Birth photography, yep you read that correctly! Last December I had the amazing opportunity of photographing the birth of a beautiful baby!
Lucy has kindly allowed me to share some of the photos here, (obviously not all the more private or graphic ones). Please do look at these beautiful photos and read on for my story and even Lucy and Simon’s story.
Now be prepared for a long post here, this was a really special moment for me as Simon and Lucy are two of my best friends, they are lovely, and some of you may have met Simon before when he has worked as a second shooter for me at some of your weddings. Simons wife, Lucy, is one of my closest friends and has seen me through some very exciting and also tough times in the last few years. I photographed their surprise last minute intimate wedding in 2013 which you can see on my blog here.
Last Autumn I was telling Lucy how I would LOVE to photograph a birth, so when Lucy asked me to capture theirs I was beyond ecstatic! Not only is this an incredible experience and moment to watch but with them also being close friends it was pretty darn emotional too. This was to be their second baby, they already have the utterly gorgeously cute 4 year old Emelia who I love to bits. Lucy previously warned me that she may change her mind when the time came so I was well prepared for this.
Around 6am on Monday 14th December I woke to a whatsapp message from Simon to say they’re on their way to St Richards hospital in Chichester and baby is on the way!!! I must admit I was in bed, half asleep and in an excited panic I literally jumped on top of Ryan waking him, screaming “oh my god, it’s happening, Lucy’s in labour, this is it, I’m going to see a baby born!!!!!! Ahhhhh I’m so excited”, I gave him a big kiss, threw on my clothes, grabbed my kit (I very nearly ran out of the door without it – totally forgetting that that’s what I was there for!) and I rushed to the birthing center at St Richards hospital in Chichester.
Upon arriving in the birthing suite I was amazed at how chilled it was, I felt really uneasy, not only was I about to see a good friend in a lot of pain but I was also part of a very intimate moment between a husband and wife, all these thoughts started rushing through my head; “did I belong here”, “should I give them some space”, “I feel like I’m intruding”, “Ahhh it’s really dark in here, what if I do a bad job, I’ve never done this before”. It was very quiet and Lucy was in the birthing pool in nothing but a maternity bra. I asked the midwife how long it would be until Lucy starts pushing, I didn’t want to invade on their moment, I didn’t want to intrude and distract from this, I wanted to leave the room and take a walk, just give them time alone before it all starts. But Steph, their midwife then whispered “no, don’t go anywhere, this is happening, she’s going to have this baby soon”!
Wow Lucy seemed so chilled, I was amazed babe was that close to coming into this big crazy world!
Still dazed, tired and in a bit of shock that this was really happening, I got my kit on and got to work….
I tried to stay back, photographing from a distance, not getting in the way of their moment, I always use silent shutter mode but in this quiet room it seemed so loud, I focused on the moments between this beautiful couple, Simon kissing Lucy’s hand, holding her hand, kissing her head, rubbing her back, and Lucy’s, well I can’t really describe it any other way than Lucy’s pain, her fear, her worried expressions. It all started to come back to me, the feelings I had when I gave birth to my son 13 years before!!! The fear and the pain. I can honestly say when watching Lucy, all I wanted to do was climb into that pool with her and cuddle her, it was so hard to see her in such pain and with such fear in her eyes, and so I cannot imagine how this was for Simon! I was suddenly seeing it from the Daddys side, how they must feel totally helpless to watch the woman they love in such pain and not be able to help, to have to sit back and watch, to try and offer support and some love but to feel completely out of control and well, useless I guess. It’s actually heartbreaking.
Lucy astounded me, she was fantastic, despite the pain she remained so loving towards Simon, and there was a mixed feeling of feeling sorry for her and laughter at the same time when she pushed babes head out and then it disappeared back inside again, with Lucy saying to her midwife “why?! Why would it do that, I pushed it out, that’s just cruel, whys it gone back inside”!
At last after lots of pushing and the midwife holding Lucy’s legs while Simon held her hand shouting words of support and trying to remain enthusiastic and strong, Lucy finally gave birth! A beautiful baby GIRL
What a little miracle, the tears welled up at seeing this beautiful perfect tiny bundle of joy, and seeing the happiness, tears and emotions that filled her mummy and daddy, my true friends! I was so so proud, and I cannot find the words to express how honoured I felt to be able to capture all of this on camera, and for this absolutely breathtaking experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, I had just watched my friend give birth, captured her birth on camera! It was truly overwhelming, and I was so taken aback when I went to leave the room to give this awesome couple some time with their new baby daughter and they stopped me and said “no, please stay, we want you to stay”.
What a privilege this was. I spent the next hour or so photographing their first moments with their daughter, this new life and her first moments in life – being cuddled, nurtured, weighed, measured, counting her tiny fingers and toes and her first moment bonding with Mum on her breast!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, I will never forget the opportunity you gave to me early on that Monday morning, the trust you had in me, and the intimate moment you allowed me to be a part of. I love you guys.
Welcome to the world baby Ferne, she is now 9 months old and the most content, gorgeous little bundle of smiles and giggles ever with parents and a big sister who adore her.
Meet Ferne … and please do read Simon and Lucy’s story at the end…
At first I Questioned my decision to have Nicci photograph our birth, she is a dear friend and we adore her, however, this is such a private and intimate moment – would I feel comfortable when the moment arrived? I was incredibly honest with Nicola about this, and she totally understood. We had a group whatsapp between the 3 of us, keeping her constantly updated on every twinge, even this was magic. Down to the very last moment, even when we messaged Nicci to say we were in labour, I was in two minds whether I wanted this moment captured, but now I am so grateful!!!
I was in a world of my own and rarely remembered Nicci was in the room, she respected our privacy and my dignity.
We will treasure our birth forever and the pictures will allow us, our children, our family & friends relive these amazing moments.
Our midwife had nothing but praise for Nicci and how she conducted herself.
I can not recommend this more highly, from me (Lucy) Simon & baby Ferne – THANK YOU xxxx