Photographing a birth is one of the most intimate things I have ever done. I've done a few, but I'll never be able to describe how special it is to be allowed to be in the delivery room while someone gives birth to another human... Seeing a woman during her most vulnerable state, not that they are weak by any means, quite the opposite actually, but let's face it... it's kind of a compromising position to allow others to see you in... Seeing a whole family dynamic change, maybe going from a family of three to four or four to five or seeing the moment lives change forever for first time parents... The emotions... I would be lying if I said I didn't get choked up the moment I hear that precious little cry for the first time... I shoot through the tears because these moments are important. Sure, maybe you won't post these pictures on Facebook or Instagram for the world to see (I will, but only if I have your permission 😁) but they are memories that get hazy once you get home and the days turn into nights and the nights turn into weeks and the weeks turn into... you get it. Just like the pain of delivery, you forget that first little yawn, what their new little pink, warm bodies looked like, how shriveled up their little fingers and toes were, their misshapen heads.
Many women aren't sure if they want professional birth photographs, they say their mom can take the pictures, or their husbands... But births are fast paced and dimly lit, it's sometimes tricky to get even the best cameras to focus. You don't want to end up with a bunch of dark and blurry pictures to look back on. Just being present during a birth can be stressful and nerve wracking even if everything goes smoothly, never mind the added stress of trying to get great photos.
I have had two kids of my own, and each birth I have photographed has felt like it was one of my children (without the pain.. ha!) Here is the story of Caleb, who is not my son, but I kind of claim him...
I met Alison and Jeffrey while they were having an ultrasound at my studio. We chatted and clicked right away and got some great 3D images of Caleb at 28 weeks. A few days later I got a message from Alison saying that they were interested in doing maternity, newborn and milestone photos with me. I was thrilled because it meant that I would get to see them again and ultimately, see Caleb when he was born. (Plus newborns are MY JAM). When Alison came to try on maternity gowns for her session, she told me they were thinking of doing birth photos since this was Jeffrey's first, and maybe only, child. Um, YES, PLEASE!!! She didn't want him to have to worry about watching the birth of his son and take pictures of it. I told them they would not regret it, I know from personal experience that I deeply regret having less than 5 photos of my son's birth (and I'm a photographer... how does that even happen!?!?! It involves a traumatic, non medicated labor and attempted delivery and ends with a c-section... but- still, why don't I have ANY PICTURES????). I do have some of my daughter that I cherish! When they said they were in, I was stoked. If there is one thing I love more than newborn photography, it's BIRTH photography :) Ok, so I just love everything about photographing babies.
Fast forward to 2 weeks before Caleb's due date. Alison was scheduled for induction due to high amniotic fluids. She went in on a Sunday night and the waiting game started. I text her incessantly all day Monday because I was terrified of missing something and/or not having enough time to get to them. No progress. Stuck at 2 cm... They were going to break her water around 7:30 pm, so I told her that I would probably go ahead and head out to the hospital then because I know how quickly things can progress once that happens.
When I arrive Alison looks exhausted. She is about 24 hours in, and isn't sure how long it's going to take still- I can tell she is a little worried about wasting my time, but little does she know, I'm the cervix whisperer. Normally when I get there, dilation things just happen! And this time was no different :) After me being there only about an hour and a half and her getting only a tiny bit of rest, she was 8 cm dilated. Wahoo! It's about time to get this show on the road! It wasn't long after everyone left the room except Jeffrey, Alison's daughter Mattison and myself, that she started feeling like it was time... and- it was! BAM, 10 cm, the nurse can see him. (I'm telling you... cervix. whisperer.) Anyways, a frenzy ensued to get the medical staff in and everything ready for this baby boy because it is time and he is coming.
Alison pushed ONE TIME. Once. That's it. What a rockstar... And the rest is history. Caleb was born at 11:13 (I think... or 11:14pm) 6 pounds, 11 ounces of pure perfection. He aspirated a little bit of fluid, but as he took that first breath and let out that sweet little cry, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. The look on Jeffrey's face was priceless as he welcomed his son into the world. Big sister Mattison and Caleb bonded instantly over their toe gaps. Mom was beaming.
This is not just a job to me, and these are not just people I take pictures of. This is my life and these are my friends. I will always feel a little bit of a special connection with Caleb and his family.
With that, I'd like to introduce you to Caleb Caldwell Cochran. He's perfect.