Everybody’s birth experience is different. There are good stories and there are bad stories. The birth of my first born child has always been a difficult topic for me. I was left traumatised by the whole experience.
Not because of the events that occurred, but rather because I struggled to piece together how the events connected.
With my newborn son in neo-natal, and myself recovering on a high dependancy ward after an emergency caesarean, that initial time a mother and her child should have to bond wasn’t given to me.
It’s no surprise therefore that I fell down a rabbit hole of post natal depression. I never knew you could have a debrief birth reflection clinic at the hospital, so instead I bottled up my hurt and failings and did the British thing of just ‘brushing over it.’
As time went on, I slowly came out of that fog and we decided it was time for us to try for another baby. I knew as soon as the line showed up on the pregnancy test that photographing the birth was going to be important to me.
Being the ‘main act’ on the day meant I was always going to miss parts of the birth that I’d want to see. I needed to see my daughter being born. I needed to see her and breathe her in. I didn’t want to miss any aspect of her coming into this world like I had to with my son. Most importantly I wanted the chance to relive that experience again and again to make sense of the birth process.
I understood that while I couldn’t go back and change William’s birth, I could certainly try and heal some of that pain by making sure I could connect the events of my daughter’s birth.
I wanted to hire a birth photographer but my unborn daughter decided to take charge. Because she was breech and I was also high risk due to gestational diabetes, a planned caesarean was booked in. That meant I could only have one person in the operating theatre with me, and of course it had to be her dad, so that put an end to scouting for birth photographers. Instead I made sure I briefed him well.
As much as he didn’t want to take pictures of her coming out of my tummy, I forced him to do it, because I needed those pictures. I needed to see it. I needed to understand the process of what was happening to me. Pictures are my therapy.
The surgeons were really understanding of my needs, they lowered the curtain down so I could watch her coming up and out of my tummy- all while I could hear my partner snapping away next to me exclaiming how beautiful our daughter was. They let me take her in visually for a while before they took her away and even as they cleaned her up and did all her checks they made sure I had eyesight of her. As soon as she was wrapped up in a towel she was brought straight over to me to breastfeed. And so our journey began.
Her birth completely healed the pain and disconnect of William’s birth. I was able to understand throughout her birth what had happened and was able to actually be part of it rather then be disassociated with the whole process. I understood my role in the process.
Being able to look back at her pictures actually brings me immeasurable joy. For some people the images may be too much but all I see is the beauty and absolute miracle of birth.
While I can’t actually take credit for the pictures, I did my part by editing them in my style. But really the blog post was written to highlight how for some women birth photography is important. Others may question your need for it, but if you feel it’s an essential part of your birth plan make sure you put into action how you’d like it to be part of your birth process.
If you want to discuss birth photography please do get in touch.