One year ago today, I had the honor of being invited by my dear friends Carise and Dan to photograph the birth of their first child. While they'd said for years that I'd always be their extended family's "Major Life Event Photographer", I guess I never really realized that the coveted role could/would include photographing a birth! As the due date approached, the anticipation was pretty wonderful. And then, pretty much right on time, I got the text in the middle of a Saturday night: "Still rollin over here lady. May wanna clear your schedule today!" We stayed in touch through Sunday, and around 4:30pm they told me that it was action time.
Carise and Dan, during their very mindful pregnancy, decided to do as much laboring at home with their Doula, Angela Vincent, before transitioning to the beautiful Minnesota Birth Center in Minneapolis where they would be joined by their team of midwives. As soon as I walked into their home, I could feel the weight of what was happening; Carise was already fully into the moaning and muscle-spasm stage, while Dan and Angela soothed her and coached her to take rests as often as possible between her contractions. I must admit it was a little disarming to hear someone I know so well make sounds as she was! I did my best to blend in to the woodwork as I captured images, and sent silent words and looks of support to Carise.
We spent the first several hours at the family home (well, actually... I took off for a while to have a break and get something to eat, since I knew it would be a long night!), as Carise (who was opting to make her way through delivery without any drugs or other unnatural pain-relieving methods) rode the waves of pain and elation; eventually the contractions intensified and spead up, and we made the move to the birth center sometime after 10pm. I will never forget the excitement of that drive through the quiet streets of South Minneapolis, with the moon blazing overhead. The staff at the birth center was fully ready for and very welcoming to us, and Carise headed straight to the hot tub where she spent most of her time over the next few hours.
The rest of the time was a blur: hours spent waiting, sudden bursts of cries and moans followed by gentle whispers and then quiet, a great iPod playlist, late night pizza (I excitedly told the amused delivery guy "I'm going to shoot this baby being born and I can't believe it!!!!), highs and lows, some talk about the baby's positioning and other technicalities, trips in/out of the hot tub, the attempt to take a nap (impossible!), and on and on. Then, in the pre-dawn hours, the action began to crescendo and at 5:25, Carise the Champion gave her last pushes and (not-so-)little Cash Michael Beard swam his way into the world: he weighed 10.3 pounds, and had a full head of hair and the most adorable cry a baby could ever have! I loved him right away, and was thrilled when his parents asked me to be his godmother- yet another honor!!
There is so much more I could say about this, but I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story. Enjoy!