Ashira's Birth Story // La Grande Birth Photographer

When Ariana asked me to document her pregnancy and homebirth, I felt so honored. It is a very special thing to attend a birth and hold space for a birthing person as they make the journey to holding their child in their arms. When you enter a birthing space, it is important to have an open heart, willingness to serve in whatever way you are needed, and support the parents through the journey. The birthing space is a sacred place, and every time I step into it I am somehow changed. This is what keeps me coming back to it, over and over. It is where the greatest story of human life is told, and capturing the unfolding is the work I love the most.

Ariana is the bravest birthing mother I have ever met. She experienced 9 days of prodromal labor before the real labor even started, and then it was a long 54 hours before her little one was born. She labored at home with midwives for most of that time, hoping for a homebirth. The evening of the second day, however, things changed when the baby (who had previously been engaged and fully ready to birth) suddenly moved out of position and labor became quite intense and exhausting. Sweet Ariana was entirely worn out, and made the decision, with the support of her husband and midwives, to transfer to the hospital and have an epidural in order to get some rest. It was a very quick and easy transfer, and the epidural did the trick! Ariana and Ari were able to get some sleep for a few hours while labor picked back up.

Sweet Ashira was born the next afternoon, surrounded by a wonderful support team of midwives, caught by the OB who delivered my babies, and her daddy was able to cut the cord.

My favorite moments of Ashira’s birth:

~ Walking up to Ariana’s home and finding her laboring in the birth tub in her sunglasses, with her hubby and mama talking her through contractions.

~ Observing the midwives support her through labor.

~ How involved and hands-on her hubby was! He was with her every single moment of the labor and delivery.

~ The nods and smiles from the midwives when listening to the way Ariana’s sounds changed through labor.

~ Ariana laughing and joking with us after the epidural.

~ Observing two methods of care interacting to deliver the baby (hospitals and Midwives have very different methods, which can often clash, but in this instance they were able to balance eachother out)

~ Being more than a photographer in the birth, and helping to assist hands-on and get some doula practice, in addition to learning more about birth from midwife perspective.

~ Watching how everyone on Ariana’s homebirth team empowered her through the decision to transfer. As someone who has dealt with the same situation myself, it was absolutely beautiful to be there and hold that space and support her through what can be a very hard decision to make.

~ Midwife Nora Hawkins and her assistant staying with us at the hospital and being present through birth after the transfer. Nora was even quite pregnant herself at the time, just two weeks away from giving birth herself, and yet was still assisting Ariana through labor with the Rebozo and hip presses (which takes quite a bit of stamina and muscle).

~ Watching Ariana’s mama cheer her on during pushing. Incidentally, she ended up wearing my blue sweater in the hospital, because I had left it sitting on a table while I made a run home to feed my baby - they weren’t sure whose it was, and when I came back it looked so good on her that I decided it was meant to be hers.

~ During the process of labor, I crafted a baby hat for the midwife’s baby (green one pictured). And then Nora took a crafting turn and worked on a quilt!

~ Ariana and Ari had decided to not find out the baby’s gender. So it was an absolutely beautiful moment when they announced the baby’s name as she lay on Ariana’s stomach. Beautiful Ashira.

From start to finish, her labor and delivery was 54 hours. I was there for 24 of it, and I don’t have enough words (or space on this blog) to tell the story in full the way it deserves. Hopefully these carefully chosen images will tell it for you <3