This weekend my family and I will celebrate our precious boy's next milestone: His 3rd birthday and transition from toddler to preschooler.
I take a few moments to reflect fondly upon this very day, 20th September in 2016, when I made my return to modelling with a photo shoot just 48 hours before going into labour .
I was hitting 40 weeks pregnant, a heavy but blossoming ‘full term’ mum-to-be. I felt well but tired; my body busy coping with all of the weird and wonderful sensations that accompany the very final days. It had been a long 9 months filled with physical and emotional challenges. My ‘due date’ was 22nd September, and I was sure ready for it!
The hefty weight of my baby boy, who little did I know, was set to be around the 9lb mark; along with 2-3lbs of placenta and all the fluid that goes with it; were sending shooting pains down my cervix. The intense pressure of the baby bulk bearing down on my groin I remember describing as: "It's like I'm carrying a bowling ball around in my pelvis."
Breathless, needing to pee, finding it impossible to sleep comfortably; I’d had enough of being pregnant and wished the big moment would hurry up and come.
I was fully expecting to spend my remaining few days going for quiet little walks around the block, sitting in the garden, bouncing on my fitness ball amd romanticising about all the beautiful things of motherhood that I was looking forward to.
To be fair I looked pretty good on it and had enjoyed the whole 'fit pregnancy' process. As a fitness instructor I knew how to take care of my health and keep my body well conditioned during pregnancy, As such, I saw no shame in taking a few pregnant 'selfies' and putting them on Facebook.
In response, a message almost immediately hit my inbox from a photographer on my friends list. He was somebody I had partaken in modelling photo shoots with many years previously. We are talking a decade or more ago; when I was a 20-something model.
It became apparent that a keen area of photographic interest for said photographer was pregnancy. Although he’d photographed beautiful pregnant women before, I presented to him the rare and exciting chance to shoot a 40-weeker; something he had not yet done.
He asked: "Hey Victoria, how are you? You look great! The day is looking good. Up for a shoot?"
I guessed many pregnant models would shy away from a photo shoot so very close to due date. It’s quite an unnerving prospect for any woman, going into labour anywhere other than the comfort of home.
Despite the fact I was exhausted; the adventurous, often over-excited risk taker I am, sure as damn it "yes!"
A golden opportunity not to be missed; I may not ever be pregnant again. Or if I were to be, I may not be as ‘well’ as this in a future pregnancy.
In terms of modelling, I was very experienced and had ticked many boxes… fitness shoots, photographic advertising campaigns, TV commercials, lingerie and swimwear shoots, fashion shows, even glamour modelling, 'artistic' work and glamorous mens magazine features.
In fact I’d done it all, bar pregnancy. I was not even anxious that it had been about 3 years since I'd last been in front of a camera. They say modelling is like riding a bike: once you've done it, you don't forget!
So without a moment to waste I showered and washed my hair, put on some make-up and grabbed together a bag of clothes. Within 3 hours of receiving the Facebook message, I was on a rooftop in Bournemouth, enjoying the fresh sea air whilst being photographed with my glorious 40 week boy bump!
I'm smiling so much at the memories of this photo shoot as it marked such a pinnacle point in my life. I was about to become a first time mum, a commitment I would be bound to for the rest of my days!
48 hours after that memorable model shoot I went into labour.
24 hours after that, I met the gorgeous healthy baby boy I'd nurtured and carried so lovingly for 9 months.
Christian was born at 23:01 on 23.09.2016, weighing in at 9lbs.
Photo credit: Ken Hawkins, Bournemouth