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As I sit down now to write the story of the birth of baby Q, I am keenly of aware of two things. First, the emotions that I felt that on the day of her birth–wonder and awe at the incredible strength that Elle demonstrated in birthing her baby and an incredible sense of gratitude at being invited to witness this intimate event–have not diminished. In fact, with the benefit of a couple of weeks of reflection, along with a fair amount of time looking at, analyzing and editing the photos, these feelings have simply solidified. And second, my telling of the story of Q’s birth is very much dictated by my position as an observer. I cannot tell you how mom and dad felt as they worked together so beautifully to bring their daughter into the world or how big sister N felt upon seeing her baby sister for the first time. Hopefully some of the limitations of my vantage point can be lessened by the impact of seeing the birth unfold in pictures.


I received an email from Elle on a Tuesday, telling me her water had broken and she was waiting for labor to begin. It apparently took a lot of coaxing for contractions to begin and I did not hear back that labor had actually started until about 24 hours later. I met her, along with her husband, daughter, mother-in-law and midwives at the birth center soon afterward. She was having contractions, but they were not regular enough for the midwives’ satisfaction and to everyone’s disappointment, a transfer to the hospital to begin the use of pitocin was a definite possibility.

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Much to everyone’s relief, labor began progressing well soon after. Contractions became stronger and more productive and it was clear that this little girl would arrive at the birth center. As labor intensified, Elle had the company first of her daughter (and her very well-loved doll) and then of her husband. Contractions came and went, growing steadily more intense, bringing little Q closer and closer to the world outside.

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With each contraction, the love and support between mom and dad was so evident and so heartwarming. Although it perhaps felt different for both of them, from my vantage point it was as though they were laboring together–as she worked to breath through each contraction he held and supported her, giving her the assistance that she needed as her body performed the incredible work of giving birth.

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And then, at 7:22 pm, little baby Q arrived, screaming and pink. She was tearfully greeted, held and kissed by her parents whose joy was almost palpable.

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It was a beautiful birth and it seemed to me as though everything went just right. A strong woman delivered a healthy, lovely baby girl surrounded and supported by the love of her closest family and guided by two amazing midwives. Congratulations to mama, daddy and big sister– what a beautiful family of four you are now.


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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI