Surrogacy; Each journey to parenthood looks different, and sometimes it takes an extra helping hand from a compassionate & selfless person, to give the gift of life.
This is the case for the 'M' family...
The 'M' family (Intended parents) sat in the corner of the hospital room when I entered, in quiet anticipation, while the Surrogate mother 'Mama C' labored gracefully in the new tubs they have access to at a local hospital. She was surrounded by strong women who encouraged her, reminded her how amazing she was, and how supported she was in this selfless journey she is on. The intended mother came in to the bathroom to comfort the laboring mother (she really should be a doula herself, she was so attentive and loving), and at some point I remember her saying, "I'm in awe that somebody would go through this amount of pain to bring a baby into the world for somebody else": Tear-fest for the following 10 minutes, we all sat and just cried it out. Although this was not Mama C's first surrogate experience, it was the redeeming birth she longed for, after a very traumatic birth experience previously.
Mama C felt a little pushy, so her midwife instructed her to get out of the tub and onto the bed where they eventually put a birth bar in for her to sit upright, as this was the only somewhat comfortable position for her to be in. When that got too much to bare, she switched to hands-and-knees position and was able to labor down until she felt a real urge to push this baby out, which didn't take long. I vividly remember Mama C saying, "it's too much, I just can't do this any more", and a few moments later, that baby's head was out, and into the arms of the midwife, who immediately made room for the intended-mother on the bed, and handed the new baby to her. Many tears, and much gratitude.
Not only did she give this gift of life for this incredible family, but she continues to give the gift of nourishment, along with her amazing doula Julie Denlinger (who is also a surrogate mama), in the form of hundreds of ounces of breastmilk sent to the family through the mail (late image shown). Their story has touched my heart so much, and I am so excited to be able to share it with you all. "Generous" doesn't even cover how incredibly selfless the act of Surrogacy is, and words cannot describe how honored I feel to have been a small part of this journey for both of these families.
This was a most definite check off the ole #birthphotographybucketlist!
I have attended over 40 births in my professional career, either as an attending birth doula or birth photographer, and each one has been just as exciting to be a part of as the last. I have seen hospital births, birth-center births, and home births. I have seen short births, and I have seen long births (very, very long births...poor mamas). I have seen calm births, and chaotic births, I have seen medication-free births, induced births, and epidural births, I have seen VBAC and VBA2C, I have seen a hospital-transfer birth and I have seen an un-intended home birth, I have seen a surrogate birth, I have seen surprise gender births and surprise water births...every single one, beautiful. But there are still a few births I have yet to document, that I have put on this little list, here.
Do you have a #birthphotographybucketlist?
Natalie Bee is a Spokane, Washington-based Birth Doula and Photographer, a mother of four willings, and a PNW native.