In December, I got to shoot my very first birth session. Let me start by saying—nothing in the world can prepare you for something like that! The birth was set up to be an at-home, water birth. And, boy, I did my research. I read articles on what to expect when birthing at home, the process of having a water birth and looked up tons of different styles of birth session photography.
I was lucky enough for my first birth session to be for dear friends; Charity and I have been friends for over a decade! So when I got the call, she was very early in labor. I packed up my work and headed over to their house to keep her company. The room was set up with an empty birthing pool and the necessary emergency equipment. That was when it got real for me. I took photos of EVERYTHING.
Throughout the day, we ate pretzel Goldfish, watched Harry Potter movies and even did a little Zumba to get her moving! We timed contractions and practiced breathing exercises on a birthing ball. I learned that we want contractions to become “longer, stronger and closer together.” Charity’s mother-in-law, Kelli (aka the most wonderful woman on the planet), told us what to expect and how to pass the time.
Now this part is going to sound like I’m exaggerating—I’m not. This was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Charity and Jake clung to each other through the long hours, family was there to help and cheer them on and, of course, the midwives and midwife assistants were there to guide the parents-to-be through the process. It was such a wonderful show of community, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Through the hours of intense contractions, Charity persisted. She was an absolute trouper—I’ve never been more proud of this woman and the strength she showed! Through each round of pushing, it became clear that little Eisley could be born at any time. I took pictures on pictures on pictures! After a full day of labor, Charity successfully delivered a beautiful baby girl.
When I edited the photos, I tried to keep the dark and raw electricity of the moment (well, hours). There was also a point in the evening that the room was so dark I had to use an external flash.
This story is a such happy one. It ends with two very tired and happy parents, over 600 pictures to remember the experience and one beautiful, strong little girl!
Story and photographs submitted by Jude Anderson.