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Documenting Ethan’s Water Birth

I must admit that the thought of seeing a woman going through labour and finally delivering her baby scares me. A little. Even though I have 2 kids of my own… but I went through c-section and I never really experienced childbirth the way it was meant to be…. natural and painful. So I was a mix of emotions when Crystal hired me to document the birth of her baby Ethan last month. I was a tad bit worried that I might pass out when I saw blood.

The whole experience was new to me. About a year ago, I was also supposed to photograph another birth, but that didn’t quite happen the way we expected (pun not intended!). When Crystal’s delivery date drew near (18th May) and she started having contractions, I was a bit of a nervous wreck! I would check my phone frequently for updates, and was all charged to head out to the hospital when needed. On Thursday night, she checked into Pantai Hospital but by Friday evening, she was still far from delivering her baby!

That Friday night, I went to watch a movie, and even lugged my camera gear into the cinema, just in case! Crystal really suffered through hours of labour, and it was only on Sat night (11pm) that I was called into the hospital. I must say, she is one tough cookie. With no painkillers, she laboured and delivered beautiful baby Ethan at 3am on the 22nd of May. I could see how supportive her husband Wei Leong was through the entire process. Even though it was pretty back-breaking to help support Crystal in the tub, he did it over many hours with occasional stretches. I think Crystal was in the tub for a good 7 hours!

When Ethan came out, there was a sigh of relief and lots of happy smiles around.

Overall, I am just so amazed at this miracle called birth. How wonderful it is to witness a human being coming into the world. It is just so beautiful.

20160522-BIRTH_ETHAN_CHEW-060 20160522-BIRTH_ETHAN_CHEW-061 20160522-BIRTH_ETHAN_CHEW-071Extra interesting notes:
1. Lighting was extremely difficult in the dim room, since they wanted to create a more relaxing and conducive environment. Flash photography wasn’t allowed and occasionally a spotlight would be turned on at times – so thank God for high ISO and experience shooting in low light!

2. The little floating duck is a thermometer! How cool is that. It was the first thing I spotted when I arrived.

3. The nurse and doula was in the room all the time, monitoring the contractions, keeping Crystal warm by pouring water on her. Dr Paul came in towards the end to receive the baby. I truly respect those in this profession, their personal lives are dictated by the lives of others!

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The Birth of Baby Jonas

One day, I received a message on Facebook from Jasmine, whom I had known for quite a number of years. She told me that she’d like to document the birth of her second child during the delivery process. I was quite excited as I had never photographed a birthing process before, but secretly I was a little worried that I might faint in the delivery room. After all, I have never witnessed anyone giving birth before, even though I had already experienced two C-secs personally.

Jasmine’s baby was due to arrive on December 24th, and since you can’t really plan for these things, I was already on my toes one week before her due date. Everything was in place… camera batteries perpetually charged, a back up plan with Diane in place in case I couldn’t make it to the hospital in time (or if I were busy shooting another event at the same time), extra phone numbers to call if I didn’t hear my phone ringing at 3am… it seemed like a good plan.

So I was naturally excited when I received a whatsapp message on Friday morning from Jasmine saying that she had been experiencing contractions since 3am, and that today might be ‘the day’! I quickly packed my gear, sorted out my plans for the day, and waited. After a few hours, I was given an update at 2pm: She had checked into the hospital but the contractions seemed to be further apart instead of getting stronger. So she was just under observation for now.

At 3pm, I was still running errands in PJ when I got another message from Jasmine: 4cm dilated. Contractions still far apart. I think it’s time to come to the hospital. Take your time.

I replied ok, but 10 minutes later, I received a hysterical call from her saying that she was already pushing! (on hindsight, can’t believe she can still call me even during her delivery!). I was shocked, because just 10 minutes earlier nothing much was happening! I couldn’t believe how quick everything was progressing. With Alex at the wheel, he rushed me to Pantai Hospital but just as I approached the entrance, I received another whatsapp message from John, Jasmine’s husband… that the baby has been delivered!


I was really disappointed that I couldn’t photograph the birth nor did we manage to get shots of John cutting the umbilical cord. But everything just happened at such lightning speed which none of us could have predicted. Even the staff at the hospital said it was really quick.. just 2-3 pushes and he was out.

Baby Jonas, you just wanted a little drama entering the world, didn’t you? I am glad that everything went well though and that your mom is well (Seriously, don’t you think Jasmine looks AMAZING for someone who just delivered a baby?). I am honoured to be your very first guest at the hospital and I look forward to seeing you again soon within the next few weeks!

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The birth of Kyle

20141030_KYLE_EZRA_LAM_182I must truly give thanks to God for the birth of my two children, Krysta and Kyle. Everything from conception to birth is really a testimony of how good God is. For someone like me who has irregular menstrual cycles (once every 4 months?), I am firstly quite amazed that I could even conceive in the first place. I remember after I stopped breastfeeding Krysta, my period only appeared once and then in March this year, my pregnancy test kit proved positive! God is indeed good!

Kyle was due on 1st of November 2014, but around the first week of October, I started having really bad cramps that I could not explain. The pain was excruciating and came frequently, so much so that one day, I thought that I was having contractions as I could feel an intense pain every 5 minutes. That Tuesday morning, I went to my hospital for a check up and during the scan, was told that I wasn’t having contractions and the baby and water bag was fine. It was then that I discovered I had urinary tract infection and was given a round of antibiotics to cure it.

But two days passed by and my pain was still there. I just endured it but on Wednesday night, it was really so painful after every cramp that I had to stop doing whatever I was doing and allow the pain to pass. The next morning I was due for my final pre-wedding photo shoot before my scheduled c-sec the following week (Kyle was in breech position). That night, I called my staff to standby for the shoot the next day in case I couldn’t go because of my intense pain.

I guess God had other plans because that Thursday morning, I noticed a bloody show on my underwear and realised that labour had already started! Once we reached the hospital and did a scan, we realised I was already 4cm dilated and was experiencing contractions! (and to think I was about to head out for a shoot!). Kyle was under distress and his heartbeat was slow every time a contraction came. Within half an hour, I was in the operating theatre and during the operation, my gynae said that my water bag had burst some time back as I was completely dry. But despite of all that drama, Kyle was born safely on the 9th of October 2014 at only 1.99kg.

By the way, Kyle’s name means “Victorious!”

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From 2 to 3…

A week ago, I became a mum. For 9 months, I carried a little bundle inside of me… a little being that grew from a tiny foetus into a 2+kg baby. I brought her for shoots with me, and we grew, together. When we saw her first few photos on the scan, we were excited (doesn’t matter that it was just a mass of 2 oval shapes showing the head and body). When she kicked, we were delighted. Towards the end of my term, I couldn’t wait to meet her, my little bundle of joy.

A week before my due date, at about 2am, my water bag burst and an hour later, I was in the hospital. By 9am, I had only dilated 1cm and she was facing upwards, which made it hard for her to come out naturally. So by 12pm, a decision was made to go for a Caesarean birth, and within a few minutes, I was in the operating theatre. It felt like a blur, I couldn’t see what was going on, didn’t feel any pain, but I could just feel the gynae touching me and her being pushed out. All throughout the surgery, I was praying and singing the song “Lord you are always here with me”.

At the precise moment I heard her cry, my emotions just overwhelmed me and I couldn’t help but cry too.

She was brought to me not too long later and she was just beautiful!

One week later, and I have already posted countless images of her on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve joined that group of millions of mothers worldwide who are proud of their little kid. Not because of what they can do (she hasn’t earned any A’s in school yet, or started working to earn her keep), but because of who they are. Simply loved because they are their child. I am reminded of that same love that God gave to us… unconditional love, not because of what we can do, but because of who we are… His creation. And nothing we do in this life can take away Christ’s love for us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 38-39 –

Such is the heart of our Father…and a good reminder this Christmas! Have a great Christmas season and a Happy New Year!


Grace, Alex & Krysta

Last 2 Photo credits: Asther Lau Photography