We are pleased to announce the first annual Meet the Birth Photographers Night!
Come join Laura Fifield Photography, Natalie Bee Photography, Susan Johnson Photography, and Esther Edith Photography on June 21st, from 6:30-8pm, at Mother’s Haven. We will have a live Q&A with the birth photography panel, meet & greet with individuals, raffle giveaways, and drinks/snacks served. We all are looking very forward to meeting with everyone, and answering all your questions.
Motherhood: A Mini Series
Come join me in celebrating motherhood with cuddles, tickles, kisses; memories. These 15 minute sessions will take place in a gorgeous local Spokane park, and will include 5 digital images of your choice. Session fee must be paid in full to book time, and must be paid within 24 hours. More details upon booking for styling and customizing your session for you and your child/ren. Can’t wait to see you this year!
For more information and booking, please visit this page.
This mama of 5 is a local birth doula, good friend, and an incredibly sweet person. We connected a few years ago to photograph the birth of her 4th child. As we all know, the unexpected can happen when it comes to birth, and her water broke at 33 weeks (she was wearing her baby in a carrier on her back, slipped on some ice, and fell). She had placental abruption, plus baby was still presenting breech, so they delivered her little girl by a much-needed Cesarean section [with T-incision]. I was able to be there when they finally came home from the NICU, and it was so fun to see all the kids excited about their new baby. I was so elated when she reached back out to me for this birth, of her 6th child! It is always such an honor to be present at a fellow birth worker's delivery. I know very well how particular we are about who we invite into our space, so it was a great privilege to document this for her family...and what a birth it was...!
After 2 unnecessary c-sections, one medically necessary c-section, and 2 VBACs at home, she had the confidence and knowledge to birth at home, with her husband. I honestly couldn't come up with a better word for this birth than, romantic. It was so beyond romantic!! I walked into a dimly-lit home in the wee morning hours, to she and her husband quietly laboring together. He was so sweet to her, and made sure she had everything she needed: offered her drinks, rubbed her back, and squeezed her hips during surges. He was her best doula, and it was such a beautiful thing to watch and document. Her waves weren't regular, but when they washed over her, she needed to pause, close her eyes, breathe, and softly moan until they passed. All I could think about during active labor was, "THIS was a woman in control of her body...".
The air was heavy with essential oils (which made me feel instantly at home), and a playlist was playing, on the lowest volume, next to them. I remember the loudest noise in the room being their pet hedgehog, scratching at it's cage. There was also the mellow hum of the little diffuser changing colors on the shelf in the corner of the room. You honestly would never know that 5 young children slept in the next room over from where mom and dad were so gracefully laboring.
All of the birth supplies were laid out on the table, ready to be used, if/when needed. In classic vegan family-of-seven fashion, they had a three-tiered tower full of fresh fruit in the kitchen, ready for the kids to help themselves. I loved seeing this sneak peek into their life, and for a split second, made think of having a 'crew' that large of my very own [my husband would kill me for admitting that]. This family truly makes it look so easy to be a parent of so many beautiful, unique children! If you know these two at all, you will also know how selflessly they love each other, and how much joy they receive from parenthood. They are so incredibly blessed to have each other through this life.
You guys, she nursed a toddler right before transition hit!!!!! Mother and her babies: working together in such a breathtaking way. I was feeling so many emotions in this very instant, that I hid behind my camera...and cried big, fat, happy tears.
It was right after this moment that things really started to pick up. Her body was telling her to be in the bathroom, this is where she was most comfortable. In fact, she delivered her last babe in the bathroom. I have heard from many mothers, that sitting on the toilet is the best spot for them! It actually makes sense, since it opens the hips perfectly for baby to come down into the birth canal...which is exactly what happened!! She breathed her baby down, slowly, confidently. She let her body take over and push when it felt it needed to. The baby's head gently emerged, bringing smiles to both mom and dad's faces. One more big breath, and her baby came right out into daddy's hands. He told me later what an incredible moment this was for him, since this was the first baby he has ever caught. He immediately brought the baby up to her chest. It was in this moment that she cried out, "Honey, we have a BOY!!!".
The look of pure joy on her face says more than I could ever write:
After their baby boy finally joined us, after a few short hours of labor, we stepped out of the bathroom to sets of admiring eyes: a couple of the older children heard the commotion, and woke up to see the new baby. We all chatted about it being a little boy, and how some of them wanted a girl but, "they will still be pretty happy that he is a boy..." said the oldest daughter, which made me really chuckle.
The inspection process happened next: this is the time that the mother carefully looks over every part of her baby. It is something we instinctively do, especially births that are left to it's natural progression. He latched onto the breast for the first time, and we all watched as the umbilical cord slowly turned white and limp. We inspected the placenta for a moment, to make sure it was intact, and that no membranes left inside the uterus. All the rich cord blood had passed back to the baby, so it was a good time to tie-off, and cut the cord. Their 5 year old son had the honor of cutting his little brother's cord; although a little squeamish at first, he did his job very well. Those cords are harder to cut that you would think...! Once disconnected, mama jumped into a bath to wash up, while the older children made her a small meal. Mind you, this is around 3am...but by now, all the children were awake and running around their adorable little home, so happy to have a new baby, finally. Everyone wanted a turn to hold him; I think that was just about the cutest argument I have ever seen unfold.
They all cuddled up on their bed to measure and weigh him, look at every inch of him, name him, and hopefully go back to sleep (which I KNOW didn't happen haha). This birth could not have been timed more perfectly: my 2 month old slept blissfuly in his carseat the whole 3 hours I was at their home, and I arrived back to my house a mere 2 minutes before my husband's alarm went off so he could get up for work.
- It was a good day to have a good day -
White-capped mountains in the distance, a chill breeze over the Spokane River, and these two expecting their first child, looking so adorable together: I could spend every weekend like this...! Nothing I love more than living in the Pacific Northwest, we are so spoiled here.
THEY HAVE A HAMMOCK IN THEIR LIVING ROOM.
I don't think it can get much cooler than that...can't wait to meet this little guy!
We made the wind our friend on this day; the sun was shining, yet goosebumps danced across this first-time mama's skin from the crisp air. The mountains were still topped with a layer of snow, still clinging on as Spring nears. What a beautiful couple, and a joy to work with. I am so excited to meet their little one very soon...!
This image below was the first image shot in this birth.
Yes, I completely missed the birth, but I didn't miss the first moments.
This first-time mama had been having signs of false labor for what seemed like weeks. When I was contacted by the dad a little after 2am on November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving, he said that mom started having contractions and their doula will be joining them shortly, but she lived far away, so it would still be some time. Since I live a mere 15 minutes from them, I told him to keep in touch with me about how labor progresses, and I would be on my way anytime they updated me. Next text I received was at 5:45am, when he said contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, and that maybe I should come. I hopped out of bed, threw my hair back up in my classic "mom-bun", brushed my teeth, grabbed my camera bag, and got in my car. As I was driving to their house, I received a text from their doula who said that mom was already in the birth pool, and the baby's head was just crowing!
Now...I'm not going to say I went over the speed limit to get to their house...but I also wouldn't deny it. Even though I got there as fast as I possibly could, baby was out, and snuggled on mom's chest when I walked through the door, camera-ready. This is the moment I walked into, and it was so serene: all hands on mom and baby in admiration.
At 40 weeks and 6 days with my 3rd baby, I awoke at 1:09am on January 8th, 2017, with surges strong enough to keep me awake, and came about 5 minutes apart. I had been having strong and fairly consistent Braxton Hicks contractions for the past week or more, so I wasn't sure if it was real labor until I got out of bed; the next surge came much stronger. This most definitely was the real thing. I woke up my husband, who immediately got up, did some dishes, and started filling up the birth pool. I called my birth team [2 midwives + 1 assistant, birth photographer, and my mom] around 2:30am, and lucky for me, one midwife lives just mere minutes away from me, so it seemed like she was there in a flash. She checked our surprise gender baby's heartbeat, which was right around 140's like it had been throughout late pregnancy. My birth photographer, Laura Fifield Photography, showed up to start documenting this journey for us, as well as my mom to watch the kids. I sat on my yoga ball for a little bit, but sitting down was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, so I had to walk around and keep my hips moving. I leaned over the hot water pouring into the birth pool for a few contractions, which was calming to feel the steam rising up. I needed to get in.
Surges were coming every 2-3 minutes, and were strong enough to make me stop, and really breathe through each one. My son must have heard us setting up, because he came downstairs to await the baby's arrival with us, with sleepy eyes and wild hair. His little sister soon followed. As we prepared for me getting into the pool, I had to try to go to the bathroom beforehand. The moment I sat down on the toilet, the shift happened: Transition. I could feel my baby moving down, and the surge almost got ahead of me, making my head fuzzy and hard to focus. This was by far the strongest surge I had felt thus far. Alone in the bathroom, I breathed and moaned my way through that contraction, and immediately vomited all over my bathroom floor. I knew this was going fast, I could feel it. My husband came in to help with counter pressure on my hips, which seemed like the only thing getting me through these waves. I went through another contraction in the bathroom, as my husband cleaned up the floor, and as soon as they passed, I hurried to get into the birth pool before another one hit. I eased down into the hot water, which took the weight off my hips and lower back, but not quite like the "liquid epidural" I hear so many homebirth moms speak of. I fanned myself, which was an amazing sensation with the cool air on my face and the hot water on my lower body. I knew it was going to be too hot for when baby comes, so my husband eventually tossed in a bowl full of ice cubes to cool it off.
After just a few contractions in the pool, I reached in to see what station baby was, and baby was not quite a half an inch in, and I felt the bag of water bulging. A couple contractions later, and I felt my body bare down to push: my water broke with serious force in the pool. I slowly and carefully eased the top of the baby's head out (I felt sooo much soft hair); I really wanted to take plenty of time for the crowning stage, but I heard my midwife say in such a calm voice, "Natalie, you need to birth the face. When you do that, I need you to stand up out of the pool for us". Trusting in my midwives completely, I gave it one huge [painful] push, and out came the face. I broke out in laughter, it was such relief to know I was almost done! I slowly turned over on my hands & knees, took al my strength and stood unto get out of the tub. This was the most intense thing I have ever had to do in my life, and will never forget the immense effort it took for me to do this. The midwives wanted one leg up, and to push as hard as I could; his shoulders were stuck, and my midwife wanted to assist his way out to prevent shoulder dystocia. She gently pressed on his chest, which made him curl his shoulders just enough, and out he came! She handed our baby to my husband through my legs, then up to my chest. Standing up, I birthed this beautiful, huge baby! It was in this moment, we both saw that we had another baby boy, which was a big surprise to us since everyone thought we might have been having another girl. So overcome with emotion about our new addition, I wept. I wept with joy that labor was finally over, because it happened so fast, because he was finally here, and because the experience I just had was so beautiful and natural. It was the iconic "I did it!" moment, one that I get to witness all the time being a birth photographer + doula myself.
My kids got to come over and check out baby Simon right after he was born, and tell him how much they loved him. Everyone helped me to my clean bed, brought me an apple and cinnamon/sugar toast, some arnica for the swelling, and placenta-release tincture to ease with the delivery of this incredible organ. My baby started nuzzling my chest, so I helped him find his way to my nipple, and he latched right on...way better than either of my other kids had for the very first time. This immediately brought on the strong after pains, which helped my placenta deliver within about 20 minutes. We had clamped and cut the cord right before it delivered, and then inspected the 1.5 pound placenta that had emerged. We double freezer-bagged it, and will plant it under a tree in our new home's backyard this Spring. My midwife did his first check while on my chest, then took him to weigh him. This is when things got REAL: she put him up in the sling, and I saw my husband's eyes widen beyond anything I had ever seen. His jaw drop, my midwife's jaw dropped. My husband could barely mutter, "11 pounds, Natalie. AND 2 OUNCES!!" We all broke out in laughter, as my midwife informed me that is the largest baby she had ever delivered. My husband snuggled with Simon while I got into the Caring Coconut herbal bath that my midwives had made for me. It felt incredible to soak in these calming herbs, and once the water cooled down a bit more, my husband brought Simon in to join me (our two dogs came with him to greet the new baby). This is when I could just sit and look over him, counting his fingers and toes, wiping in the thick coat of vernix he had around his chubby arms and his adorable booty.
No internal exams, no tearing, mother-led labor, natural home birth. It is possible!! I proved it to myself, and those around me, that this physiological birth does happen so naturally and beautifully for many women. The birth images I received from my wonderful photographer are worth every penny spent. These images show this warrior-birther that I didn't even know was in me. I cannot say enough great things about my incredible midwives, Terri & Annabelle of Spokane River Midwives, and their assistant Haley. They were the perfect addition to my birth space, and I have been beyond helpful during pregnancy, labor & delivery, and postpartum. They both have been so supportive of how I wanted to birth, and there truly is nothing better than a solid support system when you become a parent, and I am so grateful for them both. I too am thankful for Laura Fifield Photography for documenting this whole birth story for us. Not only is she a sweet person and dear friend, but a truly fantastic artist. I absolutely love every image we received back from her. If you are interested in birth documentation, please don't hesitate in interviewing a professional birth photographers in your area to find one that best fits your needs, you will not regret it! Worth every single penny spent.
I am beyond thrilled to get back to work after having my chunky baby in January, and I will be starting off with a BANG! I have been dreaming of this mini series for months, so I can't wait to share it with all of you. Mark your calendars for March 4th & 5th!
These "micro sessions" will be baby-only (1 year and younger, please), and includes 1 outfit OR naked. The sitting fee includes the 20 minute session with your baby in my warm home studio, as well as 1 high-resolution digital image of your choice, for both online sharing and printing at your leisure. All other items are a la carte, at a discounted rate just for these! Limited time slots are available, sitting fee must be paid in full to save time. Times are listed below, Contact me today to reserve the best time for you and your little one.
March 4th [Saturday] and March 5th [Sunday]:
I have the following spots still available for Spring & Summer Birth Documentation:
April: 1 Due date | May: 3 Due dates | June: 2 Due dates | July: FULL | August: 2 Due dates
If you would like to schedule a complimentary in-person consultation to make sure I am the right fit for you birth team, and to capture your birth story, please Contact Me today!
Here is a link to my Portfolio, Gift Registry, Client Reviews, and more About Me.
[ Starts today at 11am, and ends this Sunday, January 1st, at 9pm ]