It was 5:32am on the 12th of January when I received the text from Manu: Sarika is in labor. This is a text I was anticipating, but didn’t expect for another week. Sarika’s doctor had predicted she would carry until her 40th week, but, as they often do, baby surprised us all 7 days early.
I waited a couple hours at home until Sarika progressed a little further. In that time she really needed a break from being mentally drained (laboring overnight will do that to you) and received an epidural. That helped her sleep and recharge for what was to come.
When I arrived at Riverside Methodist Hospital, she had just woken up from a nap and was feeling bright and cheery – and looked beautiful as ever. All of the monitors were documenting her contractions, but the epidural kept her comfortable through it all, though she didn’t like not being able to feel her legs and eventually requested her epidural be turned down (I didn’t know that existed, but it’s great they obliged to her wishes). The nurse came in every 30 minutes to check on her and rotate her position in the bed. Nurses are the best!!
Manu’s mother was able to be part of the day, visiting from India, she was here to support her son and daughter in law during the transition with a brand new baby.
Manu and Sarika waited their whole pregnancy to find out the gender of their baby, and there were many final guesses being placed, stories of predictions fellow co-workers and family members have made, and last minute name additions to the lists they’ve built throughout the past 9 months. [I won’t tell you what I guessed right now, but I will tell you that I guessed correctly!] I made my guess during their maternity session in November, and stuck with it ever since.
When the shift change occurred, Sarika was introduced to her new L&D nurse, Flora, who would be with her until baby was here. Up until this time, Sarika was dilated at 6cm with little to no progression, and was starting to get frustrated. She jokingly commented, “bring me the dilation..” when Flora asked her if she could do anything for her. To have wit during labor is a beautiful thing, and Sarika had tons of it.
Manu’s mother, Manu, and I went down to get a coffee at Riverside’s built in Starbucks while Flora checked Sarika’s progress, and when we returned, Sarika was fully dilated and ready to begin labor.
Her grace and strength during it all was a wonder to witness. She laughed and smiled in between pushes and looked like a birthing goddess. After an hour of pushing, Sarika’s doctor arrived, and things got really exciting after that. There was little space to move around with the tool table and four bodies surrounding her, so I chose a spot where I could see as much as I could, and stuck with it, knowing that their baby would be there any moment. I was in awe seeing that beautiful head of hair leading the way – once the head was out, the body came out on the next push.
…And there she was. 🙂
Manu checked her gender and pronounced it to everyone. The room was full of smiles as Sarika fell in love with her daughter’s every little detail. The new parents were so proud to have their beautiful daughter in their arms after waiting 9 long months to meet her, and I was honored to be there to capture it all for them.
I left shortly after sweet baby girl made her first latch, knowing I would be seeing them in a short five days for their newborn session, I was beaming all the way to my car and for the rest of the evening.
Their newborn session will be shared soon, but until then, enjoy these highlight images of the baby Sharma birth story.