I’m still alive! It’s just so hard to step away from the couch, all nestled in with a nursing newborn. But, since my husband stole her and they’re enjoying a nap, I thought I’d take a few moments to pop into my favorite place and ramble just a bit.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you know I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of our birth photos. I realize birth photography isn’t for everyone and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was for me. But color me happy and call me a believer. <– that is not the hormones talking, y’all!
Here are a few reasons I chose to take the plunge, what I learned and why I think you should consider it, too.
1. Determine why you want this moment captured on film. For Scott and I both, the birth of preemie Luke was miraculous, but also downright traumatic. I really wanted to capture the moments of this baby’s delivery to heal from that experience, but also to capture so many of the moments during labor and delivery between Scott and I. I’ve always seen us as a team, but it’s hard to get that on film when one of you is laboring and the other is supporting. Picture taking takes a back seat. In short, I wanted us to be fully present for this birth and let someone else do the documentation.
2. Do your research. Birth photographers are not made the same. A preemie mom friend of mine recently had her second baby (full-term) and shared her birth photos on Facebook. I could not look away. The beauty was just too great. I immediately reached out to her to inquire who did them, what she thought and the financial investment required. After some Googling I realized that birth photography is, indeed, its own artform. Just as with weddings, the moments are a one-time deal. There are no do-overs and I didn’t want a semi-pro to be present during one of the most intimate moments of our life only to produce images that I was all like, “meh.” This was too important of a moment. At least it was for us. Maybe you feel comfortable hiring a friend to take the photos, but I didn’t. To me, it was worth the investment (with payment spread over several months) to hire someone who specialized in birth photography. Bottom line? Be 100% at ease with your decision because you don’t need to carry that anxiety into the delivery room.
3. Consider your payment options. Maybe your photographer offers a discount if you pay in full, perhaps you can make payments over time or there’s an option to swap services. Whatever your financial resources, ask your photographer about the options available. For us, I did a combination of the above and was able to secure our photographer before her rates changed in the new year.
4. Meet the photographer face-to-face. Once I narrowed down who I wanted to take the photos, Leilani and I met to discuss my previous birth experiences, my desires this time around, my fears, my expectations and her involvement in the process. I will say that if you’re going to be stripping down to your birthday suit, you want to feel comfortable with the people that are in that room with you. I immediately felt at ease with Leilani and knew that she would bring professionalism and respect to that delivery room. She did that, and more, on the big day.
5. Be open and honest and know your limitations. Our photographer asked us to call her when I was 5-6cm or contractions were 1-2 minutes long. We held off just a bit longer than that for one very important reason. When we got married, we took the vast majority of our photos before the wedding. So, the “first look” happened before the ceremony. After the photographer captured that, everyone left the church and it was just Scott and I, standing near the altar, for a few minutes. I count that as my most precious moments of the wedding day. We connected, we giggled and we just enjoyed being in one another’s presence before our lives dramatically changed. And, so it was with this birth. The nurse, OB and techs were out of the room and it was just Scott and I, staring at my belly and anticipating the next few hours. No photos of that moment are necessary and I mark them as my most precious of the day.
6. Because I chose to labor naturally (more on that in the upcoming birth story), I needed all of my husband. Every contraction, I needed him. Every moment of joy, I needed him. So many shots, like this one, would not have happened if he was pulling double duty as coach and photographer.
7. For me, this was about more than photography for just one birth. While we have physical proof of the beauty of Gianna’s birth, I know that it is representative of all six of our children’s births. To have these photos, to capture these moments, is to catch a glimpse of our lives during the entrance of each child. Just as I cherish our wedding, family and maternity photos, I now cherish these birth photos with an amazing amount of love. I believe the happiest days of your life should be documented. Making the choice to hire a birth photographer was one I’ll never regret.
All photos courtesy of Leilani Rogers
And, a bit of a side note about our amazing photographer, Leilani.
No, she did not pay me to say this nor did she know I was posting this until I sent her the link. If you live in Austin and have a birth you want documented, call her. Like, yesterday. She was everything I imagined she would be in that L&D room. Professional, respectful, poised and thoughtful. She knew exactly when to ask a question, when to duck out of sight, where to be to capture the shot and how to interact with the hospital staff – I never even gave any of that a second thought. There were a couple of moments during the day when I was especially grateful for her presence. At one point, I changed positions during labor and I was worried that it would slow it down. She looked at me and said, “I labored the same way!” Whew. It was reassuring to hear those words at that moment. And, I had to chuckle (except I didn’t because CONTRACTION!) when I kicked off my flip flops and she smiled and quipped, “It must be getting serious. The shoes just came off.” Leilani, thank you for listening to your vocation to capture these beautiful moments of life. You have a gift and I am so very grateful you shared it with our family.
One million thank you’s for capturing one of the most beautiful and spiritually healing days of my life.