Kate reached out after hearing that I was looking for additional models to build my birth portfolio. The first family I photographed loved their photos so much they spread the word about my work -- I'm incredibly grateful for their support.
We spoke briefly on the phone before her due date. Ideally we'd meet in person before I walk into someone's intimate birth space but we were leaving town for the weekend and 40 weeks was fast approaching. She was warm and open; it was a delightful conversation. She joked at one point that she didn't want to see any photos of "the vagina". I lightly pushed back saying that I could capture the crowning moments and she could take a peek later if she changed her mind. That sounded like a good plan to her.
As I was laying my head on the pillow for bed one night, she texted that she was in labor and it was moving quickly. I was too excited to rest at first, though I knew it would be a good idea to catch some sleep before meeting her and her team at Methodist Hospital. I got the green light to head there in the morning.
It's such a wonderful way to meet someone for the first time -- to walk into their labor, one of the most memorable days their life. Health care professionals do it so often I'm sure the novelty wears off, but I still think it's really special. Kate greeted me with a big smile and my nerves washed away. Her doula, Erica, was also warm and inviting. I knew it was going to be a great day. The epidural had just been placed so it allowed us some space to talk, joke, and laugh.
Another doula, Janine, joined us and they both took turns using their healing powers of touch to guide Kate thru her labor. Kate also has a background in reiki so it was even more profound to see magical touch working for someone who normally supports others.
Then it came time to push. Kate wasn't able to feel the push sensation because of the epidural, though she did such an amazing job bringing her baby girl down with the help of her midwives. After a couple hours we could start to see the top of her head. In those last few minutes I was so overwhelmed to witness the support from several strong women surrounding Kate. Once baby was on her way out, the first thing I noticed about Brienne was her beautifully molded head of hair. Isn't it incredible what our bodies do to bring new life into this world?
She was struggling a bit to take those first few breaths, but after some minutes passed she was crying loudly and bolding. Hello Brienne! Welcome! There was an incredible amount of love in the room once she arrived.
What an honor to witness this amazing birth! I'm so glad I lightly pushed to shoot the images of the baby crowning; they turned out to be some of our favorites!
Midwives: Park Slope Midwives
Hospital: Methodist Hospital - Brooklyn