They feature an overjoyed mum, a proud dad, and a perfect baby girl just moments after her birth. But other than that, these images are nothing like the ones Corrine Cinatl expected to get when she booked a photographer to capture the arrival of her second child.
That's because, thanks to a speedy labour, baby Matilda May was born in the front seat of her parents' car on the side of a country road. Fortunately, unbeknownst to the family, their birth photographer Breanna Gravener was travelling behind them as they headed towards hospital, and was able to take a beautiful series of photos the Cinatls will treasure forever.
"I see a mother completely flooded with emotion of love, joy and somewhat surprise, and a father laughing in shock exclaiming to an audience of passing cars 'My wife is incredible! She just gave birth in the car!'" Gravener wrote about the amazing photos on her website, thebirthstory.com.au.
"There was so much emotion and I wish my camera could record sound at the same time. It was magical. To witness raw emotion of love is simply breathtaking and beautiful."
Little Matilda's roadside arrival on May 21 followed a restless night for her mother, who woke at about 2.40am feeling uncomfortable but not realising labour was imminent.
"I got up, walked around the house and had a bit of a stretch ... the ritual was repeated every half an hour until three hours had passed," Cinatl, from Bendigo in Victoria, wrote onthebirthstory.com.au. "It was then that I realised the discomfort waking me was not only the discomfort in my ribs but was accompanied by surges (contractions)."
After texting her doula and Gravener to let them know she was in early labour, Cinatl got into the shower while her husband Mishi packed the car and got their three-year-old son Charlie ready to leave for hospital.
By the time the family left for Castlemaine Hospital, a 35-minute drive away, Cinatl's contractions were four minutes apart and two minutes long.
Despite labouring in the front seat of the car while her husband drove, Cinatl, who is a hypnobirth instructor herself, says she was calm.
"I remained focused and controlled, breathing through each surge and working with my body as it worked for me," she says.
When Cinatl felt the need to push and realised her baby was about to be born, with about 15 minutes until they reached the hospital, she told her husband to pull over. He was reluctant to stop, believing they could make it to the hospital.
But after his wife told him she could feel the top of the baby's head, he pulled over, jumped out of the car and rushed around to the passenger side to help his wife. Baby Matilda was born into his arms moments later.
"I was completely overwhelmed with love and joy and astonishment at how little notice she had given me that she was coming out right then!" Cinatl says.
The couple was unaware their photographer had arrived at their home just as they were leaving for the hospital and was driving behind them "just in case" anything happened on the way.
But once they pulled over, Gravener grabbed her camera and captured every detail of Matilda's unique roadside birth.
"I was completely elated that she had captured that wonderous moment, a moment that still sounds fictional every time I say it out loud," Cinatl says.
"Everything was perfect. So perfect that everything I had focused on - time of day, length of labour, where Charlie would be, what she would look like, everything - was exactly as I had prayed and focused on ... except birthing in the car!"
After taking time to look around, Cinatl realised the spot where her husband had pulled over and her daughter was born was directly opposite a fruit store named the Little Red Apple Shop. This made the birth even more special as Matilda was named after her great-grandmother, who was married to an apple orchardist. Their son Charlie was named after that apple orchardist, his great-grandfather.
"It felt like she was born there with them watching over us, and it meant the world to me," Cinatl says.
Photos used with permission. See the full series at thebirthstory.com.au.
- Essential Mums