Some births happen in the darkness of the night. They are quiet, almost still in nature. The stars cheer mom on as she labors and the stars witness new life. This is not one of those birth stories. Baby Jima was ushered into the world under the fullness of sun, to the song of the birds and the rustle of the tress. And I could not imagine anything more fitting for his parents.
From my first in-person consultation meeting with Danielle and Jima I knew they would be an amazing family to work with. They had an easy and relaxed report with one another, punctuated by witty banter that had me smiling the whole time. Jima so sweetly entertained my daughter as we talked and I could just picture how meaningful becoming a dad would be for him. Danielle spoke candidly about her hopes and hesitations when it came to birth photography. She knew just how much she would value these images and shared that she “wanted the photos to tell the story of a support system behind a vulnerable woman giving birth. I hope it catches the different transitions of labor and more importantly story of love”! I promised that we would because having spent time with them I knew it would be a story of deep love.
After a week of false labor contractions it was finally time for the real thing. I met Jima and Danielle at Birth Your Way Birth Center in Yucaipa and found them bantering between contractions. They took advantage of the birth center setting to walk around in the gorgeous Southern California sunshine and became well acquainted with the stairs outside the building.
As labor progressed Danielle found comfort and relief in the birth tub. She took full advantage of the sheet suspended from the ceiling and used the tension to do the work of bringing her boy down. Jima was never far from her side. He faithfully rubbed her back, gave her water, brushed hair out of her face and made inappropriate jokes to relieve the tension. I stoped counting the “oh babe” responses from Danielle after 50. They worked hard as a team yet never lost their sense of humor and joy in meeting their son soon.
When it came time to push I was just in awe of Danielle’s strength. She mustered every ounce of dedication, energy and physical strength she had to bring her boy into the world. She was a true warrior. Baby Jima did not make it easy as he emerged weighing close to 10 pounds with linebacker shoulders.
After the intensity of pushing and the flurry of those initial moments settle, it is as if the whole room takes a collective breath again. The weight of what has just happened settles on everyone. There is a new life in the room. These are my favorite moments, when dads stand in awe and moms soak in their tiny one. When fingers and toes are counted and bets about who the look like are reconciled. When they try on baby’s name for the first time and baby is weighted and measured. When family embraces and claims this baby as their own. This is when my heart rejoices the most. I watched Danielle and Jima fall deeply in love with their son and even more in love with each other.
It was such a pleasure to work with midwife Tammy and her team at Birth Your Way. Watching how they care for the whole family and embrace every baby they help arrive is a true privilege.
Jima, Danielle and Baby Jima – thank you for allowing me into your sacred space to observe your love and document your joy. I truly wish you a lifetime of laughter, banter and inappropriate jokes! I cannot wait to see how baby Jima grows and know both of you will make such amazing parents. Baby Jima you are one lucky boy.