Some of you may have pulled up this blog out of curiosity, or maybe you really like birth photography, or maybe you can’t believe we would do something like this…? These were all the thoughts we had when we decided to document a home birth for our friend, Dr. Heather Soper, at Genesis Midwifery Services. She needed a birth documented to help promote her business as a midwife, and to show women that it IS possible to do this. We decided to get on board with it mostly out of curiosity to see if we would like to do it, and what came from this event was life changing.
We were “on call” for this birth basically the weekend before her due date, and then she didn’t have the baby until 42 weeks (so she went two weeks over her due date). We went through the usual nightmares at night thinking we missed the birth or got stranded in a boat and couldn’t get to the shore to capture the birth. After telling Heather, she said she used to have those same dreams when she first became a midwife and had to be on call. Finally, we got the message from Heather that we needed to head that way as her husband said he thought she would come quicker than he thought. They had done all the usual natural induction methods the night before.
When we arrived at their home, the birth pool was set up, there was calming praise and worship music playing, and they had some good smells diffusing in the diffuser. Shortly after, the mom’s sisters stopped by to drop off a present from their first child. It was a poster board that had descriptions of the mom: you are strong, you are beautiful…all the things! So sweet! Twinkle lights adorned around the top part of the room, and a freshly made bed waited on the other side of the room to welcome the mom and new baby once he or she arrived. We acted like flies on a wall and didn’t say a word. We were only bystanders, and not actively participating. We needed to soak it in, not be in the midst.
Heather occasionally would check the baby’s heart rate with the heart monitor and check the mom’s blood pressure to ensure both were at safe levels, and then she really started to get close to meeting her new baby. The doula was amazing as well. She stayed by the mother’s side the whole time, encouraging her, massaging her, and putting her in positions to assist in the birth and comfort her. She even put a baby onesie on the edge of the birthing pool to remind the mother what was soon to come. As she had contractions, the pain got worse and worse. The mother would hum and sing along to the praise and worship songs in thankfulness to God, and asking for his mercy and peace. As the time got closer, Heather went to the mother in pain on the side of the birth pool and told her if she stood up, she could have her little baby in 3-4 pushes. The mother got out of the birthing pool, stood up alongside her husband and began to push with all her might.
One of the most incredible moments was when Heather told her if she reached down, she would be able to feel her baby’s head. As soon as she did, it was like she got a heaven-sent big push of momentum. It gave her the power to push through to the finish line. As the baby began to crown and the head came out, I looked and saw the baby’s beautiful little face turn right to us. Every time I think of that moment now, I tear up. We stood there with our cameras and videocamera in awe as she stood up like a queen, birthed her baby, and took the baby in her arms through her legs…all while standing up! This was unlike anything I had ever seen in movies! It was raw and real. I will never forget the song that was playing while the baby was born: Jireh. I looked up the meaning to that song and the word “jireh” and it is: “God will provide.”
As soon as the baby was born, the mother sat on a bench on the side of the bed that not long before, she was laboring against. She held her baby to her chest and took it all in with her husband right there doing the same. It was almost like she couldn’t believe it just happened and here the baby was! All ten fingers and toes. She asked me to photograph the umbilical cord, and a time later, we took photo and video of the dad cutting that cord.
This birth went perfectly, and there were no complications. After the baby was born, the mother and new baby had some time to soak in skin-to-skin, and then she freshened up. Heather got out all her tools to do assessments on the baby to make sure everything was normal. She put the baby in a blanket and lifted her up with a scale to get the weight…over 9 pounds! The mother looked on with awe at this. She JUST birthed a 9 pound baby!
After this whole event, we had time to digest it and really soak in what just happened. The world keeps turning and everything is as it was around us on the way home, and we felt like we had just experienced the most life changing thing ever. How were people not acting different? We talked all the way home about how crazy it was and we couldn’t believe we just witnessed that. The adrenaline was still high! Now that we have had time to think about the whole experience, we hope that whenever we have children, our birth will be very similar. Calm and controlled. Safe. Monitored. But natural. Just the way it was supposed to happen. Most importantly, we NEED our birth to be documented with photo and video. The birth went so fast, and of course the big moments will be remembered, but as time passes, the small moments in that midst of the birth will be forgotten: like the way he held her head during the contractions and rubbed her back, the encouragement from everyone there while she cried out in pain, the way her demeanor changed when she felt her baby’s head, and the way they looked at each other after the baby was in her arms and kissed each other. Those moments, once documented with photo and video, can always be remembered even when they are old and gray and that little baby has her own babies.
The Lord was right there within that room. We had gone to church that night.