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Point of View

Wednesday by Leah | Giving Birth Thoughts

Atlanta Birth Photographer | Natural Birth | Newborn | Maternity |

– Posted by Leah

First, go read +Jo’s blog post about the birth she photographed last week. And grab some tissues. Then come back here!

Back?  Ok. How awesome was that?  I am a birth story junkie… and Jo is a great writer and photographer. Woohoo!

Now I’m going to talk more about my own birth. I’ve had 6 weeks to reflect on it, to fall in love again and again with my beautiful son, to adjust to my role as a mother… and in that time it has dawned on me that giving birth at home has impacted me in a few ways that I didn’t realize initially.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

The biggest and most noticeable impact is the trust I have in my own body. I don’t doubt my body’s ability to do anything anymore. I’ve even agreed to let my crazy running friend take me out running…heck, maybe I’ll even run a marathon one of these days. Who knows. Laboring at home allowed me to go much deeper within myself than I think I could have in a hospital setting. I entered this strange plane of feeling both completely primal and transcendentally spiritual at the same time. I was more inside of my body and more all-encompassing than I even thought it was possible to be. It was quite the amazing experience. And because I was in my own home, without anyone trying to hurry things along or stop me from doing what came most naturally, I was able to stay in this state for hours and let my body do what it needed to in order to bring Jonah safely into the world.

Atlanta Birth Photographer | Natural Birth | Newborn | Maternity | LeahAndMark.comIn addition to trusting my body – and being immensely thankful for it – birthing at home also allowed me to relinquish any fear I had surrounding birth. I was taking a shower yesterday and thought, “Oh, hey, a few weeks ago I was in labor in the shower!” It makes labor seem like a very normal and do-able thing. Which it totally was. Just because something is intense and even painful, it doesn’t mean it’s not manageable or doable. And giving birth in my home normalized labor to such a great extent for me that I truly no longer fear labor or childbirth. Just the act of going to the hospital is, for me (again, I’m only speaking for myself and not anyone else!), an abnormal act… if I have to go to the hospital, it means something is wrong. And once I’m at the hospital, I don’t know how my body will react to that stress. I don’t know the nurses or doctors. I’m not in a familiar, comfortable place. And for me, that would have put a lot more fear into the process.

Of course there are people with the exact opposite perspective – people who feel safer in a hospital, people who would be super stressed and scared to birth at home…and that’s why it’s SO important to have options. To be able to choose where and how to give birth. And that’s the third biggest impact my homebirth has had on me – my choice was not a common one, and because of that I’ve had to overcome some hurdles – paying out-of-pocket, getting a bunch of forms notarized in order to file for the birth certificate, etc. But I still had an option. I still had access to a skilled midwife, to a supportive doula. I was able to make the choice that was best for me. And it’s not like that everywhere, not by a long shot. So I’m even more committed than before to advocating on behalf of reproductive rights – and I include birthing options in the umbrella of reproductive rights. Every woman should be able to choose safe, comfortable options for prenatal care, labor and birth. We need more midwives, we need more birth centers, we need ongoing education for OBs and L&D nurses, we need easy transfers between homes/birth centers and hospitals….we need a lot of things to change. And I plan to be a part of that change.

But first I need to go change a diaper!

BabyRoX is Born | by Mark

– Posted by Mark

(Read Leah’s Version of BabyRoX’s Birth, Here.)

First – it’s F*cking AMAZING that I now have a son. Mind blowing.

Second – I’m so glad that Leah wanted a home birth. Partly because I don’t really like hospitals and then also because the home birth WAS AMAZING. Seriously. I had great coffee, good food, my computer, and the absolute best part was that a few hours after BabyRoX was born – everyone left and it was just US THREE (plus our cats!)

One night we went to bed without a baby, the next night hey, WE HAVE A BABY! And we’re home. No spending the night in the hospital, no hanging out with strangers that just tell us to do things that we probably don’t want to do (doctors/nurses and their medical interventions.) I know the whole ‘birth experience’ is about the mother since well, they’re the ones physically giving birth – but damn – I had a pretty great home birth experience.

Oh – and did I mention how it was so low cost that we paid for it all out of pocket? Not that we had a choice (ha, try getting an insurance company to pay for a home birth!) Now I know that our lives have gone from simple office-worker-dreaming-of-being-artsy to full-time-photographers-that-give-birth-at-home, but if you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about home births… I don’t know what I would’ve said.


Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

The whole week was a little bit stressful. BabyRoX had been sort of ‘early’ the entire time of the pregnancy (showing, moving, generally seeming like he was going to be ‘ready’, early) – but I had a wedding that coming Saturday. If he was going to come early, he had until Wednesday, well – Thursday at the latest, otherwise he would have to come after Saturday. (ha. because babies totally conform to schedules.)

On Tuesday, some guts or something came out of Leah (you know, bloody mucus stuff) and yeah – she pretty much knew that he was going to be coming early, and SOON. We sort of scrambled to finish getting ready (nursery, supplies, rescheduling portrait sessions) – and then things calmed down a little. Until the middle of the next morning (Wednesday). And then around 11am, the real contractions started coming on. Two minutes a part, with 1 minute in between (You actually time contractions from the beginning of one contraction, to the beginning of the next contraction, not when they end in between.)

We called our Midwife (Charlotte) and then texted our Doula (Becca) and they all came over.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Now let me tell you about Charlotte. She’s pretty badass. But that’s what you want in a midwife right? It’s what we wanted.

Look. When you hire me as your photographer, I want you to know that I’ll take care of everything, and do anything to get the shots. To make the beautiful photos and to just PWN all things photo.

Charlotte has been doing this for over 20 years – she can deliver breach, twins, ninjas, samurai, everything – and if something is wrong, she’ll either be able to handle it with her master midwife skills, or she’ll TELL YOU TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. And if she tells you to go to the hospital, that means YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. No hesitation, no wavering, just FULL-ON Knowing What She’s Doing.

And that’s what you want from THE PERSON DELIVERING YOUR BABY. Right? Right.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

So everyone arrived, Becca started taking care of Leah and helping her through the ‘laboring’ part (the 12 hours leading up to the literal 13th hour) – and Charlotte and her team finished setting up, turning our nursery into a delivery room. Personally – I’m grateful that Becca was there because it was a big help to be able to sort of tag-team taking care of Leah over those 13 hours.

I’m sure that Charlotte and her team would’ve taken on that role if Becca hadn’t been there, but since she was there, they actually just stayed in the nursery/birth room with the door closed. Periodically they’d come out and check on the baby’s heart rate (just by listening and watching a clock, no fetal monitor here! (Machine that goes Ping!)) – and then they’d go back into the nursery and close the doors (mostly to keep the cats out though.) I’m pretty sure that they also just wanted to stay out of the way, and not remind Leah that she had 4 people there just waiting for her to give birth. In total, they were all there for a little over 15 hours, and they were all very patient with Leah, never rushing anything.

In fact – Charlotte kept stalling when Leah was requesting to get into the birth tub – because she didn’t want her to get in too early and have the warm water drain all of her energy that she would need to PUSH.

Then they told me that the birth tub required 140 gallons of hot water – and then I realized that we only had a 40 gallon water heater. From the very beginning, Leah’s contractions were 2 minutes apart (Star to Start) – so we all kind of thought that things could happen very soon.

And if there wasn’t enough water in the birth tub, then Leah wasn’t going to be able to give birth there. SO. I started boiling water. LOTS OF WATER. Using everything I could use. Even the coffee maker. (Although looking back, I could’ve also used the microwave.)

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

In total – I boiled upwards of 25 gallons of water. Hardly a dent in the 140 gallons needed – but boiling water added to cooler water is still hot, and we only needed the tub to be at a steady 100 degrees (the baby is going from a warm body that’s around 98.6 to a warm body of water around 100 degrees so that it’s not as shocking, and you know, just a little bit more comfortable for them 🙂

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Backing up – when we decided to do a home birth, we decided that in order to increase the chance of a successful experience (health baby, not needing to go to the hospital, proper positioning of the baby, etc.) – we would do everything we could BEFORE BabyRoX was born instead of having to deal with complications during and after.

I mean – it makes sense right? As much preventative care as possible. So right from when she got pregnant, she started seeing a chiropractor, and started eating super super healthy. The eating healthy part is obvious – but I hadn’t ever thought of a chiropractor as part of maternal care. But again – it makes sense right? I mean the body goes through A LOT of changes during pregnancy, especially in the pelvic and spine area – so it would make sense to keep those areas ‘aligned’ properly, so that the baby has an easier time coming out, and less chance of being in the wrong position.

So she started seeing Dr. Danielle – and that, along with the healthy diet and supplements and cutting out bad/unnatural food things, I believe really helped in ensuring that our plan of having a home birth was going to happen.

We spent as much money as we could upfront, before the baby was born, so that we wouldn’t have to spend that money on hospital interventions that require more interventions to fix the first ones. Alright. Enough of that talk. Moving on…

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

So. We’re Photographers. It seems like we’d obviously want a ‘birth photographer’ there to record the birth of BabyRoX – and we did have one lined up, and even a back up for her. But when things started really happening, after the birth team arrived… I just didn’t feel like having yet another person there. So I just started sneaking photos with my phone – which was actually much better since there was no shutter sound and I could just put it down really fast if I needed to.)

What we did decide to do was hand one of our cameras over to Becca right when the birth was happening so that she could take the photos. I locked the settings on one of the cameras we use for weddings, told her to be steady, and start shooting. We got lucky – because Becca took some beautiful photos.

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Oh yeah. I was also ‘tweeting’ the entire time – posting messages on Twitter. I DID NOT TELL LEAH I was doing this – but luckily she found it kind of funny afterwards 😉

@LeahAndMark | Birth team is here at our apartment. Also. 140 gallons is a lot of hot water (water birth in our home.)

@LeahAndMark | So. We have a midwife, her 2 assistants, and a doula. I am so very grateful, otherwise I would have to actually be doing something… 😉

@LeahAndMark | Also. The crew ordered Thai food! I get a baby AND Thai food tonight!

@LeahAndMark | Also. I’m really great at boiling gallons and gallons of water. Fast.

@LeahAndMark | I probably shouldve read more of those books Leah bought. Luckily we hired the right professionals. Like me and photos. Well. They’re A LOT NICER.

@LeahAndMark | Our cats have been doing very well tonight. (Their names are OneTwo & ThreeFour). Almost jumped into the birth tub.

@LeahAndMark | Also. Ikea sells 100 count packs of tea lights for that dramatic 100 candle birth scene.

@LeahAndMark | Man, you must REALLY love photos if your hire a Birth Photographer… changed my mind about having one today.

@LeahAndMark | Except for my rescheduled e-session tomorrow, BabyRoX is making perfect timing for Saturday’s wedding. Was worried about that one.

@LeahAndMark | How good is Leah? Our windows are open and she’s in labor. And we live in an apartment complex. Damn.

@LeahAndMark | Also. I suppose I’m about to have a REAL reason to Win at this photography business thing. I’ll need an upgraded propaganda machine.

@LeahAndMark | Leah’s doing the ‘Ommmmmm’ thing. I wonder if our neighbors think we’re playing chanting music, with lots of bass.

@LeahAndMark | It’s too bad Leah’s not in the mood to hear me sing ‘This Woman’s Work‘, my falsetto is quite awesome.


@LeahAndMark | Moving to the big birth tub.

@LeahAndMark | Everything is great! 12:35am Jonah Gabriel Rox Tioxon. Born.

@LeahAndMark | Damn. Giving birth is NO JOKE. That was badass.

@LeahAndMark | Um. A baby was just born here. And now everyone’s left and it’s just us. At home. This is fantastic.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |


Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Now I know not every birth is like this. Not all of them go so well.

I’m extremely grateful that BabyRoX was born with no problems, that he’s healthy, and that everything worked out (and I that I got to shoot that wedding!)

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Hey. I have a son. That’s. Just. Too. Awesome.



Natural Birth. Water Birth. Father. Dad. Point of View. Perspective. Midwife. Doula.