Introducing Neve and Aksel

While I wouldn't call myself a birth photographer, when someone asks if you'll be part of one of the biggest days of their lives, you don't say no based on technicalities. I'm not a food critic either, but I never turn down a warm brownie! The invitation into a delivery room is an extremely flattering one, and one I received from Liese and Craig last month. In case you're unfamiliar with how the whole birthing thing works, it involves ones most private of areas on full display. Not only is it on display, it's what one might call "the main attraction". This otherwise awkward experience was perhaps made easier by my longstanding friendship with Liese -- we've been friends since we were 12 -- and I was also there for the birth of her daughter, Leila. It was such an incredible experience, witnessing a birth as a spectator vs. being the patient. I was absolutely ecstatic to be able to share in the experience again for the birth of their baby boy and baby girl. Yes, twins.   

*All of the photographs in this series are modest and safe for work.

I can't believe I almost missed this. I take one vacation each year, and Liese was scheduled for an induction halfway into the week that I would be gone. About a week prior to my departure, we touched base often. While most girlfriends text back and forth about clothes, food, maybe complaints about their husbands or messy kids, we were discussing centimeters and what exactly it meant to be "80% effaced". Luckily, with just a few days to spare, Liese was admitted to the hospital for signs of preeclampsia around 8pm, and it was go-time. I started gathering my own hospital bag - my D750, my 35mm and my trusty 24-70mm lenses. I made sure all of my batteries were charged and my memory cards were ready. And then, I waited. 

Around 11PM, I texted Craig to see where we were at. Should I pop a Coke open and stay up or should I try and get some rest? They advised me that the nurses hadn't even hung the pitocin (a drug that helps move labor along) and I should be safe to get some rest. I got into bed and made sure that my phone ringer was as loud as it could go, my sound was on and went to sleep. 

Around 4:10AM, I was awoken not by my cell phone ringing or the receipt of a text message. Instead, my husband was receiving a phone call - from a telemarketer. I was groggy and wasn't sure if it was his phone or my phone. Instinctively, I reached for my phone and saw that just 5 minutes earlier, I had a missed call that I never heard, and Liese's mom had text messaged me - "She's completely dilated. Hurry."

I think it is safe to say the telemarketer call was heaven set. You see, while I had done everything I could to make sure I would hear a phone call or a text message, I hadn't actually. At night, my phone goes into what's called a "Night Shift". Rendering my ringer and message alerts silent. Because I forgot to disable this little feature (that turns on automatically), my phone would have never rung, and never made a peep no matter how many messages I received.  So, telemarketers, for the first, and probably last time ever, from anyone - thank you.

I jumped out of bed and threw on the clothes I had set aside in the bathroom, brushed my teeth (you're welcome everyone) and ran downstairs, grabbed my camera bag and ran out the door. I'm texting updates of what street I am on every few minutes, in hopes that they'll wait for me and keep those babies in! Originally I had asked to be notified when she was at 7 centimeters, but Liese progressed so rapidly there wasn't any time. I parked my car and ran full speed with my gear bag over my shoulder, and verified without stopping that labor and delivery was still to the right. He pointed me over (I realized afterwards I should have had to sign in and receive a badge) and at last, I arrived. Out of breath, and very out of shape, but I made it. 

Twin pregnancies are usually considered high-risk. To ensure Liese's safety as well as that of her unborn son and daughter, the delivery took place in an operating room just in case surgical intervention was necessary. Amazingly, I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany Liese and Craig into the OR with Dr. Williams -- Dr. Williams had also delivered my son Brody, almost 5 years earlier. I had strict instructions as to where I was allowed to stand (in one spot, directly behind Liese's head), and let me tell you, my calves got a workout! Each time Liese would push, I'd get on my tippy toes and do my best to see how she was progressing. (Also, props to doctors and nurses. Aside from their amazing ability to save lives and bring tiny humans into the world, they can keep those masks on like it's no big deal. Those things are truly, truly awful.) 

Neve Charlotte Walton
Born at 6:00AM
5 pounds 14 ounces

Aksel Jonas Walton
Born at 6:05AM
4 pounds 10 ounces

To tell the babies apart, the first delivered baby is given a single clamp on their umbilical cord, and the second baby receives two. This enables parents to tell the babies apart without having to check the diaper or ID tag on the ankle of the baby.  

And just like that, the Waltons became a family of 5. Okay, I think Liese would take umbrage with "just like that", but to me, she did absolutely perfect and made it look so effortless. I am so blessed to have been able to share this day with Craig and Liese and also share these images with all of you. Most of all, I am so blessed to call this beautiful momma my friend.