The best cuppa tea & toast you will ever have FACT!
The only way to describe being a birth photographer is its like running a marathon. Your poised at the starting blocks eagerly waiting each night as you go to sleep (after checking your phone isn't on silent around 10 times). Then your phone rings at 2am, you silently put on your clothes that are stratigically laid out beside your bed, and you run! You don't have time to make coffee and you don't even dare to flick the kettle on and make a flask incase you wake a child in your own household. Then obviously the dog wants a wee as they think its wake uptime and are ecstatically loudly enthusiastic about seeing you. . So basically you become some sort of photography ninja running on adrenaline. Your street is quiet and the street lights are off. You barely know your own name at this point as your brain is completely focussed on getting to your client and making sure your camera is ready to go from the moment you step inside their front door.
Before my first home birth I had never attended one before. Nor had one myself as life had always been too busy and complicated to consider having one with any of my children to be honest. My husband would always rip down a random wall or remodel our house during each pregnancy as some sort of male nesting I think. So bringing a baby into the chaos ever seemed viable and Dorchester hospital always seemed so inviting and quite frankly like a mini holiday for Mumma.
So when I stepped foot into my clients home to an overwhelming feeling of calm I took a breath. Had I hit the jackpot? Are all home births like this? Had I missed out myself? My recollection of birth is a soundtrack on repeat and labour ward screams! I unpacked my bag silently in the kitchen and composed my self and my camera. Gave each other a little pep talk and began.
Mum was labouring in the lounge whilst the midwives very calmly sat around her. Everyone had a cup of tea. Mum was using a little gas and air and was quite frankly doing a very impressive job. She was so in control of her own body. Every contraction she took in her stride. I gave a little hello to mum and perched myself at the side of room and started to take it all in. People often ask if you get overwhelmed by being in the birth space and I suppose you could quite easily but I find I tend to focus on the room keep assessing and use my camera screen a lot instead of my view finder as I can can silently take pictures without feeling intrusive. Its almost like watching it on a movie. I tend emerge myself into the camera and think to myself if I was mum what would I want to see right now.
My first home birth was lucky enough to have a birthing pool. Dad had spent the entire time from my arrival filling it up to the right temperature. They are quite large so he had a task on his hands. I had been informed that my client had not managed to use the pool for her previous births as things had excelled so quickly but I could see tonight dad was on a mission to get this one used. Mum made her way round to pool followed by the house cat which I obviously got a snap off because she was most definitely part of the team that night. Very interested by all the commotion and seemed to love my camera.
Now one of the most amazing things about capturing your birth story is you have the exact second that baby arrives recored. From the moment mum stepped into the pool exactly 14minutes and 30 seconds later baby was here! At this point I was till shooting my camera on single shot mode as the room was quiet and peaceful. I learned towards the midwife and asked if she could give me a little heads up when she felt baby was close so I could make sure I wasn't in anyones way etc. With that the midwife told me this is quite possibly the 'heads up' now and she was right. Mum gave her final few pushes, the water was clear, so I managed to capture each moment through the pool. I was in absolute awe. I hadn't realised I was even taking pictures at this point anymore. The room just felt alive in the early hours of the morning. Baby was scooped up by the midwife and passed to mum. Dad looked on at them with a look of pride, love and relief. The long awaited moment had come and his birth pool had been used hoorah!
Its a very surreal moment after the baby Is born because your at home, in your kitchen, in a pool, just given birth like an absolute goddess and you can have your tea and toast with just one reach! It really doesn't get much better than that'd does it!! The best cuppa and slice of toast you will ever have is after giving birth. Ask any mother.
Once the baby was born the mood lifted and everyone was very jolly and cheery. Mum and I said hello to each other again as we had been so busy before and I realised I had only been in the house around 30 minutes in total until baby had been born. Sibling babies sure don't hang around. What a wonderful feeling to go to bed as a child not knowing that when you wake up mummy's tummy will be considerably less full and she will be holding your new playmate for life in her arms.
All in all my first home birth was all any birth photographer could hope for. A calm environment that I felt welcomed into. Such wonderful support from the Cygnet home birthing team in Weymouth and a healthy and happy mum and baby.