When I sit down with a client for the first time, my intention is to open the floor to give them that rare gift of space, and I listen. Sometimes I ask questions to get to know them or to get them thinking and talking. I listen to learn about their daily life and what it looks like, about their family, any part of their history they choose to share with me. I want to hear their visions and dreams for this upcoming birth,
but most of all I want to understand their relationship with birth.
What do they think of when birth comes to mind? Is their relationship with birth based on experience? Media or social standards? Is it rooted with fear, or hope, or desire, or apathy? I listen and look for areas that need a soft hand, gentle care, or encouragement. I look for where their boundaries are placed so I can hold space for them, respect them, and protect them if I need to. I look to find where the light is, and where the gaps in birth education or previous birth care are. All of this helps me be the best birthkeeper I can for them. It helps me understand where they want to be, vs where they are. It lets me know how cared for they are, or are going to be apart from my own support. It shares with me where any potentials for trauma or anxiety may be, and where I can bring my skills, resources, and knowledge to aide them.
Every once and a while, I am blessed to meet a mother like Aleyda. <3 A birthworker herself, filled with knowledge, and I learned so much from her during our journey. Her pregnancy, birth, and postpartum seasons were so FULL. Full of life, of opportunity, of care, and careful planning. Her relationship with birth was healthy and rich and based both in experience and in education. Her family was the true definition of a tribe. Her support ran deep and wide.
If I could have any wish for my birth mamas, it would be that they all have such a level of support as this.
I entered this birth space and left it knowing she would be fully cared for. It was an incredible feeling.
She invited me to the most beautiful mothers blessing ceremony.
We documented her pregnancy in a beautiful intimate space in her new home. She shone with the light and love she carried for for birth, for herself, her child, and for her family.
After days of prodromal labor mother birthed quickly, suddenly. Her birth pool did get filled, her photographer (me) and her doula did not arrive in time. Her family were all asleep across the county. She gave birth with her husband and her midwife by her side. She had hired and flown in a traditional midwife, who's care and attention to detail was incredible. She stayed with this family, arriving just before her mothers blessing ceremony, blessing us all with her stories and nourishment. She cleaned up, cooked for mother, and did anything she deemed in need of doing. She connected with the family and children, made a sacred and traditional cacao drink for mother to prepare her body and soul for labor. It was such an honor to work alongside her, I wish all midwives had her heart.
When I arrived mother and baby were tucked into a bed in her "postpartum room", a space dedicated and decorated for this very moment. She would room in with baby during this time, and be cared for and greeted by every member of her family. They came, they cherished. The children were in awe of the new baby, of the placenta and chord, and they listed attentively to all the knowledge the birth space whispered to their hearts.
A few hours after birth they held a cord burning ceremony full of warmth and light. Midwife made a placenta smoothie for mom. The children stole away to huddle up under blankets in the empty birthing tub where they played games and laughed together and talked about the adventure of the night. The grandmothers and midwives cleaned and cooked and cooed over mama and baby. Family, with soft hands, trickled in and out of the space bringing light and love upon entering, and leaving with overflowing hearts and eyes.
Below are just a select few of the multitude of enchanting moments I was able to document for this family.
When I took my leave everyone was settling into early morning naps, and snuggles. The sun rose and met me on the road with soft wet streets and a beautiful intentional rainbow. <3