Baby Marigold was born 10 days after her due date, during a fierce rain storm, on the day before Valentine’s Day at Oakland Kaiser Hospital. When she was born, she barely cried. Instead, she made it to her mama’s chest relaxed and content. She is the fourth daughter in her family and her parent’s last child. Marigold was welcomed, loved and deeply celebrated on the day of her birth and I felt honored to be her birth photographer, documenting her precious first moments.

      Marigold’s mother, Maren, was strong, beautiful and centered as she birthed her daughter into the world. Maren was induced 9 days after her due date at Oakland Kaiser Hospital in Northern California’s East Bay region. She birthed her fourth child un-medicated with a quick active labor, held by the loving support of her husband and sister. The labor and delivery staff on Marigold’s birthday were all female, many of which were woman of color (applause!). Every single staff member was kind, gentle and supportive.

      Oakland Kaiser Hospital offers “Midwife-led Care Services” in their Labor and Delivery Ward, and the midwife and physician on staff that day worked together seamlessly. Maren requested that her own music be played throughout her birth, that no voice be raised above a calm tone, and that she not be coached to “push” during active labor. The staff respected and supported every one of her birth preferences including movement and nutrition during labor, delayed cord clamping, skin to skin contact and early breastfeeding. The hospital does allow and welcome birth photographers. In fact, they seemed used to birth photography. I was only asked to not film (with video) during the actual birth or come near the sterile instrument table for safety & health reasons. Beyond that, the staff treated me and my clients like family and Marigold was welcomed into the world with love & care.

      A few weeks after baby Marigold’s birthday, I asked Maren if she had any reflections on her birth story and my being a part of her birth team that she wanted to share. She sent me the following beautiful reflection & testimonial:

      “When you’re pregnant you imagine how it’s going to feel to hold that baby in your arms; to feel their tiny breath on your neck; their heartbeat outside of your body; to gaze at their delicate and unique features. Having held their rhythms so close to your own during these months, you feel you will know them instantly the moment they arrive; like greeting a new part of you. But when they come you can’t help but look at them in awe and wonder, realizing you have so much to learn about them. For despite the profound miracle that you were a part of creating them, which makes them—in part—yours, they are also entirely their own.

      And that is the supreme gift of motherhood/parenthood—to spend an eternity exploring and discovering who that person is. Marigold came into our world only weeks ago, but I have already sensed her power and felt the healing spirit she holds. She is strong. She is a protector. I can’t wait to know her more. But for tonight I’ll kiss her soft head, stroke her tiny cheek, and thank God that I have the honor to raise her. 

      Knowing this would be our last baby made me want to capture the intimate parts of this emotional and physical journey. A friend connected me to my birth photographer, Cathlene, with Azara Images. She offered not only her highly-developed birth photography talents, but the gifts of her support and presence. She seamlessly became part of our birth story and left us with an incredible series of images I will forever cherish. 

      So, although you may be hesitant to hire a “stranger” to be at your birth, you will not regret having Cathlene there to record these intense and beautiful moments of life. Cathlene is professional, yet personal. Her candid style allows her to photograph the intimate spaces without feeling intrusive. She captures the space in between—the tenderness, joy, humor, anticipation, satisfaction, power, excitement, and love that are present as another human is brought into the world. I would highly recommend her!”

      -Maren Richards

      Please enjoy the following select birth photos from baby Marigold’s birth at Oakland Kaiser hospital. If you are interested in viewing a full birth story gallery, or are looking for a brith photographer for your upcoming birth; get in touch with me here. In addition to birth photography, I also offer lifestyle newborn photography packages. To view a special, in home lifestyle newborn session, click here.

       

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      Brought me to tears! I am pregnant with my third child and have always wanted a birth photographer. This story is so moving- thank you.

      I’m so glad you were touched by this story Lara. I hope your dream is realized of having your third birth documented. If it is- and you feel like sharing your story- I would love to see your images! I love sharing the joy of birth stories with new families:)

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