pregnant belly button

This is one of those posts that I have had saved as a draft for a while now, trying to rewrite and come up with the right words. This family is some of our closest friends, and the excitement of them having brought another little one into this world just overwhelms me with delight. Josh and Jill now have three children, Ruby and Dylan who we know quite well, and now Sawyer, who was born on October 10th, at 1:45 in the afternoon. I had been taking portraits of Jill and her growing belly nearly every time we hung out, and when Sawyer’s due date came (a week before he was born), we decided it’d be fun to do a little mini-session to capture them as the family they’d been for three years. They were well adjusted to Ruby being the big sister and Dylan the little brother, with no other siblings in this world quite yet. It’s such a special time, in my opinion, to be able to document a family on the cusp of such a big and exciting change like that.

So, we hung out for an hour that afternoon and did what is a sort of tradition for them now that they live in such a scenic place. A popcorn and tea picnic, right out in their yard.

family session pregnant momma and sonBlue eyed girladding honey to the  teapouring milk into teaBlue eyed boysunshineJill taking clothes off the lineclothesline and walkingFamily laughing in the grassFamily sitting in the grass

Six days after that session, on a Wednesday evening I gave Jill a call to see how she was feeling, and to see how things were going. She told me they had talked to their mid-wife, and despite the fact that she had been having contractions on and off all day, no one really had any better idea when she’d go into labor. So, I wished her good night and went to sleep myself. My phone rang at 1am, and for once I immediately knew why it was ringing. (I had been getting excited everytime my phone went off for the previous two weeks, thinking it may be Jill saying her water broke) Jill said her water broke, and that I was welcome to head over whenever I was awake enough. The excitement woke me up quite quickly, and I grabbed my go-bag and headed out the door, sure not to waste too much time since it’s a thirty minute drive out to their place. I was the first to arrive at the stone house, and Josh was in the middle of making coffee for our friend Stephanie who was on her way. Josh informed me that the midwives were on their way too, as they apparently often deem the third born a “wild card” as far as how things normally progress in labor, and wanted to be certain they were there and ready for anything.

I could go on and describe the rest of how the day went on, but instead I’ll let you see for yourself.

2ammiddle of the nightJosh making coffee at 2amcake and bellyIMG_4009starry nightIMG_4010fireplaceteapotmidwives & oatmeal

In months leading up to this day, Jill and I talked about where she thought she’d be for the birth. She didn’t have anything specific in mind, but always half jokingly said that giving birth outside would be pretty awesome. Since his due date was October 4th, no one thought it would be very practical, but the 10th turned out to be an absolutely perfect day outside. It was sunny and warm, and the midwives had brought a birthing pool to set up, which Jill was happy to be able to use. (as were Ruby & Dylan)

Dylan getting ready to go into the poolFamily around birthing poolDaughter watching motherHomebirth in their backyardmidwife giving Jill a massageJill in the pool with Ruby & DylanHusband massaging Wife during contractionsthe time and Jillbirthing pool in backyardMom and Dad laughing and son watchingblack and white with mother on her sidepans for hot water and pool picChildren talking to their mom while she's in the birthing poolbirthing pool and phone dipJill concentrating during a contractionThe last time photosKids watch a showFriend holds hands of mother in labordaughter holds mom's hands during birthHusband holds wife's handsMom holding baby immediately after birthsweet baby facedip of baby Josh in the backgroundMother smiling at daughterfar away scene of home birth outdoors

Seeing as how I had never attended a birth before Sawyer’s, I only had a basic idea of what to expect. I knew it was going to be a special day to be a part of and there isn’t anything in the world you can compare a birth to, but I have yet to come up with powerful enough words to describe it. Ruby was encouraging her mama from the moment she woke up, the midwives made jokes and stayed on top of everything, Stephanie and I were able to hold Jill’s hand during intense contractions and give her back rubs, Josh explained things to Ruby and Dylan when they seemed concerned- reminding them of all the things that happen during a birth that they learned and talked about leading up to this day, and then there was Jill. She was just amazing. She was smiling for I swear what was 85% of the day, she kept her focus despite the longer-than-her-last labor, and was in a good mood the whole time. I have no idea how she did it, but she has Sawyer to prove that she did. He’s a healthy, beautiful little boy, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been part of their day.

I should also say that I am not a birth photographer, nor do I intend to be. (one of the reasons being- holy cow do you need to be ready to run out your door and hop in your car at any moment for about a month long time!) I wanted to share this story because of its beauty, and to hopefully show how beautiful birth itself is. There are so many talented birth photographers out there though, so if you’re interested and in the Madison area, I’d be happy to send you recommendations. If you’re moved by birth stories and want to see more, here are a few incredible birth photographers I follow-
Brooke Collier Photography
Emily Robinson Photography
Erika Ray Photography
and specifically, if you think the idea of having a photographer at your birth seems weird, I’d encourage you to read this post by Erika Ray.