Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Capturing the Moment - Meeting Mac

Unless you were really paying attention (stalker), you probably never realized that I didn't blog Mac's birth story.  Yes, it was extremely personal, but that's not really why.  The birth itself was pretty typical - I labored for 17 hours and then had a C-section because he wasn't progressing and his head was huge (I blame my husband for that).  Nothing out of the ordinary or super dramatic - this happens to people all the time.  And a few weeks later, I actually did write it all down with the intention of sharing it.  But now, I think I'll save it for Mac and his future wife to read when they're expecting their first baby.  Just the thought of that makes me well up with tears.  

You all know how photo crazy I am and I absolutely love birth photos.  They are so raw, so real, so honest.  I am usually brought to tears looking through those photos because they are such an intimate glimpse into the life of a family at one of the most important and life-changing moments in their lives.  It's incredible that we are able to experience that kind of emotion, pain, love, support and pride though pictures.  It's what I love about photography - the ability to experience that moment like you were there and feel that emotion with the people in the photos.  That's powerful.  

I really wanted to hire a birth photographer.  But no, I did not.  Why?  Mainly because I was absolutely terrified that I would not live up to the expectation I had in my mind of what a strong laboring mother should be.  I didn't know how I would handle the pain, how I'd handle the contractions, how I'd handle myself.  I didn't know if I could do it.  Any of it (not that I had an alternative at that point).  I was so scared of being judged on how I was doing, or how I looked or whether I was being strong enough.  I was worried about doing it wrong or looking dumb.  I was scared that I'd pay a fortune for photos that documented me at my worst and just made me feel inadequate.

I was also stupid.

What a ridiculous idea that I would do it wrong...that I wouldn't be strong...that I wouldn't cherish every single photo for the rest of my life.  Giving birth is a crazy paradox - I have never felt weaker and stronger at the same time.  Never felt such fear and excitement.  Such pain and such elation.  Such terror and such confidence.  And every single photo I have of that experience is near and dear to my heart.  My wonderful husband took over my camera and documented the process from contractions to the surgery to the moment we met our son.  He took photos of the monitors, of the room, of the doctor pulling the baby out of me, of my uterus sitting on my stomach, of my son being weighed and cleaned up and finally placed on my chest.  He even got the anesthesiologist to take over the camera to get a few pictures of him cutting the umbilical cord and Mac's tiny hand gripping his daddy's finger for the first time.  The photos are wonderful and incredibly personal and deeply emotional.  Some of them are grainy and some are out of focus, but they mean the world to me.  Yes, I wish I would have hired a birth photographer so Ryan could have been in more photos with me, but I had the next best thing - a husband that knew how much I'd want those photos later and took the initiative to capture all the details.  I can't thank him enough for doing that.  Those photos, along with the birth story will remain private.  They're just too personal to share.

And even though I didn't get the professional birth photos, I did have the foresight to hire Jodie from Fresh Art Photography to come to the hospital the next day and get a few photos of us with our new family member.  She calls it the Fresh 48 - photos of the baby and the new parents at the hospital within the first 48 hours.  I just let her know when I was in labor and she was at the hospital about 12 hours after the baby was born.  The morning after Mac was born, I was a bloated, hormonal, sweaty, exhausted, emotional mess.  I was so puffy and bloated from all the fluids they pumped into me that I could barely bend my swollen fingers.  I couldn't sit upright because of the severe pain from my incision.  I forgot to brush my hair.  I was sweating like crazy from all the hormones so I couldn't put on makeup.  I couldn't even fit into a bra or the size large plain white t-shirt I planned on wearing, so I was in a granny-type nightgown, braless, sweating away.  Basically the worst possible combination of nastiness and exactly the last way you want to be documented for all eternity.  

As always, Jodie was wonderful.  As a mom to three, she's exactly the person you want there telling you it's all normal, it's ok, it's going to get better.  She was supportive without being judgmental.  She was there and documenting it all without being intrusive.  She was gentle and kind and understanding.  She didn't pose us or give us any direction - she just captured the moments as they happened.  Us.  With our son.  As parents.  As a family.  Exploring this tiny new person we just met, yet already knew. 

I have to be honest here, when I first saw these photos I shuttered.  I couldn't even look at them.  I even considered asking her to take them down off her website because I was so self-conscious - so embarrassed.  It probably sounds incredibly vain and self-centered, but I hated the way I looked.  I'm almost unrecognizable to myself - so swollen and exhausted.  It took me months after Mac's birth to be able to revisit these photos and really take a close look at them for what they are.  And do you know what...I am SO proud of these pictures.  I couldn't care less what I look like.  I JUST GAVE BIRTH!  I went through major surgery.  I produced a tiny perfect human being.  I battled.  And I look like it.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

So in the spirit of my word for the year, I'm EMBRACING them.  And I'm posting them here because I'm so proud of what I did.  I made a baby!  These photos are all the memories I have of that day.  It went by so quickly and I was so exhausted and drugged that I can barely remember what happened.  But I have these gorgeous pictures.  Photographic evidence of the intense love and overwhelming emotions I felt those first few hours of becoming a mom.  Photos of my parents meeting their first grandchild.  Photos of Ryan taking care of his wife and beaming with pride at his baby boy.  So, if you're on the fence about whether to hire a birth photographer or one to capture those first moments with baby, please don't even hesitate to do it.  It's worth every single penny.  


































*All photos by Fresh Art Photography

33 comments:

  1. Such precious photos and memories (makes me think of my c-section and days in the hospital). Thanks for sharing.

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  2. These are amazing. All of them. So real and honest baby mac looks exactly the same still :)

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  3. Seriously really cute newborn (and I don't honestly think that very often!) Great photos!!!

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  4. His little feet on your mouth = me tearing up big time over here. Those first days in the hospital are so magical and surreal and scary! I'm glad you shared---you look amazing, like a proud and happy mama, as you should!

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  5. I love these - I agree with you about birth photography, I think done right it's one of the most beautiful things out there. But these photos still capture your strength and joy fresh & new and so beautifully. Love them.

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  6. Gorgeous photographs! What special moments to have captured. Mac was, and still is, just so precious.

    I felt the exact same way about the first pictures of myself with Blaire but went through the same change of feelings you did. Funny how time (and the loss of some swelling and baby weight!) can change your perspective.

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  7. Wonderful pictures- and you look great! I was also given a lot of fluids during labor and was totally swollen for several days after. Unfortunately, I did not want to be in many pictures so I only have a few of me. Next time I'll suck it up and just smile :)

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  8. I got tears in my eyes looking at your beautiful pictures. So special.

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  9. These photos are so sweet and beautiful. I love the ones of you with his tiny little feet and the last one is just PERFECT.

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  10. These are wonderful photos!!! I'm sure you'll cherish them forever. I wish I had done this. I did not take one photo of Jackson and I in the hospital. I too had a c-section and I could hardly get out of bed, much less put on make-up. So I didn't want my picture taken. Looking back, I really regret that decision. Oh well, live and learn I guess. :-)

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  11. Such gorgeous photos! And even after all of your talk about the way you looked, I didn't see any of that. I just saw a beautiful new mama, dad, and their precious newborn baby. And the baby feet. OMG, the BABY FEET. Love.

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  12. tear! Man that boy has grown! I second your words of wisdom on the birth photography. I did it and would do it again in a heartbeat.
    You do have a wonderfully thoughtful hubby for taking over the camera for you. From one photo junkie to another, I understand how much photo mean and he just scored some major cool points from me ;)

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  13. What BEAUTIFUL pictures!!! The one of your dad (?) holding Mac and kissing you on the forehead seriously brought tears to my eyes...gah!!! We did hire a birth photographer and it was the best decision I made (not to make you feel worse about not getting one). There are lots of pictures where I am not picture-ready, but the story it tells is amazing. Do it next time! It's totally worth it!!

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  14. Oh my...the photos are beautiful and your words are so precious! I am so, so, SO glad you are at a point that you can enjoy these photos because they are breathtaking and priceless. What treasured moments for your family. Annnndddd...you might have just added one more thing to my to do list! Love.

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  15. I love these pictures! Thank you so much for sharing. They definitely made me tear up to see your family increased by one. The idea of a photo session to capture those moments the next day is such a great one! And without the blood everywhere. ;)

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  16. I think you look lovely, and I can totally understand how you'd feel self conscious. In moments as absolutely priceless and once in a lifetime as this though, it's easier to deal. It would be like not having a photographer at your wedding. You can't see things beyond your perspective and it's too hectic to remember it how you want to. Photography is such a blessing in those times. I'm sure if I ever had kids I would want a photographer too, even though I know I'd be UBER self conscious (I'm SUPER self conscious in every single photo taken of me anyway, I delete most of them). Wonderful photos of such precious moments!

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  17. My heart is absolutely melting. Tell you a secret? I wish I had newborn pictures taken but I had this unreal fear that my baby would be a horrendous alien looking newborn so I psyched myself out. I didn't even allow visitors except for family for that same reason. I wish I did things differently

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  18. These photos are perfect.
    You are stunning.
    Your sweet baby boy is precious.
    Your husband looks happy and proud.
    You're so smart to hire someone to take these, you'll cherish them!

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  19. These are so sweet! Awww. Little Mac! Oh I want a newborn now.

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  20. Sara, these photos make my heart melt! Thank you for sharing such personal photos. I could feel the intense love in each moment.

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  21. You look radiant and beautiful! Thank you for sharing- there is so much love in these photos.

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  22. Girl, you are crazy -- these photos are amazing!! The one with your Dad (I think?) did me in. Love every single thing about these pictures.

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  23. Sara, These are amazing, perfect photos that capture your new family of three and you will get to treasure them forever....I'm so jealous I didn't have these done!!!

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  24. I'm so glad you posted these!! Such a special time and you are so lucky to have them! I was similar to you - no WAY was it getting documented (even though I love looking at other women's photos). Now in retrospect, it is one of my only regrets. I even tell friends who are pregnant that even if they aren't sure they want them, to at least have their partner take lots of pics and they can decide who (if anyone) will get to see them.

    I only have 3 pictures from labour and delivery. An awful one of me trying to breastfeed for the first time, Luca on a table and the scale. Oh and the clock. That's it. None of him coming out, none of him on my chest for the first time being cleaned up...etc.

    I wish we had those pics and should have had the foresight to at least get pics like you did. They are so special!!

    PS you look a like a beautiful, brave woman who just did the most amazing thing she'll ever do :-)

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  25. Great photos, love his hat! Doesn't that seem forever ago???

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  26. Boo, you whore, now I'm crying. These are beautiful and perfect and beautiful.

    I love you guys!

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  27. Such beautiful beautiful photos. He is to sweet and tiny and you look so proud. I was doing yoga last night and just reflecting on what my body has been through and how amazing the birthing process really is. There are days I still don't believe what we went through to bring E into the world. And next time I am FOR SURE getting someone else in there with a camera. We had complications so it was all a blur but I remember being so happy and emotional when we first got to meet him and I wish we had those photos to remember it all!

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  28. These pictures are amazing and the emotions are so apparent...I love them! Doesn't that seem like ages ago?! He was sooo tiny!

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  29. These photos brought tears to my eyes. You look so incredibly happy in them.

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  30. These are so beautiful! I get such a lump in my throat when I see images like these that are so real and joyful. It's kind of a motivator to think about doing it again since our little one went straight to the NICU after birth. So, thank you.

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  31. there is so much joy and so much love in these pictures that i just teared up. what a precious memory you have forever in print. these are amazing.

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