work meeting, and take a nap there. I’d have my phone with me on loud loud loud so that they could text or call to wake me up when it was getting closer to time. I remember falling asleep on my side with Molly curled up on my feet, but about an hour later, I woke up to Chad standing over me saying something that I couldn’t comprehend. I immediately reached for my phone to see that I had JUST missed a call from the hospital. I grabbed my shoes and rushed out the door only to get a text right when I was halfway there telling me to hurry as fast as I could. I put the petal to the metal, and the moment I entered the room, Elizabeth was in an entirely different state – the state of “let’s do this NOW”, and I had time to grab my camera and snap a few photos of her last contractions before the doctor walked in to have her start pushing. I swear it only took a few before Baby B, as they’d been calling him, was welcomed into the world with tears of joy from not only his mom, but his aunt, his doula, his photographer, his nurses, and his dad – yes, his dad!!!! CJ got to skype just as we’d prayed for, and he witnessed this miracle too 🙂 At that point, Elizabeth asked him to make the announcement of the name… And you guys, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Bryson Thomas Whitley Born at 12:20pm, weighing 6 pounds and 15 ounces, and stretching his legs to be 20 inches tall!
When things started picking up, Elizabeth requested these socks that belong to CJ so that it was like a piece of him was there 🙂
I am so grateful that I was asked to be a part of their lives in such a special way. In this, I have made a friend as well as reconnected a bit with an old one. I’m so incredibly proud of Elizabeth for being so strong throughout the entire process, and I can’t wait to photograph their new journey with this little addition to the family!