I got the text from Carlita and Demarion the night before, that things were finally starting. This little girl had started her journey only a few days past their due date so I was not shocked to hear I could be called in soon. I ate some dinner and got into bed semi early to await the call to come. Around 4am I got the text that the midwife was on her way and would give me an update but I remember feeling super awake at the call and wanted to just get ready and head their way. So within 15 minutes I was in the car heading to her home.
When I arrived things were in the labor zone completely. The sun was still waiting to rise and the tones were quiet and excited. But hen I arrived we found out that Carlita was still in the early stages of labor. Usually when this happens I’ll do one of a few things, try and get some rest there on a couch, head home to return at another time or simply wait it out while giving mom plenty of space to progress at her own pace. I of course want to capture all the beauty of the labor phase but I also don’t want to slow things down by being in the space when things aren’t as “active.” So in the end I decided to go with the assistant midwife to grab a bite to eat down the road at Waffle house and come back in an hour to see how things were. When we returned I just felt that things were moving and didn’t want to miss a thing so I decided to stay.
By late afternoon mom was in full labor, active but this baby was definitely taking her time on the journey. Mom tried resting, being in water, dancing(swaying mostly), she ate and laughed with us and also took moments to be alone and talk to her baby. The beautiful thing was that her partner truly never left her side. He was such a rock all throughout her labor progression, helping her to laugh, relax but also feel supported and cherished in those deeply intense and emotional moments. He really was her “person” and it was beautiful to see. When the world could not reach her because of the intensity of each contraction it always still felt that her and Demarion were connected and in tune by a string or force.
As the sun went down there was an energy of being so ready for this baby to arrive all over the home. Mom was growing in her exhaustion but her heart was set on home birth. Baby was happy, healthy and content in her mom’s womb and was taking her time descending. Those last few hours were so emotional for us all but especially Carlita and Demarion. For all homebirths the option to transfer to a hospital is always there, even when it’s not “medically” needed sometimes the exhaustion can really be overwhleming. Some moms realize after hours that rest is the next part of the journey and choose to head in for a little pain releif and rest before pushing baby out. I had been there almost 22 hours and they had been laboring for over 30. So when the option to transfer was opened up I remember Carlita and Demarion really just needing a moment to be alone. I laid down on the couch next to the assistant midwife, waiting to hear what out next moves would be.
All in maybe 30 minutes/an hour we heard a call from the midwife down the stairs, “Angie, get my bag.” We both shot up. She rushed up the stairs with supplies and followed behind waiting to hear what was going on. The door to the bedroom was closed with obvious people right beyond it. It sounded as if mom was having baby right between the door and bed. There was no time for me to sqeeze in so I waited for the midwife to open it back up, seconds later I heard a baby cry and the midwife opened up the door to show mom sitting right there on the carpet holding her freshly born baby girl right beyond the door frame. It was amazing, a sight I think I’ll never get out of my brain! All Carlita needed was a deep dive into herself to seriously push that baby out. And she did it, when she went up to her room the hour before she pretty much locked herself away and during that time the shift of emotions turned into that final jolt of power every mom needs to take complete ownership of her body.
For the next hours I got to capture all of those raw and beautiful first moments of them as a family. They both spent the moments just adoring her little features and starting their beautiful bonding with breastfeeding. I really can’t believe this day was almost a year ago because when i look back through each image it transports me to the emotions of this day so vividly. That’s at it’s core the beauty of birth photography, having the ability to not only document a momentous change in your life but also to be able to relive the excitement for every day afterward. In those moments of doubt or exhaustion that come with parenthood, these images are a little source that never goes dry to remind you of your power and joy.
A sincere thank you to Carlita and Demarion for being open to sharing their empowered journey! It’s because of families like yours that more women in our culture will be given the tools to have a powerful birth story; not focused on pain but on strength and transcendence. Because when women see births and women like them giving birth and they come away feeling knowledgable and strong enough to take power over it for themselves.
And of course a thank you to Sankofa Midwifery for your continued support for home births in our NC communities!