Erika Ray Photography » blog

The post in which I attempt to describe a birth: Part II

For the last birth post, I decided to toss him some humor with my argument.  Don’t get mad at me.  And after today, we’ll be birth free until the next one.  Thanks again to the Renos for allowing me to share.

Hey, pregnant ladies!  You’ve got your bags ready.  Let’s see what you’ve got in there.

Comfortable post-pregnancy clothes (bring something roomie)

A focus object     check

Playlist     check

Suckers    check

Clean socks (I never understood this one, but it’s in every list)    check

A Coming Home outfit     check

A photographer     ?

When I explained to family and friends that I was going photograph a birth, 90% responded with an “Eww” in their tone.  My family grew up witnessing my weak stomach.  Once, I sliced my finger.  It wasn’t truly deep enough for stitches.  But that didn’t stop me from ripping off my top and getting as close to the floor as possible.  I’m no dummy.  If I was going to pass out, I didn’t feel like hurting myself further.  But after a decade of being in situations where blood was the primary decoration, I think my weak stomach argument can be put to rest.  I’d rather not see my own blood, but who does?  My friends might have been concerned if seeing Becky’s lady bits that day would be weird at the next BBQ.  (sidenote: my friends are pretty intelligent and would never say “lady bits”.  I think it’s funny and since it’s my blog post, I get to choose the words.)  I saw glimpses, but in the setting of a birth, it wasn’t awkward at all.  If Becky comes over to my house and starts to get naked prior to cooking, I might have an issue with her bits.

But I can hear ladies saying: Erika…  It’s an intimate and private moment.  I’m not doing this for an audience.  I don’t want anyone to see me in that type of pain.  I want to only share it with my partner.  And I’ll have my own camera.  I understand these concerns, but allow me to explain how might be a little wrong.

Yes, it is an intimate moment.  But if you’re in a hospital, you’ll have nurses in and out of your room.  You’ll have just met them and you might even go through a shift change which means new strangers.  They have a job to do and so will your photographer.  The photographer isn’t there to Facebook it or play checkers with you.  If you’ve hired a good photographer, they will stay out of the way and capture the sweet moments between you, your partner, and your child.  Maybe your family desperately wants to be in the room, but you’ve said no.  You’re afraid having a photographer will hurt their feelings.  Explain that a photographer will help them feel like they were in the room.  Most hospitals won’t allow video cameras.  This could be your gift to them.  Prior to birth, meet with the photographer to discuss packages and create a “No Shoot” list.  For example, crowning or placenta photos.  And because it’s your birth, you reserve the right to change your mind.  At any point, you can always ask them to leave.  And when all the photos have been edited, you get the photos.  You do not have to share anything you aren’t comfortable with sharing.  I’m fortunate to have friends that felt their birth was so beautiful and wanted to share it.  I could not agree more on the beauty of that day.  And your day will have the same potential for beauty.  Let someone show it to you.

iPhone, Point ‘n Shoot, or a DSLR are perfect for you to use after the birth.  But you won’t be able to do this once labor progresses.  Your partner won’t either.  He or she will have a more important job.  They should be focused on your needs and comfort.  And waiting until it’s all over for photos is 100% wrong.  You’ll be missing all of the good stuff.  Once the baby is placed on your chest, life becomes about that child. While you’re catching your breath, I’m guessing Daddy will have taken a few photos.  When you go home, you’ll take endless photos of newborn details.  In the future, you’ll remember how the baby took his first stretch.  How his ears were slightly bent.  How he decided to pee on the nurse seconds after she cleaned him.  But what about the details of you?  Those will be lost.

Give away the fear of it being too messy or fearful of showing anyone your pain.  Because what you don’t know yet, is you will never be more gorgeous than the moments before you deliver your child.  But what about the pooping and bleeding people warn about?  That’s not pretty.  I hear you.  It sounds crazy, but if it happens that’s so incredibly minor to the event.  I poop’d all over the nurse and I my face was blotchy.  But my husband still emerged and told our friends, “You will never be more amazed with your wife than on the day your child is born.”  Your photographer won’t focus on the bodily fluids.  There’s better things to turn the lens towards: you and your partner.

The photographer will capture you in your most beautiful and most powerful state.  Let them photograph the exchange you have with your partner.  Let them focus on your hands clutching for strength.  Let them photograph him whispering, “You can do this.”  Let them freeze the moment that you believed him.  Let them showcase you and your partner as the most dynamic duo the world has ever seen.  Let them photograph you seconds after birth: those few seconds when you realized that you are magnificent.  You won’t remember just how powerful you were.  You won’t accurately remember the undying love you had for your partner seconds before your child was born and took your attention.  Give yourself a photo album full of these visual references of the day when you were the purest and most amazing creature.

And as a bonus, your photographer will get some gorgeous photos of your newborn to share almost immediately.  iPhone photos are nice, but your newborn deserves a beautiful first portrait.  A quick edit, email to the parents, upload to Facebook.  Voila.  Your baby debuts in all their glory.

Did my argument sway some of you to search out a photographer for your delivery?  I hope so.  It’s now something I regret not having for the delivery of my first son.  I never used the suckers, focal picture of our dog, or socks (They would have gotten shitty anyways.  You’re really happy to know I poo’d huh?).  But I would have used the photographer.  And I would have cherished those photos.  If you’re in Columbus, call me.*  I’ll make sure you don’t forget.

A special note to my friends who are pregnant or who might be gearing up for another baby.  This is it.  This post is the only time I’ll approach you about birth photography.  If you ever want to talk about it with me, you know where I live and how to contact me.  And if you invite me into the room, I won’t look at you funny during the next BBQ.  Bring a potato salad naked and I might toss you a wonky glance.


* I have a full-time job plus two very active boys (aren’t they all?), but please call me to discuss options for a birth shoot.  There’s always a way.