**Content Warning: The photos shared in this post are those documenting a real home birth. Explicit detail shots are not included; however, I want to be on the safe side and let you know that these show people much more exposed than a typical portrait session**
First experiences are something special, amiright? Good or not so good, they tend to be memorable and we usually take something away from them. I love first experiences.
I had another first in June and it easily made my top 10 most amazing firsts I’ve ever had (future blog post, maybe?). I was invited to document a home birth.
Just saying it seems unreal to me because if you would have asked me a year ago if I would photograph any sort of birth, I probably would have laughed. Then I became a mother and lived my own birth story. Between my personal birthing experience and now the experience of documenting one, I can confidently said that I would photograph births again and again.
In fact, if you’re a photographer reading this and you’re on the fence about giving birth photography a try – GO. FOR. IT. At best, you witness a miracle and find a new way to expand your services to share your talents with even more people. At worst, it’s just not your cup of tea, but at least you can say you’ve tried it!
Being given this opportunity is honestly such a blessing because birth is no thing to be flippant about. A woman’s body is going through literally all the things and then out pops a tiny human. A tiny little soul, brand new to this world. It’s such a precious moment in life that I have to share the story of this experience with you guys!
I had been on call for Jamie since she hit the 38 week mark of her pregnancy. This is her third little one and she was carrying so low that we confidently assumed her little man would arrive right on, if not shortly before, his due date. Then her due date came and passed. I got more and more antsy with each day that passed so I can only imagine how Jamie felt! I speak from experience when I say that by week 40, you are READY to meet the babe that’s been doing somersaults in your tummy the past nine months!
We had actually planned a family vacay with my in-laws, but since there was still no sign of baby, we decided to skip out and just enjoy time together at home. It was an abnormally cold and rainy Tuesday in the middle of June when we were out running errands. Chris was inside the FedEx store when I got a text from Jamie saying that she was pretty certain her water just broke.
Naturally, this happened the one time I left the house without my camera bag so we rushed back home to grab my things. At this point, Jamie assured me that things were still moving kind of slow so we left the house again to do a few more things. Shortly after we got home the second time, Jamie said her contractions were beginning to pick up so I decided to hit the road since it was near an hour drive and I would rather get there too early than too late.
Arriving too late was probably my biggest fear about this experience since I didn’t know what exactly to expect. I have to admit, my foot was heavy on the pedal on the last stretch to the Haltiwanger house!
When I got there, Jamie was up moving around and doing mom things like she wasn’t about to be giving birth (i.e. I was shook). The soon to be older brother and sister, Gracie and Howie, were playing in the kitchen and showing me their newest toys. It was a very sweet scene to watch!
Soon the midwife arrived and she did a private checkup with Jamie. When they were finished, it was mentioned that it may end up being a late night because it seemed like her contractions were slowing down. Then the tables turned and before I knew it, we were all making our way into the bathroom. There were five of us total – Jamie and here husband, Mike, the midwife and her assistant, and yours truly. To be sure the midwives had enough room to move around the bathroom easily, we cleared off the bathroom vanity and I climbed on top for the perfect bird’s eye view.
I’m sure it was quite the sight; all of us hovering over Jamie in the tub, me standing hunched over on top of a vanity doing a Michael Jackson lean with my camera in hand. Hah!
The birth, from my perspective, happened very quickly. Jamie was breathing through her contractions in the tub like a boss then, at 8:15 PM, there was a shout accompanied by a little cry – Baby Kyle was here!
I snapped photos as quickly and as best as I could because the moment that little boy made his way into the world, I wept. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed in my 25 years and my heart was just so incredibly happy that I doubled over for a few seconds and praised the Lord through silent tears while Jamie snuggled her newest little one.
Shortly after Kyle arrived, Gracie and Howie walked into the bathroom to meet their baby brother. You guys, the looks on their faces was the sweetest thing! Especially Gracie’s – She saw her mommy holding her brother and her face just lit up. Howie wanted so badly to get in the tub with Jamie, it took some convincing that the water was too dirty for him (Lol). Jamie’s dad also popped in to say hello.
Once everyone got to greet the baby, Jamie moved to the master bedroom for a postpartum checkup while Mike had some skin-to-skin time with him. The midwives were bustling about doing their thing so I took the opportunity to take document some of the details before retreating into the living room to take a breather. The midwives and I were wearing masks the entire time to be safe, and the bedroom had gotten a little toasty with all the action.
Gracie popped out of the bedroom to announce that they were about to weigh the baby while I was taking to Jamie’s dad. I put my game face (i.e. mask) on and jumped back into action. Everyone took turns guessing how much Kyle would weigh and the head midwife had it almost spot on with a whopping 9.5lbs! He looked so tiny, I never would have guessed he weighed almost 10lbs. It really put it into perspective for me how tiny Layla was when she was born at her petite 6.9 weight.
I photographed some more little details, admired Kyle’s little fingers and toes, then said my goodbyes. I returned the next day to take some lifestyle newborn and family photos, so I knew I would get more time to make heart eyes at him then!
On the drive home, I kept replaying everything I had witnessed over and over again. It was an incredible, unforgettable night and I’m so thankful and blessed that I was invited into the Haltiwanger home to be part of it.
Psssstt! Join my gram fam @devonhansford to see more from the Haltiwangers’ home brith and newborn session. ♥