Kelly and Patrick hired me to photograph the birth of their first child at Johnson Memorial Hospital and Stafford Springs, Connecticut. As you can probably guess, birth in general, but especially the birth of a first child can be unpredictable, long, exhausting and excruciating for expecting women. As a first time mom, it can be difficult to anticipate the kind of pain you will experience, since our best frame of reference is often the experience of other women, a source that isn't always the most reliable since everyone's experience can be so drastically different from another's. In addition to that fact, women have a tendency to minimize the pain they go through, and even forget it altogether as the body's natural way of coping (also allowing us to willingly go through the experience again, amiright ladies?!) Regardless of how you choose to approach your birth plan, there is beauty and an incredible amount of strength in each and every woman's journey to delivering their baby into the world. A journey that deserves documenting from start to finish. Here's a glimpse into Kelly's:
What was your pregnancy with baby like? Did you suffer from any morning sickness? Have any strange cravings? I am very grateful to have had a textbook-perfect pregnancy! However, my first trimester morning sickness was intense. Luckily, I have a very understanding boss who allowed me to work from home for two months because the nausea was debilitating. All food was appalling to me and I lost 6.5 pounds in the first two months. I hated many smells – especially the refrigerator and pantry which were particularly offensive. My sense of smell was so acute that I could smell the fridge from two rooms away whenever my husband, Patrick, opened it. I also hated the smell of coffee and Pat had to move the coffee maker to his office upstairs.
Which part of your pregnancy did you enjoy the most? And the least?
I LOVED feeling my little girl kick inside my belly. It was truly magical each time I felt her dance around in there. My least favorite part was definitely the first trimester morning sickness.
How did you break the news to your partner that you were expecting a baby?
We found out together! We had taken a test a week prior and it was negative. As I had been feeling slightly nauseous, I decided to take one more test just to be sure. We fully expected another negative test (Pat actually told me not to even bother taking it because it was a waste of a test) and we were shocked when we discovered it was positive!
What feelings came up during your pregnancy about your baby?
So much love. I was very emotionally attached to her from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I talked to her all the time, sang to her, and rubbed my belly. I couldn't believe the intensity of love I felt for someone I had never met.
What made you decide to follow your specific birth plan?
I was mainly inspired by my mother who had unmedicated labors for all five of her babies. I also reminded myself that labor is a natural process and women are meant to do this. I wanted to fully experience it and I trusted my body to do what was necessary.
Birth photography is becoming more and more common now, but there's still a lot of mystery surrounding it, and skepticism from women who may feel hesitant to have such intimate moments recorded by a photographer, and potentially someone who is essentially a stranger. Can you tell us a little about what made you decide to have baby's birth photographed? And why you chose dacia vu photography to have that honor?
Out of everything we experience in our lives, the birth of a child is arguably the most monumental and life-changing. We capture everything else through photos so why not birth? All the details become a bit fuzzy in looking back because it's such a crazy, eventful day. It's hard to really soak it all in. Also, there are so many beautiful moments to capture including baby’s first breaths, her first glances at mom & dad, our first looks at her, and the first time we held her in our arms. These moments are so special, and I couldn't imagine NOT photographing the best day of our lives. I chose Dacia Vu Photography because her talent is extraordinary. She has an incredible ability to capture raw emotion as well as all the beautiful little details of the day. She also has a very calming presence about her which, in my opinion, is a very important attribute for a birth photographer. She is professional, dependable, and very passionate about her photography. I'm so grateful she was there to photograph the birth of my baby!
What was your birth experience like?
It was the birth experience I had always envisioned for myself. I went in knowing that anything could happen, but it truly could not have gone better. The nurses were so kind and attentive the whole time, and they were very respectful of my birth preferences. The hospital was very calm and peaceful too as I was one of only two patients in the entire labor and delivery wing. It was perfect! I feel so grateful to have had no complications. I labored for about 19 hours and pushed for 1.5 hours. My husband and one of the nurses patiently and encouragingly coached me through the grueling hour and a half of pushing. As Kaia’s head was crowning, my doctor joked, “She’s got a full head of hair! I’m styling it right now!” When she finally entered the world, she let out two big cries as they placed her on my chest and then she looked up at me with wide eyes and smiled. It was a whirlwind but I look back now and feel so proud of myself and my body for what it accomplished.
If you could do it again, would you choose the same birth plan? Would you still choose to have it all recorded in photographs?
Yes, I would choose the same birth plan, and yes, I would ABSOLUTELY have it all recorded in photographs again. I will cherish those photos for the rest of my life.
What's been the grossest thing you've experienced since becoming parents?
Nothing has been too gross, to be honest. Of course we've been covered in all sorts of bodily fluids but that's expected!
What's the sweetest, most memorable moment of parenthood for you so far?
Hearing Kaia laugh for the first time was, by far, the sweetest and most emotional moment of parenthood for me.
What was your first thought when you found out the sex of your baby?
I was overjoyed. Pat and I have always wanted a little girl. We even had her name picked out for ten years! When the ultrasound tech said, “Looks like it’s girl!” I said, “Really??” and she said, “Yea, you’ve got a little princess!” Me and Pat couldn’t believe it. I was so happy that I began to cry. I looked over at Pat and we were both smiling ear to ear. I couldn’t believe it. The feeling was indescribable.
What tips or advice would you give other parents as they experience their first few weeks of parenting and welcoming their newborn into their family?
Go easy on yourself. I think there is this expectation that the first few weeks are full of rainbows and butterflies but the truth is that it’s very hard. You’re recovering from birth, hormones are imbalanced, everyone is sleep-deprived, and you’re adjusting to life with a new baby. Once you accept that it is OK to experience these things, it really makes the whole transition much easier. I will also say that although the first few weeks are hard, they are so, so beautiful and filled with some of the most joyful moments of your life. Enjoy your precious newborn and soak up all the snuggles because those early days are fleeting.
Welcome earth-side sweet baby Kaia!
Want more details about having your own birth story documented? Inquire here for more info or to set up a consult with Dacia.