Photographing this birth is one of the most amazing things I've gotten to do and the friendships that have come from it are ones that I know will last a lifetime. As luck would have it, one of those new friendships, Josephine's birth partner, Lynn, who stood in for Raf is an incredible writer, so what more perfect way to have Alora's Birth story told than by her! Thank you to guest blogger Lynn Slocum for this story...
The unpredictability of life is a guarantee. We can protest it, we can try to challenge it... but once we accept it, its mystery often reveals our most powerful moments. The moments that teach us who we are and what we are capable of.
Birthing a child is the most significant event of ones life. It's also one of the most unpredictable. A family of four about to welcome a fifth while consumed by the grand feat of moving across the country, might be about as unpredictable as it gets.
"Josephine, are you sure about this?"
She never did give me a confident answer. Her husband would be leaving for three months to establish a new life for them in Indiana. She would cry often and question everything. But one thing was certain... a baby was coming.
Raf left early that September with a plan to return in time for the birth.
Josephine spent those last few summer weeks preparing for the change to come. She would often tell me how unsure she was, how much she missed her husband, how exhausting it was to be home alone with the children. I found myself growing concerned for her. I worried that she might not be able to handle this; a third baby amidst a pending cross country move with her husband away.
My phone rang late that evening.
"I need you. I need you now. The baby is coming."
Oh no. Raf was not due home for another day. Unpredictability, you are so relentless.
One by one, we all arrived to her home. A group of women, each with a special role to fill. A kind neighbor to begin setting up for the birth, a grandmother that drove through the night to be with the children, the photographers that dropped everything, a best friend to attempt the role of a husband, a seasoned midwife with her assistant; a tribe of women... and there he was, Raf, softly glowing from a computer screen on a corner table. He smiled sweetly and calmly for her. We all knew his heart ached to be next to her, nonetheless, he maintained his gentle nature with confident words of support for his wife as her labor progressed.
I hugged her tightly. We all did. She was gracious and sighed relief as each one of us walked through the door. She believed in us, she trusted us.
With dim lights and soft music playing, she rocked gently back and forth. She took in her breath with a strength that filled the entire room.
Her children ran freely through the house, midnight giggles with the excitement of knowing a sister would soon be here. She would pause between her contractions to check on them. A mother never disconnects.
We gripped her hands, we rubbed her back, we braced her as she swayed. I reassured her; I held her. She was more important to me in those hours than anything ever was.
To watch a woman give birth is to witness a miracle. And there, in her bedroom, a baby arrived. All concerns faded away. This woman can handle this. Just look at her. In a moment, she was revealed, with strength so immense, there remained no room for doubt. She cradled her baby, her smile so grateful, defined with peace and contentment. He looked on from his computer with tears streaming down his cheeks, a father once more.
Raf arrived a day later. Their reunion was simply beautiful. This family of five, unpredictably perfect.
Two weeks later, they made it to Indiana to begin their new life together.
Birth carries each of us into a new reality. It redefines what we thought could be or would be. Unpredictability is a marvel and birth shows that to us each and every time.
Thank you to Gardenhouse Films for a great night of working together and a beautiful video!