The first birth I will be photographing... It has been crossing my mind for so many times, but how to start? I’m just photographing a year professionally now so I’m a newbie. Am I able to do this?
In my studio I meet Anthon, Marina and their little son. They are booking a maternity session by me and already choose for the newborn session too as soon as their second child will be born. After the session we are talking some more and the subject of birth photography comes up. I tell them that is still one of my big wishes in photography. They are interested and next thing I know they agree to let me photograph their birth! Wow! What a chance. I visit them later and we talk everything through. Further contact about small things goes by WhatsApp.
The day of the birth!
March 16th is when it starts! I drive to Terneuzen, everything prepared and well, days ago. Camera, lenses, batteries, lunch (not days before), etcetera. Once I arrived at the hospital, I became pretty nervous and started searching for the room. A nice nurse helped me find it.
There I am, standing at the door and taking a deep breath. Trying to stay relaxed and leaving my nerves outside the door. I walk in and Marina is on the bed, still pretty relaxed. She is a bit noxious and Anthon is on the couch next to her. I tell them what I will be doing and then I give them their privacy until the contractions get more serious. Marina points at a magazine on the table, the LINDA, and tells me she brought it for me in case I have to wait too much. I can’t help thinking, that when you are giving birth, full of tension and nerves, you still think of bringing something for the photographer. How sweet! I feel uncomfortable, very present so I decide to leave them and go to the restaurant to check everything again. Where will I stand, which settings are best, which photos can and will I make, what if this, what if that… Ok, more preparation is not possible so I will just have to do it and experience it.
Marina told me that with their first child the birth went exactly the same way it is going now and that around 11 am the contractions really started to get serious. Mostly mothers know best what will happen, so at 11 am I get back to the room. And yes, it started to get very serious!
The last contraction stopped at 11.11 am and the next one started already 2 minutes later. Now that there is more nurses and the midwife in the room, I feel more comfortable. I take some photos and no one is really paying attention to me.
In between contractions Marina gets the remote control and zaps to another channel.
“Just putting on some nice music!”
she says and Anthon and I have to laugh. What a strong woman Marina is! She handles the contractions so well. Fully focused and so relaxed. I notice myself being totally into it. When you gave birth to a child yourself you just remember how it was all over. I check the clock regularly. Her contractions come every 2 minutes and are very serious. They last long too! About 1,5 minute each.
I look at Anthon and see him holding the warm jar against her back and even if it is only holding the jar, he does it with so much love. And still the caring look in his eyes when Marina gets another serious contraction. From this moment everything goes really fast! At 11.50 am the midwife takes a look how far Marina is. She says: “5 cm now.” Marina responds “Did you say only 5?!!” not knowing their baby would be there within 2 hours!
Marina gets a storm of contractions and then everything goes even faster! I suddenly have to change places and try to find a spot from which I can capture the moment best. Of course I don’t want to disturb the nurses in doing their jobs, so I make sure I’m in the right spot and not in the way. Even I am full of adrenaline and completely focused. But still I am so happy and privileged to be present at this moment.
All of a sudden Marina gets the sign to push. She pushes only six minutes and only needs two contractions. And there she is! At 12.43 pm beautiful little Evi is born, what a beautiful child! The midwife turns little Evi a bit so that I can photograph her perfectly, so kind of her! I get emotional by all the love in the room as Evi arrives. Marina is thrilled and Anthon can’t keep his eyes off of Evi and looks at his wife with so much pride. Wow what a moments! I photograph almost everything and when Evi is on her mother’s chest for a while, I take a break and notice that I’m shaking because of the adrenaline. After that there are still so many moments to photograph so I stay quiet some time after the birth.
Of course Marina and Anthon received all the photos already and I was excited to hear that they were stunned by seeing the photos. Of course I’m very happy with this first time! And I realize I want to do this more often for sure. What a special experience and so unbelievably cool! I’m so thankful to Anthon and Marina for giving me this chance.