Be prepared, this might be a bit longer than my usual blog posts, and grab yourselves a tissue or two.
I am continually blown away and amazed by the people I have crossed paths with in this life. There are just so many that have touched me deep in my core, have changed my outlook and views on life, and many have gone on to become my friends. I do honestly believe that people come into our lives for reasons and for seasons, and that it isn’t just by some random chance.
When this beautiful mama started inquiring about birth photography and videography, we spent quite a few days emailing back and forth. Birth is such a personal and intimate moment in the lives of families, and she had lots of questions and concerns, understandably so. So we agreed to meet for lunch so we could talk and make sure we would be a good fit. (I do really recommend interviewing your photographer, you really want someone in your birth space that you completely trust!).
As she walked up and sat down across the table from me, she broke down. What she didn’t want to tell me via email or over the phone was that she and her husband had experienced the loss of their child. As tears streamed down her face, she pulled out an album of images from his birth, images that she now cherished and held on to, it truly was such a reverent moment as she passed it across the table to me. We talked about their fears and concerns, and naturally fell into some pretty deep conversation. She had experienced such a quick and easy birth with her son, and after losing him, was just so filled with fear. As we sat and talked, I was so torn on whether to tell her that I have been involved in the bereavement community since 2005, as I served as our hospital’s bereavement coordinator for 10 years, moderating our parent support group, and serving families who have experienced the loss of a child. At that moment a friend who I met through our parent support group walked up with her children and we breifly chatted, and all I could think was how so random that was, I literally had not seen her in years! It left me feeling like I did need to tell her a bit about myself and I did open up to her just a little bit, but really spent the majority of our time together just listening.
She expressed feeling like she was going a bit “crazy”, expressed feelings of guilt for not enjoying this pregnancy as much as she felt she should, feelings of guilt such as feeling like her son was being replaced, tremendous fear, and feeling that it was often times not completely rational. She talked about the hurtful words of friends and family members that only wanted to help, but often times said things that cut deeply. My heart just broke for her and her family, because sadly the loss of a child forever changes your outlook and views on everything, a piece of you is gone and the waves of emotion over life’s moments that were before viewed as little or minor are now are often times overwhelming. I really offered no advice, but did encourage her to not feel obligated to me at all, but to rather take her time in deciding what was best for her and her family, I would support whatever decision she made.
That really is my approach with birth photography especially. My role is never ever to tell you how or where you should birth, or what is best for you and your family. Birth decisions are very personal. I am there to document, to be the quiet bystander and observer. I truly want to capture what is most important to you, I don’t ever want to add stress to what is arguably life’s biggest moment. I take my role very seriously.
I was so excited when I received the email that she had chosen me after interviewing other photographers. I was and continue to be truly honored. We did document her maternity session, and spent lots of time talking about what and how she wanted her birth documented. She really wanted to incorporate their son into both sessions somehow, and how they did that truly was incredibly beautiful. Her birth space was filled with so much raw emotion on all ends of the spectrum.
You can find their birth story here in both their final birth story film, and birth stills.
Unlike their son, this time her labor was induced because of complications, although this did cause for a longer labor in the hospital, she was able to have members of her family there and present with her throughout her labor. The room was just so full of love and support, it really was beautiful.