A good friend of mine, fellow Canadian birth photographer Cat McAteer, sent me a link to her latest birth slideshow last night. It was an incredibly beautiful home birth, where the birthing mama caught her own baby in the birth pool, with the assistance of her midwife and the love and support of her husband and two older boys. I teared up watching it, very touched but also feeling sad that I cannot remember the first few moments of my birth with Elliotte, my first baby.
In that moment, I felt the terrible ache of that lost memory. I suspect it might have a little to do with the fact that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and that this baby was what made me a mother.
There is one single photo that has become the saving grace of my first birth. My sister took it with her point and shoot – I was sitting up against the bath tub, with Derek beside me, holding Elliotte in a towel. The best detail in that photo is that her umbilical cord was still attached to the placenta inside me. It will always be one of those cherished photos that I will forever be grateful for.
Whenever I look back on my first baby and my own birth story, I realize that it has become a big reason why I want to photograph births. I know it’s not for everyone, and not all mothers want it. But when I get invited into a mother’s birth space, and witness how she embraces the struggles and finds the strength to reach the finish line so that she can meet her baby, I am humbled.
Baby Sullivan took a while to arrive, but when labour started, he came in a hurry. From the moment I stepped into the hospital room to the time his parents got to meet him, was a whole whopping 40 minutes. Not to take away from the moment Baby Sullivan was put on his mother’s chest, but I will say that the preamble conversation that was happening in those 40 minutes prior were some of the most hilarious ones I had ever heard between mom and dad!
Robin & Graham, Thank You so much for having me there to see yet another beautiful life come earthside. And for me to be there again to see little Emerson meet his baby brother and to photograph the love support you are surrounded by when your families came with their congratulations. I will be forever grateful for families like yours because it helps me remember what it would have looked like had I chosen to have my births documented.