A cesarian Birth.
When I first met Moehau, she was already well into her pregnancy with her second child. She had a cesarean birth with her first child and unfortunately, women don't get the option to have a VBAC (Vagina Birth after c-section) on our island yet. So she knew she was going to have another cesarian. When we talked about documenting her birth, I was surprised at how enthusiastic she was. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated since I had never documented a cesarian. I knew the hospital policy here allowed only one partner in the operation room and her sister was going to be by her side.
Yet I sat my alarm clock to 5am that morning as the birth was scheduled for 8am. I wanted to make sure that I would arrive early enough to document the "before". And I'm so glad I did. The delivery department at the hospital was quiet that morning. The soft morning light was coming in through the window as I walked into her room. I could feel the anticipation for what was coming in the air, a sweet mix of tension and excitement. Moehau and Leilani were talking stories while waiting for the clock to reach the hour. There were laughter and silence. Silence and more laughter. I joined the conversation but always tried to stay a step behind, playing my role as the happy fantom capturing their story from the observer side.
I had talked with the OR (Operation Room) managers and I knew they would not let me come in for the c-section this time. But I was happy to start a dialog with them. I believe that where there is dialog, there is room for positive changes to happen. I am an endless optimist, sometimes naive but I am finding my voice as I try to play my part in advocating for the pregnant woman.
When the nurses came, I decided to hand my camera to her sister after setting what I thought would be the right settings for the bright light in the OR. And I hoped for the best while I waited right outside of the room.
I heard his cry. He was out, he was crying, she had given birth and my heart bursted with joy. Because when I document a Birth, I find myself completely immerge in what is happening right now. My cluttered brain magically shuts up, I stop thinking, my senses take over and I connect deeply with the birthing mom I once was.
All in a sudden the doors opened and he came out in the comfort of his Aunty's arms. She was still wearing her sterile clothes, only this time she was holding her newborn nephew. Hoku. I refrained my emotions from showing too much, I knew I had just enough time for a few quick shots on their way to the nursery and I remained focus. His mom was still being taken care of back in the OR and all I wanted was to make sure that she would be able to know it all. To be able to reflect on her birth in its entirety.
It was a powerful experience. I was forever humbled and thankful for every person that helped me document their story to the best I could, may it be a door left opened a few extra seconds or an encouraging smile.
I know the day will come when a photographer will be welcomed into the OR, I know it is going to take patience and consistent ethical work in order to gain the trust of the hospital staff but for once, I don't doubt myself and this alone feels amazing.
Thank you Moehau, Hoku & Leilani for letting me capture your journey.