An Orange County Birth Story

While the story itself is not mine to tell, I can tell you that labor can be a hurry up and wait game. Its not like you see in the movies at all—mom’s water breaks, she is rushed to the hospital, lots of screaming and pushing and bam, a baby is born. While some births, I suppose, can be like that, the vast majority are not.

Getting the call

I got the call that P’s water had broke in the wee early morning before the proverbial roosters make themselves known. As a birth photographer, I come when active labor begins; around 5-6 cm dilated. In this case, I was also their birth doula, which means I come whenever she feels she wants me. They say they are heading to the hospital as contractions seem to be getting more intense.

I get up, start my pot of coffee and wait. I play around with Facebook, Instagram, and even look at TikTok for a moment (which is something I rarely do). About 90 minutes later, I figure, I should try to get more sleep, so off to bed I go.

Getting the second and third call

About an hour or so into my light slumber (I had already been fueled with a pot of coffee), I get a second call that they are at the hospital and in triage. Ok. Great. They will likely be there awhile until the staff decides if they want to admit her or send her home. When the waters break, hospitals tend to admit just to be safe even if dilation isn’t where it needs to be.

I close my eyes and try to get more rest. I toss and turn and mentally tally everything I need to bring. While I know everything is ready to go, I constantly worry I am missing something.

90 minutes later, I get the third call that she has been admitted. I ask if they would like me to come. No, everything seems to be fine and I am not needed yet. I stay awake and putter around the house, checking and rechecking charged batteries, TENS machine, flash batteries, memory cards. Off topic, but I think I might have OCD!

Off to the hospital I go—Hi ho!

Knowing her dilation, I know I am in for a long day. This is perfectly fine, I am always prepared for that. Saddleback hospital is in Laguna Beach and quite nice actually. I get there and “get to work” so to speak.

Color birth photo of a woman in labor holding onto her partner by Leona Darnell.
Color birth photo of a woman's face during a contraction by Leona Darnell.
Labor isn’t like Hollywood portrays

As time went on, everyone slept, changed positions several times and pushing began. This wasn’t a particularly long birth by any means. But it often is a hurry up and wait type of event. Exciting, exhilarating, tiring, scary, and every emotion in between.

color photo of a husband relaxing during labor at Saddleback hospital.
Black and white birth photo showing a husband sleeping during a long birth at Saddleback hospital. Photo by Leona Darnell
Black and white birth photo of a mother finally getting some sleep after having an epidural. Photo by Birth and Beauty
Black and white image of a husband comforting his wide during active labor. Photo by birth photographer, Leona Darnell.
black and white birth picture of a newborn baby's feet by Leona Darnell.
Black and White birth story photo of a man holding his infant son by Birth and Beauty.
Black and white birth photography photo of a man looking at his infant son in the warmer by Leona Darnell.
Birth photo of a newborn boy's face by Leona Darnell.
Color birth picture of a dad looking at his newborn son.

To view their birth film, click the play button below.

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