When I met Gwen, we clicked instantly. I understood her story and where she was coming from. It resonated with me. She’s wanting to share it a year later because it will probably resonate with some of you. If you missed it, start with their beautiful maternity session then come back to work your way through her story. She’s sharing it in her own words.
Their images are raw, poignant, and honest. For a little while there, we weren’t sure if an emergency c-section was needed. But Gwen had her instinct and had assembled a great team around her. You can feel the emotions of this dad (oh-how-fond-I-am of this dad, he makes me choke up with emotion) from trying to get her out the door to not knowing how this birth would turn out to meeting his baby and being surprised it was a boy to the tears. Proving real men do cry. He is a picture of a father fully present and invested in this birth. It was my honour to work with them as a couple and their tender family.
Gwen was assisted by the following team: Angela Wakeford from Birth Options Midwifery Team, Dr. Douglas Dumbrill at Life Vincent Pallotti and Doula Charlene Yared West. My gratitude to them for allowing me to work as another professional on the team. Without futher ado, their story. As always, shared with family permission.
It takes so much planning, mental energy, tender love, and care to create a home. So many little decisions that no one but you knows about. So many mementos or spaces that are sacred. Ways we enjoy those spaces and create memories as a family is so unique to the seasons we are in. I love at home sessions because it’s your space. There is no other location more intimate or personal as a backdrop for remembering what your family was like in this season.
I can help you choose which room is right for light. We can head outside as well for variety. We can set up some “prompts” as we first talk about what are some of the ways you normally hang out or play together. Some families bake together. Some do legos. Some wrestle on the floor and then read books. Either way, we’ll setup some things for you guys to “do” together. And then I capture all the moments in between that you don’t see or appreciate fully until its imagery that’s artistry. I also work to get some more “frameable portraits” so it’s a well-rounded session.
Family sessions are exclusively offered to my existing clients only. So if you have (or one day plan to) hired me for your maternity/newborn sessions or birth coverage, I am available onwards to capture your family as it grows. I offer this exclusively to clients because of my limited availability and not the general public because I believe in the chemistry and trust required to get these images. It’s how I roll best. If you would like one of your own, contact me for booking information.
I’ve been photographing Nikki’s family since Harper-Rose was in utero. It’s amazing how beautifully she’s grown and is used to me photographing her now. Their lives have changed as each season requires. Gone is the babyhood and now their home is full of play and dress up and cooking and painting together. They wanted to remember this season, at this age with her. Hugs in the kitchen, getting dressed and swims in the pool. Because it’s all so beautiful and fleeting….
Enjoy their beautiful session one Saturday morning as they welcome me in to document their lives at home.
In an effort to spotlight exceptional birth professionals for expectant parents researching their options, I’ll be interviewing some of the best I work with (see the complete on-going series here).
We have incredible midwives in Cape Town, but not nearly enough. Every woman should have access to a midwife if she desires one. So as a general rule, if you are hoping to hire an independent private midwife, you should contact them early. They tend to book up quickly because they support fewer births a month than an obstetrician would. This is because they support a woman side by side throughout her whole labour, delivery, and just after birth, which requires more hours than just being present for the delivery. Independent midwives are specialised in low-risk natural births.
Today,I want to spotlight one of my personal favorites (I’m biased, admittedly). Glynnis Garrod from Birth Options Midwifery Team. Full disclaimer, Glynnis was MY midwife for my first birth.
I will never forget how close she stayed. I hung my head down in pain and found that absently turning her ring kept me focused during contractions. That’s what I marvel about with midwifery care. I respect the role of a doctor (and needed one) but they can not possibly give the kind of intensive-at-your-side-care that midwives can give. Its a huge time commitment.
Midwife means “with woman”. That’s exactly what they do, they stay near you if you need that kind of support. Or they hang back when you need space, available when called. Its a really beautiful thing to observe as a person attending a birth.
Here are some images of Glynnis in action. I credit her with saving my eldest daughter’s life. She paid attention and caught the signs something was dangerously wrong and so gently informed me while giving me my options. Being “with woman”, physically at my side for hours was what enabled her see what was happening. We called in obstetric support and a doctor performed a necessary c-section. Together they both worked harmoniously in their specialties.
Here’s my Q & A with her. I hope it helps in your research.
1) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MIDWIFE?
I qualified in 1990 and starting working in the labour ward at Groote Schuur, so 27 yrs.
You may recognize this family welcoming their third child, a daughter. I called this image “Three Men and their Little Lady”. Its one of my favourite of siblings meeting. A year goes by in blink. So much changes! The adjustment to life with three may be exhausting, but its also so quick. Their family wanted updated photos of what life looks like now a year later from their daughter’s birth. The boys have grown a bit. Their baby girl is officially a toddler. Its all so bittersweet.
I loved the contrast of having all of them at their different stages. Teeth separating and about to fall out. Long limbs and chubby left over baby legs. Whispy boy hair and giggles. You just don’t realize how little even your big kids are until a decade goes by.
We braved the chilly Cape Town winter morning to get amazing light. Let me tell you, that’s not a small feet to pull off with three children before the sun rises. My hats off to them! It was worth it though. Her hopes were for lots of portraits of her children and what they are like at this age. Mission accomplished.
My special thanks to Jasmine Selembo for her on-location assistance. She’s a pro with littles!
Family sessions are exclusively offered to my existing clients only. So if you have (or one day plan to) hired me for your maternity/newborn sessions or birth coverage, I am available onwards to capture your family as it grows. I offer this exclusively to clients because of my limited availability and not the general public because I believe in the chemistry and trust required to get these images. It’s how I roll best. Contact me if you would like one of your own.
Its still surprising to me, and it might be to you. Many of my followers and then prospective clients have lived through years of infertility or loss. Its surprising to me the sheer volume of couples living with this reality. Its more common than any of us think. Its surprising to me that they follow birth stories, and (through the sting) celebrate these new baby arrivals. That’s a remarkable amount of maturity. I just want to say, I see you and if ever your day comes, I would love to document your birth story.
Sarah really wanted to share her story with the world, both in celebration and if it was at all helpful to another person. It was recently published in Your Pregnancy Magazine and now I’m publishing it here for you to read or share. Its remarkable the long fight and the surprising discovery she made along the way.
I share this story with caution. I don’t want to be one more person in your life that says something careless and ridiculous like, “Just have a glass of wine and relax, then it will happen or put an essential oil on!” I know you have tried just about everything. You might be exhausted from trying.
This is not a prescription for what works. It is simply her story. It takes vulnerability to share it publically.
Here it is with the imagery of the day they finally met their long-hoped for, long-awaited, long-loved daughter.
I’ll let Sarah take it from here:
Find a partner, get married, have a baby! Easy right? Not so much! After 9 IUI’s, 6 IVF’s, 5 donated embryos and a sperm donor we were down and just about out!
We used to sit in the fertility clinic waiting room and joke about potential baby names that would befit the journey that we had been through. Names like Persevere and Nevergiveup were at the top of our list!