Tuesday, September 14, 2010



I have this photo of Harper and I in a frame on the TV unit. I was tuning out with some trash TV and my eyes wandered and I started looking at this photo. I remember being so thrilled with the first time I saw it that our first moments together had been captured so beautifully (thanks Kate!) and every time I glance at it I'm reminded of her birth.

Last night I started thinking how extraordinary this picture is in today's birth culture. There are so many things about this photo that, sadly, don't happen regularly enough.

-she is in my arms and yet to be held by another person (my Midwife gave her a little push underwater in my direction when she was born so I could pick her up as I was on all fours). No one has taken her away to weigh her, poke and prod her and she was not pulled out of my body by a stranger. All that lovely creamy vernix is still all over her too.

-her cord is still intact. And look at the amazing colour it is with all that oxygenated blood running through it! It stayed intact for another hour or so.

-I'm interested in her. This might sound silly as who isn't interested in their newborn? But many women are too drugged, traumatized or unable to move due to epidural and/or surgery to fully try to engage, or even hold their baby. They want to, but as birth's hormonal pathways have been disrupted it is an uphill battle. I'm not even aware of the photo being taken as my hormones have ensured that I am drinking in my new baby and we are imprinting ourselves on each other, blocking out distractions.

-we are in the water, where I wanted to birth. Too many women are asked to move to a place/position that is for the benefit of the person attending them rather than where they want to be.

-you can still see the stain of the henna that was painted on my belly during my blessingway. I wish more women knew about how amazing a blessingway was!

-Harper is not distressed. I've seen too many photos of babies being distressed in their first moments unnecessarily in the name of "birth stats" and hospital policy.

I will look at this photo with even more appreciation now. Not only at the luck of capturing such an amazing moment, but the fact that we had that moment at all. And the way laws surrounding birth stand in Australia now these moments will become rarer still. And I find that extraordinarily sad.


Megan.K. said...

Nodding my head.
Beautifully written.
Extraordinarily captured.

Hands and Hearts said...

It is a beautiful photo, and so lovely to have on display. But not just that, it is there to be looked at, admired by your daughters and how beautiful birth can be.
Thank you for sharing.

Rachael said...

It's amazing isn't it? And it seems like such a natural and perfect way to do things that it's hard to believe it is considered 'normal' to do things the way most women birthing 'in the system' are used to.

Tania Verdez said...

I have a similar photo and have thought very similar things!
Beautifully put Shae :)

katepickle said...

And that photo doesn't even come close to capturing just how amazing and beautiful and powerful that moment was!

Stacey said...

It really is a gorgeous photo, Imogen is bawling in mine but the water was a wee bit cool!

cathy @ NurtureStore said...

Such a beautiful post and photograph. Thank you for sharing such a special moment.

Kestrel said...

Oh dear Shae, you made me cry, that is absolutely beautfiul. So many things about that post resonated.

Thank you.

Dorothy said...

I had no idea the umbilical cord was that colour.... How lovely, you being the first person to hold her...

Kate said...

When you posted this I'd yet to experience it myself.

Our small girl's homebirth was the single most powerful experience of my life. To be the only one to guide her earthside, and to touch her and hold her for her first hour of life. The only one to kiss her face. The only one as I had been for the nine months prior. Unforgettable.

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