A few years ago I stumbled upon a growing trend, and what I find to be the most holy of my life assignments thus far– birth photography. Growing up, I thought often about becoming a mother. I’d daydream about my future kids’ names, wondered why I was going into debt to go to college when I really just wanted to raise some kids. Of course I thought about childbirth and only images and ideas of unbearable pain came to mind and I was never sure I could do it. The first time I ever saw a real birth, was when my sister invited me into the delivery room when my first nephew was born. I was given explicit directions to only take pictures once he was out. That whole experience I could only describe as holy. There was something so incredible, mysterious and powerful about watching another human come into the world. I remember thinking for a moment, “I could do that.” I left there filled with this indescribable euphoria as if I had witnessed the secret to life and understood it for just a brief second.
I believe that childbirth is an important life experience for a woman. For better or for worse, the memories of it hang with us as we, mothers, are also born. We look back on that pivotal experience and feel.
What if they were positive experiences filled with our choices and joy? What if we were allowed, without question, to video or take photos of a treasured member of our family joining us in this world? What if we had seen images and heard stories of strong women giving birth without fear for our entire lives? How different would birth culture be? How different would our lives be? How different will the births of our grandchildren be?
I gave birth to my son in late December, scared out of my mind with each contraction. And then I did it. After a long epidural nap, after a long anxiety-ridden prodromal labor I did it. I gave birth and it changed everything. A mother, a father, a son and big brother were born that day and nothing would ever be the same.
Two and a half years later I did it again. This time at a birth center in the water, with a birth photographer and I think of it often. My breath supported my daughter and I as we rode each wave, bringing her closer to my arms. Those photos are tangible evidence of the strongest, fiercest most intense and spiritual moments of my life. I think of that day often often, and look at the pictures often. I can’t wait to show her those photos of her birth when she’s older. She’s going to think she can do anything.