The hardest part about my last labor had nothing to do with pain or fear.
With experience, research, planning, practice, and mentally and physically preparing myself, I had my head in the right place. I knew how to relax every inch of my body through the contractions. I understood and respected my body; I knew how to surrender to the intense muscle contractions that were working to birth my baby. I was lucky to have found the right place and the right support team to be completely at ease. When I found myself stalled out at 7cm for 4 hours with my third birth, yes I was exhausted and anxious to meet my baby. What on Earth was the hold up?
I don’t know if this was a CAUSE for the holding pattern, but I clearly remember it being the thought that wouldn’t stop nagging and torturing me…I felt awful that everyone was waiting for me. Two midwives, a nurse, my doula, my husband, my two kids and my sister who I brought in to watch them…all just waiting. They weren’t complaining or giving me any reason whatsoever to be concerned. I had hardly told anyone else it was go time, so I wasn’t feeling the watchful eyes of people desperate for updates. Yet still, the worst part was this guilt that I was making other people uncomfortable. These were people who were handpicked and thrilled to be part of my birth story!
I think that feeling of guilt falls into the category of being watched and by nature, laboring women do not want to feel watched. Ironic, eh? I am a birth photographer, so it is my job to get clients the best possible pictures. Makes me feel pretty dirty when I think about it. The one thing I couldn’t conquer in labor despite becoming an absolute birthing machine pretty much defines my career!
For all of you moms who are in love with the idea of having this defining moment in your life captured in invaluable images, this is my happy place. To the mamas who cherish the images from their birth story, but still feel bad for taking so long, cut it out! It makes me feel incredible to create something for you that I know will be close to your heart forever. Please do not worry about me. You are not just paying for my expertise, but my passion and respect for your birth experience along with my time, no matter how long your story may be.
Most women think, “Why in the world would I want pictures of my out of control, crazy hair, sweaty, exhausted self???” Because good lord, woman, you weren’t the disaster you picture yourself as, you were and always will be a beautiful, birthing goddess! It is my goal and my job to show you that in a way nobody else ever can. In my eyes, a woman will never be as beautiful as she is while bringing life into this world and she deserves to see that and even be defined by that beauty.
So please don’t torture yourself and PLEASE don’t allow yourself to feel like you need to hurry things up! I think it would destroy me if I thought a mom rushed things on my account and ended up with a crappy birth experience because of my presence. If you feel like you’re not paying me enough for my time and talent, give me a gift, tip me, tell the world how amazing I am, but PLEASE do not for a second think you are a burden and need to speed things up. I want to be there for every moment. I love to watch your birth story being written and I am honored that you have chosen me to illustrate that story for you.