H O M E B I RT H
18 February, 2021
It's been almost a week since my first ever home birth and I had a sudden desire to write a blog post about one of the most significant experiences of my life.
A few months ago a very dear friend of mine sent me a really beautiful message inviting me to be part of her birthing party. I couldn't quite believe what I was reading. Me, being invited to witness one of the most powerful and moving experiences of a persons life?!
I was totally in!
I've followed lots of amazing birth photographers on instagram and have always felt really drawn to them. Birth photography isn't for everyone, granted. But for me, there is such a raw and powerful quality of having something so fleeting and almost other worldly being documented. Off on a bit of a tangent there. Back to the story!
In the lead up to the due date, I made sure my phone was off silent and camera bag packed and at the ready. I even packed a sleep over bag just in case. I tried to make sure that plans were changeable in case I needed to dash off, I actually found being 'on call' to be quite exciting.
The day finally came and strangely I had a feeling that the baby was going to come on the weekend. A very special weekend too, V-day weekend! I got a message from my expecting mama on Saturday morning letting me know that she could feel some changes, although it didn't feel like the baby was going to come yet.
I actually remember reading that babies tend to be born in the middle of the night. Apparently it has something to do with our evolutionary heritage. Our ancestors lived in groups that were most active and dispersed during the day and then came back together to rest at night. So night time labour and birth afforded the mother and newborn more protection and support from the tribe. How neat is that!
I got THE CALL at 8:30pm on Saturday evening, just as I was about to stuff my face full of pizza. I suddenly felt quite nervous. I tend to feel a little squeamish when it comes to blood etc, but I actually surprised myself throughout the process. I found myself wanting to see EVERYTHING.
When I arrived at the house the midwife, (May from Positive Birth Jersey) was already there going through her checks. I was really looking forward to meeting her. I had seen so much of her work and admire her whole approach to birth and empowering women throughout the process.
The log burners and candles were lit, diffusers and salt lamps were on and Joni Mitchell was playing in the background. Our glowing mama was wearing a lilac kimono, shining like a sunbeam. I mean come on...
My idea of HEAVEN!
Ensuring that we were complying with all safety measures, we all took a Covid test and all came back negative! Phew.
Contractions were coming and going beautifully and you could really feel a sense of control in the breathing. Hypnobirthing - what a powerful tool. After a couple of hours May examined our mama and she was 5cm dilated, half way. The time felt like it had flown by (maybe not the case for our lady in labour). What I remember most about that time period was the silence and the peace. I found the breaths to be hypnotic. I tried hard to keep up with them, but there was no chance, I was in a total daze.
Next thing I knew we were getting ready to get in the birthing pool. Dad was at the ready with his hose and kettle, but again all feeling really relaxed and no haste. Just total peace.
Mama got in and instantly enjoyed the sensation of the water on her skin. We were all standing around the pool giving her space whilst her contractions intensified and the desire to push started to surface.
Her breathing changed a lot at this stage, still very very controlled and extremely relaxed, but there was more of a vocal added into the mix. Next thing I knew May was telling us the baby's head was coming. May grabbed her mirror to see how things were progressing and THERE IT WAS! The babies face, right there and I was seeing it. A wave of emotion crashed over me in that moment and I couldn't control the tears. In a scramble to pull myself together to see through my camera the baby was literally half way out and mama was guiding this new life through the water. May pointed in excitement that the baby was still in it's amniotic sac. Not only was I witnessing my first ever birth, but I was witnessing a super rare 'En caul' birth. Also known as a 'mermaid birth' and 'veiled birth'.
This type of birth only tends to happen to 1 in 80,000 women. HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!
I later read that there is lots of spiritual significance placed on this type of delivery. Many cultures consider this birth to be a sign of good luck. In the Highlands babies born in this way were believed to have the 'second sight' or to be gifted in healing. Sooooooo cool!!! I literally live for this stuff (as does my dear friend).
The next moment is pictured below. A photo that speaks a thousand words...
Our little bundle of joy was born at 1:21am on Valentine's Day.
Safe to say that the whole experience totally exceeded by expectations.
Not only did I share a milestone with my fellow sister, but I reached what feels like an awakening in my creative journey.
The universe guided me to this moment and I now realise that this is what I want to photograph and document.
Life as we know it.