There’s a little guy who turns one today and I had the privilege of photographing his birth just 3 days after the birth of my daughter, Emma. He also just so happens to have been born at the same place I had planned to give birth — at the Mercy Birthing Center in St. Louis, MO. As a St. Louis Birth Photographer, I have photographed many births around St. Louis, but it is a distinct honor to photograph a client at MBC. Between the amazing home-like facility and the staff that blows me away with their level of care every time I’m there, it is one of my favorite places to photograph a Birth.
*Please note: This blog post contains birth images that some may consider graphic in nature. Katie Gaeta Photography only posts images that birth clients have approved. Thank you, Karlynnta, for allowing these to be shared to help normalize the world view of what physiological birth can look like.*
Karlynnta contacted me about photographing her birth when we were both in our third trimester of pregnancy. We both knew there was a definite chance I wouldn’t be able to make her birth if I was delivering my own baby or had just arrived home from the hospital. She was due July 19th and had a history of going a few days later and I was due July 24th and had a history of going a few days early. We made a plan together and the stars truly aligned for us with me delivering Emma on July 19th and Karlynnta going into labor on July 22nd.
When I got the call, I grabbed my own little newborn, Emma, packed her in the carseat and drove to the Mercy Birthing Center. I arrived to find Karlynnta calmly sitting near the foot of the bed while her husband, Walter, tended to their two older boys, Solomon and Abram. She was the epitome of calm during contractions and interacted gently with the boys in between contractions. She winced her face a bit and just worked her body through them. It was truly amazing. Not only are Karlynnta and Walter the kindest, gentlest, most patient parents, but they exude that among others as well. Karlynnta literally asked me how *I* was doing between *her* contractions since I was 3 days postpartum (I swear she didn't twist my arm to be there. I WANTED to be there). I'm telling you, they are beautiful souls.
One of the things I love about Mercy Birthing Center is their physiological approach to childbirth. It is typically very hands off and they trust their patients to know their bodies and what they need. They’ll give gentle suggestions regarding new positions to labor in to help bring baby down, but otherwise they simply let the mother labor as needed. Karlynnta spent some time laboring in the tub, on the toilet, walking around, in the shower, and leaning over the bed as Walter provided reassuring words and support along the way.
With Solomon focused on playing a game to keep busy, Abram fast asleep in Grandma’s arms, Elizabeth, Karlynnta's Midwife, supporting her perineum, and Walter prepared to catch the baby, Karlynnta delivered a sweet baby boy named Idris. He was passed from Walters hands back through Karlynnta’s legs and up to see his mama for the first time. Karlynnta and her family of 5 snuggled right in to bask in the dynamic of their brand new family.
It's common for breastfeeding to cause contractions to pick back up once the baby has been born which helps your body to deliver the placenta. Nature has a way of making it all work quite nicely. Gravity helped to deliver the placenta as well. And I know I’m a “birthy-type” of person, but I truly think placentas are really just a badass organ. It is literally the organ that gives the baby life in the womb and is responsible for delivering the food, managing the waste, and connecting the baby and mother. I am always fascinated by placentas. They’re a bit like finger prints — each one is unique and remarkable in it’s own right.
While Karlynnta was cleaned up a bit, The Grandmas, Grandpa, and siblings got to hold and meet Mr. Idris. Grandma even got to put Idris’ first diaper on! After documenting some of the family firsts as well as the family acclimating to new baby Idris, Karlynnta requested a photo of us together before Emma and I finished up.
I’m eternally grateful to Karlynnta and Walter for being such amazing clients who chose to hire me as their birth photographer and bring my newborn along with me for the adventure at The Mercy Birthing Center.
If you’re reading this as a pregnant or hoping-to-be-pregnant-soon set of parents, I would love to talk to you about being their to document YOUR birth story. As a St. Louis Birth Photographer, I provide birth photography all over the Metro area — at birthing centers, at hospitals, in homes, and if your baby decides he/she wants to make their entrance in the front seat of your car like mine did, I’ll just meet you wherever you are ;)