Photos of kids playing. Families loving. Seniors ready to go out and take on the world, you name it. I've attended Weddings full of love, and Birthday Parties filled with laughter.
Giving these parents images they will cherish forever makes me happy beyond belief, but I felt I was missing a certain drive. Don't get me wrong, I still adore capturing and spending time with these families, but I needed something more.
I was a little lost. I needed emotion, I wanted to capture and put my work towards something truly raw.
December 20th, 2013.
The day I went out in the middle of the night to capture my first birth story. A trusting mother, allowing me to shoot her birth for portfolio use, knowing I had never shot a birth before in my life.
But she trusted me.
I was in love. This was it. THIS was what my heart was called to do. But, how? How do you even break into such a unique industry? I had barely heard of Birth Photography when I had offered the portfolio shoot above. Finally, I broke down and offered two ladies FREE birth story coverage. I knew it would be giving a lot of my personal time up for no pay. But I wanted that practice, I wanted that marketing material for my portfolio.
But honestly, I just NEEDED to be in the labor room with a mother again. To be able to support her, encourage her and give her those memories. To capture such a raw moment and give my photography so much more purpose.
Two ladies. Two pregnancies. But only one birth photographed.
A loss, a loss of such a beautiful soul. When I heard the news, I was broken. I barely knew the mom, or the moms family; but my heart hurt so much for them. My heart still hurts for them. They don't know that I sat at my office job and cried when they lost their little man. That every time I saw them in public afterwards, I wanted to hug that mama. I wanted to do anything and everything I could to relieve some of her pain.
I questioned if this was indeed the path I wanted to go down. I knew that even if I only met a family through texts and e-mails, that I would be shattered anytime anything didn't go as planned.
On October 24th, 2014, almost a year after my first birth, I received the phone call that my other mother was in labor. I kept in contact and when it was time, I headed towards Ada.
To date, this has been one of the most amazing births I have witnessed in a hospital. The mother was allowed to be surrounded by so many loved ones. Most hospitals allow 3 people in the room, that's it, and unfortunately I count as one of those three, so they technically they only get 2 loved ones with them. This mother had approximately 10 others in the room with her to help support her, encourage her, love her.
On top of that, the father was able to suit up and catch their little one with the help of their midwife!
It was a magical time.
After this birth, I was hooked again - no matter the hardships, I could handle those. I could tuck them deep inside, mourn for mothers when I was at home, and live for mothers during their births. I had to give these moms these images, it just made my heart so ridiculously happy.
During 2015, I was able to witness the births of SIX beautiful babies!
Six families that my heart is stuck with.
Six beautiful little ones I watched join this world.
Six beautiful babies that I still watch grow to this day.
I traveled from OKC, to Ada and even out to Durant - in order to meet each of these beautiful little ones in 2015.
Countless hours away from my family. Middle of the night phone calls, rolling over to wake my husband up so he knew to take care of the kids in the morning. Texts to my mom for back up for the kids, so she could take them to school and daycare and possibly pick them up if I wasn't back by then.
In 2016 my goal was to be there to document even more babies entering this world; unfortunately, that's not always what happens.
But I did get to welcome six more babies and capture countless moments for mothers. So I count that as a win! Six more families that will forever be able to cherish those images.
During 2016, I had my first home birth and emergency c-section. Between the two I literally hit each side of the spectrum emotion wise.
I traveled to Weatherford for the home birth where the mother used hynobirthing to work through her waves, and it was so amazing to see. To watch someone so connected to what her body was doing for her.
The emergency c-section was one of the bravest things I've seen a mother do. She was broken, I could tell through the tears, she was hurt knowing that she wasn't going to have the vaginal birth she hoped for. But she went in brave, taking that C-Section head on, knowing she needed to do what was best for her baby. Straight into the surgery room, waiting forever before she could even see her son herself then spending several days in NICU with her little man. She was brave.
But most of all, as selfish as it may sound, I mostly do it for me.
Birth Photography has been so, so healing for me. Did you know that every time I have a portrait session, I get sick to my stomach with anxiety? That my nerves shake me up. I think about all the things that could go wrong, that I might DO wrong. How that client could hate me for the rest of their life, because I didn't capture enough photos of their little one smiling, or because they don't like how they look, or the weather wasn't what they hoped for. That the family wouldn't love the art I created for them as much as I do.
But when that phone call comes in, I answer it. I hate answering my phone. If you know me at all, you know I'll take text and email over phone calls. Phone calls give me anxiety. They make me shake. I can't do it. I don't even advertise a business phone number. My birth moms, and brides are the only people that receive my personal phone number. It's sad, but its to the point that I only do session details and inquiries through emails/etc. because I'm always afraid I will forget something said on the phone & not keep up my end of a deal. Because I need to be able to read over the transcript over and over. To analyze, to give me time to write out a response that's is best for my client and business.
The phone rings.
I assure them that I am on my way.
I grab my bag, I make arrangements, I make sure my kids are taken care of, I get in the car. I leave. I make the drive to the hospital, to the birthing center, to the clients home. I walk in. Never once do I have scared thoughts. Never once do I second guess myself. I enter the mothers room. I give her words of encouragement. I tell her how beautiful she looks and how excited I am for them. I find a place for my bag. I get out my gear and I start shooting.
I never once have a chance to let anxiety get the best of me.
This is how I know I've found my place. My happy place.
This is my Heart. This is my Soul. This is my Art.