2020. What a year! For weeks now, I have been trying to find the words to describe all the feelings, all the events, all the sadness and all the joy. But then I thought that there isn’t much to say. Or perhaps there is too much to say. Either way, for me personally, the biggest lesson that came out of it was that life goes on. It might be a cliché, but it’s true. We as a human race, have been able to adjust to some pretty difficult times and appreciate what we have in a way we never did before.
I am so grateful for the people I’ve met and I am so grateful for my job. Of course, every single client that ever stood in front of my camera means the world to me, but 2020 was the year I met R! She is the extra special lady I wanted to make my last blog post of 2020 about.
Let me start from the beginning.
On the 16th of May R messaged me to say that she is looking for a birth photographer. Now these are the kind of enquiries that make my heart beat a little faster, so naturally, I got SO excited! When she said she would like to see some of my previous birth photography work, I panicked. I had nothing to show. For a couple of years, I have been fighting hard to pin down that first birth client. I have read, I have done birth photography courses, I networked, I offered my services FOR FREE, I put out fliers, posters, promotions, I volunteered at the birth centre, you name it, I’ve done it! Despite having multiple clients book me, I never made it to a birth. R reached out to me when I least expected it and she meant business! She wanted one of the most special moments of her life documented and she was committed to make it happen. We facetimed and then we met for a drink in the summer. We spent a few hours talking about all sorts and I could tell straight away what a kind and lovely person she was.
Months went by and we checked in from time to time. As soon as she reached 37 weeks of pregnancy I went on call. Now being on call is tough! Babies can come when you least expect them, at any time of day! I wasn’t able to have a drink, not even a glass of wine (which let’s just say became a bit of a lockdown/world pandemic tradition), I wasn’t able to go too far from home (in case I needed to rush back), I had to have a plan for the boys and of course I had to keep my phone charged, next to me and on loud 24/7! I became anxious especially in the evenings. I really wanted to make sure that I manage to get some rest at all times in case R rang and I ended up being with her for a long time. Every labour is so different and unpredictable and I was trying to prepare for all scenarios!
Fast forward to a couple of days before R’s EDD. The call came in the middle of the night. It was R’s husband. He said things are starting! My goodness, I jumped out of bed and for a few seconds I stood there genuinely panicked! Andrew (who I have to say has always been my NO 1 fan and my biggest support) asked if there was anything he can do. Of course, if I left, he would have to look after the boys and take some emergency leave from his work. I went downstairs and sat on the sofa. I had my phone in my hand and sat in the dark, waiting. At that point, I wasn’t yet needed, but R lived a good half an hour away from me so I wanted to make sure I will be ready to get out the door once they gave me the green light. I fell asleep and heard nothing until the next morning. Around 10am another phone call: “R said you should come!” All the adrenaline kicked in and there I was driving to photograph a baby being born! I cried a little bit in the car and my hands were shaking. My excitement levels were through the roof! I spent about 7 or 8 hours at R’s house. Her labour has started, but she wasn’t progressing. It was such an honour to be invited in her birthing space. I tried to be out of the way, but in the evening, it became quite obvious that I should leave and allow them to rest. We agreed to keep in touch and I of course promised to be on standby until I had to. Another extremely long night followed. I spent it on the sofa just waiting to hear something. R went into the hospital.
I tried to carry on as normal but my mind was so focused on that one mission I had: to be there for R and to capture her son’s birth to the best of my abilities! It was THE estimated due date. Late afternoon. We were sitting down to eat our dinner when I receive a text: ” Baby’s coming. Come quick”. I was out the door in the next 5 seconds and at the hospital within 10 minutes!
I shily walked into the room where R was in active labour with her husband by her side and two midwifes looking after them. My heart was racing! I have never seen a woman in active labour before. I knew she was in pain. I knew she was in her little bubble and I knew there wasn’t much anyone could do. This was her moment. She was the one in control. She was holding that superpower to bring her son into the world. I was in awe of her strength! Of her self-control. Of her determination and her pure power! She made it look so easy! I recognised the transitional stage and so I knew that baby is close. I positioned myself in a spot where I would stay until the end and waited quietly. Then, a miracle happened. Baby’s head started emerging. I was there to photograph a birth. I knew a child will be the result of a mother’s labour, but the second I saw that tiny head, it came as the biggest surprise! The mask I was wearing and my camera hid my emotions and my tears. I was trying to keep my cool and focus! R was doing the most amazing job! She never lost her confidence for a second and she knew exactly what to do. All those natural instincts kicked in and after a few more contractions a beautiful baby boy was born! The heavy weight of labour was lifted and the mood in the room completely changed. It’s difficult to describe it in words. I have given birth twice and I remember what it’s like being that person everyone is so focused on. But to be able to witness the start of life from a little corner of the room is the biggest honour. It doesn’t compare to anything I have done before. And I am unable to find the right words to share how it felt. It was a huge reminder that despite everything happening in the world, life does go on. We need to show up. We need to carry on. We need to adapt and we need to be there for each other. New life is a symbol of innocence and hope.
R has gone through pregnancy and childbirth during a world pandemic. She had so many obstacles to overcome. Her joy and excitement were constantly overshadowed by tragedies, by restrictions and by fear. But the fact that she is now holding a prefect little boy in the arms shows that love always wins and life goes on.