offering my hands
Even back when I was acting only as a birth photographer, and while I was apprenticing as a student midwife, I have always prayed before walking into a birth. In the prayer, I offer my hands to God to be used as an extension of His love and presence, peace and safety. I offer my hands with intention to serve in whatever ways are needed, from counter-pressure and massage to emptying puke buckets and wiping trickles of blood or mucous from a mama's thighs, to checking fetal heart tones and maternal blood pressure. I offer up my hands and ask Spirit to guide them so they fluidly recall how to do the work of operating the camera, too. This is one of my personal rituals as a birth worker.
What's interesting about being a birth photographer simultaneously with being a doula or birth attendant is that it requires my hands to be used in two somewhat different manners, and the multitasking of this is sometimes challenging. I'm really so confident that in each moment I'll know which way to use the two hands I have, though I sometimes wish I had four of them! I believe I'll be able to sense when it's best to prioritize therapeutic touch and when it's best to capture a moment on camera. And so far that's been true.
It's also interesting to be there to document the story of a birth when I myself am also a player in the story! I can't take photos that include myself, really (though I recently discovered that my camera can cooperate with my iPhone through an app that allows the iphone to basically become a remote, so I might play with getting myself in the frame once or twice at each birth using that tool!).
These two photos are my small and maybe feeble way of inserting myself - or at least my hands - into the story, even as I'm acting as the storyteller. I took both of these while grasping my camera with one hand, stabilizing it on my knee or the edge of a bed. Probably humorous to watch. Haha.
If you're planning to welcome a baby this year, and the unique nature of what Sister Birth is resonates with some part of your heart, I hope you'll reach out. I'd love to offer my hands to you as well, sister.