These Raw Photos of a Mom Delivering Her Preemie Are a Reminder of How Powerful Birth Really Is

From Redbook

All the scariest parts of having a baby – like, you know, pushing something the size of a watermelon out of your vagina, for starters – a seem compounded when that baby decides to come six weeks early. And that’s what Shannon Waters experienced she went into premature labor with her daughter Atira earlier this spring. The physician, 40, was reading a bedtime story to her six-year-old daughter when her water broke unexpectedly.

Even though Waters’ birth experience didn’t go exactly as planned, her birth photographer Ashley Marston was on hand to capture the entire day.

Photo credit: Ashley Marston

Photo credit: Ashley Marston

After Waters delivered Atira, the baby was quickly taken into the NICU for observation.

“I got a chance to hold her for like a minute before they asked the pediatrics team to take her and check her.”

Photo credit: Ashley Marston

Photo credit: Ashley Marston

“I was worried, but I knew we were in a good hospital and she looked good when I held her. So I tried to stay calm and sat there with the physician as they were stitching me up. It was probably about half hour to 45 minutes before they asked if I wanted to go and see her.”

Photo credit: Ashley Marston

When Waters finally did get to see her daughter in the NICU, it was incredibly emotional moment.

“I’d just gone through this extremely intense experience – my water broke around 8:30 at night, and I think the baby was born a little after 3 a.m. – and then I saw her in an isolette,” Waters said. Atira was on antibiotics for the first 48 hours after her birth and stayed in the NICU for two weeks. Luckily, since then, she’s been totally healthy.

Despite the unexpected nature of her delivery and the general chaos surrounding it, Waters said she’s grateful she has photos to remember this moment in her daughter’s life.

“Even telling this story now, four months later, the intensity of the experience has faded a little bit,” Waters told HuffPo. “But when I look at these photos,…

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