Today was Addy’s first day of Kindergarten. Such a special day, even if it’s just homeschool! She wanted her hair curled and picked out this awesome outfit all by herself. She’s VERY excited!
This Mama is one of those people that you meet and instantly feel as if you’ve known forever, a friend for life. I was so SO excited to photograph this Mama’s birth so I was a little anxious knowing that I had an another birth scheduled for the week that I just really felt her baby would be born. I wanted to attend both births – I did not want ANY overlaps! Greedy, I knowI know this Mama was a little worried as well. These things usually work out and this birth was no exception. Just like clockwork, I got a call early Friday morning that labor had started.
I have to say that it is VERY rare to see a first time Mom so completely at ease with being in labor. She trusted her body, she trusted the process and she allowed it to unfold exactly how it was meant to unfold. She had me start heading her way in early afternoon. No hurry, no rush. Just wind my way there, run some errands if I want…oh can pick up some cantaloupe and grapes on the way please!?
When I arrived, Mama was resting and Daddy was getting ready to cook up a delicious dish that filled the house with the most amazing aromas. It was truly just life as usual. No one was panicking, no one was anxious. The energy was calming and peaceful. I wondered if maybe Mom wasn’t in active labor yet after all? But when she came out from resting, it was clear by the frequency of contractions that she was definitely in active labor.
Watching Mom labor was like watching a miracle unfold. It was watching every woman around the world and throughout history who came before her. She was in complete touch with her body and every time her head started to pull her even a little away from that connection to her body, she’d change course and reconnect with her body immediately. I know this because she narrated her birth in the most completely amazing way. She would wonder out loud “how could this really be labor? Are these contractions? Is this normal? It does not matter. It is all normal FOR ME. My body is doing what it is designed to do. I trust my body.” I honestly feel like the most blessed person on Earth for being able to witness and hear this narration of the most amazing miraculous transition that a woman experiences.
Around 6:15 Mom’s body started sending her strong signals during contractions that it was time to start heading into the birth center. In between contractions, she was still in awe and shock and disbelief that she was finally in labor. She wondered if her baby would be born in the early morning or late into the night. She wondered when exactly she should announce that she was in labor to anxiously waiting friends and family. Yet a contraction would come that told her, in no uncertain terms, that the time was growing close.
We started packing up to head on in when the car key went missing! The stuff that sitcoms are made from! They tore apart the car and house while I stood lamely by wishing I could help more but not sure what to look for or where. In between contractions Mom suggested that the key may be under the car and sure enough, it was! And we were off!
We arrived at the birth center around 7:15 and Mom began vocalizing through contractions. Very different from before, I knew things were going to progress fast and furious. She and Dad were a beautiful team. Mom stayed connected to her body during each contraction and, in between, she sang along to beautiful praise and tribal music. It was so incredibly moving that both myself and the birth assistant had to step out at times to wipe our tears.
At 9:11pm baby Sharon was born peacefully and gently into the water and up into his Mama’s arms. He was quiet and soulful and so content to just stare into the eyes of his Mama and Daddy. All was right in the world for this new family of three!
Congratulations to the Sharon family – welcome to the world sweet baby. To Mom: you have a baby!!!!!! I am so proud of you. Your labor and birth could have been one of those amazing childbirth videos that we women watch during pregnancy and are told exist but not to expect for ourselves. And yet you took nothing for granted and you were prepared for anything. You were not anxious, you trusted in your body and the perfect design. You tapped into the women who came before you. And Dad, when Mom needed more than she could find within you were there – her rock – guiding her and loving her and holding her. I am so blessed to have been a witness to such a beautiful day with such a perfect ending (and beginning) – baby Sharon.
I knew a few days in advance that we’d meet baby S, named after his Daddy and his Daddy’s Daddy, on Thursday so I had plenty of time to prepare. Mom kept me updated and I headed out as planned. Still, birth is unpredictable, even when it’s planned! And things quickly went from manageable to very painful for Mom! I knew she was holding off on the epidural for my arrival and I hurried to get there quickly.
Mom is such a beautiful, joyful spirit. When I met her, I just fell in love with her amazing attitude. She radiated love for her little boy. I don’t know what I was expecting (except that I know how well I would handle the level of pain she was in) but I should not have been surprised to see Mom breathing through each contraction, relaxing through them, riding the wave like a pro and filling the room with her smiles and laughter in between. I was so impressed!
Soon enough (although probably none too soon for Mom!) pain relief arrived and the atmosphere at this birth could be described as nothing less than a party! This Mom and Dad are blessed to be supported by a huge family network and they all arrived to wait out baby S’s arrival. It’s easy to see where these two get their good nature and fabulous personalities! The family partied for hours in the waiting room full of hope and excitement. They drifted in and out of Mom’s room, visiting when it felt appropriate and letting her rest when she needed it. A baby has never been so completely (and literally!) surrounded by the love of an extended family at birth, I don’t think! It was beautiful.
The hours ticked by and Mom made progress but baby S was growing weary and was ready to be born via cesarean birth. Not the outcome they were hoping for, Mom and Dad didn’t let this news bring them down for long. They’re great attitudes pulled them through and onward they went to meet their sweet baby boy!
Soon enough, Daddy was rolling baby S down the hall to meet his anxious family! There were many tears shed – I will skip posting those photos for to protect the innocent
I’m so proud of this family for rolling with the punches and taking life moment by moment. Their attitude is an attitude many people can learn from and one that will serve them well as parents – now that life will never be predictable againCongrats to the family – and the extended family! And welcome to the world, baby S., a blessing and a gift to the world!
If you follow this blog or my Facebook page then you may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet in Photography-land. The reason for that is two-fold. First, in the spring I launched a new off-shoot of my photography business, PhotoBlogHelp.com offering website support to photographers. It took off pretty quickly and it’s work I really enjoy so that’s taken some time away from picking up the camera.
More than that, though, I’ve been struggling for the last few years to find the balance that all of us Mothers struggle to find. My children must come first but often times they don’t, I’m ashamed to admit. I have a son who is turning 17 this fall and I see the remnants of his childhood fleeting and I know I need to shift the balance back toward my children for awhile. Their childhoods will speed by and I’ll have the rest of my life to pursue my own career interests.
So I took a drastic step back this summer and stopped shooting sessions while I evaluated the direction of my business and life. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I really must focus on my birth photography business and my family. I’m not “retiring” from sessions forever but I am taking a real step back and putting some severe limits on the number, type and location of sessions I’ll accept going forward. I’ve also restructured my session and product pricing completely to reflect these changes.
Finally I would like to have time and energy to pick up the camera and photograph my children, my husband, my pets. I haven’t really taken any true photos of my family since pursuing professional photography and I’m sad about that. So although I won’t be posting as many sessions here going forward, I still plan to post photos – the photos I’ll begin taking right away – from my life. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for birth sneak peeks. I’m booked for births through 2011 so there should be a nice steady stream of new family love to share!
I don’t know what it is lately but so many of my clients have had their patience tested as they’ve had to wait and wait and WAIT for their babies to be born! Amanda and Mike had hoped that Everly would make her debut in June. In fact, I worried that she might have me running straight from my last birth to her birth. None of us would have dared to predict that she’d make her parents wait until almost 42 weeks.
On Friday morning Amanda called to say that her attempts to help kick-start labor seemed not to be working at all. She was going to give it one more try, though. A few hours later I got a text that her contractions were 3 minutes apart and getting bad. Another Friday baby after all! We met at Nativiti an hour later at 1:30.
It was clear to me that things were serious as soon as I walked in the room. It was a railroad labor and Amanda was doing nothing short of an amazing job just hanging on for the ride and taking each contraction as it came. She was complete and ready to push by 3:30!
Usually this is the point in labor when things start getting a little easier. Or at least they feel more productive for the Mom. She has something she can do instead of just enduring painful contractions and the end is in sight! I think we all expected Everly to slide into the world in just a few minutes, like her big brother. But she had other plans.
Positioned awkwardly, Everly just would not budge. Her parents knew she’d be a big baby but that wasn’t the issue – there was plenty of room for her to be born. She just wouldn’t budge. Amanda tried every trick in the book. She tried and she tried and she tried. There was a feeling of exhaustion and frustration in the room. Honestly it had not been too long but it felt like hours and hours had passed without much progress. Usually the opposite is the case: hours pass in what feels like minutes. This was new for me and I am sure it was new for Amanda and Mike whose first baby was born within a few pushes.
Then something happened. I don’t know what it was but the feeling in the room shifted palpably, all at once. I found myself fighting back tears – something that rarely happens to me at a birth and certainly never before the baby’s even born! Frustration turned to motivation and determination. Amanda, as if she suddenly knew instinctively exactly what she needed to do, got in the one perfect position that Everly needed in order to be born. And she was born a few minutes later at 5:14pm – happy, healthy and fat!
Feet – you know I can’t help myself!
I like to talk about birth. But this birth has me speechless. I wish I could find the right words to convey the power and beauty I witnessed that day. All in all, Amanda and Mike were only at the birth center for less than 4 hours before Everly was born but it felt like a lifetime in the strangest way. Time slowed down, sometimes stood still. Amanda endured in a way that I would not believe a woman was capable of if I had not seen it with my own eyes. She pushed aside exhaustion and frustration and touched her instincts. And she was rewarded with the most precious gift. Mike championed his wife and believed in her and never wavered. He cheered her on and celebrated her with pride in his eyes when he met his baby daughter.
Congratulations on your miracle, Amanda and Mike, and welcome to the world sweet Everly!