I woke up at 6:30 with what felt like menstrual cramps. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that phrase at the beginning of the scores of birth stories I’ve read over the months but it just didn’t seem real now that it was actually happening to me. I knew then that this was definitely labor, but couldn’t imagine I’d have a baby at the end of the day.
My due date of April 2nd came and went with little fanfare. I’d somehow gotten it stuck in my head that my due date was the 4th, so little surprise that I woke up at seven that morning with period-like cramps. I called my husband and told him what was going on so far, prefacing the conversation with, “Don’t freak out.” I told him to finish up his day at work as my contractions weren’t that painful.. yet.
As a Valentine’s Day gift my dad boiled countless pots of water to fill a tub for each of us. I feel safe in that story and in the memory of a perfect expression of love. And every splash of water I heard at that moment made me feel safe, too. The midwife smiled. She says my mom and I must be mermaid girls, the way we find such peace in the water. I thought of the next mermaid girl to come, an Aquarius baby born in water.
I love (love, love, love) Atlanta-based photographers Leah and Mark (of LeahAndMark.com — you’ve seen them here before!), so I squealed like a fangirl when I found out they were expecting a child. I squealed again when Leah wrote about getting ready to become a mother on Offbeat Mama, and just about LOST IT TOTALLY when the pair each wrote out their birth story for their blog.
It’s totally a cliche, but there’s something about birth photography that makes me quiet. Every time I see photos from a birth — whether it’s an unmedicated home birth or a hospital birth or something in between — I just feel like… I have to respect the awesomeness that is childbirth. It’s a pretty cool thing to do, but not totally unique: everyone who has experienced it shares with millions of people around the world. So in that light, it’s pretty awesome to me that people choose to have their birthing experiences documented: it’s like your way of giving one big tip of your hat to everyone else. Nice.
Everyone that came to the house the day of Miren’s birth remarked on the birds. I know that, in and of themselves, they have no meaning. But in my mind, they became a symbol of all that I had gained… and all that I now stood to lose.
Natasha and Paul live in Alabama — a state that doesn’t allow licensed midwives to be present at home births. To get around this, they went to Tennessee to give birth to their baby, and here are the photos from the day.
When a contraction woke me up at 3:35 AM on my due date, I ignored it. When another contraction popped up ten minutes later, I ignored that one too. At 4:45 AM a contraction popped me right in the nose. It was intense, painful, and it wasn’t messing around.