“Birth is an experience that demonstrates that life is not merely function and utility, but form and beauty.” ~Christopher Largen
I know what you're thinking.
"Pictures of my vagina?! No thanks."
Except that's not what birth photography is. Birth photography is about so much more than the actual moment of birth. In fact, there are few things I've observed since becoming a parent that are as misunderstood as the idea of hiring a birth photographer.
I get it. The idea of having a professional photographer at the birth of your baby can seem odd to many people; labor and delivery is usually a long, intense process that most consider to be a very private, sacred, and momentous journey.
But here's the truth: While there are moments of said journey that I will remember until the day I die, there's a lot I don't remember. Because, well, I was busy getting a human out of my body.
But looking at our photos, I remember. I remember how my hands squeezed my husband's hand so hard with each contraction that I thought it would break. I remember my parents both calling from hundreds of miles away while I writhed with pain and worry, how I grabbed the phone crying and calling my dad "daddy" for the first time in twenty years. I remember the ice chips and the Gatorade and the God-awful hospital gown.
And the moments I don't remember? I still have them. Because I have the photos. I have the very first breath my son took, still halfway between two worlds. I have the first moment I laid eyes on my his warm, wet little body. I have the cord being cut and the tears streaming down Matthew's face. I have the first of thousands of breastfeeding sessions, the first reading on the scale, the first sponge bath. I have what I hope will be the images that flash before me when I take my last breath.
And guess what? My vagina isn't in any of them.
So while a younger me used to think that childbirth would be the occasion of my life that I would least want photographed, it has actually been the occasion whose photographs I treasure the most. And while I once had my doubts about my picture being taken when I felt so very vulnerable, what I see when I look back is only the strength I didn't know I had.
"There is a power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it." ~Sheryl Feldman
For more information, check out the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers.
All photos in this post are courtesy of the amazing and wonderful Aspin Photography.
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