The whole drive home from this birth, I had the Taylor Swift song "Enchanted" stuck in my head. This space was enchanting, and the people filling it shone.
Meeting this mama, was a joy, and witnessing her strength, her power, her moment was such a privilege. This was a birth I traveled for, just under 2 hours from my home. Darkness had just filled the sky as I began my drive. When I arrived, there was no need for a hello or introduction. The house was quiet, but the silence was loud. Rich vibrations of energy filled the air. Mama was in the birthing tub, resting on the edge and letting her body float. Her midwife was sitting in an armchair silent and still and watchful. Her doula was holding her hands, stroking her hair, and offering her silent encouragements that even I could feel from across the room.
I softly made my way into the space, trying not to interfere with anyone's head space, trying to be as unassuming and as much of a background as I could. After I settled in I found ways to turn up the lights without bothering mama, I knew she wanted well lit photos from our conversations before. Mama labored around the tub, vocalizing deep and loud, moving baby down with her voice and vibrations. She was so deep into herself, into her body, in a beautiful instinctual state.
Her daughter sat on the couch, patient and observing happily. Her husband rubbed her back, gave her lumbar support, and kept everyone fueled up on coffee and snacks. Grandma worried silently but lovingly, offering a hand where she could, filling the pool with fresh hot water when needed from the tea kettle.
Baby arrived so soon after I did, it must have been a couple hours but it felt like minutes. I found a step stool and climbed up wishing I was naturally taller as I do at many births. Mama had flipped to her back, and her husband got to her level and connected with her, everyone encouraging her and waiting, we knew this was it!
Midwife drank sips of coffee between contractions, gloves on ready to catch. And OH BOY did she have to catch! I have never seen a more amazing fetal ejection reflex. For my fellow photographer nerds, my shutter speed was set suuuuper high, I was in continuous mode, and my camera is just really responsive and fast. My finger was holding down the trigger, and one shutter click the baby's head was out, and the next baby was completely across the pool! She truly shot like a rocket! It was incredible. It was so so fast. Mama pushed for just a few minutes, her body knew exactly what to do, and she was giving in to every contraction, welcoming them instead of fighting them. Breathing and vocalizing baby out.
Midwife caught baby, and handed her to mama, and the next several minutes were intense. I have been to many births now, I have seen so many things, so many reactions, but this was something I will never ever forget. This mother's body and soul filled SO full of joy, so quickly, that it cracked her right open and that joy POURED out of her like a monsoon. She cried aloud, minutes on end, her voice echoing through the house. Hearing those exclamation of joy, pulled everyone's heart to their throat, and tears to their eyes. I sometimes get wet eyes at a birth, but I typically wait to feel my feels until after I leave this pace. But there was not stopping these tears, I ugly cried, it was as if the mothers joy had spilled over so much that it was overwhelming me and everyone else in the room as well. I almost sobbed aloud behind my camera, never stopping capturing for a moment. It was so rich, so breathtaking, so FULL. I will always treasure that moment. Its my favorite moment in any birth I have ever captured, I can still hear it and feel it now.
Mama was SO proud of herself. She could not believe that every dream of birth she dreamt had just come true. She did it. She did it. She did it.
She was designed for this, and she did it.
She looked over baby, her emotions still so high, dad came over, sister too, they all admired her, and admired mom. Soon baby was passed to dad for skin on skin while mama came out of the tub and got cleaned up. She lay on the couch, and the next few hours were so full of peace. Mama looked rested, she was so cared for. People fed her fruit, and brushed her legs, and filled her cup with water and lemonade. She came down from that emotional high and landed in a dream of peace. She quietly took everything in, and bonded with her child.
Baby checks were done later on, and right at the end, big brother came downstairs, into the peaceful room, and met his little sister. He was so excited. The sleepy's were in everyone's eyes, and soon after the birth team I wrapped up with the photos, and left this sweet family to their space where naps and breakfast were soon on the agenda.
I stood outside their home near my car for almost twenty minutes just processing. Taking it in. The night was silent, cool, and so beautiful. Like a summer night, but in early spring. The streetlights made me feel warm. The stillness seemed such a good closure.
I took a breath, and began my drive home. But not five minutes into it, I gasped and stopped my car. No one was on the road but me. I got out, and stared up at this HUGE full moon. I knew that it was a vital part of this story.
And that song by Taylor Swift, played through my mind, and does again every time I recall this enchanting story.
"I was, enchanted to meet you. To meet you. I was enchanted to meet you."