The Birth of Mary Claire | South Jersey Water Birth | Hospital Birth

I first met Lydia as a fellow doula. We connected many levels and when she asked me to be HER doula and birth photographer, I was a mix of honored and NERVOUS. I am a newer

doula, she is an experienced doula. Would I be the support she needed? I trusted her intuition that I was the right fit for her. Our friendship has grown, and being present at her birth to support her and JD, and to document her story is still such an honor to me. Lydia's goal for a healing, redemptive birth was realized and it was brought forth with so much love, support, and faith. This was truly an incredible birth to witness. When Lydia's "guess date" came and went, I was, of course, on high alert. When I went to bed the evening of Saturday, December 7th, I fell asleep and began having a dream about JD (Lydia's husband) desperately texting me that she was in labor and I was missing the texts and calls.... Next thing I know, my Fitbit was vibrating and I answered my phone to Lydia's voice telling me her water broke! I spent the night tossing and turning trying to get some sleep while waiting for her to let me know she was ready for my support. After a few phone calls back and forth, I left my house during the 5 o'clock hour to support Lydia in her home. By the time I had gotten there, her contractions had fizzled out again, so she decided she wanted to go to Mass before this baby came. It was the feast day of the Immaculate Conception after all. JD and I were hesitant, to say the least, but off to church we went.

Of course, during Mass her contractions began coming more frequently and stronger again, but it was clear we were still navigating early labor. When we got back to her house we did some doula-y things to encourage things to regulate some and pick up. Once again Lydia's contractions picked up then fizzled out. She took a little nap, and we all knew that this nap would be a turning point.

Shortly after waking up, Lydia's contractions came on stronger and much more frequently. We decided it was time to move on over the her birth location so that she could settle in, check progress, and hopefully relax enough for active labor to progress well. Once we arrived around noon, we learned Lydia was 4 centimeters dilated.

Her sweet midwife chatted with us, her nurses were as kind and loving as one could hope, and the whole birth team was excited to support Lydia through the birth she envisioned. Lydia's close friend Eileen even came with her sweet baby girl (who by the way, was an absolute angel and didn't cry ONCE over 7 hours!)

Labor progressed and we did all the things, we walked and walked, we squatted, we did counter pressure, toilet sitting, laboring in the tub, lots of praying and even crying (Did you know crying can actually be a wonderful sign that labor is progressing?!) We did side-lying with a peanut ball, and hands and knees. Lydia tried out Nitrous Oxide. We did more counter pressure and we "shook the apple tree". We tried the tens unit but quickly learned that was NOT a good fit.

As Lydia laid in a side lying position I noticed she was not coping with contractions the same way. Her body was responding more frantically and trying to get out of that position. I suggested she get up and try squatting. We tied a wrap over the door to give her leverage, and with the first squatting contraction she yelled the famous phrase, "I need to poop!" We filled the tub up as quickly as we could, and within a half hour, Lydia beautifully roared out her NINE POUND daughter, into the water at 7:27 PM! She finally got to meet her sweet Mary Claire, named after the Blessed Mother.

Lydia cut Mary's cord after relaxing in the water for a bit. She moved over to the full size bed, and next thing we knew, Mary Claire was working on the most beautiful, legendary breast crawl.

JD admires his new daughter, as Eileen admires her dear friend's strength while the medical team manages immediate postpartum care.

There was lots of blood. Birth is beautiful, but it is raw too!

Nothing like sweet skin to skin

First Latch: Success #breastcrawl

There are so many special things about this birth that I can't put into words. Even the photos don't completely capture the absolute beauty of this birth. I'm so honored to have witnessed this birth heal my dear friend. To witness the tears of joy. To witness the love. To witness the faithfulness.


Are you in New Jersey hoping to find someone to beautifully capture your sacred birth story? Contact Little Bear now to learn about the various support and photo options available to you!

Jaimie Zaki is a Madriella Certified Professional Certified Doula, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and Birth Photographer residing in Pemberton, New Jersey, just 15 minutes away from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Jaimie offers prenatal support, labor support, postpartum support, and in home lactation support in addition to specializing in Motherhood Photography. Jaimie has had her own experiences with cesarean birth, Hospital VBAC and home birth. Jaimie is honored to tell your unique story and support your family, no matter how your birth unfolds. Schedule your FREE consult with Jaimie TODAY! Or email