According to statistics… every two minutes, a woman dies due to complications during pregnancy and labor.
EVERY TWO MINUTES!!!!!
it’s 2019. That just blows my mind!
This time last year, I was sitting at Nicole’s house in Colorado. I had gone up to photograph the delivery of her third (and final) child. I have photographed Nicole and Anthony for years; being able to witness and document just about every major milestone.
So there I am, business as usual, on the couch… catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, the Bachelor, etcetera etcetera. I was waiting for the phone call that Nicole was ready to deliver.
But the call never came.
Be it intuition or impatience, I decided to head to the hospital anyway.
I walked in recording an instagram story sharing that I was on call for a delivery and, again, saying that this was my most favorite thing to photograph.
I walked into the room and saw the room in a little bit of tension. A nurse was checking Nicole’s vital signs.
“I’m here!” I said to Nicole as I walked to set my camera bag down.
And then the shit hit the fan. Nicole repeatedly stated she wasn’t feeling well. She was hot and felt like she couldn’t breathe. In a matter of minutes, a team of nurses was crowded around the bed. Her husband, Anthony, took a slight step back and asked me if I had ever seen anything like this before. I assured him that I had seen many things during deliveries.
But I was lying. I had never seen anything like this.
Only a couple of minutes had transpired and Nicole’s condition had intensified. She hadn’t reached a “10” yet, so it wasn’t because it was time to push. Something had gone wrong. Her IV fell out. She began to have difficulty breathing, she had ripped her robe open, and then…. out of nowhere….
Before we could fully assess the situation, a nurse had jumped on top of Nicole and had started chest compressions. Power cords from the bed were ripped from the wall. Gloves, IV kits, phones, remotes, masks… all fell on the floor as the team of nurses wheeled the bed toward the door.
I NEED AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION NOW!!!!!
And then we stood there. Hospital code alarms sounding.
All I could do was stare at the room, watching the cords still swinging from the commotion.
“WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!?!
WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO MY WIFE?!”
I remember standing in the hallway crying as we were waiting for updates. I called my mom. I felt helpless and out of sorts. My mom, ever the level head, said “take photos of EVERYTHING. She is going to want them.”
After they had performed the “post mortem” c-section and regained a pulse on Nicole, Anthony was able to visit Haxton in the NICU.
Nicole and Anthony had waited to find out if they were having a boy or a girl. They have two beautiful little girls. Nicole jokes now that this was the most horrific gender reveal ever.
The moments and days to follow are a blur at best. Nicole spent two days on life support before making a miraculous and surprising recovery. It has taken me a year to come to terms with what happened. At least, enough to be able to share this story today.
On this day one year ago, Nicole and Haxton were both brought to life and (back) into this world because a team of medical professionals, trained in trauma, were on hand and leapt into action.
I stayed in Colorado a few more days and was able to photograph her when she was finally released and able to see her baby.
In many ways, I still don’t want to accept that something to traumatic happened to my friend and her family. We have spent the last year talking about the way the day and week unfolded. I’ve tried to sit down with this collection of images to tell the story several times over the last few months. But I just couldn’t find the words to explain what happened.
A few short months after that day, I went up to visit and photograph their family. It was important for me to be able to have closure. But more importantly it was to be able to tell her full story of recovery.
But rest assured, this isolated event won’t be in vain. Nicole feels a huge responsibility to use her story to help others. Since their birthday, Nicole has truly embraced life and set out to live it fully. Yet she knows that her new mission in life is to raise awareness for the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. She strives to educate and empower women. Her focus as a nurse, mother and maternal death survivor is to do whatever she can to make sure that less husbands and children will have to endure the loss of the mother.
Her story is only just beginning and I am so glad to be a witness to the change she will bring about. To hear more about her story, check out this interview on my podcast, Can We Talk About This?
Definitely, check out her Instagram page Before you Push and be present for the baby steps of her new journey in life.
Nicole, you amaze me. When the doctors came out and said they had a pulse again and that, while you had a long road to recovery, you were stable… I knew everything would be ok. Because I knew that the ball was now in your court and the fight was yours. You have made long strides in recovery. I am so very honored to share life with you and want you to know that you amaze us all with how selflessly you share your story, heart and journey with everyone. Watching you be a wife, mom, friend and warrior is one of the greatest gifts I have been given in this life. I hope today is an even greater celebration of life and miracles…. you are both. Happy birthday to you AND that precious baby boy.
Be infinitely blessed