Thursday, November 29, 2012

Safe in Mommy's Arms, a NEWBORNstory ++ Slideshow

Safe in Mommy's Arms, a NEWBORNstory Plus Slideshow from My Story Photography on Vimeo.

See this link for more on their NEWBORNstory.

Safe in Mommy's Arms, a NEWBORNstory ++

When I first met this couple, they wanted to do a BIRTHstory. However, they were dead set on delivering via csec and unfortunately their doctor didnt allow non-family members in the operating room. Daddy and Mommy really wanted those precious pictures of their newborn though, especially since they have been trying to conceive for a while now. We decided on the NEWBORNstory instead and a MATERNITY shoot. Now I dont usually offer maternity photography, but the couple requested so I thought to give it a try.

We scheduled the shoot in their home a few Saturdays before their due date. Mommy was so cute. She asked if she should have her hair and makeup done. She openly admitted to being conscious in front of the camera. I told her to do what made her most comfortable and pretty and that we were just going to have fun with it.

And that was exactly what we did! We talked and laughed throughout the shoot. I wanted to stay true to my style and tried to capture candid shots as they spoke of their baby and joked amongst themselves. I wanted to capture the excitement they shared as a family waiting for their baby to be born.

At the end of the shoot I was witness to the gentle spirit of Mommy, the happy and "game" disposition of Daddy, and the brainy beauty of Ate. Im excited to see this family again, but next time with their newborn baby boy. Till next time... :)

Fast forward...

A few weeks after out maternity shoot, Mommy gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I gave the family a few days to rest then visited for their NEWBORNstory shoot. Baby was in the nursery and could only be brought to the holding area so we did our shoot there.

I try my best to stay true to my philosophy when I take photographs. My Story Photography is about capturing special moments in a family's life. I imagine my clients one day in the far future looking through the photographs and reliving a happy time in their life and telling their children about their personal BIRTHstories. To me it is not so much about setting up to get the perfect shot as it is about capturing the beauty of the moment as it happens. Not to say that I dont set up the scene, sometimes it is required, but to me, the moment always precedes the scene. If baby does not feel like being separated from Mommy, if Daddy is anxious having baby handed around, then I do not push for it. It may not result in the best and perfect shot, but who wants to look through pictures later on and remember a stressful time? At the end of the day, I encourage the family to just enjoy and be themselves as I try to capture the natural joy, endearment and excitement of having a new baby.

So that is exactly how we did it. Daddy was so in love and mesmerized by his baby boy. He was a protective father, I could tell. He couldn't stand to see his baby cry and didn't feel comfortable having his baby handed around. Mommy was all-out motherly. She knew how to handle her baby calmly and gently. Even fresh out of a CS operation, she was walking all over the place and carrying her newborn like it was nothing! Her baby absolutely felt secure with her. He wanted to be held by his Mommy and could not bear being separated!

One day, when Baby J sees the pictures, I hope he will know of the special kind of love his protective Daddy and motherly Mommy showered on him when he was just a little newborn. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strength and Stillness, a BIRTHstory

Strength and Stillness, a BIRTHstory Slideshow from My Story Photography on Vimeo.

This is their BIRTHstory from my eyes...

Each couple I photograph is unique, and I am always touched in a different way when I witness my clients during one of their most vulnerable time.

I still remember the first time I met Daddy J and Mommy K. Daddy was quite a sentimental guy with a love for photographs and Mommy was a strong woman with a stillness to her. They were quite early in their pregnancy but were decided on booking me, even if I didn't carry much experience doing childbirth photography at that time. For this simple reason, I hold them dear and wanted nothing less than to give them my best for trusting me to capture such a special moment.

Months passed and my small business started to pick up. Then one day in November, I got a message from Mommy informing me that she was having mild labor pains but that it could still be awhile. I waited on standby for her next update. Over 24 hours later, Daddy informed me that they checked in the hospital at 2cm. Two hours later they were at 6cm. I immediately made my way to join them.

It was a long marathon. This couple had decided on a natural drug-free birth. I expected what I usually experience with Moms at 6cm without epidural -- pensive, serious, unable to smile or talk for very long. But when I entered the birthing room, I was pleasantly surprised to see Mommy walking around, talking, smiling, like nothing was happening! I knew then and there that this Mom could go the mile!

Hours past as the contractions got stronger. Mommy went from 6 to 8 cm in quite a short period but stopped progressing after that. She was a bit tired but still very strong and calm. She labored quietly and privately. I knew from the first time I met her that she was a strong woman, but this was a strength beyond what I imagined.

Daddy was calm, supportive and continuously in good spirit. He knew exactly the type of support his wife needed. Without having to do much, he constantly communicated his love and concern through gestures as simple as a look and a touch.

At the same time, I admired their doctor as she patiently waited for nature take its course even if it meant more time and effort for her.

As time passed, it became apparent that the best course of action was to opt for a cesarean. I could see the initial disappointment in their eyes and I felt for them. But deep inside I trusted that this was the best course of action, and I had a feeling they knew it too.

As the hospital was quite strict, I was unable to join them in the cesarean operating room. However, from the pictures I saw Daddy take, it looked like all the disappointment vanished when they saw their handsome and big baby boy :)

I joined them again when their baby was brought to the nursery. He was awake, alert and truly a blessing. Congratulations to the family! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Little Angelic Baby Boy, Teaser Post

Isn't he darling? And he is as angelic as he looks. He was so behaved from the moment I arrived, hardly letting out a whimper. Stay tuned for more about their HOMEstory.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Greeting the World With Clear Eyes, Teaser Post

Mommy had a bit of a challenge pushing him out, but as soon as he came, this boy was ready to see and taste the world! :) 

The delivery room was filled with joy and emotion the moment he was born. I cant wait to share the pictures. :) Welcome to the world baby boy.

Stay tuned for their BIRTHstory.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Luna, a HOMEstory slideshow

When I met Daddy and Mommy, we agreed on doing a NEWBORNstory shoot at the hospital. But some complications arose so we decided to wait when all was better. A few weeks later,

Mommy was so organized and prepared! She was calm and composed. It was as if she didn't have a newborn at all! She came complete with outfits, props and even food and drinks for lunch! And there was no yaya in the picture that day! Where does one find the time? Talk about supermom!

Maybe it was because Daddy was so good with Luna. He changed her, fed her, calmed her, put her to sleep... He was like superdad himself!

Or maybe it was because Luna was so easy to take care of! She would hardly fuzz and when she did, a little shushing would calm her down right away. A friend once told me that babies that go through a tough time in the NICU are generally behaved. I wonder if thats true?

Nevertheless, it blessed me to be with this family and see such love and excitement for their baby. We had fun dressing Luna in all the simple silly wishes they had for her - a football (soccer) player, a musician... We took our time and let little Luna set the pace of the shoot. In the end, we got some awesome shots and was even able to sneak a short video.

P.S. I am no videographer, but I like to sneak a few videos here and there. I feel it sometimes helps tell the story...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Natural, Unassisted, Spontaneous Water Birth, a BIRTHstory

Mommy contacted me around 3pm the day before her delivery. She had some bloody show, was 2cm dilated and was contracting every 4 minutes. This was her first child so I imagined labor would last 12 hours or more. I put myself on standby and waited for news. Six hours later, I contacted Mommy and found out she was 4cm dilated. With that, I set my phone to alarm at 3am (another 6 hours later) expecting a call around that time. True enough, at 3:30am I got a text from Daddy informing me that they were at 6cm. I knew this was active labor since it wasn't Mommy updating me anymore. I expected labor to progress a bit quicker from there, maybe another 6 hours before delivery, but headed to the hospital anyway since I wanted to get some good laboring shots for them.

It was 4am when I arrived at the Birthing Suite. I could immediately tell Mommy was in active labor. She was definitely feeling the intensity of her contractions but was still calm and fully concentrated. She could even muster a smile in between the pain. Daddy was at her side massaging her back and constantly offering her encouragement. I got my gear ready and a started taking a few shots. In my mind, I estimated we had hours to go. But less than an hour later, the first big contraction hit and I knew we were already in transition.

I used to think that I could be unobtrusive to the births I cover. But I am slowly realizing that as birth photographer, I am an active part of the experience. How can you not be, when you are with the couple at a confined space, at a very emotional moment, for an extended period of time? When a couple needs help and support beyond the bounds of a photographer, I can not take a back seat.

Going back to my story, Mommy was taken by shock by then intensity of the first transition contraction. She grabbed on to her husband and screamed out in pain really REALLY loud. 

I recognized that feeling, the first time a transition contraction hits you is like being hit by a train! Its strong, unexpected and extremely painful. A first time Mom would be taken completely aback. You second guess your decision to go all natural. The contractions are so strong, you don't think you can survive it. I sensed Mommy was close to panicing. Daddy froze in shock. 

Admittedly, I was taken by emotion as well, but years of being exposed to natural births by my own mom (who is a childbirth educator, taught me to see the moment objectively. I knew I had to put some doula shoes on. I spoke in the most calm but confident voice I could muster and told Mommy, "This is completely normal. Relax. These are good contractions. This means your baby will be out soon" I reminded Mommy, "Keep your eyes open. Focal point. Stay above your contraction..."

Every time her eyes would dart around, I would remind her to keep her focal point. I remembered how important my focal point was during my labor to keep me from panicking. She looked at me wide eyed and moaned... Rej.... Kaya ko ba to?? (Can I do this??) "Yes, you can do this... Your body knows what it is doing."  I spoke to her remembering all the things that helped me get through labor when I was in her place.

A couple of contractions later, Daddy got the hang of it and continued with his comforting and calm reassurance and I stepped back into my photographer role. Mommy herself was a fighter. She obediently listened to the constructive help everyone was giving her. With each contraction she gained the confidence to handle it.

Just a couple of minutes later, Mommy screamed out loud, "nandiyan na siya! lalabas na siya!!"  (He's Here! The baby is going to come out already!!!) This woman was empowered, alert and knew exactly what was going on in her body! We were at the bed at this point, but Mommy was determined to have a water birth no matter what. When the contraction was over, she literally jumped out of bed, ran to the tub and jumped into the water! 

Once in the water her next contraction hit, and without any warning, the baby just slid out!

He just appeared as if out of nowhere! We were all in shock! I think even Mommy and Daddy were surprised. The baby is out!!! There was no pushing! But this baby was ready to see the world. I was completely amazed!!! 

The doctors immediately rubbed baby's back. When he let out a huge cry, the handed Daddy the scissors and he cut the cord. 

Then baby was immediately given to Mommy to cuddle for as long as she wanted. No one rushed her. Daddy and Mommy just sat there with their baby and enjoyed the moment, and everyone marveled with them. It was such a touching moment Mommy was all smiles, not groggy at all. Daddy was so proud, raving at how all their wishes came true. Baby was alert, with eyes wide open looking straight at his parents!

Wow, the difference of an unmedicated birth! I know it is not for everyone, but I now understand why some parents opt for It. In an unmedicated birth, Mommy is empowered and in control, Daddy is completely involved and participative and baby is sharp and wide awake.

Almost immediately, baby started to latch on. Once he found his Mommy's milk, he no longer wanted to be taken away! He knew his Mommy and refused to be anywhere else. So we stayed there for a bit longer, and when he was full, they took him to the bassinet to be weighed and measured. He cried a bit but would calm down everytime he would hear Daddys voice. You could tell he recognized his Daddy. 

They delayed all other SOPs and brought baby back to Mommy to cuddle and feed again.

Eventually, the placenta was delivered. We stayed there for quite a bit just chatting and recounting the events of the day. What an amazing birth!

Then it was time for the repair. Baby was dried, wrapped and given back to Mommy. They were glued together all throughout the repair. It was great to witness the family closely bonding all happening during the first hour of the birth.

When all was done, Mommy stood up to eat while baby proceeded with the rest of the SOPs. Daddy enjoyed admiring all his baby's cute little features while his son contently rested. 

When all was done, I quietly bid my goodbye to let the exhausted but very happy family rest. They thanked me for my services and for, in their words, "everything else". My heart was full to be able to help even in a little way. I went home recounting overwhelming and amazing the experience over and over in my head. :)

For more on natural birthing, see Chiqui's Prepared Childbirth Class

Note: The parents have allowed us to share their BIRTHstory to the public. Enjoy :)

A Natural, Unassisted, Spontaneous Water Birth, a BIRTHstory Slideshow

A Natural, Unassisted, Spontaneous Water Birth, a BIRTHstory Slideshow from My Story Photography on Vimeo.

The strength and determination of these parents was amazing, and it all paid off. There was no intervention whatsoever. Everything happened in its course just as nature intended. The reward was heart-warming - after the delivery, they took all the time they wanted to bond and laugh as a complete family everyone awake, alert, and empowered.

It's as close as you can get to an intimate home birth, but still in a assuring hospital setting.

See this link for their complete BIRTHstory. You may also see this link for the youtube version.

Note: Parents have allowed us to share this slideshow to the public. Enjoy :)