Hendrix Akil // A Birth Story

"This is really happening."

I will give you a heads up. It's hard to put into words what these images mean to me. For months now, I've been trying to articulate in my head what to write in this particular blog (before the baby was even born, mind you) and for the days since his arrival, I've been trying even harder. I think I'm just going to let my thoughts flow freely. Outline the hours like a journal. 

Audrey's due date was Friday, February 5. Every night in the weeks leading up to that day, I would go to sleep with my phone on loud. I usually sleep with it on silent--no ring, no vibrate, but I didn't want to take that risk at all. Every morning I would wake up and frantically check my phone for a missed call or text from Audrey or Denzel. I was anxious & nervous every time I thought about the call. Her due date passed and no baby. Then, on Thursday, at around 1:30 pm, I got the text that her water broke. I was at work and my heart started racing! I couldn't believe the day was finally here. I headed home to grab my camera bag and then downtown. I had plans to see an art show with friends that evening, so I met up with them, but all I could think about was what the next 12-24 hours would look like. 

I got to the hospital a little before 10 pm and made my way to Audrey's room. I knocked quietly and went in. It was dark & quiet. Denzel, Audrey's grandma, and Audrey's best friend Amanda greeted me. Audrey was dozing off on her bed while her speakers played peaceful, zen-like music through the room. For a while, I didn't even want to take my camera out! It was just so calm in the room & I felt like soaking it all in. Soon, Amanda left, our other friends Clyde and CJ showed up, and I started with a few pictures. Audrey's contractions were just starting to intensify and were still far apart. The night was getting later while we were all growing more tired. Denzel and Grandma especially. They had the extremely brave job of comforting, rubbing, and coaching Audrey through the pain. It was so, so hard to watch her go through that. 

Clyde, CJ, and I got coffee and snacks and walked around to stay awake. Eventually, around 2 am, Audrey was in enough pain to get her epidural. It helped her so much. She fell asleep around 3. Denzel and Grandma did too. So I took the opportunity to try and get some sleep out in the lobby myself. Except that proved to be nearly impossible because my mind was just racing way too much to stop my thoughts enough to sleep, despite how tired I was. I set my phone alarm for every hour just because I didn't want to miss anything. Every time I went back into the room to check on things, the lights were off and the 3 of them were still asleep. Finally, around 5 or 6 am, I got some good sleep in and frantically woke up at 8:07. By then, I knew the sun was up and they had to be awake!

Thankfully, they were. Audrey was at 7 cm and could feel the pressure of her baby's head. The nurse told her it'd be time to start pushing in about 10 minutes when the doctor arrived. The light at the end of the tunnel. We were all just minutes away from welcoming Hendrix into the world and into his mom's arms. The doctor came. It was time to push.

If you know me, you know I'm emotional and an easy cryer. You better believe I was tearing up as soon as this moment started. Audrey was pushing so well and we all knew any second, we would hear him, see him, meet him. At 8:55 am, Hendrix was born. 

It's insanely beautiful to me. The mystery and miracle of a woman's body being able to grow & deliver another human life. It's an unbelievable thing to think that the body just knows what it's doing. Modern medicine helps and can often times come to the rescue, but at its core, it does what it does. I'm so humbled to be a female and to one day have my body be able to do this. Of course there's excruciating pain, discomfort, ugly moments that you would rather not be on camera, but they are moments that are extremely meaningful and miraculous. 

It's also beautiful to me that a newborn baby only knows how to do a few things when it's just minutes or hours fresh out of its mom's womb. It can cry, drink milk, and latch its little hands around someone's fingers. That's pretty much it. Hendrix didn't cry a whole lot, but he was feeding real good & holding onto his grandma's finger almost instantly. Imagine emerging into a world that's totally different from where you've been living comfortably for 9-10 months and you don't know much, but you know there's a mommy to feed you and a finger to comfort you. 

Yep, I got to hold him and he melted me inside. These images, this new family, & this day mean so much to me. They remind me why I love photography as more than just a job. I would document moments like this if I never got another dime because photography freezes time, emotions, smells, sounds, tastes, and the spirit of a moment in a way that nothing else can. Just one picture can stir so much and holding on to that can encompass a lifetime. I will forever be grateful for these friends that invited me in and trusted me to preserve this time for them. 

"We made a human."