If you asked me how my home birth was, you would not hear me say, “My home birth was beautiful.”
Instead I very honestly would tell you, “It was extremely long, incredibly painful and very, very messy. I can understand why drugs were invented and why people take them.”
Between endless hours of back-breaking contractions, I kept repeating, “This is ridiculous. How can there be 7 billion people on the planet.”
I couldn’t see why anyone would voluntarily choose to do this more than once in their lifetime, let alone 7 billion times.
People told me eventually I would forget and the hormones would win again, but I refused to believe that I could ever forget what that day felt like. And I announced that I was quite happy with one.
Yet here I am, one year and 5 months later, just like everyone said, wondering… if, maybe, should we?
So I was excited when Rose sent me an email asking if I would photograph the birth of their second baby girl, who would be born at home some time in March. It would be a good test. How would it feel to see someone else go through labor? And what was a home birth like the second time around?
I was also excited because I have never seen a human being born. I have seen cows, sheep, and dogs… but not a human (I had my eyes closed the whole time during HAH’s birth.)
And I got a small taste of what it must feel like for doctors and midwives. For once in my life, I had my cell phone almost always charged and I almost always knew where it was. And at gatherings with friends, I would announce, “I can’t drink tonight, I’m on call.”
But then it didn’t happen. The due date came and went. I started filling up my calendar. I had photo shoots scheduled every day. Arann got sick, so I was working all day and on solo parenting duty at night. Until finally at the end of day two of photographing flowers in SF, I got the texts:
4:12pm “I think we are in early labor, midwife is coming over. Will text again.”
4:57 “Come now!!”
I was in San Francisco.
The family was in Oakland.
For those of you not from the Bay Area, 5pm on a Thursday means… Fat chance.
I only had to drive 10.5 miles.
It took me one hour.
When I finally arrived at the house, Rose’s mother let me in and said, “The baby was just born, come on in.”
And this is what I saw…
While I was disappointed to have missed the birth, it was probably for the best because I got to experience all of the joy and none of the work. Which means I can confidently say that it was the most beautiful home birth, I almost saw.
Thank you, Rose and Jonathan, for inviting me to be a part of this amazing moment in your lives. It was such an incredible honor and I am so excited for your family. And, as Rose said to me after the birth of HAH, “Have fun falling in love.”
About the author paige green
Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.
Give me Louisiana
My Brain On War… (And FREE Photo Shoot for those who match my donation to relief efforts in Ukraine)
When the World Feels Upside Down… Together We Can (plus: bonus photo of me in middle school)
These photographs are simply stunning! You have absolutely captured the preciousness and joy of those first minutes. How can you not want another baby now, just looking at these incredible photos makes me want another, and I’m 57 years old!
Lovely. Just lovely.
such powerful images. you are amazing! what beautiful moments you captured. =)
[…] November 2nd: (9 am) Oakland with this lovely family. […]
[…] I have photographed close to 200 weddings, and at least twice as many families, one birth, and one almost birth (thanks to rush-hour traffic crossing the Bay Bridge on a Friday). I’ve documented birthday […]