On the night of March 6th of 2014 – my life as I once knew it changed. It was on that day that I went into labour with my 3rd child. A child that took over 19 months to conceive. One that my husband and I were almost certain we would never have. Little did we anticipate that we would be blessed with this miracle pregnancy just 3 days shy of an appointment with a fertility specialist. This little bundle was certainly well worth the wait.
However, I am not going to lie when I say I had a lot of intense fears about losing this precious bundle.
You see… My sister was my Mom’s third child and my sister passed away only a few days after being welcomed into this beautiful world. While I understood that God probably had other plans for me, I always had that underlying worry in the back of my mind. With all the lingering what if’s to accompany.
I am so gracious for the wonderful support that my midwife, Lauren Wattam, provided me. If it weren’t for her support throughout my pregnancy and labour, I don’t think I could have done it. She kept me level-headed. She was there to hold my hand or offer a comforting hug when my husband couldn’t. She was there to talk me up when I wanted for nothing more than to give up. She is the very reason that my labour and delivery amounted to being one of my most memorable, empowering and transformative experiences to date.
Prior to Everly’s birth, I delivered two other healthy babies. One in the hospital and the other at home. With those births I was never in my element. That’s not at all the fault of my care providers, but rather my own.
I wanted to change that with the birth of Everly. During my pregnancy with Everly, I wasn’t sure if she would be my last child or if I would opt to continue growing my beautiful family one day. For this reason, I made a pact with myself to come out of my comfort zone during her birth. I originally had planned for a water birth, but wound up spending most of my time labouring while standing, sitting on the toilet or kneeling bedside. A big step for me. The girl who refused to leave the tub or the bed during prior births, and step into the world of change and the unknown. I made a point to listen and follow the advice of my supporters during my labour with Everly. AND – you know what – the changes contributed to making this one of my best labour experiences to date!
I also made a point of inviting a birth photographer, the wonderful Calla Evans, to attend the birth and capture all of the beautiful moments as Everly made her way into the world. Birth is a moment that changes you forever, and sometimes those fleeting little experiences leading up to the birth of your child can tend to be forgotten. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be able to have a visual record of everything from the contractions, the pushing, the crowning of Everly’s head, my reaction the moment Everly was placed upon my chest… All of those memories that my husband wouldn’t have necessarily been able to document while also supporting me and enjoying the intimacy of being in the moment as our child was brought into the world. It was magical to be able to share all of those first moments with him by my side.
When most people initially found out that I was going to have a birth photographer attend the birth of Everly I received a mixture of reactions. Some people were so gung-ho about birth photography while others were put off by the idea. They just couldn’t understand why someone would want the birth of their child captured on film. Rather than assuming the beautiful essence of birth would be captured by the photographer, their thoughts went straight to the notion that uncomfortable elements surrounding labour and delivery would be captured.
After all… Who really wants a horrid, gory picture of their who-hah as the baby crowns?!
Guess what… I have a picture of Everly’s head crowning, and while I may not share the photo publicly… I can tell you that the photo was captured in such a way that all I see is beauty and the innocence of knowing that my baby was moments away from her grand entrance into the world.
Years ago, birth photography was a subject that was quite taboo. The same could be applied to home birth. Both of which are now starting to becoming more common as the months and years go on.
The way I look at it is…. if you were to get married you would hire a wedding photographer. Well then, why not do the same for the birth of your child? Whether it is your first, second, third, forth or fifth child, each birth is so unique and one of the most momentous and emotional occasions in your life. Birth is a transformative life experience. Every birth carries with it the certainty that beautiful moments will happen. Moments that can easily fade away as the time passes by.
I will always remember my Grandmother telling me that the moment your child is born, you will forget the pain of going through childbirth. Those words couldn’t be more true. The same can be applied to how easily your memory of your labour and delivery can fleet you once your child is born. There is such an adrenaline and high that comes from the birth of a child. One that can cloud your memory after the intense process of bringing your child into the world. I love that I had a birth photographer there to capture all of the memories of Everly’s birth. It’s a tremendous gift to know that I can go back whenever I feel nostalgic and relive Everly’s arrival into their beautiful world whenever the mood strikes me. I can tell you that every time I watch the video from Everly’s birth day that my eyes are immediately filled with proud, glistening tears.
When and should I ever get pregnant with my fourth child one of the first things I will do is hire a birth photographer. (Yes – consider that a subtle hint dropped that I hope to one day grow my family by two more feet).
When hiring a birth photographer there are some tips to take into consideration to determine whether the birth photographer is a good fit for you and your family:
- Meet the photographer in person! (I cannot stress this tip enough) Your birth photographer is the individual you will be entrusting and sharing the birth of your child with you – it’s important to make sure they are a good personality fit with you and your partner. It will also illustrate how they operate in your personal space. Often, a birth photographer will walk into a birth space and not even start taking pictures for a solid twenty minutes. Why? Simply for the fact that they are getting a feel for your environment, to become better judge of how you and your partner are coping, what’s working for you, and determining the best way to go about taking great pictures without getting in your way. A good birth photographer is one that you shouldn’t feel distracted by the presence of them being there.
- Ask to view their portfolio, specifically a full set from an entire birth instead of a “best of” reel. This will give you a feel for the photographer’s style and how they approach the full experience.
- Ask about the birth photographer’s contingency plans: what happens in case of an emergency C-section, or if the baby needs to be hospitalized right after the birth?
- Ensure they ascribe to the on-call philosophy: a good birth photographer will be on-call for your family 24/7 for up to six weeks at a time. A great birth photographer has multiple back ups and will be clear about cases in which they would need to call a back up and what that means to you.
- Ask about their equipment and make sure their style works with what you are comfortable with. Do they have a photo journalistic approach? Use a lot of flash? Special lighting? These are all things you will want to take into consideration. Birth is one of the most technically challenging subjects to photograph. You need to make sure your photographer has a plan for working in dark, small, crowded spaces.
- Always make a point of talking with your photographer about your comfort level in terms of the kinds of pictures that will be taken: how much nudity you’re okay with, what kinds of images the photographer will try to capture, and so on.
I will be forever grateful for being blessed with a visual record of Everly’s birth. It was an incredible experience, and a tremendous gift to have had the power and beauty of her birth documented.
If you are pregnant and wavering on the thought of hiring a birth photographer, I highly recommend going through with it. Hiring a birth photographer is something that will not be regretted. Birth is amazing. It doesn’t matter how your child makes it’s grand entrance into the world, it deserves to be celebrated and remembered.
I will always cherish the birth of my sweet, darling Everly.
Interested in birth photography, and live in the GTA? Contact Calla Evans from Born by Calla Evans Photography!
Calla Evans is a celebrated lifestyle and documentary photographer based in Toronto. She photographs births across the GTA, from Burlington to Oshawa to Newmarket. She is sensitive, unobtrusive and loves newborn cuddles. You can view her work at www.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary birth photography session in order to cultivate my review of birth photography services. All opinions expressed are those of my own.