While Kim Guiley was pregnant with her second child, she felt certain it was a girl. So when she delivered a baby boy, she and her husband, Travis, were shocked, to say the least.
Birth photographer Susannah Gill captured the moment the Guileys learned the sex of their baby. Looking at the photos, the expressions on their faces can only be described as priceless.
“It was a very big moment because a lot was as happening,” Gill told The Huffington Post. “It was about 5 a.m. after a very long night.”
Kim gave birth at home in Santa Cruz back in July. Shortly before to the delivery, the midwife said they would have to transfer to the hospital because Kim’s tailbone seemed to be blocking the baby’s passage, the photographer said.
As her husband and birth support team packed to relocate, Kim stood up. In that moment, she felt the baby coming, and soon started to push. Her tailbone broke as she birthed her son.
“I was in excruciating pain,” Kim told HuffPost. “But he was well worth all of difficulty.”
Travis and Kim, who is a birth doula, decided not to find out the sex of their baby ahead of time, so the moment of reveal was “very exciting and emotional,” the photographer recalled. “The midwife handed the baby to Kim in a blanket, and she took a peek.”
Gill said the sex of the baby came as a surprise to the mom, who has a 3-year-old daughter named Hazel. “She’d really convinced herself this baby was a girl because her belly was showing in such a similar way to her first pregnancy,” she said.
“I work as a doula, so I should totally know better than to take some random guess,” Kim said. “I had all these silly reasons why I thought it was a girl, all these feelings.”
Kim also thinks she talked herself into believing it was a girl to avoid disappointment. “I come from a family with one girl and one boy, and as a parent, I wanted the experience of raising both a boy and a girl,” she explained.
The mom had already felt a deep sense of loss and disappointment when she had a miscarriage in June 2015. “My overall perspective with this pregnancy was that as long as I have a healthy baby, I’ll be so thrilled,” she said.
Still, pregnancy was very difficult for Kim, as she experienced hyperemesis gravidarum and had to be hospitalized for IV fluids. “It took a village to get everything done and make sure my daughter’s needs were met at that time,” she said. As a result, the mom decided she would not have more than two children. “I knew I couldn’t put my body and my family through that again,” she said.
The difficulty the Guileys faced made the surprise of having a boy even more exciting and emotional.
“Finding out we had a healthy baby boy was this culmination of our losses and struggles,” Kim explained. “It was especially poignant knowing this would be our last baby.”
When Kim and Travis saw Gill’s photos from that moment of surprise, they started “cracking up,” the mom said. “We couldn’t stop laughing. I can’t believe my face could do that. I don’t think I could even replicate that face again if I tried!”
She added, “The photo makes me laugh because it shows how much I could talk myself into things. It was as if someone had told me definitively I was having a girl ― that’s how convinced I was.”
Kim and Travis have enjoyed reliving the moment and sharing it with others.
Gill’s striking photos of the birth spread around Instagram over the summer, thanks to accounts like Birth Without Fear. But they had a viral resurgence on many social media platforms this week after appearing on more birth-themed accounts and The Daily Mail.
Gill said she hopes her photos help others see the beauty of home birth and birth photography. “I think it’s a really special time to have documented,” she explained, adding that birth photography is not necessarily about capturing all the graphic details but more about chronicling beautiful moments.
The photographer also said she hopes more couples feel inspired to wait to learn the sex of their baby. “There are so few surprises left in this world, and I feel like people find out the gender of their baby just because they can,” she said. “But there’s also a very beautiful thing in waiting. I think that’s how nature intended it to be. And it’s a lot of fun.”