Some days ago, there was a post circulating around several photography groups about a birth photographer that would not take her client's photos because she was going to have a C-Section instead of a natural birth. I won't get into details, but the photographer said that a C-Section wasn't a birth but a surgery in which the child would be removed from the body. Needless to say, this post enraged the photography community. Out of the blue the post disappeared.
Since I don't consider myself a birth photographer really (I've only done one), I didn't think it was relevant for me to write about it. But yesterday, that birth client I had a few months ago tagged me on a post about this issue, and how a birth photographer community put together a compilation of images to show the world how incredible and powerful C-Sections are. I didn't know the issue had gone viral and that it was being known outside the photographers world too. When I saw that, I decided it was important to make a stand.
A Life Changing Experience
As I mentioned before, I don't consider myself a birth photographer. If you know me, you know how much determination and bravery it took for me to get in that operating room! But I have to say though, that one birth I did was one of the best experiences I had in 2016. I truly believe that it is the most selfless, brave and loving act a mother can do. She is not only having a child, she is having a surgery! She is willing to carry a scar on her abdomen for the rest of her life, just so to bring her new baby to the world.
I'm very aware that there are all these opinions about natural birth vs. C-Section. But I also have seen that most likely, C-Sections are never the first option, nor the second sometimes. When a couple decides to have their baby through a C-Section, they might have personal reasons -strong reasons- to choose to do so. Or it might be because they've been told that it is the safest way for their particular case. I can only imagine the struggle the couple faces when they've always dreamed about their perfect natural birth. This takes courage.
When I was in the operating room, scrubs on and camera ready, there was a moment were you could truly feel time stopping. I was there, making sure to document the mother's first reaction when she sees her baby. The room was silent and all you could hear was this rhythmic beep, beep, beep; the mother's heartbeat. And then, miraculously, we all hear the sweetest waa waa you've ever heard. If that is not a birth, I don't know what it is! At that moment I didn't know it, but when I was at my computer culling the photos, I saw I had captured the exact moment she heard her baby's cry for the first time. This for me is priceless. This image says so much! And she hadn't even seen her baby!
After the room is filled with the wails of this tiny human, he is taken away to make sure everything is ok with him. Mom is still on the operating table, unable to move, and she has to stay there because, I mean, she has to have her belly sewn. They let her hold her baby for a few moments before taking him to a completely different room. That takes something I don't even know the word of. Trust along with longing. Selflessness along with desperation.
Still under the effects of the anestesia, she is finally able to feed her baby in the recovery room. She was not sore yet, but on the coming days feeding her baby and wrestling with her toddler would take a lot of effort and pain. This takes bravery.
I'm in no way diminishing the merits of a natural birth. But I want to point out that a C-Section is a birth as much as any other. Taking these photos and witnessing a birth for the first time was life changing for me. I found this mother to be extremely strong in ways I can't describe. And I want to tip my hat to every woman out there (including my own mother) that had their babies through a C-Section. Thanks to this act of love, many of us can be here, living and pursuing our passions. Your heart must be huge and your courage alongside with it.
If you want to learn more about this story, you can read The Huffington Post article here.