EVERY mother has their own story of birth. Everyone that has had a baby thinks they know either everyone’s story or what will happen with future babies. It simply is not the case. My story of birth was unique to me and I wanted to capture this in a photography session because to put it quite simply no one knows the extent of someone’s birth mentally and or physically. Yes, some births can be similar but a birth story is yours to tell and nobody else’s.
My birth was especially special for me, personally, as I had had many miscarriages prior to finding out about our little girl. The pregnancy was relatively easy, I named my little girl-to-be Blobby, however, the birth was a process that both terrified me and intrigued me. I desperately wanted to go into labour spontaneously and was due to be induced Sunday 28th March 2021. I remember trying everything from raspberry leaf tea to walking these long walks. The date that my baby was due, 27th March 2021, I remember asking my friend if I could look after her child so we could take the dogs for a big bushwalk. I remember the walk, talking about banksias, shea oaks and big foot thinking “I hope this brings on my baby Blobby.”
I remember having a really restless night and had these pains early Sunday morning, we had entered into early labour. When we arrived at the hospital at roughly 4:30pm, I was so nervous. We had our covid check and got our stickers then walked, what seemed to be a mile, up the lift and to the birthing ward. We were shown to a room, and the lady checked me, my waters broke.. bring on labour, I thought.. little did I know.
As time went on, the contractions became worse, as they do, and it is when they become intense that you almost lose yourself. We tried gas which made us laugh momentarily and I tried sitting in the bath where my labour intensified and I remember making sounds I have never made before.
I knew I needed to capture the moment, the hormones during pregnancy plays this wonderful role in making us forget a lot of the birth.. so my friends told me. I wanted to remember my birth through photography. That’s where Nadia came in.
Back to the labour, after the bath, the midwives said I was not progressing and encouraged epidural. This sped the birth process up. Nadia came, just as I was beginning to push and captured my birth with both film and digital cameras. When an hour of pushing saw no progress or baby, my obstetrician told me we needed to use the vacuum. He left the room, it was at this point I started to cry, I was not sure what was going on and I did not know anything except that I had to trust a man I had seen once a month for the past nine months to deliver my baby safely into this world. The doctor walked back into the room and I can only assume he set up his instruments to deliver the baby via vacuum. When it was time to try to deliver Blobby, I remember the doctor saying “Now, you need to pull yourself together, the vacuum needs you to push as I pull.” I had a midwife holding my left leg and Simon holding my right. I pushed as my obstetrician pulled, I remember sliding down the bed and the doctor saying “You need to hold her there so she doesn’t slide. She cannot slide towards me.” The vacuum did not work and he said to me “Okay, we are going to need to use forceps.” All I can remember thinking was, “this is what my mother went through”. Again, I started to cry. They set up the stirrups, they helped me to put my legs in them and I was lying there with all these people rushing around, oblivious to what was actually going on. The process of using forceps began, I was crying, looking at my partner, who was finally by my side. He briefly looked towards the end of the bed and I saw tears in his eyes. My doctor told me that they were going to perform an episiotomy to help get the baby out instead of me tearing. I remember agreeing. I stared at Simon the whole time. I remember hearing “the cord is wrapped” I became worried.
All these midwives came into the room. The baby was delivered and made no sound. I was lying on the bed, helpless, with all these people in the room and I was confused and I was worried. I still cannot remember if they placed the baby on my chest and whisked her away or whether they took her to the fold down baby stand where they gave her a morphine antidote and oxygen as she was having trouble breathing. I remember asking “where is my baby? What is happening? Why isn’t she on me?” My brain was a whirlwind of thoughts “is my baby that I fondly named Blobby okay? Why hasn’t she cried?” I kept looking towards the little station, I could barely see, I know that they were trying o hide what they were doing by standing behind my partner shielding the baby. I could see vigorous movements rubbing her, what I thought was they were trying to wake her up. By this point I was thinking, something is not right. She has made no sound and they have taken her away to this little station. Nadia was supportive, Simon was crying, I was very worried and starting to stress.
. Then as the midwives worked their magic a sound was heard. It was faint but, wow, that was my baby! Nadia captured her first sounds on her recorder so that we can keep this forever. Her father was invited to “cut the cord”, it has already been cut when she was coming out, this was to tick a box really. The best moment, for me, was when she was finally placed on my chest and I could touch her, hold her, feel her warmth. I was her mother. Simon was her father. Together we had made this tiny little human who was absolutely gorgeous. It was an instant connection and instant love. I was so thankful.
At the end of the birth, I was positive and happy. The birth, for me, was not complicated, I thought it was run of the mill, a little complicated, not too much. It was only after that I found out how complicated it was. Yes, other women go though births that are similar to mine. But for me, it was my experience. No one can take that away from me. Birth is a very empowering process which lasts hours. Once you start raising a little newborn those hours which seemed to last forever, become forgotten and the experience becomes a drop in the ocean as you navigate motherhood and life in general adjusting to this little baby.
It was so important to me to capture the moments of birth through photography. Nadia’s style of photography makes birth seem like a classy experience. Her attention to detail is amazing and the photographs she captures are raw and trigger emotions in a person that I never thought I would remember. I showed my mother the photographs and she cried. She cried because the photographs triggered her memory of the birth of her children to which after raising her children for many years. It is important to remember how you felt, how you were, how the process was. My mother told me I was very lucky to have these photographs, I said to her “it is not about luck but about finding the right photographer, Nadia was the best.” It takes strength and power to give birth. It unleashes the inners of a woman who you never thought she would be. I am so thankful that I had Nadia there to not only take photographs but support me when I felt unsupported. She went above and beyond in the birth room, prior to and after. I am so thankful my birth was captured and that I will be able to look at and reflect throughout my life.