Ask me if I love fresh, perfect, squishy, little, newborn babies. With their perfect innocence and their sparkling new eyes. With that first cry - the sweetest sound - that announces to the world their arrival. Oh, those tiny, little fingers and toes. Or even better - the littlest fingernails you'll ever see. Their warm, soft skin topped off by fuzzy hair that just makes you want to cuddle them right up against your body and hold them tight. Did I mention how sweet and squishy they are?
Oh yeah. I love brand new babies. And those first moments are just magical. They find themselves in this great big world, but they feel safe and warm in their mama's arms. They open their eyes to gaze at their family for the first time, and see mom and dad staring incredulously right back at them. They breathe in the air, and feel it on that perfect, soft skin. Seeking out comfort and nourishment, they find their way to their mother's milk. All is new. All is well.
So, yes. Babies are precious and wonderful. And you might think that birth is all about babies. It seems to be the part that everyone puts all the emphasis on. And, obviously, the baby is pretty important. But there's so much more, too.
When I'm asked to document a birth for someone - well, first, I'm just so incredibly honored. It is truly a privilege that I will never take for granted. But, for me, as cute and cuddly as new babies are, what really lights my fire is getting to witness the raw, power and vulnerability of a laboring woman.
Women are just so incredible, and I will never stop being in awe of how they find strength they don't yet know that they possess. Seeing that strength juxtaposed alongside their vulnerability to an unfolding journey is nothing short of magnificent.
Watching as they find their own rhythm and rituals to accompany each new powerful surge, while simultaneously melting into the embrace of their partner or accepting the support of a caregiver - I see so much beauty.
Documenting the incredible power of women as they transform from woman to mother is my greatest privilege. But then, being able to turn around and show the images I've made to that same woman, and revealing to her just how much beauty and strength lie within her... that is my greatest joy.
And when those women choose to share that openness, vulnerability, tenacity, and strength with the world, I'm so grateful to play a small part in normalizing birth. I know that when I was pregnant with my first baby, seeing and hearing the stories of women who've come before me gave me courage and understanding. To be able to share what birth can really look like - how much strength and vitality women possess, is exceptionally gratifying.
My hope is that all women will come to know just how powerful they really are - in labor, birth, motherhood, and life.