Birthing a baby is an incredible experience. You exert every ounce of strength and energy and love that you have so that you can hold your precious miracle in your arms. Birth photography has become popular in recent years so that parents have the chance to document this precious time. And a St. Louis photographer had the chance to capture one nurse’s beautiful first moments with her baby.
Alexandria Mooney has been shooting births for more than five years and has been present for the debut of more than 100 babies. But she recently got to be a part of something she had never experienced before. A new mom, who is also a nurse, completing her own baby’s newborn assessment.
Mooney and mom-to-be Chelsea Herpstreith had talked about her birth plan and her shoot and what she was hoping to achieve. During their discussions, Herpstreith threw in a twist that Mooney had never seen before.
“She told me the one big thing she wanted to do was ‘do her job’ for her own baby! Of course I was like, ‘UHHHHH you’re going to be able to get up out of bed and stand at the warmer an hour after you’ve just popped a baby out?’ She had clearly thought about this more than I had – because she was like, ‘No! I’ll have them bring everything to me.’ And that she did! Her birth was magical and went so perfectly that when that golden hour was over and it was time to do his newborn exam, she did it all from her bed,” Mooney told Scary Mommy.
Herpstreith works with labor and delivery as a part of the neonatal response team. She often aids in deliveries by drying the babies and stimulating them when they are born as well as helping moms with skin to skin and breastfeeding. She also does vital signs, weights, measurements, and footprints, which she did for her newborn baby.
Herpstreith told Scary Mommy that even before getting pregnant, she knew that she would definitely want to be part of her baby’s delivery someday. She felt that it made the birth of her first child that much more special.
“I have attended roughly 2,000 deliveries and taken care of so many babies in my time as a nurse. There are so many little moments that I have been lucky enough to be a part of for so many families. What could possibly be more personal than doing this for my own son? To be the person who proudly announces his weight to my husband? I can’t think of anything more special,” she said.
Mooney had met Herpstreith years before as a nurse during another mom’s birth. She was able to photograph her doing a job that she loves so dearly. Mooney said that Herpstreith’s passion for her career could be felt in the room. She always has a smile on her face and makes the experience for mom and baby so positive. Mooney remarked that she is one of the most dedicated and hard-working people that she has ever me. Being able to capture her as a mom and not only as a nurse was something so special.
“I remember taking those photos at 1am and thinking to myself how cool this was and how I had never seen it before and could not wait to brag on this amazing mama and share these. I wanted others to see that you can have so much control in writing how your birth story will go,” she said.
Herpstreith chose Mooney after seeing her work from a delivery that she was a part of.
“She posted photos from that delivery to her Instagram page and a friend of mine recognized me and tagged me in them. Alex and the mother in the photos were so sweet and told me I could share them to my Instagram. Who doesn’t love amazing pictures of you doing what you love?”
When she found out that she was pregnant, Mooney was one of the first people that Herpstreith told because she want to be sure to book her to document the delivery of her baby.
Nurses are miracle workers. Without them, those first postpartum days would be miserable. They are the real heroes of labor and delivery. Herpstreith is no exception. But she took it one step further and showed the world what a badass she really is. After 24 hours of labor, baby Julian was born and she was able to jump right in and do what she does best.
“I think I just wanted to be as involved as possible in his care. I have the knowledge and skills to assess him clinically, but I also wanted to have those memories. My husband got to announce to the room ‘It’s a boy’ and I felt like this was my special part,” she said. “I also want to acknowledge that not every birther has a positive birth experience and I know the privilege I hold that attributes to mine.”
Congratulations to you, Chelsea, on your beautiful baby boy — and for showing the world just how amazing and important a nurse’s job is. We think that you are amazing and so lucky to have those precious photographic memories of your special moments to last a lifetime.