I've photographed over 30 births now. I keep my phone by my bed each night, awaiting the loud and bright "ping" of a text message. My little girl understands that when I leave, it's because of a "bay-bee." She and my husband will often pull our comforter into the living room and watch movies if she can't fall back asleep without me beside her.
And then I drive through the dark night. Sometimes births are nearby, but often they are far. I drive in eager anticipation. I feel privy to a great secret: a baby is about to be born.
When I arrive, I often listen before I see. I can tell what's happening just by the sounds that float down hallways and drift outdoors. And the sounds I hear are women-sounds. Sounds that many laboring mothers don't know exist inside of them until their bodies demand release.
I step into the birthing room, and I'm filled with awe. To see a laboring mother working to bring her baby earthside is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. And to me, the sight of a laboring woman is even more beautiful than the baby that will soon come.
Because, sweet friends, I don't do birth work because I love babies. I do birth work because I love women.
Babies are special. Babies are adorable. My own baby brought out such fierce emotion that I could do nothing but sob. And yet, it isn't the babies don't drag me out of bed at 2am. It isn't the babies that compel me to leave my own family for hours on end. It's the women that are working harder than they've ever worked before that compel me to leave.
It's the sisterhood of birth that is so magical.
The sisterhood of birth can be found in hospital rooms, in living rooms, in birth centers. The sisterhood of birth can be heard when every women in the room joins in moaning or humming or breathing along with the laboring mama. The sisterhood of birth can be seen when hands fall on her back, when foreheads touch, when women stand together, silently praying for peace to fall.
The sisterhood of birth is one of the most powerful visions of compassion I see in my world. And it is more comforting to me than any verse or prayer.
When one of our sisters works to bring a baby into this world, we all feel stronger. We all feel braver. We all remember our lowest times, our hardest times, and we remember that somehow we found the courage to press on. The energy in a birthing room can be electric. It can start with our laboring sister and then flow, uninhibited, between the other sisters in the room. Through nurses, and midwives, and doctors, and doulas, and birth photographers, and mothers, and friends.
It's a sad and heartbreaking day when that power is blocked. Anyone who has worked in the birth world for long has seen it happen.
But on most days, on most nights, the sisterhood remains strong.
And so I take pictures. I take pictures not only of the adorable child that has just entered your life and changed it forever, but also of you, beautiful laboring mama. I take pictures so you can look back and see your strength, your determination, your beauty, your courage. I take pictures so that on the hard days you can remember that you're bigger than whatever obstacle is in front of you. I take pictures so you can remember that even in the hardest moments, you were never alone. And I take pictures for the women in your life. For your friends, your family, your own daughter. I take pictures so that we can all see how strong we are, how capable we are, how beautiful our bodies are. I do it for the love of women here and everywhere.
If you're interested in learning about how Cord can support you in your birth journey, you can find more information about our Denver Doula Services here.
All images by Monet Nicole - Birthing Stories.