Yesterday was a long, beautiful day. I spent most of it at the hospital alongside my doula clients H and A as they welcomed their daughter into the world—a little person as sweet and yummy as a two-bite cupcake. Yesterday evening, I couldn’t stop looking at the maternity pictures I took of them just a month ago.
Today these parents are reeling from the wonderful cataclysm of touching their child for the first time, while also knowing that she’s been with them all along. In the maternity photos, she’s present and not present, of the earth and not, and her parents’ knowledge of her is both intimate and tentative—hidden from them, like her face. Then, when they held her yesterday, there was no doubt: it was HER in there!
For years, I have supported doula clients with my voice, my hands, my knowledge and presence. When I started photographing expecting and new parents as well, I was shocked by how much the simple act of seeing them from behind my camera deepened our relationship. Planned or candid, posed or unguarded, the act of the taking these photos allows my eye to become a new way of supporting and guiding them as they become parents. The photos themselves help my clients to see them as I saw them, but it’s the actual moment of seeing that matters most, I think. Seeing them is a way of holding them, while they are learning to hold her.