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!
Natalie Bee is a Birth Photographer and Doula, a mother of four wildlings, and coffee junkie. She captures the beauty of motherhood and birth through still imagery and film documentation.