Happy Anxiety, is this a thing? Well, I truly can say this is the feeling that fills me up hours away from birth. When a mama is near her birth or over due. Each day is a strategic symphony of energy, business scheduling, family scheduling, baby sitter and grandparent scheduling. Keeping groceries in check , activities in check, back up transportation, back up activities, lists of resources that fit each individual child, have I eaten today?–all for the moment that I get the call to zip up the bag and head out the door. The bag has been checked and double checked. Batteries charged and recharged. Compact flash discs cleared and multiple on back up. Everything I might need or find helpful to be away from my home and my family for an undetermined amount of time. This is Birth Photography. The behind the birth photographer view.
What is needed to do this job? Patience, passion, compassion, art, skillfulness with light. Ease of presence. This list can go on for the photographer personally. There is also, in my life, a family that is flexible and loving. A husband who is resilient and can step up, when I step out. Children who can appreciate the simple and edited stories I share with them about why I was gone for so long, and how important I think my job is. When I leave, they say, “Please don’t go!” and when I return, they say, “Was it a boy or a girl?”
Birth Photography requires an on-call life and a be present life. Once I am on a birth, I may be working for 15 hours. I may take a 30 minute nap in the waiting room, while mama naps. I may be working my SQUAT as I take a position in the OR.
There have been times when the camera comes second. I have put the camera aside to assist, in what strangely becomes a little bit my story. I have held and rocked a baby, so a loving husband could stand by his wife as she was prepped to re-enter the OR. I have become a willing messenger, letting nurses know the needs of my client- she is thirsty, her back is hurting, she says she feels pressure, she wants you to come back now, the monitor is beeping etc. I have passed cold wash clothes to midwives and drug over the medical bag in a time of need.
As a birth photographer I am a QUIET, FEELING, VESSEL. I hold the stories of every birth story I have witnessed. I hold the stories through my lens and also my eyes, even when my camera was not permitted. I hold the now hushed stories of the OR, so thankful I have been permitted in to deliver a seamless story to my client, yet I leave with the KNOWING. Truths that aren’t discussed and truths that are CELEBRATED! Stories of YURT births, and water births, birth center births, and cesarean births, TWIN births. Hypno births, and yelling- shouting births.
Last weekend was back to back birth for me. I had some amazing resources on board. I worked with an amazing doula who kept me in the know–knowing I was eating, sleeping, not sleeping and scheduling like a mad woman on the back end. Thank you, thank you Marisa! The first birth, scheduled induction, twin vaginal delivery in the OR. Oh yeah! What a great, loving, fun couple. They could not have been matched better with their OB. Stand up man. So cool, can’t really say enough. Because birth is BIRTH. That 7 a.m. induction was a full day into the night story of patience. Two beautiful, healthy twin boys were born! SECOND birth of the weekend- what another amazing story of patience and endurance, stamina and family. Mama was quite a warrior. Friday night to Monday right before noon, was the journey. Handsome baby boy, born into this world!
Bless these families that choose me. Bless my family that supports me. Bless my hands, my eyes, and my heart that guide me. Bless the providers that nurture and perform their jobs well.
There is a December birth not featured, yet featured in my heart and memory. Possibly soon, or never. And that is also the role and responsibility of a Birth Photographer, to hold silently the story for another.