It’s been exactly one year since I pulled an all-nighter with Chad and Camilla.
I’ve intended to write this post for 365 days but can never quite find the perfect words. How do you explain the intensity and wonder of watching someone bring their child into the world? It’s magical and raw and exhausting and every other adjective that describes human emotions. Add to that the fact I was nearing my third trimester of pregnancy as well and there were a lot of feelings and hormones flowing!
When I first met Camilla, I was first struck at how beautiful she was – she is one of those people who exudes joy while also presenting as completely in control. She laid out her 5 year plan, how she wanted her pregnancy to go and her ideal labor. I absolutely loved it while also chuckling inside at her innocent optimism. She also mentioned that her mother-in-law, Jennifer, was going to be there for the birth because they were so close. I couldn’t help but think what a testament that was to both of them and how special their relationship must be. As we checked into the labor ward, Jennifer seamlessly looked after both her “babies.” I actually had to hold back pregnant, hormonal tears because I just kept thinking about my own future daughter-in-laws and how this would be the greatest honor I could ever imagine.
As the hours ticked on, we moved into the birthing suite, and simply waited. Camilla was working so hard; doing everything she could to let her body progress. There were giggles, there were tears, and there was a lot of puking. She would go very quiet and and focused and we’d be sure transition was imminent, only to be told nothing had changed. Nearly fourteen hours after checking in, it was clear Camilla was becoming exhausted both physically and emotionally despite having a long way to go.
Birth is emotional; I don’t think anyone would deny that. But for a laboring mother, those emotions are also intensely personal. I will leave Camilla to decide how or when she chooses to share all of that as it’s her story to tell. But I will say this: the strength, power and bravery I witnessed from her was startling. Despite being in probably the most vulnerable state of her life, Camilla never complained nor seemed to waver in her determination to meet her baby. I would liken her exhaustion levels to that of people completing a 100 mile race; the labor process was unrelenting for her. And even when the delivery process became incredibly intense, she still seemed in control; though I imagine she wouldn’t describe herself feeling that way. There’s a reason we see memes or jokes about Mama Bears and their fury – it’s a real thing and I got to witness it firsthand on a Thursday evening in August.
Chad and Camilla, a million thank you’s to both of you for trusting me to document the start of your family. Watching the two of you through the birth process was equal parts heart-warming and hilarious. There’s no doubt your little lady will have a big personality with you two to guide her. You’ve got a pretty amazing example of parenting in Jennifer; I’d recommend checking in with her if you have any questions!
I’m sorry to inform you all that you’re now stuck with me for life. I feel personally invested in your journey from here on out and would like to make a formal request for more social media posts seeing as you’ve moved very far away from me now. And when Makenna someday looks back on her childhood photos, please explain to her that our last picture together was impromptu and I don’t normally have eyebrow dye all over my brow bone. I adore all of you and can’t think of a better group to hang out with for 22 hours straight. Happy Birth-day, Smith family!