Recently, I found myself thinking about the significance of birthdays.
Celebrations of birth.
Last autumn, I started on my birth photography journey with two births in relatively quick succession, followed by a third over the winter, and it’s certainly about time that I started sharing some of these stories.
Harrison’s birth story began with a late-night false start. We met in a darkened birthing suite at Winchester District Memorial Hospital and waited for Haley to be examined, then were told it was home time – nothing was going to be happening any time soon. Almost a week later, it was go time – Haley was being induced.
There were a lot of nerves coursing through Haley’s body that morning because she and Steph been through this once before. Despite knowing that their little Bean was healthy and ready to greet the world, it was impossible for them not to have just the smallest bit of fear that this story would take them down a similar path to the one traveled with Harper and Emerson. Haley and Steph have been very open with their story of the loss of their twins and I feel truly blessed to have been asked to document so much of their story. That made my presence in the birthing room that much more exciting because today we were going to be celebrating.
Birth photography is about relationships, as much as it’s about a baby being born. Steph’s Mom and Dad, Haley’s Mom, Dad, sister and future brother-in-law all joined us at the hospital during Haley’s labour. Donna, Haley’s Mom, arrived with enough snacks to make it feel like we were going to be throwing a party. The mood was light; there was plenty of chatter. Haley was in great spirits and the room was filled with laughter between rounds of contractions. While the Moms were present throughout the labour, as the contractions grew stronger and the rhythm of this labour worked towards its crescendo, everyone else gradually shifted to the waiting room and anxiously awaited news of baby’s arrival. Steph brought Haley cloths for her forehead. She kissed her hands, caressed her face, murmured words of encouragement. I could see how much she loves her wife; I could see how badly she wanted to be able to support her. It was impossible not to cheer Haley on as she laboured. This Mama was STRONG.
When Haley’s doctor arrived to assist with the birth, he commented to Steph that he wouldn’t be delivering this baby. Being unfamiliar with this doctor, I wasn’t sure what he meant. Was he speaking literally? Figuratively? Surely the only reason he’s there is to actually deliver this baby… When the time came for Harrison to make is entrance, my heart swelled to see the doctor ask Steph to guide H out into the world. What an awesome experience for a parent. What a thoughtful gesture from a doctor.
“Oh, there you are! We’ve been waiting for you!”
I will never forget hearing Harrison being welcomed by his Moms; the sense of intimate familiarity that comes from having a child growing inside you for nine months. The confirmation that this little human is beyond everything that you could’ve hoped for.
Harrison’s safe arrival was an emotional one. It was a chance to let go of any fear. To celebrate health. To give a nod to Harper and Emerson and thank them for looking out for their brother. What an unbelievable moment to share with other women. One of the most incredible parts of my job is going home knowing that I was able to share in watching a completely new little person take his very first breath in our big old world. Being able to witness that is not something I take for granted.
Harrison’s moms cuddled him and exchanged glances of pure awe. They welcomed Georgia in to meet her new brother with such excitement, while Georgia showed sensitivity and uncertainty. Within minutes, the news really sunk in and she didn’t stop beaming with pride over her new brother. Grandparents welcomed their little one with hugs and tears. My time with the Coleman-Johnston clan came to close while Donna was cherishing some long-awaited quiet moments with her new grandchild, alone in Haley’s hospital room.
The very nature of a birthday is to celebrate a human joining this earth.
By necessity, we celebrate that person’s birth day.
I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to think about what that truly means: we’re celebrating that person, but we’re also celebrating everything that happened in that room on that day that person was born. We’re celebrating a strong mother; a beautiful bond; support; a new life. Let that sink in the next time you’re singing that familiar refrain. Maybe it’ll lend an extra bit of vigour to your chords.
Here’s Harrison’s birth story. Each time Harrison marks a new year with another cake, this is what I’ll be celebrating. Haley and Steph, I’m eternally grateful. xx
I’m Ang – a photographer with a passion for capturing light and photographing natural moments in life as they happen. My goal is to capture memories that you will cherish once your children are too grown up to curl into your lap for cuddles and the house seems oddly quiet at night. I love meeting new families in their natural environment and getting in amongst the bedlam so that I can document the perfectly imperfect realities of daily life. Whether you’re looking for Winchester Hospital birth photography for your own new arrival or hoping to document life with your teens before they leave for university, please explore more of www.momentusstudio.com to see more examples of my documentary family photography.