I’m so excited to welcome Michelle, from Just An Ordinary Family to be a guest blogger today! She writes about her experience hiring a Birth Photographer, her worries, and her excitement. I loved reading her story, and I hope you will too!
Claire was born in the wee hours of the morning on a sunny summer Sunday. She came into the world to dimly lit lights, a quiet room and her mom and dad were waiting eagerly for her. The hour preceding her birth was filled with intense pushing, but it was peaceful and lacked any kind of hectic urgency. The first thing I saw was her birth mark on her stomach. I remember them having to use a small vacuum to suck meconium out of her throat so she could breathe. I remember her laying on me without a diaper, and she pooped. I remember thinking it was the cutest little poop ever. A mother’s love, am I right?
The rest of the details are vague. It is such a crazy time, having a baby. The height of emotions, the utter exhaustion, the adrenaline pumping through you; you try so hard to soak in the precious beginnings. All I have to rely on is my foggy memory and the details told to me by my husband and family that arrived shortly after.
Jane’s arrival was more dramatic. My goodness! I became a gymnast during her birth. It was so intense, so rushed and the sense of urgency to get her out without assistance or a c-section was looming over me like a cloud. When it came time to push her out, it was the most inwardly focused I have ever been. I was able to block everyone else out of the room (at the end, there were quite a few of them) and channel all my strength from inside. My mom and husband were there for support and I couldn’t tell you where they were during that time. My midwife was there as well as an obstetrician. They were all cheering me on to push Jane earth side.
As intense and crazy as that time was, I can look back at the photos I have and see the beauty in all of it. I look at the photo of me with my eyes all scrunched up, a cold cloth on my head and the strength I can see in that photo…wow. I feel so incredibly proud of myself. I see that photo and I look right past the pain, into my soul and I want to beat my chest with my fists. I did that! I birthed an eight pound five ounce baby!
When I look at the photo of Jane leaving my body into her new world I am filled with a sense of awe. Her bottom half was still inside, and there she is, her face all scrunched up being born into this world. Her very first moment ever is frozen in time in one amazing photo. I didn’t get to see that in person because I was preoccupied at the time. But because Michelle was there with her camera, I get to see it from a whole new perspective.
When Michelle first approached me about birth photography, she was still pregnant herself. I loved the idea of it, but I honestly had no idea what that looked like in reality. I went home and looked up birth photography images and found myself weeping at these photos of families I didn’t even know. When I talked to my husband about it, he wasn’t keen on the idea. He loved that our first birth experience was quiet, intimate and just the two of us. I mentioned it a few more times, and he always had a similar response.
Michelle had hired a photographer for birth of her second baby. After Michelle received her photos back from her birth photographer, it was a done deal. Spencer and I both watched the video compilation with tears in our eyes. Each precious moment was captured. Those tender moments of waiting, the intenseness of contractions and pushing, and finally, the sweet embrace between parents and baby.
We told Michelle we would love to have her there to take photos for us. I hadn’t even had the baby yet, and I could already hardly wait to see the photos from it! Knowing that Michelle is an incredibly skilled photographer, and that she would be there to take photos of all those details of Jane’s birth meant the world to me.
When the day came, we texted Michelle in the wee hours of the morning to tell her it was Baby Day. She had been vacationing at the Shuswap with her family, and of course Jane chose to come during that time. Michelle packed up her kids and headed back down to the coast. All the while she had been texting with my husband and mom about the progress of my labour.
Michelle met us at the hospital when I was 5cm dilated. At this point I was in quite a bit of pain, and I was happy to see her there, but couldn’t focus on it too much. She rubbed my back and gave me some great encouragement. I had been using some pain management while I waited for my epidural. She captured so many tender and sweet moments during this time; Spencer giving me water and holding my hands during a contraction. One of my most favourite images is one of me perched on the bed with my mom embracing me from behind. All of these small moments in time that seem so insignificant, but play a huge roll in the process of labour and waiting for baby.
Michelle was so quiet, moving around everyone in the background, I didn’t even think about her being there. Not once did it cross my mind to give her my ‘best angle’ or ‘what about my double chin?’ while pushing. All of those thoughts go right out the window in the throngs of labour. I didn’t notice her, I didn’t think about her and her camera, but boy, when those pictures came back was I ever glad she was there!
Some of those images are so precious to me I couldn’t put a price tag on them. Ones of my husband and I during labour, the ones of Jane as she is being birthed and up onto my chest, the first time we met. I have those images forever. Ones of my husband and I admiring her, holding her and inspecting her. The ones of my mom and my in-laws embracing each other are so sweet. And of course, when our oldest daughter arrived to see her new sister are the photos I have framed. The first photo we have as a family of 4. I can’t even think about that moment without tears coming to my eyes. Claire holding her baby sister for the first time, looking down on her with such intense love! It is printed and framed and I have that there to look at whenever my kids are driving me nuts.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words. And these pictures are worth that and more. These images are powerful and priceless. It has given me a keepsake I will always treasure. For a while, we had been toying with the idea of whether or not we wanted to have another baby. In all honesty, when I thought about being done, I was sad I wouldn’t have another chance at more birth photography! I loved it so much, for me it was almost a factor in whether or not I would want to do it all over again.
My husband agrees, although he was reluctant and hesitant to add another person to the room – and one with a camera- he says it was worth every penny. He too didn’t notice Michelle’s presence, didn’t feel like she was impeding in anyway and is also so thankful to have those photos forever. The photos are in no way vulgar, inappropriate or gross. In fact, they are in every way the opposite. I happily show the photos to anyone who wants to see. I have them printed into a book that sits on our coffee table. I want them to be accessible to our girls, so they too can be part of that very special day, and see how normal and beautiful birth is.
Michelle and her husband Spencer have been married almost 8 years. Together they have two daughters, Claire who is 4 and Jane is who 10 months. They reside just South of Vancouver, B.C. Michelle is the founder and author of the family and lifestyle blog, Just an Ordinary Family, and Spencer is a Chiropractor. Claire is a budding entertainer and Taylor Swift impersonator. Jane, well Jane is just a sweet little spectator of her old sister.
To view more of the Jane’s birth, you can see the full blog post HERE