Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Water Birth Story

On April 21st, I had the honor of witnessing a close friend brought her second baby into the world.  I have always wanted to experience a birth not as the birthing mother.   With no sisters or family close by, I was never sure that I would ever get such an opportunity.  My friend Celka & I have had a close bond for nearly 3 years.  Brought together by motherhood and our shared parenting perspectives.  Her offer for me to be present at her birth to bring added support as well as capture the birth through my camera's lens was a beautiful gift to me.

Let me first say that I, by no means, am a professional photographer, nor do I want to be.  I simply have fallen in love my camera and the art in capturing the every day moments of my family and close friends.  I knew the lighting would be low (I am typically only comfortable shooting in natural light) and that I would have no gear other than my camera and a single lens.  I didn't want to be worried about the technical aspects.  I wanted first band foremost just to be present in that moment, that experience, but hoped to also save some of those most precious memories for Celka through whatever images I was able to capture.  Through all the (perhaps obvious) photography flaws, I am proud of the results; I feel as though I  did capture the emotions of the afternoon.  Some true "All the feels." pictures.  I still have much to learn; photography is one big journey for me, but I am nonetheless excited to share these moments and my progress along that journey with you all.

Now, who doesn't love a good a birth story!?  Obviously this is not my story to tell, only Celka could do it justice, but she was gracious enough to let me share my piece.  This is a day I surely will not forget.  I have never felt more a part of this tribe.  This motherhood.  This womanhood.  From the moment Celka told me she was first in labor early that morning, I was happy-anxious.  A new baby would be joining our close knit group.  A new baby to fawn over and to watch grow.  But more importantly, a close friend would be joining the "mothers of two" group. Something that you just cannot fully grasp until you are in it.  The highs, the lows and all the craziness in-between.  

I knew Celka's labor would progress quickly since her first was born after only a few hours.  The plan was for her to have another water birth at a birth center.  I knew Celka wanted a quiet atmosphere and minimal interaction.  My role was to simply be present for her.  I had to coordinate with Conor to leave work and take the boys for the day, so when I got the text that they were headed to the birth center he met me there and took the boys back home. The text of labor starting came in at roughly 9:15 that morning.  I was at the birth center by noon.  When I entered the room, Celka was already in the tub and pushing.  I had just barely made it in time!  Celka looked right at me when I walked in the door and said hello.  She was calm, yet focused.  She was so ready to meet her baby.

I watched as she labored, tears welling up in my eyes with every blink.  Remembering my own labors, remembering all those feelings, physical and emotional.  With each push she was longing for it to be the last.  Her husband crouched outside the tub, patiently watching & waiting.  After a few minutes, their daughter joined us in the room.  She too was calm, yet curious.  Her little face peered into the tub, anxious to learn if she now had a brother or a sister.  At 12:15 (after only three hours of labor!) the head came, then a short rest before another contraction brought baby.  Mom immediately brought baby to her chest and melted into the water.  The biggest of smiles across her face.  It was peaceful; incredibly peaceful.  There is no better word for that pure, raw moment in time.    






I could hardly stand not knowing the gender!  She snuggled that baby for perhaps the longest minutes before taking a peek!   Her daughter crawled into the tub for see for herself and together they looked.  A sweet boy!!!  The sibling bond starting immediately.  It was incredible to see.  There was so much love and curiosity in the room.  Myself and their two midwives present but you would hardly know we were there.  Just a family bringing their newest addition peacefully into the world.  They lingered in the tub, relishing in those first moments, and then moved to a bed for more snuggles and rest.  Their daughter was in & out of the room, checking on her baby brother ever so often.





Celka & I briefly chatted about how fast the birth was, and my near perfect arrival time.  We oohed over her baby boy and the fact that she now had two!  Not much was said, but our connection grew ever so stronger.  That presence of womanhood & motherhood and sharing the experience.  I stayed for a bit, not quite able to draw myself away from the high of emotions that come with a birth.  I was able to see baby Wilder latch for the first time, a milestone with extra depth for us friends.  Celka & I first met at a local La Leche League meeting; breastfeeding is what first brought us together and continues to be a huge part of our lives as mothers.







To me this was everything that birth should be.  Celka was able to trust her body & instincts.  Her daughter was present.  Everything was calm & peaceful.  The experience gave me an even stronger desire to have our next baby out of the hospital.  I would love to be a different environment, in my own environment.  I picture myself at home, with Liam & Finn near.  Hopefully Nana too!  I would love the close support of my mama friends.  I want too want the calm & the peace. 

Congratulations Celka & family and thank you for letting me be a small part in this wonderful day!!!  Wilder is perfect!

And if you just can't get enough birth stories, you can read Liam's birth story here & Finn's here!

17 comments :

  1. These are beautiful!! I can't wait to photograph a birth one day!!

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  2. What sweet pictures of those first few moments after birth. How neat that you could experience that with her.

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  3. Sweet, sweet baby! I honestly don't know much about water births, but it definitely looks very calm and peaceful from your gorgeous photos, Laura! With the liver issues that always pop up during my pregnancies, and the complications that are always possible because of it for my babies, I won't ever have another option but a hospital birth, but I am very focused on making this third one even more calm and peaceful than my first two were! Thank you for sharing this, Laura!

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  4. What a gorgeous, amazing story and birth. How amazing that you could be there to not only experience it and support your friend but take pictures for her. The pictures turned out incredible!

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  5. What a beautiful story. And these photos are just gorgeous, Laura!

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  6. Wow, this is amazing - what a special connection and thing to be present for. AWESOME job on the pictures!! Seriously, you captured it all beautifully. I have such an appreciation for labor/delivery, I absolutely LOVE the photography that captures the most special event. This might have me convinced I need it at our next delivery.. Great job, Laura!! :)

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  7. THIS is what I imagined my water birth would be like. Calm and peaceful, smiling between contractions. Instead I was SCREAMING for that baby to get out of me! Literally writhing in pain. I got everything I wanted, at home, in the tub and yet I was anything but calm and peaceful ;-) And my pushing phase was only 45 minutes, sigh. But what a beautiful birth story and so glad you got to be there to experience it from an outside perspective. Oh and I still highly recommend giving a home birth a go, even if it wasn't quite what I was imagining =)

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  8. Wow! What precious pictures! How special that you were able to be there for your friend and snap these wonderful keepsakes!!! <3

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  9. I'm so glad that you were able to be there for your friend!! I know she will treasure all of these images forever and ever.

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  10. Laura!!! These are gorgeous pictures that share such beautiful moments. Yiu have no doubt captured some incredible documentation of such a special time. I really would love to have some pictures like these of one of my own births. What a special connection you two share-one that I'm sure now is even that much deeper.

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  11. These photos are beautiful! That must have been amazing to experience. Hopefully you will get to have that home birth you wish for.

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  12. How precious that you got to be a part of this! And what a blessing that you were able to take these photos for her. You definitely captured the emotions of the day! Precious, precious moments!

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  13. Laura. These are so incredibly amazing. You captured the moment perfectly. Each photo brought goosebumps. And the longing to have another baby.

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  14. This - the story and your pictures - are so beautiful! Congratulations to the family on their new baby boy :)

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  15. OMG, these photos are unbelievable!! So incredibly awesome that you got to experience and can give these images to the mom. I can't even imagine how precious these are going to be to her. GORGEOUS!!

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  16. Those pictures are beautiful! What an incredible moment to witness!

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