Come see me at Baby Fair this year, and say heyyyy!! I will have some awesome giveaways, session discounts, and quite a bit more up my sleeve... Worth checking out if you are expecting in 2018! March 4th at the Convention Center in Spokane, Washington [ Link to event ].
Fastest Birth in the Books: 34 Minute Labor & Unassisted Home Birth - Spokane, Washington Birth Photographer and Doula
You know it was an amazing birth when you not only miss it (even though you live 10 minutes away, and left the house immediately), and walk in to see this huge smile on mama's face. She was surrounded by her husband, and 5 beautiful children when I stepped into their birth space...all looking totally and madly in love with this new babe. It was the sweetest moment...
Although a birth worker never likes missing a delivery, it is part of this family's story. I literally was walking up to their front door, debating on if I knock or just walk in, when I received the text: "Julie just had the baby". GAH!!!! Thankfully, her amazing husband not only quickly setup the birth pool and filled it up, but somehow supported her through contractions, as well as setup his iPhone on the bookshelf next to them in order to video record, moments before delivery. Talk about amazing...! I am beyond grateful for this family for allowing me to help share their incredible home birth story, as well as the video dad recorded on his phone (end of page). Sit back, and enjoy the birth story written by mom herself:
"This little person here in my arms is 6 weeks old and as I try to put words to the journey to bring our little soul into the world, its overwhelming. How do you really describe the journey of a last baby, a rainbow baby after a miscarriage, a hope for healing and filling of the empty spot waiting for them? I don't know if you can... it was beautiful, challenging, scary, and full of so many moments I'll never forget.
Evan kept anxiously joking about giving him enough notice if I went into labor at night since he had so many music gigs at night. We were all ready for her to get here so that we didn't have to worry - but with the little one in a posterior position I figured it would be a while. I was laying in bed texting a friend of mine around 10:50pm on Nov. 15. Evan interrupted that conversation with a text reminding me to give him lots of notice whenever I would go into labor. Yessss dear, of course! As my friend and I ended the conversation, I joked that I had told the baby she could come that day but nope... my friend laughed and said the day wasn't done yet, there was still time. Well... unlikely.
I got up to use the bathroom one last time before sleeping and sat there for a while... I thought, "Wouldn't it be so cool if my water would break?" and I sort of laughed at myself a little, because seriously... don't we wish. I was going to check myself to see if I had dilated more in the day, and as I got ready... but before I could, something poured out?? Wait... was it urine? I had already gone to the bathroom so that wasn't right... I sat there totally confused. I looked at my hands... were those tiny specks of vernix?? I think maybe?? But that's crazy. There was no scent, no continued stream to indicate it was my water... I didn't know what to do but nothing kept going so I decided I was just making it up, and went back to bed. I laid in bed a while listening to my body, still a bit confused what happened and wondering if I was making stuff up. I had a Braxton hicks contraction but it was regular, as were the few others that eventually followed about 8-10 minutes apart. I was now hungry again so I decided to get up to see if the Braxton hicks would stop if I changed positions, and to get a snack. Evan came home about that time and cut me some cheese and was giving me the side eye as I knelt over the couch and ate my cheese, trying to determine if I was having contractions. He started a TV show and to have something to eat, while I had to breathe through my first real, light contraction.
I text my doula after the second contraction I had to breathe through, and my water broke while I waited for her reply (what?? This is contraction 2??). Evan grabbed me a towel and I quickly text my birth photographer, called my midwife, text my sister in law and sister and after the next strong contraction I quickly went to the bathroom to change shirts for laboring. I barely got my shirt changed when I had to kneel and breath through a hell of a contraction barely hanging onto my composure. Woahhhhhh, this just got really serious really fast!! Evan was rubbing my back and talking to me. The tub was ready if I wanted. There wasn't much water but I could get in. I moaned I didn't want things this fast... he knowingly said "I'm sorry Babe".
I knew I had to move now or this baby was going to be born on my bathroom floor so I got up as the contraction end hung on and walked as fast as I could to the baby's room, getting into our birth tub. There was 3" of water but the sound of the water pouring in was so great. I felt for the baby and could feel she was right there... she was coming so soon. I told Evan I could feel her head. The next contraction I could feel my body taking over and it just pushed without me. I could feel her moving down, I wasn't doing the work... my body pushing. As her head moved out I leaned up to hold onto the tub edge. (Oh my gosh... none of the kids are awake, they will be so disappointed! And no one is here... again... haha! Man, I didn't even prepare for an unassisted birth this time. My herbs and stuff isn't even all in here...). I needed Evan to help me catch her, the water too shallow, I told him to put his hands right here by my leg so I could feel them, and know he was with me. And we waited. We are ok, she is ok, I said, I could feel it. Minutes passed... soon... I could feel the contraction building... "soon" I said... oh this... this pressure and power... one last time... "You are amazing! Amazing!" Evan said. All of me, all of her... this incredible life pushed her way into this world and into her Daddy's hands.
After 11 contractions and a half hour of labor, on Nov. 16, at 12:02am, Salem Phoenix was born, bringing with her incredible completion, joy, and love. "
Birth Photography is it's own type of photo-journalism: a documentary-style photography that evokes emotion, and tells a story. For me, these are some of my favorite emotion-driven birth images of 2017, and I beyond delighted that these families trusted me, and have allowed me to share them with you all.
Do you see how beautiful birth is, no matter how or where it happens...? The love, the relief, the joy, the connection: that's what birth is all about, and it is such an immense honor to call this my career. Enjoy!
1. The anticipation of hearing your sweet baby's first cry, their first breath of air as a new human in this world, can be so overwhelming; Tears flow. This gentle c-section was one of the best highlights of this past year. It is rare to be allowed into the O.R. here locally, and this was the first time I was ever allowed in. Such an incredible experience to be a part of, and instilled even more in me how passionate I am for BIRTH, in all its forms.
2. Transition can sometimes look like this: Peaceful, controlled, and effortless. Just moments after this image was taken, she gently birthed her baby boy into her hands, witnessed by both her older children, her loving husband, and amazing team of midwives.
3. 58 hours of hard labor, almost half of it at 8cm dilated: This is the relief from both dad and grandma when baby is finally here, skin-to-skin with mom, safe, healthy, perfect. Pure relief.
4. Sweet home birth postpartum bliss: Only an hour old, and she is already snuggled with mom in a warm bed, eating a fresh meal, and soaking in all the newness of both your body, and hers.
5. Unwavering support from this loving father, who stood by his wife's side for every moment of her 24+ hour labor and delivery. He stroked her hair, fed her food, rubbed her feet, filled her with words of Grace, and made sure she always had a sturdy body to lean on when contractions became nearly unbearable. This is holding space for someone: being there for them in mind, body, and spirit.
6. Elation; The "I did it!" moment. It happens in every birth, and it still blows me away at the power these mothers exert for their babies, and the look of relief and pure joy on their face the moment after their baby is out and in their arms.
7. Winter Bloom, only a fitting name for a day-after-Christmas baby...she was the most alert baby after birth I have ever seen. All she wanted to do was focus on mom and learn her face, at not even 30 minutes new. Absolutely incredible to witness this process of getting to know each other!
8. Exhausted and completely drained of energy, this mother sat back as her partner gently helped their minutes-old baby to her breast, for his very first latch. Now if this isn't the epitome of 'true love', I don't know what is...
9. Mom felt like she needed to be in the bathroom, so I followed them (normally I would never do this, but instinct kicked in, and knew from the way she walked there and the noises she was making, that I needed to be close outside). So glad I did! I jumped on the bath tub in this tiny bathroom, and snapped the most wonderful free birth, right into dad's welcoming hands.
10. SO many things to love about this image: Skin-to-skin with daddy (who has this obvious look of falling in love again on his face), big sister smooches, a little postpartum belly on mama, and smiles all-around.
11. The support from both Birth Doula and partner was steadfast and enduring for this mother, as she journeyed through a fast and hard labor; This is the look of giving IN, not giving UP.
12. The Placenta: the life-giver, ultimate nourisher, connector; Our first home. This is an organ that we grow inside our body in order to grow another body...we then expel this organ, which in turn cues your body to continue nourishing another body (breastmilk). The placenta's functionality will forever amaze and fascinate me in every way...!
13. Vernix, also known as 'Birthday Frosting' or 'Cheese Baby', this white oil-based substance plays quite the incredible role in birth: Regulating body temperature, protecting the delicate newborn skin and keeping it moisturized, and aids with delivery as a naturally-occurring lubricant. Science shows many benefits to rubbing it IN, instead of OFF your newborn's skin!
14. The first latch is a learning moment for both mom and baby, and one that can be somewhat awkward at first. These two made the breast crawl and latch look so easy! And after such a long, difficult labor, this team deserved this delightful moment more than anything...
15. The furrowed brow of holding back tears, the kiss of absolute respect and pride, and a brand new baby warm on her chest: these are the moments, and all of these moments above, that make this job so fulfilling. To be able to document this moment for this much-loved family to look back on, year after year, is better than anything I could ever imagine doing.
**If you are interested in hiring a professional birth photographer and/or birth doula for your upcoming delivery, I would love to be considered for your birth team! You can reach out to me HERE for your free consultation. I so look forward to hearing from you!**
You can view more of my Birth Portfolio, as well as my Investment page here.
Natalie is a Birth Doula, Photographer, and mother of four wildlings in Spokane, Washington.