Someone asked me once, what is my favorite birth, my favorite birth story. A series of images flashed through my head in succession.
These moments, were rain clouds pouring over a land in drought. These years I have spent, just in the beginning of my birth work journey- watered my soul. Birth is my oasis. But do I have a favorite birth? The images flash by, ones I have taken, and a few I didn't capture but hold in my heart just the same.
My first birth. My hands were steady, but inside I was shaking when I reached out to rub her back, whispering low quiet words. Trying to fill a void before her support team arrived. Trying to reassure her and comfort her- not realizing that my quiet voice that I feared so much wasn't loud enough, was ideal for the occasion. I was afraid to speak up, I was SO new to birth, so new to observing the waves. But that quiet voice came from somewhere inside me, it was more then nerves, drawing from a place of instinct and spirituality... it served her well. She labored in a mine field of legos as I shadowed her with love. I admired her feeding her children breakfast and laboring through contraction after contraction. She later told me, that I had acted like a doula- not just a birth photographer. And that was my first clue that my journey would take me so far beyond photographs.
The first time I witnessed water being used in labor. A hospital water birth too. The way the nurses and staff rushed to fill a tub with hot water from coffee pot machines because the hot water in the entire hospital was off for the morning.
This was also the first time I saw a doula in action. The first time I witnessed that magic bond of trust, of wordless communication, and patient support.
The magic of the light coming through the windows.
The beauty of a bond between her and her husband. The vulnerability I was trusted to hold space for.
The second home birth I attended, and the POWER I witnessed here. The enchanting moments will live in my heart forever. The sound of the child. The sound of the mother. When they embraced one another for the first time. The quiet of how everyone cleaned up and went home, and this family went on with their life so simply.
That time I was at a beautiful home birth and witnessed not one birth but two. A baby, and the birth of a siblings koala bear. The way she cleaned up the space, wrapped up the babe, and took her to the midwife for a check up. Witnessing the beauty of the childs future- knowing she's going to grow up informed and empowered when it comes to birth- what a moment!
OOOOOOOhhhhhhh. The cesarean lotus birth. The empowerment through advocacy in this space was tangible. The team was so strong! This was when I was introduced to some of my favorite birth workers for the first time. And to witness a cesarean lotus birth in the first place was just SO special. But then, the joy on this mothers heart. On a day that so many morn their birth experience loss- it was incredible. I loved loved loved being able to witness that.
Image upon image flashed through my mind. These tiny detailed moments, and the photographs that tell their stories so tenderly. There are SO MANY.
How do I choose? It really is like choosing among your children. You just can't.
I have so many favorite moments. Do I have a favorite birth?
The answers evaded me then, but now I know.
If I do have a favorite birth, it is unspecific to person- but specific to circumstance. My favorite birth- is a supported one. An empowered one. A birth in which everyone works together to support the mental health of the mother while doing the obvious- getting the baby here safely. A birth in which a mother is allowed the support she needs- whatever that looks like.
It is not specific to home birth, hospital birth, cesarean birth, outside or inside, educated or uneducated. It comes down to that one so simple, yet ever so evasive thing.
Does the mother have support to the fullest? Does she have what she needs, and WHO she needs?
When she does. When policy, culture, regulations, fears, and traumas don't keep her from having those things- that. That is. That is my favorite birth.
And I will continue to advocate, write, support, cry, scream, love, care, and hold space until I see every mom have the chance for this. The lack of mental and spiritual birth support access in an advanced country- is appalling. We have seen ample evidence of it the last few years as everything from racism and bias, to toxic culture and covid policies, have continuously prevented mothers from having the support they deserve during their births, losses, and victories. Our mothers are literally raising our future. And So often, we fail them. It's a no wonder they so often fall.
They deserve, at the very minimum- the support they desire during birth.
I have said it before, and I will say it again. We MUST support the mothers in our lives. Every single one of us on this earth. We are the village. YOU are the village. If they are taken care of, the children will be better taken care of. The capability of a well loved and supported mother- is endless. Think of the good a child's future can hold- if only the mother has the capability to fully birth, raise, and love them. For every issue on our planet- I truly believe that peace on earth begins at birth. For this very reason, and so many more. <3
Support is everything.
If you need birth support, resources, or a safe space to talk about absolutely anything- this is your invitation to reach out to me.
From suicide, to Postpartum depression and other mental health challenges, to loss and death, to hope, to cheering for you in anyway, I am here for it all, ready for it all. Ask for help. Find your safe space. Birth with the support you need. If you don't have it, create it. Before you give birth. It is so much harder afterwards, and it's never easy.
Sending out love from an endless source, to every reader.
-Your Wildwood Birthkeeper,