This is the Malcom birth Story. I’m not sure if you have heard the phrase “Find your tribe”, but it means find someone who are connected to, someone you click with, and someone you love. This client was my second ever birth photography client, and upon our first consultation we just clicked. I had visited her and her mother as they had graciously volunteered to allow me in her sacred circle, and first birth no doubt. This client is a future midwife, and her birth plan was organic and beautiful. I’ve always been fascinated by natural childbirth, and I was very excited to be allowed such a wonderful opportunity. She had liked my portfolio so much that she had booked me for a maternity shoot beforehand. That proved to be absolutely stunning, and I’ll save it for another post. I will say it helped us build a connection that strikes straight to a spiritual level. A sisterhood of motherhood was formed.
My poor client was overdue. It was hard to not contact her, but I knew she was already feeling the pressure with her husband possibly not being there due to being military. At the same time I knew now more than ever, my mama needed support. She needed to be built up. She needed to know it was okay to hurt, but know that she won’t break. She needed strength and pillars. Time would prove just how strong and amazing she really was.
A cold snap had hit GA, finally. It would be a frosty night that she went into labor. Truth be told she was in labor the morning she had her membranes stripped. Time would tell that she would have a long labor thanks to a baby that was OP. This would be my second time shooting, and the second time the baby was OP or sunny side up, if you will. I hope it’s not a jinx. lol
We had all reached the birth center at the same time. Mama was in pain as her contractions were now three minutes apart. Everyone was in a good mood. At first you’d think it was just because of the baby. I came to find that this family was very connected, and very joyful. We all filed inside, and the family introduced me as family member and photographer. I had made it to the sacred circle, and the honor of being considered family. No pressure, only my second birth shooting. Truth be told I have been familiar with low lighted situations for many years, and that helped a lot.
As my client was being admitted, I got acquainted with her sister and brother who had come along. Her sister and I swapped birth stories. Before you know it her siblings and I were making light humor. Let’s be real. This family was so joyful that their humor lasted through it all. From admission, to contractions, to screams, to greetings, through it all. There is a special beautiful and unique ability to be able to make a mother laugh during transition and even pushing. There was also a bond that I had never encountered personally with my family, and seeing it at times had me very choked up. It was beautiful. I even remember telling them that I thought it was so cool when I had found out that the brother was going to help deliver the baby if they got to do a water birth. Her husband was unable to be there for the birth, and her family was rallying around her.
My client’s mother was absolutely amazing. To see the matriarch impart her wisdom/ comfort/ coaching had me in awe. She would hold her daughter. They would sway in rhythm together. She would give her daughter mental images to hold onto.
“You are at the beach. The sand is soft beneath your feet. You see the waves crashing on the shore. Look at that blue water. It’s crystal clear.” She would tirelessly be the one to rub her back, help deliver the baby, and teach her how to breastfeed.
Her siblings let the world know through videos about each step of the baby and mother’s progress. Her sister would give her water/ talk with her husband/ comfort her/ provide comic relief with stories about dark areolas and other jokes. Her brother would provide comfort, and was even the one to cut the cord. My client’s father had a miraculous break through where he was able to get off work. Now to really grasp the gravity of this you’d have to realize that their father had missed birthdays, holiday’s, birth of grandchildren, and so many important dates because his work would now allow him time off. He would be another man in her life that could be a rock and provide her comfort. To see a father envelope all of himself in his daughter and comfort her was quite the moment.
This family was so layered, and so knit together. You can really see the best coming out of them when my client needed them the most. They did their absolute best to fill the gaps of her missing husband, and even beyond. Her cup ran over. It turned out that another miracle had happened. My client was mentally prepared to give birth without her husband, she was not prepared that his commanding officer would grant him permission to go see her. He had spent his leave thinking the baby would be born. He had to head back 2 days before the baby was actually born, and it was hard for the both of them. The fact that he was coming, I knew gave my client a strength that would carry her through.
She labored on the ball. She labored in the water. She moved to the shower. She walked down the hall. Her determination was that of a fierce lioness. She would do everything she needed to greet her son. There were moments that her moans of pain rang deep through the halls. Her breath would pant. You would hear her birth song escape her lips. Then there were times that her moaning song would rise to a shriek of pain. Her tribe would surround her. They would ground her, and remind her to conserve her energy for laboring and pushing. High pitched screams tend to drain your energy, and tense your body. They would’ve slowed her labor that was painful enough being that her baby was sunny side up.
The midwife offered to break her waters to speed up labor. Just as she was about to get ready, my client rolled to her side to get into position, and you heard a light pop that sounded like a knuckle or joint pop. Her water broke itself causing everyone to cheer for her and the baby. She let out a relief filled laugh. That cheering have her confidence to carry on. She would need that when her midwife would have to try to spin the baby through some very uncomfortable positioning that costed her a water labor, but gained her a hospital intervention free birth. Not all births are emergencies, and it’s even less than you would imagine with a midwife.
Another laboring mother would enter the birth center, and it nearly became a race between the mothers. The second mother’s baby was born at 4:44 am, and her son was born at 5:55. An hour within each other.