A New New Yorker- The Birth of Reyner
Sunday night. 11:45pm. I had been asleep for an hour. My phones ringer had been on for a week. I look over at my phone, lighting up my bedroom, and see dads name. Under it reads, “IS HAVING A BABY.”
I pick it up and hear dad, “her water broke.”
Within 40 minutes I meet the soon-to-be new parents at their apartment. There’s hugs, excitement, and a serious conversation regarding snacks. Within 10 minutes we are all in an Uber on our way to the hospital. It’s cool outside and sprinkling.
It’s after 3am by the time mom is in a room. A cheeseburger and coffees have been ordered. It’s pouring rain at this point and so windy you can see one thin tree waving around in the courtyard outside. We’ll learn later in the day that it rained so much most of the subway stations in the city have been flooded during the early morning commute. It’s just before 6am as a deep blue sky is peeking in from outside. Dad and I will switch hit naps for the next 20 hours.
We arrived at the hospital early in the labor to get mom monitored. She has Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart condition that causes up to four heart defects. She has had two open-heart surgeries. In her last one, her pulmonary valve was replaced with a bioprosthetic valve, and one of the two holes in her heart was sewn shut. She still has a leaky tricuspid valve and a hole at the bottom of her heart, so her heart works overtime just to keep her alive. This meant that mom would need constant monitoring throughout her labor.
Throughout the day, I see mom and dad enjoying one another. They are a joy to be around. They smile when they speak to one another, laugh, and have an endless hand holding session that is mesmerizing. In the middle of the day, mom’s best friend arrives, adding to the excitement of what’s to come. Dad is tasked with keeping tabs on mom’s liquid intake. Being an artist, he decides to sketch each liquid on a white board in the room. Everyone finds joy in the small sketches of seltzer, tea and broth that get erased every hour.
Just after sunset everyone takes turns getting dinner and fueling up for the night. Mom’s contractions have been getting stronger and we can all see we are almost to the finish line. As we pass 10, 11 and 12 the room is quiet. Mom is tired. She hasn’t eaten in almost 24hrs and is anxious with excitement to meet her new babe. Dad takes a forced powernap while myself and mom’s best friend tend to mom at her bedside.
Around 1am it’s time to push. Mom’s excitement is contagious. Waiting all day seemed to be more intense than waiting the previous nine months for her sons arrival. Dad is up and by her side. Smiling ear to ear. With quickness and two handfuls of medical professionals Reyner comes into the world at 1:56am. A tiny babe at 6lbs 5.2oz. First I notice his long fingers and toes, fully extended and wildly reaching at the air. Then his luscious dark hair, wavy and pressed to his scalp. He’s the most alert newborn I’ve photographed. Staring around the room, eyes wide open and grabbing the cords on his mother’s chest that track her heart rate.
Although the room stays busy, the next 30 minutes are so relaxed. Mom and dad are in their own baby euphoria. I leave just after three am, more than 24 hours after we checked in. I’m sad to leave this beautiful family but happy I was able to document the birth of their baby Reyner