I still stand in awe over the thought that this is my job. I sit here, on my couch, feeling extreme gratitude that my clients not only trust me to photograph these intimate moments of their lives, but that they also trust me to tell their story. I share their stories with you in hopes that you will see the beauty of labor but also in hopes that you will see the incredible strength of the women that I photograph. So, friends, meet Kessy - the graceful mama who ushered in new life, and Josiah - the fearless husband who never ceased to support his bride.
When I arrived to Kessy's home, just before sunrise, she greeted me with a cheerful, "Hey! So good to see you!" Her midwife had arrived a few minutes earlier and began unpacking. Kessy's baby girl, Iris Rose, was sure to arrive soon! Kessy, with her spiraling curls, wore a fresh, expectant expression on her face.
As the sun showed itself, Kessy's contractions grew in duration and intensity. She welcomed every contraction - embraced them, even. She trusted that her body would bring her sweet girl into this world safely.
This momma labored through every second with the grace that it required. Careful to heed to the advice of her midwife, Kessy fine-tuned her coping processes with the ever-growing intensity of her contractions. She remained strong, focused, determined.
I hear many women claim that they feel that labor requires them to process information in an altered mental state. Due to the intensity of the time, much is forgotten, but the memories that remain are recalled vividly. When I asked Kessy to chat through these moments with me, she said:
"I guess what I remember most are the people... More specifically loving hands... I couldn't always distinguish who they belonged to... But hands applying cool washcloths, offering water, rubbing my back. I remember an orange glow from the trees outside, filtering their light through the windows. I remember kind words spoken exactly when I needed. Just when I was beginning to feel discouraged, 'You're doing great,' 'You're so strong,' 'Perfect, take a nice cleansing breath.' I remember hard work and moving - lots of moving."
As Kessy labored, she knew when Iris was ready to come. Kessy gathered herself - her energy and her motivation - and summoned some powerful pushes.
In due time, her precious gift was ushered into the most loving family! Iris is here! This long-awaited baby girl made her appearance right on her due date, at 10:47am. In Kessy's words, "And then that moment when everything was finally shifted into focus and that beautiful little girl was placed on my chest... or rather, I placed her there, I didn't even realize I had delivered her myself."
Iris Rose experienced her first moments of life as a uniquely loved, cared-for, anticipated little girl. Iris may not remember the labor of love that Kessy performed on her behalf, but she will surely grow knowing that she is cherished.
After some bonding, it was time for Iris' exams!
Isn't she precious? Iris weighed in at 8lbs 8oz and 21.5 inches long! Every detail of this precious little girl was carefully documented and attended to by Kessy's midwife and support team. Iris couldn't have entered this world in better hands. And, just look at this sweet face!
Iris, I pray that you know that you are loved and cherished for all of your days! Know that it was a pleasure to photograph your long-anticipated birth!