“I now treasure pregnancy and birth like never before…for the miracle it truly is. I’m convinced I’ll be a basket case of tears and gratitude at this baby boy’s birth. I literally cannot wait to worship through it all.”
– Ashley, 16 wks pregnant with Beniah
Documenting Ashley’s birth was so special to me, as she had shared with vulnerability and grace her journey through three miscarriages in the year prior to her pregnancy with Beniah. The beautiful thing about someone sharing their journey through grief is that it allows humans to feel connection in places and people that they may otherwise have had no common grounds. It’s the ultimate ice breaker for that soulful feel-good human experience.
While I myself couldn’t relate to Ashley’s particular journey through her miscarriages, I know many women who can. More so, I found her sharing her grief at all to be so very brave and inspiring, as she humbly shared pieces of her heart that are very personal. And you know what? No one’s loss is identical. The part it all has in common though, is that it will show us all the most breathtaking parts of life if we let it. I’m so grateful for those with the courage to share big pieces of their journey.
“I’ve learned that I’m worthy even when I can’t do everything, like make a baby, perfectly. My significance is not defined by my performance or works. “
Grief is a funny thing. Some do it silently, some with a group. Some do it through jumping head-first into new experiences, while others process with Netflix binges and particularly unhealthy choices. While some of these things may lead to a quicker resolve than others, that’s the beauty if life experiences like grief; there is absolutely no one right way to walk through it.
In one of her social posts while pregnant with Beniah, she was reflecting on her past year of loss and I just love the graceful wisdom + strength in her words:
“Through it all, I’m so grateful. Such a weird thing to say. As much as I long for my babies, I’m grateful for the unexpected impact they’ve had on my life.”
I spent that morning with Ashley, Jared, and the kids just soaking in a little of each of their personalities. After I left, she wrote this:
“We just finished our family photoshoot, and I feel like it was the first one where I was free to let each kid be themselves, dress like themselves, and just be.
Sounds silly, I know? But so often moms, including myself, feel the need to control and be ‘picture perfect.’
Forget that. The world needs real. And the world needs each person’s unique fingerprint. So this photoshoot was an actual joy and FUN! Crazy to think our next one will be with Baby Beniah in my arms! “
Fast forward a few weeks. Nine days past Beniah’s due date to be exact, when Ashley rang my phone just a couple of hours before sunset.
While I was super pumped about Beniah’s arrival, I was also selfishly pumped that the lighting gods were in my favor and we just might have a baby’s arrival at the EXACT time of day we had joked about him wishfully coming in the weeks prior. A natural home birth at sunrise with the most prepared, calm team. My heart was bursting with joy for Ashley and Jared. The soothing way a rainbow makes your heart feel quiet joy after a gloomy summer rain storm, that’s how that morning made me feel…
The thing I love about births is that I really have time to sit, talk with, and observe such intimate moments in the most unobtrusive way. My role is not to make myself known, but to observe the who the people in front of my camera are and capture a bit of the life legacy they are building through their expression, emotion, and experience.
As I walked into Ashley’s bedroom, I stepped over a sleepy Alayna who kept a watchful eye on her mama during the entirety of the morning. It was so cool to me to see her take in everything that was going on. To see the natural capability of a woman’s body right in front of her six-year-old eyes, there’s not much that will ever teach her those things about the strength and beauty she has as a woman in the same way.
It’s just before sunrise and Ashley’s birth team has almost completely arrived and gotten things set up. I stay in the soothing dim light of her room as her doulas rotate warm towels and maneuver her into different positions for comfort. Jared and her mom take turns providing soothing touch, conversation, and music. The room and the team around Ashley in this moment were so calmingly in-sync. It was such an experience just to watch.
Just as the sun was rising, Ashley and her team moved into the living room, where she birthed for a while in the water. I always find myself so intrigued by water portions of births!
As I looked around the room, I just soaked in the bodies present and the ways each individual was participating differently. It was a group of individuals that functioned like a well-oiled machine, yet had never even been in a room together before that morning. Harmoniously working together for one cause, to show that mama how beautiful and strong that body of hers is.
As Ashley labored in each location, it was as if I was watching a different chapter of her birth unfold. As she moved to the bed, the sun was pouring through the windows and I was still just blown away by the series of events unfolding in her living room that morning.
From the bed, to the birthing stool, floor, and back to the bed, Ashley was getting so close, yet also filled with inevitable exhaustion. Minutes later, her midwife instructed her that Beniah was nearing his arrival.
A few more laborious pushes and she grabbed her long-awaited baby boy.
And guysssssss….this is where I don’t need to narrate much more because this boy’s arrival says it all…
Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing a little of their current life with Beniah home in a future follow-up post!