In December I got to do one of my favourite things as a photographer. Witness life.
Here is Larni's story.
Dusty June’s birth was in one word- transcendent.
There are aspects of her labour which can only be described as spiritual and life changing. Planning to freebirth this pregnancy was a decision which felt so aligned for us and I never once questioned whether this was the way our journey was supposed to unfold.
Taking absolute ownership of my pregnancy, not relying on anyone for antenatal care was the most freeing and empowering decision and I am so grateful for my four previous births and my work as a Doula that led me to this path.
Dusty’s birth was challenging, mentally and physically. Nothing was how I had expected it to be. I had no signs of labour drawing close except for an inner knowing. I didn’t lose my mucous plug at all, I didn’t have a show and my surges were all over the place. After labouring from the early hours of Tuesday morning by the time midnight hit I was spent. Physically I felt done, that I couldn’t breathe through another surge, that birth was so far away and that I couldn’t cope.
I’ll never forget through one of my surges as I sat on my bed, surrounded by my birth team having a vivid vision. This sounds insane but it was the clearest thing and the most spiritual experience. I was standing on the ledge of a cliff at the ocean, surrounded by huge rocks and wild crashing waves. The sea was angry and the sky was dark. As I’m standing there feeling the full force of the wind and rolling waves I hear the voice of an old man shout to me “embrace the intensity”. It was surreal. When my surge was over and I opened my eyes I told everyone what I’d just seen and I felt almost insane. I don’t know who the voice was, but that experience felt electric.
I had more crisis of confidence after this moment. I was exhausted. I felt helpless. But my incredible husband, my beautiful friend Sarah and of course my wonderful friend and photographer Renee had my back. Reminding me that I had to surrender, that I couldn’t pull away from the intensity and that I had to let go. Letting go. Surrender. This is what my biggest struggle was this birth. Trying to put my birth in a box, on a timeline even, and having expectations for how birth “should” look. Even with all that I’ve experienced personally, the research I’ve done and the births I’ve supported I STILL had this idea of birth. And this idea didn’t serve me.
I had read so many things about birth, especially unassisted birth - that said that birth has to decimate you. That it has to take you to the brink, that you need to surrender to the darkness and let it crack you open. And before this birth I didn’t believe that for a second. But Dusty knew I needed to learn this lesson, that I had to experience a birth like this. A birth that challenged my ideas and stories I was holding onto. A birth that would crack me wide open so I would grow and understand things on a new, deeper level. I mean, I even had in my head an idea for how I wanted her entry to the world and the exact photo I wanted depicting that moment. But again, Dusty challenged that for me.
And when she was finally ready to transition earthside, it really was just her and I. My waters broke and then her head was in my hand under the water. I could feel her hair waving around in the water as I ran my fingertips over her head. I told my birth team who were around the pool, lovingly supporting me, that I was touching her head. None of them realized her whole head was out and in my hand. With the next surge which must have only been a minute or so after, her whole body shot out into the water in front of me. Sweet relief. It was over. She was here.
Everyone was taken by surprise, and we missed the “perfect” shot. But you know what? I know she wanted that moment, just her and I. The two of us while she was suspended peacefully between two worlds. And I wouldn’t change a single thing.
As soon as she was born I was sobbing saying “I’m never doing that again”, but to be perfectly honest..., that was a lie. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And maybe, just maybe I’ll experience the magic of birth myself again. Just one more time.
Dusty June, my sweet girl. You were sent here to change me, to challenge me, to make me back myself and unwaveringly believe in myself. I can’t wait to see what else you plan to teach me on this parenting journey. My little Sagittarius babe.