Settle in for a story. This will be a lengthy one, but so good! Three years ago, after taking a year and a half off from photography to carry my son thru a difficult pregnancy and soak up all of that newborn time, I decided I wanted to start taking births again. Now, birth photography isn't something you can just jump right into and expect to book clients. You have to build that know/like/trust factor before mamas feel comfortable inviting you into their birth space...and forking over beaucoup bucks for your services. In order to build a solid reputation and a portfolio, I put out a model call. That's where I first heard from Catherine. She was pregnant with her third baby, Ryan and excited for the opportunity to have her birth photographed. When the time came we communicated thru her labor, but things weren't going well. Ultimately she told me not to come. Her experience so stressful, she didn't even want a Fresh 48.
Catherine is an L&D nurse at Baptist. For years I kept hoping I would run into her, but fortune primarily brought me mama's delivering at Sacred Heart. Then one day my son and I were out for a walk and we spotted a little boy about his age that had recently move into the neighborhood. We knocked on the door to say hi and maybe make a new friend. And who should answer but Catherine! And that little boy was the baby who's birth I was supposed to photograph. Small world right? (And I did eventually get to work with her in the delivery room. If you look closely, you might spot her and her baby bump in Kathryn's birth story.)
When I saw on Facebook she and Chad were expecting again, I crossed my fingers that she would reach out about birth photography...and she did! I was so excited for another opportunity...and to have an NZP baby just around the corner to love on whenever I want.
Here is the birth story in mama's own words, and a video slideshow of Rowyn's birthday:
Rowyn's birth could have very well been my last. We didn't want to find out the sex until he was born so there was a lot of anticipation and excitement. I was also hoping for and planning for a VBAC so there was a lot of excitement. But we planned and prepared for months. Chad and I took Bradley Childbirth classes with my amazing friend/coworker/doula Erin. For us, her classes were a time to learn how to remain calm and focused and in the moment, but they were also like a date night every Tuesday since it was just the hubs and I. I highly recommend Bradley classes with your support person.
When approved by my midwife, Jenny, we tried everything we could to give labor a kickstart including red raspberry leaf tea, primrose oil, accupuncture, we walked miles and I hiked my butt up and down hills and lots of stairs. I had my membranes stripped 3 times...and still nothing. My husband even tried driving me around in the old truck for a bumpy ride as a last ditch effort. The time came that we had to have some medical interventions, due to my risk factors, if I wanted to try VBAC. Medically, plans had to change last minute and I had to deliver at Sacred Heart without my midwife instead of at Baptist where I knew my work family would care so well for me. It took several conversations from very dear friends whom I love and love me to convince me that things would go just perfect, even at Sacred Heart.
Things did go just perfect. The staff was supportive of my decisions about my birth plan. My girl friends encouraged me all day, rubbed my feet and my back, and convinced me that I was able to do this. They supported my husband and I and made it such a special time for us.
My fears of complications leading to a csection started creeping into my mind when, with every contraction, I had intense pain from my previous csection scar. Dr. Andrews was so very patient with me and came to my bedside repeatedly when I asked for him because I was convinced my uterus was not resting and we were about to have an emergency. I was so scared and Dr. Andrews stood by my side, hands on my belly checking and rechecking to make sure my fears were not coming true. He was so patient and so kind. I'll never forgot his reassuring smile, even though he was probably thinking I was a little crazy!
If you know Dr. Andrews, you know he likes to crack jokes and sing. In his true comedic fashion, he wore the midwifery hat as he came to my bedside repeatedly, told jokes right through my contractions (that distracted me at least for a moment), and he came in for delivery with his booties, singing 'Shake your booties'. My midwife even came to support me through delivery, which meant so much to me. She coached me through pushing just like my mom would have if she had been there. There wasn't much coaching to do though because our sweet baby arrived in just a few pushes. I listened to my midwife whisper in my ear what to do, listened to my girlfriend and nurses cheer me on, and watched my husband as our son was born. Watching Natalie's slides of our Rowyn's birth makes me cry so many happy tears. I am so grateful to have these pictures to remember all the little things you forget. So for our next baby I will do the same, call on my neighbor, my friend, and now my photographer, Natalie.
COURTESY CONTENT ADVISORY: With Catherine's permission, this slideshow includes uncensored images of childbirth. If you prefer not to see these, stop here.
While I will never ask you to share uncensored images from your own birth, I love that Catherine offered to do so in the spirit of educating women and future mothers. Birth in our culture has become taboo to the point that most women have not a single clue what to expect. Instead of something to be celebrated, birth is overwhelmingly viewed as something scary and gross...a necessary evil and means to an end (or worse, a reason to perhaps avoid having children all together). So thanks Catherine, for your bravery in sharing your birth in it's entirety, so that others might be empowered to embrace and cherish their experience. And for showing us that, even after a nightmare birth experience, every birth is a new opportunity to be joyful and hopeful that everything will be wonderful.
Take a moment to celebrate with Catherine in the comments. Once 50 people have commented on the blog post, she & Chad will receive an 8x10 mounted print from their birth story.
Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design.
Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography