When I tell people I’m a birth photographer, I usually get some interesting looks! Most people are either disgusted, surprised, or slightly curious.
Since it’s January, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching. Why AM I doing this?! It’s such a unique niche of photography.
Well, initially, I found a birth photographer on Instagram. I didn’t even know birth photography existed. I started following her, and I was so blown away at the beauty of the rawness of the images. Bloody? yes.. sometimes….but you can’t hide real emotion when you are giving birth. You can’t fake your facial expressions. It’s just…so beautiful. Something about it is just so incredibly beautiful. The mess of it all, the transformational pain, KNOWING that in the end, you will get the best reward of your life. And then knowing all the sleepless nights that are going to follow, and the stress, and the long cuddle sessions with the sweetest little creature that you can’t help but adore.
So, I kept searching my heart. There was something deeper about it that enthralled me. My husband and I are not able to have children, and I have zero desire to be pregnant. So what is it about these moments that hook me in??
And then I realized something just this week.
Becoming a mother was life-changing for me. While we did not give birth physically, we had such an intense “birth” experience becoming parents. When we initially picked up our boys from the community center, one of them was already incredibly sick. We weren’t sure he would even make it through the night. But we were such new parents that we had no idea what to do. We kept him on our chest, watching him breathe, then stop breathing, over and over again. I remember calling the doctor’s office and bringing him in the next day, and they told me to take him to the ER. At this point, his mouth was turning blue. It didn’t even cross our minds to take him to the ER!
The staff at the ER immediately pulled him into the back room, and my husband ended up following the ambulance all the way down to Madera, where he was in the hospital for ten days. So I stayed home with his twin while my husband was at the hospital. In the meantime, his twin started showing signs of sickness. So I brought him to the ER (learned my lesson this time!) where, while we were in the waiting room, he had a very scary spell where he turned completely blue and started writhing. I yelled for help and before I knew it, he had an entire team of people over him, reviving him and trying to get him to breathe and keep breathing. It was terrifying. He, too, was admitted, and it took seven weeks for them to realize that he had reactive airways. He went home on oxygen. We got through it. It was incredibly hard living at the hospital for so long, especially having to stare at him constantly to make sure he was still breathing. The fear of losing him kept me awake constantly. And he was still dealing with tremors, terrible sleep, and those high-pitched crying spells that would last for HOURS.
There is something about going through a traumatic experience, especially when a completely innocent and pure and dependent baby is relying on you to keep them not only alive, but happy and thriving. It takes everything out of you. Literally, everything. I was so sick from lack of sleep. Seven weeks of two hours of sleep a day. My body was shaking, my mind was losing it, but I knew I had to keep going. This little one had no one else to rely on besides me and my husband. And this is what we signed up for, becoming parents. And becoming parents was something we wanted to do more than anything. And we knew we wanted these boys to feel safe, loved, and to thrive in life. And we didn’t even know if we were going to have them forever, but we were going to pour into them, because we had so much love to give. Did I question myself? Absolutely. I remember crying one night, telling Rob, “I miss it just being us. This is so hard.” But I knew deep down that I loved them, and I hoped with all my hope that we would be able to keep them forever, because we wanted to KNOW they were safe. We worried about their future constantly. We were ALSO hoping that their bio-mom would do everything she could to be the kind of mom they would need, because we did not want the kids to ever think one day that we did not support the woman who brought them into the world–an inevitable loss that they were bound to feel at some point. It was such a straddle between both worlds, and some days, we had to remind ourselves not to let that straddle tear us apart.
There is something about becoming a parent that changes you, deep down. It’s day-by-day. It’s all the little things you do for them to keep them alive. It’s that protective nature that comes out of you. It’s the strain of losing so much of yourself in the process. It’s the wrestle of emotions, the pain of losing what you once had and the joy of gaining what you now have. And they change–constantly–and you have to keep checking and re-checking yourself. And rediscovering who they are, who you are, and what your relationship is evolving to be. It’s a constant metamorphasis. A beautiful, messy, incredible metamorphasis.
I love seeing the start of it. I love all the emotions wrapped up in it. I love the beauty and symbolism of how babies come into the world. Born of blood and water, its a microcosm of life and all the transformations we make within it. I love seeing you change as this baby comes into your world. I just want to give you the gift of seeing that yourself. I want you to see how beautiful it is–what you are doing. Maybe it helps me to process my OWN trauma, but really, being years into it at this point, I just know the joys that are possible ahead of you–and the amazing lessons you are going to learn along the way. And I’m here for it. I’m so excited for you. And I want you to see it, too, to look back on it after a few years and to see the beauty that bringing a baby into the world has brought you. <3.
Jan 10, 2024