Every birth story is different.
But one thing seems to be universal: detailed memories of your birth experience don’t last forever.
Blame it on adrenaline, fatigue, too much going on, or just nature’s way of blocking out all the trauma your body just went through; eventually, a lot of the actual memories fade and all you have left is the story.
This rings so true for me.
The first few hours after Aurora was born, the whole experience was incredibly fresh in my mind (and let me tell you, I was traumatized, for sure). And over the course of the next week, in discussing the birth day with friends, it was all crystal clear.
But as time wore on, it all become less of a memory, and more of a story that I would continually recite.
The feelings associated with the experience – the overwhelming pain, anxiety, stress and strain, and then the incredible relief, excitement, joy and pure love – didn’t linger any longer. They were erased, and replaced by a narrative.
During the final stages of pregnancy, I came across a post on social media that made a case for why you should consider hiring a birth photographer.
“Birth photographer?” I wondered to myself. “Like a photographer who captures the first posed shots of your newborn?”
I was clueless. So I read on.
Birth photography is becoming more and more popular of a practice, and yet, I had no idea what it consisted of or whether it was right for me.
Once I found out that it entails a photographer being present in the hospital room, while you’re in labor and ultimately as you deliver, I was mortified.
“Why would I want to document that?!?”
I instantly thought of that birth video they make you watch in health class, and I cringed. I pictured a photographer being up in my business from very ugly angles, snapping pics of my hoo-ha.
I imagined how embarrassed and uncomfortable I would be with a stranger in the room.
“Yikes.” I thought.
But, I was kind of intrigued as well.
So I did more research. I found some photography websites. I looked at examples. I read some blog posts about first-hand experiences.
What I found surprised me.
It wasn’t crude shots of a crowning head, or scalpel to skin during a c-section. I didn’t even see any vaginas, which quickly eased my health-video fears.
What I saw were beautiful, real images capturing the intense emotions of that life-changing moment. I saw women working through unfathomable pain, and partners providing love, encouragement and support. I saw babies opening their eyes for the first time, and the unmistakable expressions on parent’s faces as they looked into those tiny eyes for the first time.
I knew that this was a moment I would never get to relive – the moment our first child took her first breath earth side – and I knew I wanted to have a chance to look back on it and remember the details, not just the story.
So we hired a birth photographer. And it was such a great decision. I’m incredibly grateful that she spent this special day with us. She is a part of our birth story, now and forever.
She turned out to be an amazing support person – chanting and cheering along with the nurses, advocating for my pain and discomfort, asking the nurses to get things for me, and even just a person to shoot the shit with in between those unbearable moments of pain. We laughed together, told stories about our own lives and related to each other, woman to woman. She wasn’t a stranger in the hospital room – she was part of our family.
Naturally, there are some photos I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing on social media. It is a birth, after all.
But, I have those photos, and I can look back on them whenever I want. Those are pictures that my husband couldn’t have taken. He was by my side, cheering me on, comforting me and supporting me. He didn’t have to grab his phone or camera to make sure we captured the first moments of her life. Instead, it allowed us to be together, in the moment, as a family, instead of having the pressure of picture-taking falling on him.
So whether this is the first time you’re hearing about birth photography, or you’ve always thought it was a weird concept, or you really just didn’t know what it entailed, I urge you to just consider it. Just think about it. Just read about it.
You might find yourself pleasantly surprised, and maybe even someday, grateful that you stumbled upon this post. I know that’s how I feel about the post I saw that ultimately led me to seek out my own birth photographer.
Thank you Mary Beth Miller Photography – we can never thank you enough for your role in our daughter’s birth story.