Cue the Christmas music, and the sweet noel's. This birth held a magical space. A Christmas miracle in August. A story I am now sharing in June. A bright spot in the dark, a miracle in the depths. This was a birth with a mama I had worked with many times, who became a friend. I have been able to watch her family grow through my photos, and that's really my favorite thing in the world. It makes things so personal and sweet, allows me to capture moments in a special way that comes with personal connection.
We knew this little ones birth was going to be special, and also hard and full of depth. I hope I can give due honor to this birth story, with some beautiful photos, and words from the heart.
Mama had just lost her best friend, the one who would have been by her side to comfort and support her. Little momentous of her presence were all around us. Mama wore a necklace that had been her's, a harry potter necklace that said "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." mama said it truly fit the strong personality of this women.
Jessica Noelle, watching over sweet baby Noel who was making her way into the world. Mama's eyes lit up, and her nerves calmed when she spoke of this friend that was such a big part of her life.
"She was just so full of life, a person you'd never expect to be gone. Her energy was so beautiful. It's so hard to imagine the world without her in it."
You can see in this story and in these photos, how she carries this with her, their memories, and the feminine strength in the bond that they shared. It gave her a look in her eyes, a tenderness around her words, when she touches her belly the love was vibrant and visible in a way I can not express.
We hung string lights, and diffused peppermint oil. We played Christmas music, and watched a rainstorm play out its symphony outside. Each time a nurse walked into the room they lit up, and smiled, and exclaimed how beautiful and wonderful the space was. Ha! It makes me laugh remembering the joy that was present in this room! All the staff took turns coming in so everyone could enjoy a slice of the peace we created together here.
I had the great honor of deeply supporting this mama and her family during this birth, in the roll of birth keeper, beyond photography. I came not only to document, but to take part, to help create this space, and bring a spirit with me of grace and holding, to help mama through some hard moments. It was a beautiful meaningful time I will not forget.
This birth started with steady waiting, quiet conversation, and beautiful soft moments and memories. When things got more intense, this mama found strength in herself and for a time experienced as much of a med free birth as she desired to, and then when she was ready, she welcomed the epidural with gratitude and a bit of good humor.
Dad kept drinking coffee, telling me how he had a feeling he was going to need it. He fed her ice, supported her, brushed her hair, and made jokes about doing his 50%. He gave her space when she needed it, and humor when she needed that. His voice was quiet, he brushed her long beautiful hair, and gave in to his own emotions of life and strength, while making so much room for hers.
During this birth the doctor was amazing, he had been delivering babies since the 90's and had a fair share of wisdom and comfort in his tone. Mama knew him well and loved that he was going to be there. While mama took a a bathroom break he and I talked about birth photography. He talked about his sisters delivery photos, how proud she was to share them. He expressed amazement over how the photos didn't focus on the body but on the miracle of birth in a storytelling way.
I talked about my passion for the job, and he listened and said he could see how the photos could help mothers in a way that's similar to how looking back on a journal can help. Re-framing the mind to see there was more going on then just your perspective, more then just what your mind has zeroed in on, in looking back at the event.
When her labor went on past his shift he stuck around, honoring her request that she needed him to be there for this, to keep her feeling safe, to be the one to deliver her child. We don't often get to see a relationship between Dr and patient with so much rotation and automation these days. It was respectable and honorable and amazing to witness. I want to see more of this.
Mama dealt with many things that came up. She was a warrior in this long birth, meeting each moment and working through it. To see these moments come and go and change and change again, and to see the grace within her, building- was humbling. The long hours I spent with them, gave me space and taught me things about myself and birth and life and death, and how it can so closely coexist. It was one of my first deeper lessons in grief. Just three short months later, I experienced my own birth that coexisted with grief, and I pulled much strength from these moments. This birth taught me so much and helped me become a better birth worker. It also put me off peppermint for a few days haha! Mama clung to that sweet oil to uplift her and keep her strong every second. When I attended a birth after this one, I actually found myself craving the smell again.
Baby was born just as the morning was peeking in. It was a beautiful birth, and seeing mama and babe together in this world for the first time was amazing. It was ethereal, like the night sky, or the magic of dawn.
I remember thinking; Motherhood becomes her. She was here, this mama in this space. A mother before, but something new born again here, fierce with a gentle and beautiful feminine wildness and strength.
No matter how many times you give birth, its always a transformation. Always a birthing of a mother as well as child. It always changes the world, and changes those who witness it. Fill your space with pride mothers, do not be afraid of the space you take up. Honor yourself and all those who come before you, and all those who come after you. Birth, in every way, create your spaces, take what you need. Birth and capture those births, write about them, hire photographers, never stop talking about them. I never want to stop listening.
The world needs these stories. These births. These mothers.
Sweet baby Noel, we thank you for your beauty and your life, and for everything else you bring to the world.