Welcoming Monroe | Birth Photography: Witnessing a Water Birth
“Whether you're a mom of one or a mom of ten, you choose baby formula or you breastfeed, you stay at home, you go to work, you feed your kid a vegan diet, you give them popcorn and popsicles, we are all apart of the same club. Motherhood. We all understand. We feel the lack of sleep and the loss of memory together. We feel the overwhelming happiness, love, and the exciting firsts. We all chose to bring a baby into our world and forever change what our days look like. The joys, the stresses, the coffee, the wine, the tears, the thousands of diapers and piles of laundry. We willingly gave up an enormous piece of ourselves, our freedom, in exchange for selflessly caring for someone else. That makes us all united.
We are all one in the same, experiencing so many of the same hurdles and indescribable moments of happiness. We are a sisterhood, a lifelong sorority. We share unspoken understanding and empathy. I feel it all the time. Instant acceptance, an instant friend. No matter what our differences are, we are still connected in a huge way. An understanding smile as we pass each other in a restaurant with temperamental children. This sisterhood is forever. This is Le motherhood.”
- Heather Grimm, Le Motherhood Blog
Heather is one of my most favorite people. We met a couple of years ago through several mutual connections, and since that moment, I’ve felt like I’ve known her my entire life. Yes, I realize this sounds a little insane fangirl, but Y’ALL, I can’t help but gush over women who are positive and uplifting role models. She’s a wildly artistic, beautifully articulated mama who keeps it real, humble, and practical with her poised execution of this adventurous rollercoaster that is womanhood. From recipes to educational tools, creative ideas for family activities and home decor, to just simply blending the messy and the beautiful of everyday life, Heather is a mover and shaker when it comes to inspiration and connection in motherhood.
Heather asked me to document her birth and I had no clue just how much it would move me to my core. Let me clarify. With every single birth I’ve witnessed it feels as though I gain a little more appreciation for the beautiful and powerful gift it is to be a woman. WE MAKE HUMANS, and seeing that played out in real life along with some of the most organic emotion found in this human experience, is well, pretty stinking breathtaking.
Upon receiving a text from Heather early that Monday morning letting me know that labor might be in the coming hours, I got myself ready in case the “it’s time” text came soon. A few hours later, I arrived at Heather and Matt’s home to find her greeting me on all fours in the floor of the foyer, mid-contraction. In that instant, I knew I was about to witness something like I’d never seen before. That is exactly what happened.
For the next eight hours, my attention became completely engrossed in documenting, in the most authentic way I could, the unfolding of that day. Heather has also chronicled the entire experience, hour by hour, from her perspective on her blog here. If you’re curious about the honest details and happenings of birth and other motherhood topics, you’ll probably find it fascinating and insightful.
Here’s a photojournalistic story of Monroe’s journey into the world…
9:45am: I arrive to Heather and Matt’s home. Her contractions are strong and she’s timing their frequency. She and Matt grab the last few things from the house, kiss Pryor goodbye, and make their way to the car in-between contractions.
10:10am: After a few stops to reposition herself in the car and work through contractions, Heather is in the back seat of their SUV. I see her crouched and working through contractions as I follow them in my car, the whole time eyes glued with curiosity on what she’s experiencing in the car in front of me.
10:45am- We park and head up to the Alternative Birthing Center at Ochsner Baptist. We are ready for the moment of truth: the cervical check. It felt like everyone in the room was holding their breath. Heather is 7cm dialated. She and Matt breathe a sigh of relief as this indicates that they’ve made it past a part of laboring that provided a traumatic experience with her first pregnancy. You can read more details about this in her post.
11:00am- Heather gets in the tub, where she anticipated she’d be most comfortable during the next part of labor. The room is peaceful and jovial as Heather and Matt exchange jokes. Matt feeds her fresh fruit, her doula provides some calming lavender essential oils, and her entire team encourages her with words of praise and affirmation.
11:00-12:00pm- Contractions continue getting stronger and more intense. Matt and her doula, also named Heather, hold her hand through every contraction. Her doula also keeps an ice cold rag with lavender essential oil on her neck and face.
12:28pm: My eyes feel glued open to all that’s happening in front of them as Heather works through the increasing intensity of each contraction. At a point during this time, I could see her transition into a place where her body seemed to take some sort of natural control. Her water breaks. The next few moments fluctuate with rapid moments of intensity. Heather’s midwife tells her that with the next push she’s going to reach down and grab her baby. My eyes are still glued wide open. With the next push Heather catches Monroe in her hands, the vivid intensity of the moment painted on her face better than any words could articulate…
12:30-2:30pm- Heather climbs out of the tub and onto the bed where they wait for the placenta to be birthed, still attached to Monroe. In the words of Heather, “Seeing them connected is such a wild experience! His little lifeline, still attached to him. SO COOL.” Matt then cuts the cord almost 20 minutes after the birth and the placenta is preserved for encapsulation.
Heather and Matt spend the next hours enjoying the pure bliss that is their newly changed life and introduce Pryor to his baby brother, Monroe.
A few weeks later I received a handwritten note from Heather in the mail that further reached in and touched pieces of my soul. In the most delicately written words strewn together, she shared with me what the photographs of that morning meant to her and Matt:
“Our birth photos are more than just documentation. They are highly personal and emotional for us because of how life-changing of an experience that was for our family, of course, but they are also so much more!
We found ourselves discussing, analyzing, deeply appreciating individual photos throughout the gallery. The art you’ve created is similar to that of a painting in a physical gallery. The angles, the framing, what you chose to include in each shot, the mindfulness. The importance of what you didn’t include, perfectly choosing which moments would be better suited for monochromating imagery, the expressions, the details, the genuine human interactions.”
What she wrote gave my heart something that I’ll cherish forever.