The way we remember. {Birth}

My memories from giving birth six and a half years ago are spotty. I remember all of the little things that happened during my 27-hour labor that irked me, and I remember the big moment when I got to meet him, but it bothers me that I can't remember the details of it all. How did I handle the pain? Did my husband rub my back or hold my hands through contractions? I had a different doctor deliver my son than the one who had cared for me through the whole pregnancy. What did he even look like? What did I say when I saw my baby for the first time? Did I cry?

I have similar spotty, yet more intense memories from my next birth, when I went into spontaneous preterm labor and birthed my 1 lb 4 oz. daughter, who was only with us for a few hours. While those memories are difficult, I don't want to lose them because it was the only time I had with her. As crazy as it might sound, I wish I could physically look back at the emotional turmoil I was experiencing, because it is a direct reflection of how much I loved.

It wasn't until my next pregnancy that I discovered there was this thing called birth photography. I was fascinated when I came across the first website that showed all of these incredible raw moments of tiny little miracles entering the world. Still grieving the loss of my last child, I thought about the new tiny one growing inside me and I desperately wanted to capture the moment I would get to meet him. I wanted that photo of the mom's tears as she kissed her baby for the first time. I wanted those photos that would show the new strengthening bond my husband and I were developing with each new life-changing experience we were sharing together.

I quickly searched for these same photography services in my area. There were not many options, but I did find a couple. And I gulped when I saw the investment.

We were not rich. We hadn't saved anything for this type of thing. But looking at those inspiring galleries of birth photos again and intensely attracted to the realness in each and every one, I decided money was not going to stand in the way of having these real memories documented for us to cherish forever.

My husband needed a little more convincing.

Three babies since then, I have three fully documented births, and I do not regret those decisions even a little bit - and neither does my husband.

Take my last birth, for example. This was my first home birth experience. I gave birth to a 10 lb. 6 oz. baby at home. I cannot even tell you how much that makes me feel like some sort of superhero! But even more important than my ego, I have these amazing moments of my son's birth day to look back on and remember what an incredible experience it truly was all around.

Like how my water broke just before sunrise, and the start of my baby's beautiful entrance was paralleled with the golden rays filtering through and exemplifying a new beginning.

If it weren't for these photos, I probably wouldn't remember just how strong I had to be. This is important. Take it from someone who had struggled with self-worth for many years - this is so very important. I am strong. When I'm broken and feel like I can't go on, I power through and come out stronger than before. Being a mom has made me the best version of me.

It makes me smile to remember the moments of euphoria in between the intense surges. It reminds me that there was excitement and anticipation the whole way through.

If it weren't for birth photography, I wouldn't have documentation of the most tender moments, such as the few minutes of silent bonding I shared with my daughter shortly before she transformed from "my baby" into a big sister.

I do remember how much time I spent breathing through contractions alone, because it all happened so fast that everybody, including my husband, was busy getting things ready and set up for the birth.

But if it weren't for the photos, I probably would tend to focus and remember more of the above moments, rather than the ones when things got more intense. And how my husband was there for those. How he's always there for those.

I wouldn't have ever known the way he looked at me as I worked through the most physically challenging thing I've ever had to do in my life.

How he loves me. How I need him.

I would probably look back and remember pain, rather than remembering how powerful my body can be.

Thank God I have pictures. Thank God I can look back and see this moment.

I don't remember catching him. I had to ask everyone if I caught him like I had wanted to. I couldn't even remember if he came up in front of me or behind me. I am so thankful I can see that it happened the way I had dreamed it would.

How he reached for me and his little hand wrapped around my neck.

I remember gazing at him for awhile and trying to gather myself in the whirlwind of what had just happened when I realized I didn't even know if he was a boy or girl yet.

A boy. I had known all along.

I remember looking at him and deciding with much confidence that he was far bigger than we were anticipating, but what I had felt (and feared!) deep down, all along that he was going to be...

Those sweet rolls. If it weren't for the photos, I wouldn't remember just how squishy they are in the first hours after birth. So. Much. Squish!

Never have I ever looked back at these photos and thought that we should have used the money for something else instead. Can you imagine? I don't know where we found the money to invest in this three times, but we did. And I know that we would do it again and again because it's that valuable to us.

See, storytelling through images not only brings our memories to life, but it fills in the gaps of the parts we so quickly forget. I now can see moments that I wasn't even aware of at the time. These moments are so special.

I'm so glad I will remember forever.

- Laura