Now, many people may wonder why on earth anyone in their right mind would want their birth photographed. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to take photos but I hate being in them. So it seems a little odd to want to have someone take photos of me while I'm in labour and looking far from glamorous. Birth photography is not that common in Australia, just yet. It seems a little more common in places like the US and I've seen some amazing birth photos, and some beautiful slideshows of births. It's wonderful seeing photos with such emotion and capturing the story of an gorgeous, tiny baby entering your life.
When I was pregnant with Astrid, I instructed Anto to take our camera and get photos. Anto, takes great photos under normal circumstances, but what we ended up with from her birth was both minimal and pretty average. Firstly, I got cranky with him pointing a camera in my face when I was in labour. Secondly, he was busy being a support person for me, and thirdly, when all the action happened he was being the dad and the husband, not the photographer!
If someone had of asked me prior to Astrid's birth if I wanted it photographed I would have said 'hell, no!'. The concept did not seem that appealing. Afterwards though I felt differently. It turns out I didn't really give two hoots about how I looked when in labour (from memory I spent 2/3rds of it naked). I didn't care who was in the room, there could have been a dancing elephant and I wouldn't have noticed.......... and I wished I had some photos to document the whole experience. The labour and birth goes by very quickly and can be a blur. It would have been nice to look back and see how it unfolded, and also to capture the moments when we finally met Astrid. It wasn't to be though and since that time, having seen lovely birth images I had started to wonder if it was something I would do.
It wasn't until I was only a few weeks off giving birth for the second time ,when I saw a request from Melissa from Melissa Ellis Photography for people interested in having their birth photographed, that I seriously considered having a photographer present for the birth. I was again going to get Anto to take photos but the idea of having a professional was very appealing. I met with Melissa when I was 39 weeks pregnant and we got along really well and I loved the idea of having a slideshow of images from the birth. I hoped our plan for a low-intervention water birth at the birth centre would make for some good photos for her! Antony was happy to have a photographer there, since it got him out of photo duty and he knew better than to argue with me about anything I wanted in labour.
I kept in contact with Melissa during the last bit of my pregnancy and promised to contact her once I went into labour. As it was a last minute arrangement to have her at the birth, she happened to be away the weekend before I was due, but I managed to not have the baby that weekend and was again overdue!
At 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant (Saturday the 12th of October) I went for my daily walk and after the usual amount of contraction while walking, I made it almost all the way home before my waters broke 3 houses from home. It was midday and things were looking good for a baby that day or early the next, but after weeks of prelabour and almost constant contractions nothing happened all afternoon! I had contacted my midwife and let her know what what was happening. Janette came to visit us at home later that afternoon to check all was well with me and the baby. She was fairly sure I'd go into labour overnight and we just had to wait for labour to start on it's own. I had also let Melissa know what was happening, so she could reorganise her day (and night) for when things got moving. It turns out my afternoon was spent photo editing, gyprocking the baby's room and walking the alpacas. I had no real contractions til after Astrid went to bed for the night.
The evening was spent watching TV and bouncing on my fitball trying to get labour going. The contractions were only moderate and sporadic though, so about 10pm I decided I was tired and would try and get some sleep in case it was a long night ahead. I managed a couple of hours of dozing on and off through contractions before being woken by some particularly bad ones. At this point I got up and put my i-pod on and hopped on the fitball in our bedroom to get through the contractions. After awhile Anto woke up did some middle of the night construction in the babies room and I laboured for a few hours in our room. At about 3.30am I decided the contractions were strong enough to call the midwife and we organised to meet at the birth centre.
At about 4.15am we met Melissa outside the hospital and went up to the birth centre where Janette already had the bath going for us. While the bath was filling we settled into the room. Here is where the photo story of the birth began.
This slideshow tells the whole story brilliantly and I love watching it! It does make me cry every time though :)
Yeah, my hair looks awful and I didn't have any make up on and I'm making stupid faces but it captures the whole event so well. Watching it makes me so glad I had a photographer there to help tell the story. Melissa was great during the labour, she chatted and laughed with us between contractions and stayed in the background when needed. She also got all the important shots and we hardly knew she was there. The first couple of hours of labour provided her with some challenging lighting conditions to shoot with but once the sun was up it made for some beautiful shots.
So, rather than me writing another 10 pages about the birth, here are a selection of my favourite photos that tell how Soren Augustus entered the world.
Labouring away, with Antony's help and Janette checking on me and the bub every so often! I was very relaxed in the bath and on the fitball and yes we were laughing and joking between contractions. I can promise you the contractions did hurt though!
At 7am after a couple of hours in the tub and on the fitball, things were going a bit too smoothly so we had to go for a walk to get things moving..........
After the walking and some laps of the stairs, things were definitely moving. I was having long contractions on top of each other and it was time to hop back in the bath. After 45 minutes out of the bath it was almost time to meet the baby...... You can tell from these photos, it was really hurting now!
I pushed for 3 hours with Astrid, but this time around it was only 15 minutes after I was back in the bath and 3 good pushes and Soren was out! Here he is entering the world at bang on 8am.....
Søren was born at 8.00am on 13.10.13 weighing 3.77kg (8lb 5oz) and 49.5 cm long.
How happy do we all look now he is on the outside! ...... well maybe not Soren, he was a fan of staying in the warm bath!
...... and some of my very favourite photos (I seriously could have posted dozens more that were taken in his first half hour of life). Soren getting to know us and us getting to know him!
Birth photography isn't for everyone but I love looking at these photos. I honestly wasn't sure I'd want to share them with anyone. I figured that I'd love to have the photos for myself but it wasn't necessarily something that I'd show others. However, I think the slideshow is beautiful and the individual photos are just fantastic to look at. It's amazing to see how things unfolded.
During labour I was very focused on what I was doing and I had very little awareness of what was going on around me. It's special to see how happy everyone else was and to re-live the moments after the baby is born. At the time it's very overwhelming so having those moments captured is wonderful. Lots of family and friends have enjoyed looking at them. So many of my friends have commented that the photos captured how they felt when in labour and bought back memories for them. Astrid has also loved looking at the pictures and knows it's the story of how her brother was born. It makes the birth more real for her, without her having to actually be there.
Welcome to the world Søren........ I hope the story of your birth has bought joy to many people!