I am letting the Dads take over this blog and tell you in their own words, what having a birth photographer is like. Enjoy!
My experience with Nicole as a birth photographer is an amazing one. My initial thoughts of having a birth photographer was more of an excitement for my wife, and not for myself. I figured there would just be some great photos. Not to mention, quite a bit of money spent for these photos.
Not only were there great photos taken but also a sense of calmness and reassurance was provided. Nicole's experience in the birthing scene is evident, in the calming words and with tips along the way. She felt more like a doula than a birth photographer. She was able to help calm my wife when I didn't know what to do or say. She would walk over and put her hands on my wife's shoulder, and it was amazing to see my wife's entire body relax. I would have never known to do that. Now thinking about it, she would do the same to me once in a while. She would put a hand to my back and let me know this is all normal. It helped me stay calm as well.
She was with us early in the morning(midnight-ish) keeping my wife company while everyone else slept, and stayed with us until long after our son was here the next night. If I would have truly known, what having a birth photographer was, I would have done this all with each of my other children. This experience was well worth the money, and with everything we got, it was extremely priceless and money well spent. Having Nicole there as a birth coach was well worth the money in itself, the beautiful photos were just a bonus. Thank you for everything Nicole. My wife and I both feel we have gained a great friend through all of this as well. You are amazing at what you do.
- Cody O'Claire
The first time I heard anything about Nicole was during the pregnancy of our 3rd baby. My wife Heather was about 12 weeks along. She had come home from work and said to me "what would you say if I told you I wanted to try for a VBAC?" We had been to a few appointments and had originally decided to schedule a C-section again as we had felt we had no other options after having had 2 previous c-sections (and a very unsupportive doctor). But Heather told me that she was talking to Nicole about doing a fresh 48 session, and mentioned how she wished Nicole could do a birth session for her but knew having a C-section, that Nicole would probably not be allowed in the OR in her city. Nicole encouraged her to do research and see if she would qualify for a VBA2C, because she could tell that my wife didn't really want a csection, but felt it was her only option. I told my wife that if that was what she wanted to do I would support her. And for the first time in a long time, I saw hope in my wife. I watched her do the research and look into all of the info Nicole sent her. We went through 2 different doctors in our area and my wife left each appointment crying and feeling defeated, but Nicole helped build her up and encouraged her to meet with the Midwives in Madison. We didn't know that midwives worked in the hospitals there. Nicole contacted the midwives herself to see if they could take a patient trying for a VBAC after 2 previous C-sections, and they DID! She gave Heather the number to call, and I should mention that we had not even hired her for our birth session yet! We had our 20 week ultrasound scheduled in Madison, and my wife told me she wanted to meet with the Midwives, she had called and spoke to them and they listened to her more than either doctor had and I was leary of it but we went.
At this appointment you could see the weight lift off my wife's shoulders and for the first time since finding out we were pregnant, we were leaving an appointment and my wife was not crying. She talked about how happy she was and how good it felt to be heard finally, half way through the pregnancy! Nicole talked through things and supported my wife for a full month before my wife actually told me she wanted to hire her for birth photography, I was very hesitant. It seemed like a lot of money for a photographer. But my wife explained that this was our last baby and that she wanted it captured because no matter how it went it would be an empowering birth for her and she wanted to remember it. She also told me that Nicole would be more than just a photographer, but a support similar to a doula and she really wanted her there.
Nicole showed up to the hospital earlier than we had even expected, she laughed with us and gave us ideas on things we could do to get things moving (we were induced at 41 weeks +3). Things moved pretty slowly, but around 9 that night my wife started having contractions (back labor). Nicole showed ME how to do back pressure for Heather (which Heather tells me she could not have survived without it!). And by learning that I was able to support my wife in ways I never imagined.
Nicole used encouraging words constantly throughout all of the labor to help my wife stay focused and relax but also to let her know that she was doing great and making all the right choices. She knew what to say to help my wife push through when I had no clue what to say. That next morning it was time for Heather to push, and our Midwife allowed me to catch my daughter. The experience of supporting my wife through this birth, and then being able to catch my own baby was incredible. I truly believe every man should have to catch their baby at least once. Nicole came back to do our fresh 48 and it was like she was part of our family. She talked about everything we had just experienced and held our baby girl and laughed and cried with us. So at this point I had seen why my wife wanted Nicole there for support, and she not only supported my wife but she supported me and my Sister-in-law as we tried to wade through this experience. But when Nicole sent us the photos I saw why my wife wanted to hire her as a photographer. She didn't miss a thing, and the way she captured the experience and the support I was able to give my wife, and me catching my own baby. I will never regret hiring her and she is well worth the money for the time, energy and passion she puts into being there for not only the woman birthing the baby but the entire family!
If you had asked me about birth photography 5 years ago, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said whatever. It didnt seem like a big deal. So when my wife asked if we could hire a birth photographer for our 4th birth, I hesitantly agreed. I certainly wouldn't benefit, but it couldn't hurt anything. My wife was so excited to have a photographer at this birth, she has always loved watching birth videos and seeing photos of women powering through labor. I was a little nervous about this birth since we had chosen to birth at home. Having Nicole in our home wasnt awkward or intrusive, which was something I worried about. She perfectly captured moments of our birth experience that I couldn't have seen. And she picked up on little things I would have missed while focusing on my wife (like our youngest throwing diapers in the air downstairs after the baby was born in celebration). She even stayed way later than necessary to make sure my wife was well after a hemorrhage, and turned around to send sneak peeks the next day. And of course, my wife was overjoyed with her photos once the birth was said and done, and she still looks at them and shares them with others.
So, when we found out about #5 it was a given that Nicole would be there as well. Nicole has become an integral part of our birth team. So much so that my wife told her about our pregnancy before me so she wouldn't be booked up. Not only does Nicole capture moments in time forever, but she's a doula and an assistant to us or the midwife. Plus, she puts up with my humor, which is always a win in my book. But when my wife needed extra support during a rough transition, Nicole's hand was there to hold and Nicole's voice offered quiet encouragement. When my wife experienced another hemorrhage, and the midwife needed to step away for supplies, Nicole was able to be an extra set of hands. She literally put her camera down to press firmly on my wife's uterus. When we switched (my turn to press hard), she held our newborn son. She truly captures BIRTH - the easy moments, and the hard. My wife loved that most. I loved how she captured our humor, and finding out this last baby was a boy. Oh, and with both births that she documented, seeing how our third born supported her mom throughout labor was priceless to have. Those videos and photos will live on as a testament to how amazing my wife is, and how life altering birth is for everyone involved. I am grateful for her presence and skill.
So, remember how I thought I wouldn't benefit from hiring a birth photographer? Well, I was definitely proven wrong. Hiring a birth photographer is certainly not something you will ever regret doing.
Photos below from 5th birth
My original thoughts about birth photography were, how much does it cost, sounds expensive, and won't it be weird to have someone else in the room. I think back to our first birth experience with our daughter, where my wife was put under general anesthesia for her c-section and I wasn't allowed in the operating room. We both missed seeing our daughter's birth and wish we had pictures of that moment. I
knew that if we were in the same situation with our second birth, we wanted to make sure we had pictures of the birth so I was able to justify spending the money for this. As far as if it would be weird to have someone else in the room, as long as my wife was comfortable with it then I had no issue with it.
The actual experience of having Nicole as our photographer was amazing and worth every penny. She was there throughout the whole process and when not taking pictures she was like having a second doula (we also hired a doula which was also worth every penny!), comforting my wife and asking if we needed anything. Nicole was hosting a Birth Without Fear conference the next day, and knew my wife was bummed she would missing one of her mentors in the birth world (January Harshe). Nicole Picked up January from the airport that morning and texted me if she could surprise Allison. They arrived at the hospital and my wife got to not only meet her birth mentor, but had her at her birth! It was a huge thing for her, and was an amazing distraction in early labor. Nicole left to bring January to the hotel and came right back to be with us. She was quiet and patient while we waited for labor to kick up. If we were quiet and resting, so was she. And once things started up, she was a reassuring presence. Even once our doula was there to help guide us, Nicole was needed too. Our doula had one hand, and while my wife was mindlessly was groping for someone to ground her (I had her leg), Nicole took her other hand and photographed with the other. Nicole would speak encouraging words in my wife's ear when she would say she was scared (we had gotten to this part with our first but never was able to use her out), and Nicole, our doula, and midwife would all speak to her that she was doing this, and this baby was coming out and that was exactly what my wife needed.
This birth was very healing for us on many levels. For my wife, feeling her baby's warm skin on hers immediately after birth was healing. For me, seeing my wife's strength, and her face when she was holding her baby was priceless and to have those moments frozen in time forever, I can't even describe how important they are to us. The pictures turned out great and we look at them all the time and it helps remind us of how everything played out that day, because when you are in the moment, you really do forget so much.
I should also add that it was Nicole's First version of this Dad to Dad blog that helped me decide to be on board with doing birth photography. And I hope our stories here can help any dads currently on the fence and only thinking about the sticker shock, because I promise you, you will not regret it.
- Jesse Lynch
Having a birthing photographer was something I was a little leery of. They are right up next to you witnessing the birth of your child, and it altogether seems a little awkward. Only, after going through the birth of my child with Nicole as our photographer, I absolutely no longer feel that way.
Aside from the incredible moments she is able to capture, she is also very comforting. When she isnt taking pictures, she is right there with you making sure you both are okay. She lightens the whole situation. While my wife was agonizing in pain from back labor she jumped right in and started putting pressure on her back. At one point she was actually holding my wife in a hug with one arm and pushing on her back with the other. My wife was in so much pain but that helped her so much. Nicole then taught me how to do it so I could provide support as well. She has the right words when I didn't know what to say, and not only told them to my wife, but made sure that I knew everything was ok as well.
My wife got an epidural and things calmed down a bit. Our midwife knew I wanted to catch our baby, and so she walked me through how to catch and where to support my wife. When the time came, it was hands down, the most amazing experience of my entire life. My wife was so strong and she delivered our son right into my hands. I was the first person to hold him, and I couldn't help but stop and look at every inch of him. It was incredible and I am forever grateful to have that exact moment frozen in time forever.
About a minute after birth, our son wasn't crying. He looked as though he wanted too but couldn't. He was whisked over to the warmer while they worked hard to clear his airway. It was like time stood still, there was this mask of uncertainty. My wife looked shocked as she held out her hands where her baby just was. I hugged her but after another minute, had to pace around the room myself. So Nicole stepped in and held my wife, but then she walked over and hugged me. I didn't even know that I was scared until that moment. She told me his color is good and he is breathing. He was going to be ok. I went back over to Rachel and hugged her and Nicole put her hand on me to ground us all together.
Another two minutes and our son was back on Rachel and the most perfect little guy. Nicole snaps the post precious moments, she is engaged and excited, and is an overall a pleasure to be around.
If you're looking for a birthing photographer please do not look any further. I really cannot put into words how incredible Nicole helps the experience.