How I became a Birth Photographer | Madison, MS Birth Photographer
I have loved photography in general for as long as I could remember!
In 2011 I decided to move beyond documenting every day activities with family and started practicing the art of portrait photography. I began offering sessions for family and friends, and I absolutely loved it! However, there was a part of me that really craved the way the photos of my family turned out when I would capture them "in the moment" with each other! Well, with being a student and working, I was limited in my time to practice many areas of photography, so I started focusing on the art of natural light and soaked up every minute I could with research, mentoring, taking classes and blog stalking ;) .
I knew I was in love with photography, however, my passion for birth photography completely took me by surprise. Why? Well, my original views on birth were not exactly that of a birth enthusiast...
My first experiences with birth
My first views of birth were slightly warped. In my family I had only witnessed and heard of some of the most traumatic incidents.. That said, in 2012 when my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we were elated! However, I was petrified, because all my life I have been around pretty traumatic pregnancy and birth experiences. I heard and saw the effects of every mother's worst nightmare. I was excited but crippled with fear, then tragedy of my own struck. My husband and I experienced our own nightmare, and with heavy hearts, we walked through a season of mourning and loss together. I was in shock. Photography went on hold. I became overwhelmed with fear and anxiety about ever becoming pregnant! My mind played the "What if" game with me, I felt like my body was a dud, that I was a failure ( which were all lies of course ). I was scared, angry, you name it! Then one morning, I happened to open my Bible and ran across probably one of the most cliche bible verses, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7. Though I had often heard that scritpure, something was different when I read it this time, it was as if I was reading it for the very first time. I was moved - I craved that peace. I was exhausted from being fearful and anxious. I knew it was time for change and I am the type of person where I know if I want change, I have to create an action plan. I took the verse apart bit by bit to create a plan to find that peace. First, I made a plan to discipline myself to have devotions every day and renew my mind. Second, I made a commitment that any time an anxious/fearful thought came to mind to pray repeatedly for healing in my heart and mind from our loss and understanding of what it meant to guard my heart, but it didn't stop there, I started to change my attitude and THANK Him for the small time I did have being pregnant, to THANK Him for His unfailing love and thank Him that He was going to walk me through this tough season, that I would become strong from it..
As time went by ( and yes, this process took time, it did not happen overnight )... I realized another way to fight fear is with knowledge and understanding. My understanding of birth was limited and biased, only going off of the stories within my family. So I started asking around about other experiences, and a dear friend of mine illuminated my mind to an entirely different, need I say polar opposite, view of birth than I had ever thought was possible. I was introduced to the Birth Industry (yes, there is such a thing), and BOY was I happy to hear not only that it existed but that there was major support with a beautiful community of people in it.
Five months after the healing process above started... my husband and I found out that we were expecting again! I was overwhelmed with joy, but then that little sting of fear sat at my side for a while, I had to keep fighting it and press forward. The fear started to grow, when I began realizing I was having a difficult first trimester. Around 9 weeks, we had a major scare and I ended up in the Emergency Room with pretty bad bleeding that was not stopping. We were told that we were likely miscarrying again. My body went numb, Matt and I looked at each other and we prayed - prayed - and prayed some more. I started preparing my heart and mind for loss. Much to our surprise, when I went in for another ultrasound, there it was - the sound of galloping horses - her heart was beating loud and clear! I was beside myself. My husband and I had already mentally prepared ourself for loss, but there that little fireball was, just bouncing around like nothing happened! PRAISE THE LORD! I was put on bed rest and pretty much told not to keep my hopes up, just in case. My husband and I decided if there was one thing we were going to do - it would be to HOLD ON to hope.
So there I was, stuck on our couch, realizing I was going to be there for a while, and still not quite sure what to think about all that we had gone through in one weekend! I kept wondering what this "Birth Industry" had to offer... ( if you know me, you know I am a research fanatic - yes, I totally geek out on things). I started to research birth statistics, evidence based birth, I began reading birth stories, learning birth terminology, learning about midwives, doulas, etc.
Folks, that was the birth of a birth enthusiast! Haha! I was SO incredibly moved by this new world, my heart was SOARING with healing from other stories ( similar to my own and those that I had experienced through family ). I kept my devotions going, and kept thanking HIM every day for the time that I had with my sweet girl ( knowing that nothing in life is for certain ). I thanked Him for leading me to this new community which embraced, encouraged and inspired me. I made a decision while on bed rest that ( Lord willing ) if I had the blessing of birthing my baby girl, I would do it boldly - I would do it WITHOUT FEAR! I educated myself, took Bradley Classes, exercised, hired the most amazing Doula, made a goal for birth, but prepared my mind for any outcome - because I had genuinely learned that pregnancy and birth is as beautiful as it is unpredictable.
Praise the Lord, on October 5th of 2013, I birthed my sweet Emilia naturally in a hospital setting surrounded by an amazing birth team. Healing poured over me. My thoughts, experiences, understanding of birth had forever changed. I realized that yes, birth has risks, because life has risks... Every life has its own story - it starts with a birth story, and EVERY story has its beauty! ( Yes, every story ).
Photography enthusiast meets Birth enthusiast
During the postpartum period, my doula Kelly, sent me an article about Birth Photographers. She had remembered that I had a passion for photography, was a new found birth enthusiast, and playing with the idea of working from home. ( Yes, she is pretty amazing, I know. ) Needless to say I was blown away by her kindness and thoughtfulness and just smitten with the article! After reading it, I knew IN THAT moment I would become a birth photographer. Every fiber of my being was fueled to reach that goal.
My husband and I prayed about it for quite a while and out of faith, I left my amazing full-time job to pursue my true passion for photography. However, this time along with portraits, there would be storytelling - here enters Birth Photography.
Who would have thought that I, the person probably most afraid of birth, would end up not only a birth enthusiast, but a BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER?! My heart soars every time I think about my job. I am so in love with doing what I do! It is a pure blessing. I honestly believe that my experience and journey with both the sorrow and beauty of pregnancy and birth has given me a more thorough understanding of it all. This understanding effects the way I document each birth story, I am familiar with the various emotions, the atmosphere, the birth expectations and the birth environment.
My prayer is that the Lord uses me in many ways through my Birth Photography adventure to always be a blessing to those who hire me.