Well, not quite sure how to start this one other than this is probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed (apart from the birth of my own little one of course!)
Photographing Kirsty’s labour and the birth of her little boy all started off as a bit of a joke and typo. She asked me to do photos of her baby but it came up as birth, and I wrote back a very long message about how I would be honoured to be a part of it etc etc, all which we both found really funny and left it at that.
I’m not going to go into all the details as its not my place to, but Kirsty had some scary news at one of her scans and all of a sudden things weren’t going as smoothly as anyone would like. Being pregnant is a scary and exciting time for a woman, but when you are given news that there could be something wrong; its terrifying.
Suddenly the idea of me being there to document Alfie’s entrance into the world wasn’t so funny anymore, it would actually mean a lot.
We decided to go for a coffee and have a chat about all the ‘details’ (god knows what people thought if they over heard our ‘business end’ conversation haha!!), as neither of us have done anything like this before. This would be Kirsty’s 3rd baby so she wasn’t nervous about labour so much as a first time mom may be, so she wasn’t uncomfortable with me being in the room. We discussed shots that I would do and I showed her examples of other photographers work who admired in the birth photography world. We both got quite excited about it all and Kirsty and her husband put me down as their 2nd birth partner on her notes.
The month of Kirsty’s due date was choc a bloc. I had so many sessions and a couple of weddings, none of which could be cancelled or moved to another date in the event of her labour kicking off on that day. I was soooo nervous I would miss it. For almost 4 weeks I slept with my phone next to my ear, woke up in the night every night to check my phone, didn’t have an alcoholic drink in case I needed to drive to the hospital, travelled every where with my camera bag packed and ready to go. I definitely felt like a birth partner, it was all so exciting!
Kirsty’s due date came and went. The week following her due date I had two big weddings in the space of 3 days, one of which was in Manchester (you can see photos from that HERE), and both which involved a lot of travelling away from the hospital area and neither could be cancelled. We both just assumed the baby would come while I was in Manchester as it would be typical luck after all the preparation and excitement of the lead up to this. I left Manchester late on the Thursday night, scared to look at my phone in case there was news. Amazingly there wasn’t any! It could still happen! All I was hoping for now was that the baby came before or after the wedding so I could still make it.
I was totally shattered the day after the wedding, (as per usual for wedding photographers, its just part of the job), and on the evening after no news in the day, I washed my hair and sat down in my Pj’s with a cup of tea to watch big brother (I know its trashy telly but its my guilty pleasure).
My phone started beeping
‘Just though I should give you a heads up that I am having very strong contractions every 3-6 minutes, am deffo thinking he is coming this time!’
It was just SO exciting!!! They hadn’t gone to the hospital yet so we agreed they would message again when they got there and when they were ready for me to come on over.
Not even an hour later my phone started beeping again
‘You’re allowed in and I’m already 5cm and it won’t be long.’
I threw some jeans on and headed out with no make up, wet hair and still wearing my pajama top and drove as fast as I (safely) could to Russells Hall.
When I got there Kirsty was well and truly in labour. The noise of the gas and air brought back soooo many memories of my own labour, I did have a second where I thought I’m not sure if I can do this, it was so intense to see someone in so much pain.
Time progressed and so did Kirsty’s labour, her amazing husband Wayne never left her side for a second. It was such a strange feeling to be almost intruding on such a personal experience, but then part of me was actually sad that I didn’t have someone there at my own labour to photograph these moments between me and my other half. Remembering points like this are what get you through hard times, the points where you aren’t operating as individuals but as one. The emotion, the empathy, the struggle of seeing your loved one in pain. It was all so intense, but beautiful.
As any woman who has been through labour know, theres a point where your contractions change (I think its called your ‘transition’ but dont quote me on that!) and your body gets ready to give birth. Its so strange, its like you become a different person. I personally dont remember mine that well (apart from wanting to slap the person that told me I could breathe my baby out and I didn’t need drugs), but its like your body takes over. You stop thinking about giving birth, you just do it.
Kirsty turned into this super woman, her focus shifted and all of a sudden she was giving birth. It was the most amazing thing to witness. What women do during labour is warrior esq’ and I was in absolute awe of how she coped. She had just given birth to an actual person, a little human, a gorgeous boy. It was so tough to take photos in-between my sobbing behind the camera! Kirsty’s midwives were angels and did such a brilliant job. Kirsty’s husband couldn’t stop smiling, and got to cut the cord and hold their beautiful boy whilst the midwives helped Kirsty. To capture that moment, that first moment that father met son, that mother met baby. The joy and the love in their eyes. It. Was. AMAZING.
I managed to get some shots of baby Alfie being wrapped up by his lovely midwife and some images of them as a new family and it was my cue to leave. As I walked out into the night it was so still and so quiet and I just stood in the car park for a bit, shaky and crying, because of the wonderful thing I witnessed. I finally got in the car and drove home, and just couldn’t stop thinking about how I would love to be a part of this whole experience again.
Of course the next best part of this whole experience was getting to have the whole family back to the studio a couple of weeks later for Alfie’s newborn session! Alfie liked hanging out with me so much he decided not to sleep for the majority of the session, but we got him to sleep in the end.
Being part of Kirsty, Wayne and Alfie’s birth experience will stay with me forever. I thought weddings were emotional days but this was another level!!! I would love to do this again for another family, I’m not sure when that will be, but I would love to do it again. There are a lot of hoops to jump through and I did this for Kirsty and Wayne as a friend, there are no guarantees that midwives on the night would let me take photos or that the birth wouldn’t end up in a c-section or with some sort of intervention, so I’m not sure how I could do this as a service for a customer. All that aside, it was just awesome to be a part of it all, and if I never get to do it again I’m glad I got to do it once for a wonderful family!
Angelfire Photography specialises in newborn, baby, family, child, maternity and wedding photography in West Midlands, England and surrounding areas including but not limited to Stourbridge and Birmingham.