Today, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. While I have never experienced a loss like this myself, I have been able to support others through it as a doula, photographer, and friend.
July, 4th 2019 Sweet Baby James physically came into the world. He had passed in his mother's womb around 16 weeks. He was so little but already meant so much to his family.
I'm sure every person in the room had a different version of the story to tell. But here is mine. Mostly via images.
Many tears were shed. But joy filled the room as we awaited his arrival. We talked about our children and pregnancies. Shared silly stories. Had many moments of silence and rest. Talked about baby names and where we came from. Samantha and I had actually gone to the same high school and had a few mutual friends. The best stories were of her and her sisters births and how they all had the same doctor! He wasn't due to be on call until the morning so we weren't sure if he would make it to help deliver her sweet sleeping baby. In the end he did arrive just in time! Sometimes our bodies just know to wait for the right people to show up. Concord Hospital was truly amazing with their care and staff that were there to support Samantha and her family through the entire process... even after their shifts had ended.
I had the title of this blog planned for a long time. I've had friends who had their births dismissed because of how soon they had to deliver. Miscarriage. While medically maybe this word has it's place - this was a birth. The birth of a sweet boy to his loving parents.
With permission from this family I share with you their story in images. These images show all aspects of birth and their 16 week old baby. Please keep this in mind if you choose to move forward as it may be hard for some to see.
If you or a friend are experiencing a loss and wish to have your birth/baby photographed please reach out. Myself and many other photographers in the area will do so for free or by donation. We want everyone to be able to have these moments captured to help you remember every important moment and detail. Many find that having photos to look back on help you process and heal. It is not a requirement to share these images but I thank Samantha and her family for sharing these intimate moments with all of us to help bring awareness and real life events to the public eye.
That's right. Brooklyn the birth photographer here saying that yeah... maybe birth photography isn't right for you. And that's ok! I love birth photography but not everyone can feel totally comfortable giving birth with a photographer or any extra people in the room. Sometimes cost is an issue as well. I wanted to create a more affordable option that lets you capture all of those important firsts.
Birth is such a sacred, intimate space. And when I'm invited into it I take that very seriously. But maybe you want those fresh just born images without having your labor captured? I'm on it! I've created a package designed for me to arrive within an hour after your baby's arrival.
Introducing the GOLDEN HOUR SESSION!
All you need to do is text me when you are in active labor, have a partner or your midwife text once pushing begins, and then a quick call once your baby has arrived and I will pop in as soon as I can. I will stay for about 2 hours documenting all those little firsts. Skin to skin, weight and height measurements, the newborn exam, nursing, your partner or older children holding the baby. All the little details of the wrinkly feet, freshly cut umbilical cord, and soft wet newborn hair.
When I was 5 years old I was given one of the coolest gifts. The opportunity to to be in the room when my sister was born. My mom didn't want me to ever feel left out so I attended lamaze classes with her so I could prepare to be in the birth room.
I still remember the day she was born. I even remember when I had to leave the room with my Grammie because things got a little scary for a few minutes. Luckily I got to come back into the room when things settled down in time to watch her come out. Obviously my mom had no idea just how cool this would be for me in the future as a doula and birth photographer! When it came time for me to have my second son I knew that I wanted my first to be in the room with me as well. I've had lots of people ask how to prepare their older child and these were some of the ways I prepared my son for his brother's birth.
1. Have a support person just for them.
When planning to have your older children at your birth it's important they have a care provider there just for them. For emotional and physical support. So not your partner and not your doula. Because nothing makes kids more hungry and thirsty than watching mom in labor. Also if things get rough it's good to have someone that can be one on one with them to explain what is happening or bring them to another room. Sometimes you really just need space as having kiddos around can stall your labor.
2.Watch birth videos and look at birth photos.
This isn't the time to get shy. Have your kiddos watch a variety of different birth videos. The quiet and calm ones as well as the ones were mom is yelling through contractions. Let them see crowning images. Let them see different ways and postitions babies can be born. Explain how hard mamas have to work to get a baby out. I watched so many birth videos with my son. He would get concerned and I would just explain that it's hard work to have a baby!
3. Use proper terms.
Another area to not be shy. And this is good advice whether you are having a baby or not! Using proper terms for all body parts promotes healthy conversation and greater knowledge. Mommy's baby has grown in her uterus. Her cervix has to work to open up to let the baby come out throught mommy's vagina. Also talk about consent. The doctor/midwife is checking mommy's cervix to see if it has opened. She/he asked her permission first. It will also help to show them the different tools that may be used like a stethescope or doppler and a blood pressure cuff.
4. Talk about how hard it is!
Having a baby is hard work. It's so important to teach kids this! Explain when mom is making lots of funny noises it's because she has to move her body and dig deep down to find a way to help the baby come out. She may get frustrated and she may cry. She may yell or ask for space. She may not want to be touched or she may like some cuddles or a nice cold cloth on her head. Use the word safe. Mom is feeling pain but she is safe. Pain usually tells us when something is wrong but when we have babies it sometimes hurts and that is totally normal. The midwife/doctor is there to make sure mom and baby are safe!
5. Give them an out.
Let them know if they are feeling nervous that it is ok to leave. Tell them how much you'd love for them to be there but that it's ok if they need to take a break if mom gets too loud.
Overall it is up to you, the birthing person. Only you can know what is best for you. Some people just know that they would never be able to relax enough and let go the way birth needs us to with kids in the room. And some people know their kids so well that they know they won't be able to handle it well at all. And that's ok too! But if you are considering it I hope these tips help prepare your family for a once in a lifetime experience together. Births with siblings present are some of my favorites to capture. Our culture keeps birth so secret and taboo. Kids are so smart and it's surprising how well they can handle the birth room.
There are SO many ways to make a family. I've seen couples become family. I've attended births of babies that were carried by surrogates. I've watched babies born into mixed families making that family feel oh so complete. Every story is so beautiful and special. A new baby brings so much joy and different perspective.
This awesome couple contacted me when they found out they were officially and perminantly adding to their constantly changing family. They are foster parents and they were finally getting to adopt! I'm so thankful that they invited me in to capture and share their story.
It was SUCH a joyus occation full of beautiful people that were there to support and celebrate the day.
This was the sweetest moment. When we were all called into the courtroom her Grampa scooped her up and said "Let's go get adopted."
Adoption is #worthit
As I sit here awaiting the birth of their next baby I decided to go back and look at the images from June's birth. When I went to look I expected to be be judgemental of myself and where I was over 2.5 years ago. I remember the images being too warm or blurry. It was a time before I used flash at births. I was actually pleasently surprised at the quality looking through. It was my first homebirth and my first time shooting RAW. My editing style is much different and I am tempted to re-edit some of them. But I won't. I'm just going to appreciate them for what they are. I know this family does.
My business is evolving. I've gone from being a doula to picking up a nikon coolpix to capture birth images to (I'm actually going to say it) a professional photographer. I've spent time at hospitals, in home and even in my very own studio capturing memories for families. Birth has always been my favorite. I'm realizing that birth is my favorite because I'm capturing genuine moments. No posing. No "say cheese". Just authentic once in a lifetime moments captured in my camera. So I'm stripping it all back down for you. No more studio. I'm purging all of my props. Just me and my camera with you and your family (whatever that may look like). Not to say we won't have a moment where everyone is looking in the same direction. But I'm going where my heart is. I hope you all can follow me and enjoy the ride.
Amanda and her family are expecting their 3rd baby. I'm currently awaiting the call to come and photograph her birth! I was so excited to go capture a few hours of their day and share them with you.
Amanda is an incredibly talented artist. You can see some of her work on the walls in her home. I really hope to have a piece on my wall someday as well. She also homeschools her kiddos, so we spent some of the morning painting and working on some cool projects.
Quick break for an apple snack before some board game fun. Amanda's family was one of the many families affected by the Columbia Gas crisis. As you can see in the background their gas appliances have been condemned and they are still awaiting heat to be restored.
I mean... who doesn't cherish a photo of their toddler sneezing straight into their face?
Concord, NH documentary photographer
I've been terrible at blogging this year. So many beautiful births that I should have shared and didn't have time to! That will change in the new year. Expect lots more beautiful NH births in 2018. Will one of them be yours?!
So many beautiful moments I got to capture this year.
It's an honor to be invited into this sacred space.
Midwife supported homebirth in Fremont, NH with Roots of Life.
Look at mom looking at dad taking in his new son. Concord Hospital Birth in Concord, NH.
The "Homebirth Epidural" is the tub. It's magic. Homebirth with Concord Birth Center in Concord, NH.
Taking him in. Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH.
Snuggling his daughter, skin to skin, still attached to her placenta. Perfection. Homebirth with Roots of Life and Borne Home in Fremont, NH.
Homebirth in Deerfield, NH with Concord Birth Center.
Beautiful postpartum belly. Homebirth in Fremont, NH.
St Joseph Hospital in Nashua, NH.
Car Birth on Interstate 89 arriving at Concord Birth Center in Concord, NH.
She just couldn't wait to be born! Daddy caught her in the car on the way to the birth center.
Midwife Kate Hartwell of Concord Birth Center taking in a sweet 4th baby (3rd to Concord Birth Center) in Concord, NH.
Bliss. Concord Hospital in Concord, NH.
Homebirth in Manchester, NH.
Transfer to the bedroom with Daddy and Midwife Paige St. Cyr of Borne Home in Fremont, NH.
One of my bucketlist photos accomplished! Concord Birth Center attended birth in Concord, NH.
The molding, that cord, those toes and Dads face. Concord Birth Center midwives at a Manchester, NH birth.
That first hug. Concord Hospital birth in Concord, NH.
A job well done. Cozy in bed and ready to start their journey as a family of four as the midwives and I slip out and leave them to it. Homebirth in Deerfield, NH attended by Concord Birth Center Midwives Cindy, Bryn, and Krystina.
Leave some love for these families who are generous enough to allow sneak peeks into their birthing storie and have a WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!!!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot in the calendar for 2018!
I believe I first met April as she was getting ready to bring her 3rd baby into the world. Years earlier I had followed her and her families story via facebook about the loss of her son, CJ. When I learned she was pregnant my heart just poured out to her. A new baby can't ever replace the loss of a child, but new life is a beautiful gift. I was drawn to their story and was inspired to reach out. I contacted April just one short month before her due date to offer my services to her. She happily accepted. I was so happy because I truly believe I attend every birth I'm meant to. A few days before her due date she contacted me in the morning to let me know she was in labor. Her labor picked up so quickly I nearly didn't make it! Jackson Connor was born on a beautiful June afternoon at the Concord Birth Center.
Go to www.rememberingcj.com learn more about April, her family, and the wonderful foundation they started to help families after the loss of a child.
Early Wednesday morning I get the text "It's baby day!" Her water had broken and light cramping had begun. I was so excited to be able to attend the birth of my sweet friend and former neighbor. I was so excited for her to be able to birth at Concord Birth Center after having to transfer with her daughter who arrived too early for midwives to be able to deliver. She stopped by the River Guild so to say hi while we had our weekly playgroup. She went off to walk herself into labor at a local park. The next I heard from them was "Kate thinks Caitie's in transition" and off I went! I showed up not too long before she was ready to push.
Waiting for her brother to arrive.
Looking up at her daughter moments before her son was born. When I showed her these she didn't remember or believe she could have had such a smile while in labor. Birth is SO amazing. Such a range of emotions.
It's been so long since I've been able to post a blog! I'm excited to jump back into it with a sweet newborn for you!
This is 11 day old Hadley. We started off our session in a less than sleepy mood. But she had the cutest little grump face for our first set up.
After some mama milk to top her off she was finally a little more sleepy. She liked being swaddled.
Her big brother got some mama snuggles in while I was snapping a few photos.
These little guys were the best big brothers! Lots of kisses for little sister.
I started off really liking lifestyle newborn sessions. But now I LOVE a good combination of setting up a really nice posed newborn photo and snapping sweet moments in between set ups. Everyone should have a little of both!
Just as I was about to pack everything up we noticed that Hadley had fallen into a deep sleep. So I took my camera back out and captured some of my most favorite photos of this whole session!
Photographer, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, Intactivist, Seamstress, Partner to my long time boyfriend, and Mindful Mama.