After 40 hours of labor, my memory was a blur. I honestly never thought I'd be in labor that long. I figured 24 hours was a good, solid expectation for my first baby. But no, I was wrong, and was forced to press on. There are glimpses I remember: I can still hear the water running in the birth tub; I recall climbing stairs to try and open things up and then falling against my husband when a strong contraction caught me off guard. Then there was the transfer to the hospital (most of my labor was spent at a birthing center). Finally, almost two full days after my water broke, there it was: a snapshot of me holding my newborn baby girl. My memories are few and far between when I think back on my daughter's birth, and the memories I do have are marked by the handful of photos that were taken. Photos give such a strong visual reminder of the journey I took to birth her and I only wish there were more to better fill in the story.
I'm thankful I have the memories I do. But I know exhaustion took away many worthwhile moments. I wish I had a photo of my husband and I together. I wish there was one of my midwife massaging my back. Even a photo of the birth center would be welcome so I could tell my daughter, "This is where your journey began." So when we found I was expecting again, the first thing I did was hire a birth photographer.
Without my birth photographer, these moments would all be a blur. I'd know they happened, just like I do with my daughter's birth, but they wouldn't be documented, logged away for posterity, forever a priceless representation of my life-changing experience.
During my first pregnancy, I knew birth photography existed, but frankly, it wasn't in our budget. I packed my camera in our birth bag, but during all the commotion and stress of my long labor, it didn't capture much. Had I known what I know now, I would have insisted on finding that extra money to hire someone. Birth memories are priceless. Maybe not always Facebook-worthy, but special in the sense that I would be forever grateful to have the opportunity to look back and relive the difficult, amazing experience of birthing my daughter.
When I was pregnant again, a birth photographer was first on my list of must-haves. Thankfully, I have a professional photographer friend who offered her services and we got to work pinning birth inspiration in preparation of my son's debut. Throughout the entire planning process, I had waves of doubt. Did I really want someone up in my business with a camera during labor? What if my son freaks out someday when he sees a photo of him crowning? How will I feel looking back at a photo and seeing how ravaged I look during the throes of labor?
But, I pressed on. Because now I know better. Without photos, it'll all become a blur. That's what happened with my daughter's birth, and I was bound and determined to avoid the same fate with my son's delivery.
Looking at the photos from my son's birth, I see strength in my face; determination in my stance. I swell at the sight of my handsome husband as he touches our son for the very first time.
When I stare at these moments, I immediately go back to that special day. The hot, summer night when my water broke at 2:20 a.m. and labor progressed so quickly that we never even had time to leave home to drive to the birthing center. My doula arrived and I cried tears of joy when she calmed my fears about riding in the car. She said the solution was simple, we could ask the midwife to come to us instead. And so, in the wee hours of August 9, as my midwife made her way from our originally intended birth place to my home, I had my first home birth. And it was all captured by my photographer. The gripping tale of my son's unplanned home birth. The story we never thought would happen, but did. And now, not only is it remembered through memories, it's remembered through amazing photos too.
Looking at the photos from my son's birth, I see strength in my face; determination in my stance. I swell at the sight of my handsome husband as he touches our son for the very first time. To this day, tears still come to my eyes when I see the photo of my son's open mouth, searching for me, so instinctual.
Without my birth photographer, these moments would all be a blur. I'd know they happened, just like I do with my daughter's birth, but they wouldn't be documented, logged away for posterity, forever a priceless representation of my life-changing experience. Thankfully I have these photos — 255 of them, in fact.
All the money I "saved" by not having a photographer at my daughter's birth cripple me. I want those pictures so desperately, and I can't go back and get them.
I know birth photography isn't for everyone. People have told me on more than one occasion in more than one way that I'm "crazy," "weird," and "too hippie." I get it. I invited someone outside of my immediate family unit into an extremely intimate part of my life. I was naked, vulnerable, emotional. Who wants to share that? The answer is: Me. I wanted the experience documented because I believe that birth is such a part of my womanhood. It's a part of my motherhood. It's beautiful and rare.
To witness, in stills, all the little moments I would've missed because I was busy doing; to see all the moments I know I want to remember for a lifetime — it's what made the decision worth it. Looking back, all the money I "saved" by not having a photographer at my daughter's birth cripple me. I want those pictures so desperately, and I can't go back and get them. But I'm so glad I did it the second time around. It was a way to give myself praise. I did an amazing thing. Every single day, women do amazing things. We bring life into the world. We create futures, opportunities, hopes, and dreams. We photograph all of life's major celebrations — so I figured, why not begin with birth?