Friday, July 11, 2014

Koa: A Home Birth Story

I stepped into their home for what could have been the hundredth time. I came carrying donuts and muffins, and I was met with little girl laughs and familiar smiles. The pictures on the walls had changed - images I had taken of their family months previously now hung, but everything else was the same. The keyboard in the corner, the six-year-old jumping on the couch, laminated magazine cut-outs and school projects lining the halls.

Though things looked the same, the feeling was different. And there were two new people there, too. And these two new people meant something big, meant something was happening. The two people were the midwife and her assistant, and they sat chatting about midnight birth stories and back-up babysitters flaking out on them - the struggles of the On-Call Life.

Brice greeted me with that wide smile of his and a soft voice. "Jeanna says you can come back and say hi to her. She is in her bedroom." I came into her room, as her friend and as her photographer, and gave her a hug. We talked about what she was reading (a corny romance, from the sounds of it) and what she was listening to (a quick playlist she had thrown together when she realized she would be going into labor now that her water had broken). We would laugh and laugh and I would worry I was making her contractions hurt more - or worse, slowing them down. When a contraction would come, I would go quiet and Jeanna would go within. As it passed, she would emerge again, and the laughter would continue.

The majority of the day carried on in that way, with me flittering between her room, taking the girls outside, eavesdropping on the midwife's conversations, and checking on my own babies. I caught Brice reading her book to her, and she was embarrassed by its cheesiness, but I was still surprised to see her laughter.

Things got tougher, as they tend to do in labor. The laughter died down, and it was replaced with tears. At this point, I removed myself from the scene as a friend, and became who I had been asked to be this day: their photographer. 

In the moment, I was just doing my job. I was reading the situation and capturing it as I knew they would want to remember it. The job of a photographer is more than just clicking the button: it's following the light, anticipating movement, sensing emotions. It is becoming completely present in the moment and forgetting all else. Each and every one of these photos tells such a grander story than it may seem upon first look. I beg you to notice - really notice - what this story is. No skimming allowed. 

Do you see the pain? Of course you do. But look closer. Do you see the love? Not just Brice's love for his wife, but the love Jeanna has for this baby? The love she must have if she is willing to endure this in order to bring her son into the world in the most natural way possible. Do you see the strength? Not just the physical, but the mental, as well?

How about the courage? When it hurts and it's scary and yet she plows on. She reaches higher and deeper, and she finds something within her that maybe surprised her, but not me and not her husband: Power.


Koa was born  July 1st, 6:44 pm.

SO many pieces to this photo. Dad is cutting the umbilical cord, Mom's hand is reaching out to comfort baby, and baby is gripping back. 

I adore this next photo; the midwife is showing the girls the newborn walking reflex.

8 pounds 12 ounces, 19 3/4 inches long

Big sisters Coriel and Addra

As a PS, and probably a bit off-topic:

I beg you to notice these photos for what they really are because, in the moment, I did not appreciate what I was witnessing to the fullest extent. It was not until I went back through these images that I could fully comprehended all the tiny miracles this day brought. More than brand new life on this earth, though that encompasses a large part of it. There was so much love in this house, the rooftop could have popped off and sailed to the moon. The photos of Brice embracing Jeanna while she endures the most physical pain she likely will ever feel brought tears to my eyes - and they made me find hope in things I had been questioning. These images brought understanding and answers to my questions and comfort to my searching. These images are a testimony to me that men and women have divine roles on this earth, and we truly are designed - by a loving God - to be partners to each other in these unique and individualized roles. Women, the child-bearers of this world, have been given such a sacred role. To carry these little souls and little bodies for 9 long months, and then welcome them into the world! To bear that pain and that burdensome blessing! Only women can do this! And we are so strong and so incredible for that. But I am also so grateful for this loving husband who supported his wife and partner as she did something for the world - and for her family - that he could not. This is how it is meant to be.


  1. oh meghan, these are beautiful. the picture of the father laying behind her with his eyes closed, his hand on her back made me tear up. he loves her, that much is certain. i also loved your comments. the more i think about Heavenly Father's plan and how i fit into it as a woman, the more it makes sense. great job to the mama, and well done as a photographer. bravo!

  2. Wonderful pictures! It was good to meet you. Not every photographer I have seen at a birth blends into the energy of the space so well. You were amazing.