Amos’ birthday | how I prepared
May 2, 2017
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I felt a bit more than nervous to photograph my first birth. I was scared of seeing my friend (or anyone) in pain, worried about how graphic it might be (I mean a baby is coming out of a vagina… there’s no escaping reality), and not being a fan of blood/body fluids/the nitty gritty of hospital life made me feel a bit apprehensive. However, I love babies and have been curious about birth (especially because I hope to have a large family someday Lord willing) so I jumped on the opportunity to photograph my dear friend Courtney’s labor & delivery. When Chris and Courtney asked me to be this new baby’s Godmother I knew I had to be there as he made his way into this world.

{yay for visitor tags, mine is saved in my journal}

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Birth photography wasn’t something I thought I’d pursue, but after photographing one I can’t stop thinking about how incredible the experience was! I loved it. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I can’t wait to do it again.

{The very first time I was my God son’s name, isn’t it beautiful? | Courtney is amazing at birth, I was so in awe of her!}

Here’s how I prepared to do something I never had before, and I would highly recommend these tips to anyone looking to photograph or attend a birth:

  1. Find an expert to talk to. I was introduced to Brooke Collier through a friend of mine named Erin. Brooke is an incredible birth photographer as well as a mom and birth educator. She is very gifted and is passionate about all things birth. I blindly reached out to Brooke and wrote her a long email going through my fears about capturing a birth and asked her many questions about how to prepare. She was an excellent resource and gave me wonderful pointers to better understanding the pain aspect of birth (that it’s not pain in vain, it’s purposeful– a baby is born) and how best support a family as they deliver a new child.
  2. Babies know their birthdays. My work schedule is really flexible so I am LUCKY. I ended up missing a day of nannying because of how Courtney’s labor went, but am incredibly blessed to have not only understanding but incredibly supportive bosses. They sent well wishes to the family and were so glad I got to have this experience (they are the best people I have ever worked for!).
  3. Come prepared. Wear really comfortable clothing (dress in layers!), bring your glasses/contacts, and have a snack and water. There’s typically down time during labor and I spent a great deal of time just sitting by Courtney or taking a step back while health care providers did their things. I packed really healthy and easy to eat stuff: almonds, fruit, and a big bowl of chicken salad that Chris and I munched on all night long. There’s decent coffee in most hospitals, but I really like Starbuck’s Via so I brought my own in addition to some tea. I drank a lot of water.
  4. Time is weird. No one told me that time is a weird thing during labor and delivery. I was with Chris and Courtney from about 11:30pm through 2:30pm the next day and napped a few times, but was otherwise awake most of the time. Strangely time passed very quickly and I didn’t have a good sense of what time of day or night it was. I remember looking out the window and seeing the sun coming up and realizing that it was morning. This goes back to the point above about bringing snacks because you will probably forget to eat and won’t have the usual cues of time of day to eat. Also, if you’re up all night you’re going to need fuel to keep going.
  5. Respect the care providers at all times. I think this goes without saying, but I tried to be as respectful of the doctors and nurses as possible. This meant staying out of their way, asking if I could move in closer for shots, and generally just trying to stay quiet. Courtney’s doctor and nurses were AMAZING and Dr. Ryan even moved the placenta around for me to capture it perfectly 😉

{I loved this inspiring quote from when Courtney and Chris were walking the halls | Some of the hospital essentials}

{Staying up all night means lots of tea, coffee, and water}

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Seeing my dearest friend in pain wasn’t scary or upsetting. I felt like I could be a support to her and wasn’t worried or tempted to run out of the room. I could give a break or two to Chris and just be with Courtney as she experienced contractions. It was a very holy time for me and something incredible to witness. Coming alongside people in their pain is an important thing to learn. I think we too often as a culture want to hide or make pain just go away, it’s not possible with labor. You have to truly enter in.

{Courtney created the BEST labor playlist of 90s-early 00’s hip hop, obviously ;)}

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{How adorable and fun are these two!?!}

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… More of Amos’ birth photography to come…

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