A fly on the wall

Over the years I have snapped countless photo sessions.  I have loved so many of these sessions, but there are some that I will simply never forget.  About 2 years ago I was asked to do my first birthing session.  I felt scared and excited all at the same time!  I had performed several sessions at the hospital for babies born via c-section, but I anticipated that this session would be even more exhilarating.  I was so nervous.  What if I made a mistake?  What if I missed something the mother wanted?  What if I saw too much?  So I did the only thing I knew to do:  I put on my big girl panties, got over my fears, and decided that whatever images I got would have to work.

As the due date neared, I got more and more excited.  I felt as nervous as if I were actually about to have the baby!  For 6 weeks I didn’t travel further than an hour out of town,  I didn’t drink in case the baby came at night, and I kept my phone on me at all times.  Every time my phone rang  I would get SUPER excited… just to be let down when it was NOT someone having a baby.  Til one day, I got the call!!

Now, I should mention that the mother (I will call her “J”), who hired me for birthing pictures, wanted a natural child birth. Not gonna lie, I thought J was crazy!  I try to live a natural, healthy lifestyle, but there are some situations in which I would opt for the painkillers… and this is one of them!  To each her own;  I don’t judge, and I feel that each person knows what she is capable of doing.  I chose medication when I gave birth, she chose natural.  I figured this just might make the photo shoot a little more exciting!  Moving on.

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I arrived at the birthing center (which is completely awesome, by the way).  J had her own floor all to herself.  There were two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.  Way better than the tiny room I had at the hospital!  When I got there, J was in the back bedroom with the door closed.  I knocked.  She was mid-contraction, so she sent her mom out to talk to me.  Her mom suggested I come in when she started pushing.  She was dilated to 4 cm and was expecting to have this baby at any moment.  I immediately panicked!  What about my camera settings?  What if they are not correct?  I had never seen this room before or any birthing center room for that matter.  Surely I would miss everything, the pictures would all be blurry or dark, I wouldn’t have a good angle, and this would all be for nothing! (I am not dramatic at all, lol).

After the contraction ended, I convinced J to let me in so that I could scope out the room and get my camera set up.  Once I was inside that room, I knew I was not leaving.  I tried to disappear into the surroundings and just be a fly on the wall.  In the room was J, her mom, her mother-in-law, her nurse, her doula, her husband, and me. The stadium was full, so to speak.  I tried to keep quiet, stay back, and capture all the emotion and love that was on full display right in front of me.   I wanted to capture as much detail as possible without being invasive.

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After several hours, J had had enough.  Her labor was not progressing, and she made the decision to leave the birthing center and go across the street to the hospital – a decision that we later realized may have saved her life.  Once in the hospital room she received an epidural and labor was picking up speed.  The birthing center was beautiful and bright and flooded with light.  The hospital room… not so much.  Cue the camera and lens adjustments.  Because of my previous experiences with newborns in a hospital, I had already anticipated that all of these photos would need to be black and white.  I LOVE black and white photography!  I am a type 4 (Dressing Your Truth) emerald (Dani Johnson), so it is no surprise that black and white would be my passion.  Plus, let’s face it, there is some blood involved in childbirth. Black and white kind of takes that out of the image.  Then it came time to push…

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When it comes to being a birth photographer, one of the questions I get asked the most is, “Why would you want to see someone’s hoo-ha while they are giving birth?!”  The answer is I don’t and I didn’t.  Just like in boudoir sessions, birth photography is all about angles.  I most certainly did not want to be standing behind the doctor.  There are some things that cannot be unseen, and I imagine this would be one of them.  And it’s also about what the mother is going to want to see and show people later in life.  There are few people that want to put the doctor’s view in a book!!!  Again, to each her own.  J ended up with about 200 pictures. Out of all of those pictures, there was only one that I deleted because it was a little too graphic.

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The birth went great.  Beautiful boy, 8 lbs 6 oz. and 21 inches long.  But as the nurses were getting all the baby’s vitals, their faces started to change. They were on the phone, and more nurses continued to pour in.  To make a long story short, the baby had swallowed amniotic fluid which had meconium in it.  The nurses were concerned with his breathing and made the decision to take him to the NICU.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough of a scare, another nurse could not get the placenta to deliver and it had begun to shred which would cause J to hemorrhage if they did not act quickly.  This was my cue to leave. I could not get close enough to the baby to see his first bath, and J was about to have a procedure.  So I left.  I went home and I began editing.  I had all the pictures ready within a few hours and I sent a slideshow to J.  Little did I know when I scheduled this birthing session how important these photographs would be in those first days.  The baby remained in NICU for several days.  J would visit him often, but in between visits, when she could not be by his side, she would log on to my website to see those photos of her baby boy.  In those moments, this was all she had of him.

Thanks to modern medicine and a mother’s intuition everything ended up being okay.  We took newborn pictures several weeks later and that sweet baby boy is about to turn TWO in a few weeks!  If you have ever considered having birthing pictures taken, do it.  I promise it will be worth it.  If you are currently pregnant and interested in scheduling a birthing session, message me NOW, no matter how far along you are. I blocked out 6 weeks for this session, so I want to make sure that I am able to do the same thing for you.  I also offer a discount if you schedule birth and newborn photos together.  Newborn sessions are often what people pass on but end up regretting that decision the most!!  I typically take newborn photos when they are between 3-5 days old.  Babies change so quickly and you can NEVER get back these first precious days of life.

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“I didn’t have a birth photographer at my daughter’s birth and now I wish I had. When I look back at these pictures of my son’s birth-day, it completely takes me back to those moments. I think there are a lot of things I would have forgotten without these pictures to remind me. Lindsey was the perfect photographer for this kind of moment. She became part of the scenery and moved around as needed to get pictures without interrupting the birthing process. It was a really special time and I’m glad she was there to share it with my family.”     ~J

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