When Shannon Waters delivered her first baby six years ago, it went exactly as she’d hoped ― a calm, quiet home birth surrounded by her husband and midwife. The 40-year-old physician dreamt of having a similar experience with her second. Instead, her water broke six weeks before her due date while she was snuggled next to her 6-year-old before bedtime.
“All of a sudden, the blankets were wet. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, what happened?’” she told HuffPost. When Waters—who is a physician— saw pink in the liquid, she realized she and her husband needed to get to the hospital right away.
Ultimately, Waters did not have the birth experience she’d hoped for, but she did end up with a healthy, happy baby girl she named Atira. And the experience was captured in a raw set of images by British Columbia-based birth and family photographer Ashley Marston that have helped Waters let go of any residual fear or trauma from going into labor early and under unexpected circumstances, allowing her to have a bird’s eye view of her own strength as she pushed her 5-pound baby into the world.
“It’s empowering to see these,” Waters said, “and know that I did everything I could at that time to help bring our girl into the world.”
Here, in her own words, is her daughter’s birth story.
Captions have been edited and condensed.