Sheena is a photographer friend of Bri's, so when Sheena asked Bri to photograph her first baby's birth - Bri accepted wholeheartedly! Carter's birth was a beautiful experience. Sheena wanted a very natural birthing experience, so she labored in the comfort of her home and then went into the Spectrum Butterworth hospital's natural birthing room. Her birthing team included her husband Paul, her midwives, Breck Reinsma and Sarah LaGrande from Advanced Ob-Gyn and her doula Kristin Revere, from Gold Coast Doulas, all of which are pictured in some of the photos below which really capture just how much support a good team provides mother and father during the birth process. Sheena was not hooked up to a monitor or medicine which enabled her to move freely throughout her labour. Be a part of their birth journey by looking through the photos below and follow along as she tells her birth story through her eyes:
"They call the process of bringing a human into the world labour. Equal parts science and art, to labour through birth for the sake of meeting the child you created and have carried is one of the post powerful and moving experiences a woman can have and share with a partner.
I chose to experience my labour in the fullest sense, so that I could always remember the details that surrounded the birth of our child this past January. And so that my baby’s entrance into the world could be repeated in stories, and shared with family and friends who would grow to love our little child. And also, so that in moments of weakness that I will undoubtedly experience as a mother, I will remember the strength of my body and my mind as I laboured.
Our baby began showing intentions of leaving the womb noticeable on Friday, January 29th , when what felt like small surges began coursing through my abdomen.
Sunday we left for Lansing, to meet our brother and sister-in-law Shawn and Prabha and their three month old baby Leela for lunch at a local favorite, HopCat. I knew going there was a bit risky, but I felt confident that my labour would still progress slowly enough for me to enjoy the welcome distraction.
I loved the fact that I was sitting there, appreciating lunch with family, while also experiencing the surges; we were going to meet our baby very soon. Shawn made a comment after reviewing our tracked surges that our baby would arrive that evening or early the following morning. This made me really excited and I teared up at the fact that this was really happening. It was almost as if I didn’t realize how “in labour” I really was until Shawn said it aloud.
On our way home from Lansing the surges intensified. I still kept telling mom and Paul that I was okay, mostly to keep them calm, but also to remain calm myself. There was no need to get all hyped up because I really wanted to focus on staying relaxed. Once we arrived home, Paul and I labored more in the bedroom with our dog Bella and the Hypnobirthing Rainbow Relaxation meditation which was on repeat and played probably a dozen times.
We continued to labour at home until about 9:00pm when we decided to contact our birthing team. I distinctly remember Paul telling them, ‘I’m calling you because Sheena is starting to moan and has the urge to push’. He was so calm; I can’t even imagine what was going through his mind. Based on the information he presented, our laboring team suggested we head to the hospital.
They checked me and I was dilated to a 5, almost a 6. I like to tell people I was a 6, close enough, right? By 10:54 p.m. we were transported from triage to our labour room. I remember meeting Emily, our nurse for the first time and hearing her say, ‘You plan to birth all natural?’ It was a surprising question and she had a look of bewilderment to her. She made me think about it and mull over the question. Let me tell you though, she was awesome! Our birthing team was also waiting with a smile.
Also in the room with us was our birth photographer, Bri Luginbill from the People Picture Company. As a photographer myself I knew the importance of documenting the biggest events in my life. I’ve never understood why people document their weddings but not the birth of their children. I knew I wanted to carry the memory of the birth of our child in my memory, and also in photos. Bri made this possible.
The hospital room was as I remembered it from our previous tour, but this time none of the faults like the small size, sterile smell, the tick of clocks, the cold floor mattered. It was me, Paul and our birthing team ready to labour the night away.
There were so many times that I opened my eyes during labour and Paul was looking deeply into mine with a look of encouragement and pain. He said later that it was so hard for him to see and hear me in so much pain. He only left my side once and it was after Kristin encouraged him to take a minute and go to the bathroom. Kristin was also there to support. I remember her offering me to smell Peppermint oil at one time to give me a refresher. I welcomed the smell and the moment of differentness. Until then all I had smelled was poop, blood, and sweat.
By this point I felt nothing, my body was numb and all I could see was that mirror and our baby. It’s a strange yet exhilarating feeling! A few more pushes and we finally got to meet our baby.
Paul announced to the room that our baby was a boy and that his name was Carter Chance Vogel. We looked at each other, cried, kissed and smiled in excitement. I’ve never felt more love for my husband than in this moment. He was the father to our baby and my husband. I helped receive our baby, pulled him onto my chest and cut his cord after it was done pulsing. A team of nurses wiped off his head and body on my chest to make sure he was okay since there were signs of meconium, the early stools of an infant. He cried and everyone felt okay with leaving him on my chest. He was so warm and had the softest skin. Paul and my world stood still as we took in the awe of this perfect child we created together. Carter was born at 7:34 am on Feb 1st, just two days after his January 30th due date. He was 8lbs, 1oz. and was 21” long. "