AOIFE (EE-fa) is an Irish name that means beautiful, or radiant, and she was known as the greatest woman warrior in the world. All alliteration aside, If her mother’s zen-like determination during birth is any indication, the planet is getting itself a new warrior. This is my first birth story, and although I have two kids of my own (both c-section), it was the first laboring birth I’d seen in-person. I intentionally don’t use the term “natural-birth,” because what my wife accomplished was every bit as amazing and sacrificial as contractions and delivery. That term always bothered me. After seeing the process in the birth center with a midwife, surrounded by silence, I see the appeal. The hospital rooms for my kids were busy, noisy, cold. I’m not complaining, the hospital also kept my wife and kids safe. I guess my point is, have your babies, no need to label methods as superior or inferior.
I’ve known and photographed this family for years, and it has been so great watching them grow, their oldest daughter, Maeve, being the same age as my own daughter. Maeve, is one of my favorite parts of this birth. She was completely attentive. The way she took care of her mama, the anticipation of baby Aoife… just melt-your-heart level stuff. Tiffany was so present, David was so supportive, Maeve was so involved. The fact that I listened to the hypnobaby cd for 7 hours straight starting at 4am, and still see this as a highlight experience says a lot about the miracle of birth 😉 I’ve now photographed maternity, birth, newborn life, families, high school graduates, high school graduaTIONS, college graduates, marriages, anniversaries, death beds, funerals, and memorial services. That feels pretty close to whole life documentation. What a job.
I will have a before/after series later on, but for now… Happy first birthday, beautiful Aoife.
WORDS FROM THE MOM
I’m a photographer for many reasons. But mostly because of how a single image can make me feel emotions time and time again. I’m a nostalgic person by nature. And to be able to travel back in time, if only for a split second, makes documenting life a necessity for me. So to have Jay document Aoife’s birth was a no brainier…a necessity.
I put in time and energy preparing for Aoife’s birth in the weeks preceding her arrival. I knew that she would more than likely be our last child. I knew that I would not feel the nausea, fatigue, aches, flutters and big movements of my baby rolling and growing inside me again. I knew that I wanted to be present in those last round weeks and every moment during her birth. And I was. And I am forever grateful.
There is a mighty force that takes place during a birth. And it can affect everyone present if willing. As I labored and opened my body and heart to bring Aoife earth side, I was able to watch my daughter and husband open up as well. I watched and felt how hard my husband worked to support me in every way possible. There was this moment towards the end where we were both so present in between my contractions. That we both touched my tight and full belly and stayed there realizing that I would never be pregnant again. That as badly as I was ready for her to join us, I just as badly wanted to keep her there. Right there. That moment passed as the next contraction roared its powerful head, but that moment is relived in my mind frequently. And that moment was photographed. Because some day…when my memory isn’t as sharp as I hoped it always would be, I could look at the photograph and just maybe I would remember it all.
Our older daughter opened herself as well that day…she became a sister. A sister that started to believe after two weeks of prodromal labor, that her little sister would never make her appearance. But after waking her in the wee hours of the morning to go to the birth center, she was also present and doing anything she could to help her sister in her journey to us.
Aoife’s arrival has changed us all. But her birth…her glorious birth took us all to a tiny crack in the world that opened up and let us feel the raw power that happens when love and God blend.
This is my hope for all mamas. That however their baby decides to enter the world, it is met with wonderment and love in the pure power of a new little human. That everyone is present enough to feel the world change.