A little over two years ago, I attended the birth of the 3rd baby girl in the sweetest family. While mama brought their sister into the world, the older two watched with wide eyed wonder. They were the sweetest little doulas, always rubbing mama's back and giving her water. I was just over the moon excited when I found out that baby number four was expected and that this birth would be taking place at home. And it would be at home on the birthing day that they would find out if they would have 4 girls or their first boy.
Something had changed in Jessica since her last birth. There was a deep belief in her body that wasn't there last time. And even though I could see her doubting at times if her decision to birth at home was the right one, an overwhelming peace would soon overtake her. I rarely have seen a woman so surrendered before labor even started.
Everything was ready, everything was nearly perfect for baby's arrival. All we had to do was wait and that is sometimes the hardest part. During the waiting and the wonderful anticipation of new life, Jessica got the heartbreaking news that her brother had died unexpectedly. I received a devastated text from her letting me know and she expressed such grief and so much anxiety about having that baby in her arms safe and sound. Broken hearts have such an ability to weaken even the strongest of people. Jessica was broken hearted and weak and suddenly a home birth seemed nearly impossible to even think about. Two days later, in the middle of the pouring rain of Hurricane Joaquin, I got the call that her water had broken.
I arrived to little girls excitedly running around, finishing their breakfasts and a mama in active labor. Joy and sorrow filled the air. Tender little hands rubbed and helped, loving women surrounded and gently encouraged, and mama clung to her love like he was her rock in a stormy sea. It wasn't long before a baby was born and big sister announced that it was a little boy. After the tears and the shocked squeals died down there was this collective exhale in the room. He was here. He was safe. Joy had come during mourning and I couldn't help but think about the significance of bringing a son into the world the same week a son had left it.
This baby is adored. I was in heaven just clicking away as sisters held and cradled and giggled and oooohed and aaaaaahed at their baby. Grilled cheese sandwiches were made and mama settled into her own bed, her hard work was done and her patience and belief in her body had paid off. Daddy was still just grinning ear to ear in disbelief that he had a son at last.
These images tell a beautiful story, Forest's story. It is fringed in sorrows and will always be a reminder of a time of intense grief. I am so grateful to this family for letting me be there to tell it. New life is always a time to be in awe of the wonder of it all, and it gives us hope, beautiful, beautiful hope.