First and foremost – I am a compassionate, caring woman. I am a photographer and businesswoman second.
Here I am. I was in this room for 40 hours with maybe an hour or so of sleep.
“It’s ok, you can go home. OMG 40 hours? Why didn’t you leave? How could you stay that long? I hope you made good money! How much did you make?”
This is what I heard during and after my most recent birth and it really got to me. Yes, it was a long one but that’s sometimes how births go! Why would I go home when their story isn’t over? Births are unpredictable. They are not done in a certain time frame – why would I be?
Birth photography is expensive and there’s a reason for it. This is not what this post is about. Was I worried about money or how many hours I was technically working while with this mama who was trying her hardest to bring her baby earthside? Not for a single second! We birth photographers are invested in the families that allow us to be present. We are silently (or quietly) cheering you on with every contraction, every position change, and through every “I can’t.” We are proud of you when you make it through one more. We look forward to that first sigh of relief, the first cry, and first feeding. We support you when tough decisions have to be made. We care for our families and want the best!
This woman labored for over 40 hours. Her labor was hard, intense, and emotional. She was at 9cm for an extremely long time. She pushed for hours upon hours. Was I tired? Of course! How tired do you think that mama was? If she had the strength to push on, so should I. Could I have left and come back if things were slow? Could I have called a backup to come relieve me if I really needed sleep? Definitely! But did I feel it was right to do so? No.
I usually take the fly-on-the-wall approach to birth photography, but I could feel this woman needed me. She needed a positive energy. She needed me physically a few times and away went the camera. I saw in her eyes that she was looking for encouragement, that we knew she could do it, that we believed in her. To leave her would have said otherwise.
I get emotional thinking about that birth. Why would I not stay?! It’s such a privilege to be invited into a woman’s birth space and I am grateful for the honor every time. I love what I do and want to be there for my clients, for as long as their birth may take.