When my friend Kerri and I discussed birth photography for my delivery of baby number two, I was really on the fence. My first labor and delivery had been photographed by one of the doulas present. For some reason, I never wanted to look back at those photos. In my head, I was still self-conscious about what I had looked like during labor and especially during delivery. So, I was still somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of birth photography. However, I know Kerri is a phenomenal photographer, and eventually, Nina convinced me that I would want to document this birth, my last birth. (Maybe!)
I am so glad I listened! To say I am merely happy to have these photos would be a huge understatement. They are amazing and powerful. Emotional and raw. They capture the beauty of the process and the incredible strength of each person involved. When it came down to it, it wasn’t just me, the mother, that had to muster fortitude. My husband had to be an anchor for me and stifled the pain he felt at seeing me in such pain. Nina, who may be little but is very mighty, had to work her magic all over again as she massaged and applied counter-pressure when I needed it most. She showed an incredible amount of restraint in the face of medical practitioners who didn’t seem to be listening to me. My nurse, Joy, fought hard for what I wanted, occasionally flexing her muscles.
Here is the story of Barrett Thomas Towsley: Chapter One.
After spending five weeks in limbo and pre-labor, our second little man decided it was time for his debut at 41 weeks. We arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital to find out I was four centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. After walking the hospital for a solid hour, I was admitted to Labor and Delivery at five centimeters dilated, and the party got started!
Nina working her magic early on.
Getting to transition required a lot of walking! I was stalled out at six centimeters dilated for a long time, and though the doctor on-call wanted to break my water, I didn’t feel that it was the right decision so quickly.
Sending some emails, getting some loose ends tied up for our Mother’s Day Soiree!
Nina massaging my feet to relax me between her working on pressure points to stimulate my contractions when they began to stall.
Conserving energy for prime-time.
After a few hours without progress, Nina had me walk the halls and squat through contractions to encourage baby to move down further or force my water to break.
“I know you must be so frustrated right now.” – Nina. “I’m not frustrated. I’m in pain!” – Lanie. As my body got closer to transition, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
The moment my water broke!
Crying became uncontrollable as hormones surged!
After two BIG pushes, Barrett Thomas entered the “real” world!
What they don’t tell you; after-birth is still painful!
“Auntie” Nina cutting the umbilical cord.
Barrett Thomas meeting his “Poppy” and namesake.
I am so glad I chose to say yes to birth photography! Unlike with my last photos, I look back at these photos way more often than I thought I would. I see in them a confident and determined woman. In a way, they’ve encouraged me to perceive myself a little differently — kind of like, “heck, yeah! I DID that!” It’s not that my first birth, which was also unmedicated, was anything less than this one, but perhaps the photographs this time just provide a different angle.
I strongly encourage mamas to consider hiring a photographer, no matter what type of birth they have. It’s a struggle to remember all of the little moments before and especially right after the birth. The details a photographer captures are priceless. The tears, grit, laughter, the clasping of hands, and the gripping of fingers. Stolen glances and sweet smiles, and, of course, that first moment you see baby. Really, how often do you get to document totally life-changing events?
Again, I can’t encourage you enough to consider birth photography. I promise you will look back at them and realize there isn’t a darn thing in this world you can’t do.
I also want to give a HUGE thank you to my friend and photographer, Kerri Nel. She was incredible. She spent pretty much the entire labor with us and was a complete professional in the sense that she stood back, and I barely noticed she was there snapping away. Kerri, you were a wonderful addition to my birth team, and I am so grateful to have had another powerful woman and momma in the room with me!