After photographing Wendy and Rosa, it was just a short walk over to to meet Torna and her extremely adorable baby boy James.
I say walk, I actually drove round the corner and down the road, so somewhere there is a sad tree raging about my dependence on petrol. But I blame my shocking geographical knowledge and dodgy hip.
I don’t have a dodgy hip. But I needed another excuse. Is there a useful Latin name for general laziness?
Before we got down to the very important business of Torna breastfeeding, James was all about showing off his new standing up skills. He is one of those beautifully chunky babies, all dimpled thighs and curled fists and cheeky gummy grins. Leaning against the sofa, one handed, then no hands, then a mouthful of sofa, he would always steal a little look round to make sure I was still watching him.
He loved to chuckle and throw a smile at the camera, which was entirely gorgeous, although it interrupted the breastfeeding a little bit. But it didn’t take long for him to settle down, to cuddle in to his mum and pretend to drift off to sleep.
There is a very definite sound to a contented, feeding baby – it’s a sort of hush, full of feathery breaths and baby gulps. I can hear it when I look at their portrait.
I always thought that when I grew up two things would happen.
Firstly, people falling over would stop being amusing. This has not happened. Also, I am often the one falling over. Can’t wait for the ice to return to the pavements, and my bum to return to the floor. Again.
Secondly, that I would drink coffee every morning before heading out to work as a high-flying lawyer. But as it turns out, solicitors in the UK do not live the lives that I saw on L.A. Law.
And I do not like coffee. At all. Which kills me, because the smell is gorgeous and cafe life appeals to me. So I stick with tea, but have recently branched out to Earl Grey from builder’s brew English Breakfast.
So when Wendy offered me a slice of coffee cake, homemade coffee cake, I was not going to refuse. It would have been impolite. Plus the word “cake” overrode my worries about the word “coffee.” But worry not, dear Reader, because no one could have faked enjoying that cake they way I devoured it. Delicious. I was even tapping the plate for stray crumbs. Coffee is slowly seducing my taste buds.
We ate our cake, drank our tea and chatted about Wendy’s experience of breastfeeding and what she felt about the bond that it gave her and her daughter, the wonderful blue-eyed Rosa. She’s a mum, lost in the happy whirlwind of her first child, and a woman who loves her job, finding herself caught in the battle between the two. It’s the push and pull of balancing life that so many of the working mums I meet and photograph experience. But one look at Rosa and the way that Wendy cradles her, holds her close, nourishes her every need and you know it’s a balance she will definitely find.
After the Daily Mail featured some of my birth story photography, there was a little flurry of activity. The idea of having someone with you capturing such an incredible part of your life certainly struck a chord. Some people seemed delighted by the idea, others not so sure. But it got people thinking and discussing it.
The day the feature was published, I was contacted by the lovely people at the This Morning show. They wanted to discuss the article during their paper review, and wanted to show some of my images to illustrate it. I was also asked to appear on BBC Radio Leeds in the afternoon (face for radio), and I really enjoyed the chance to chat about the way I tell the story through photographs, calming a few misapprehensions people might have had.
Later that week, the news team from Channel 5 got in touch to say they wanted to interview me about my work. And in the sprit of saying yes to things that challenged me (like appearing on camera on a national news bulletin), we organised a day for the interview. Juliet and baby Ezra also joined me and we filmed at Juliet’s home, on the spot where she gave birth to Ezra. It all went well – Ezra was beautiful, I managed to chat away happily without waving my hands around too much. But a little thing called the London Olympics was about to happen (heard of that?) and our interview got bumped. So now that interview can live on in my mind as the time I spoke brilliantly and looked great on screen, instead of the slightly excited rambling and camera adding a few pounds (what’s a few more?) broadcast it would have been.
So when the producer of the Lorraine show contacted me and asked if anyone I had photographed having a hospital birth would be willing to appear and be interviewed, I knew Louise would be willing and very able. She’d loved her experience with me and was so happy to tell everyone about it, she didn’t mind an even earlier than usual alarm call on her birthday and a drive into London to be interviewed.
Lorraine was on holiday the day of the interview, so Louise got to chat to the lovely Nadia Sawalha. Baby Freja was a natural on camera, delighted everyone at the studio, and Louise was fantastic at talking about her personal experience and what having those images meant to her. You can see the interview in full below:
Here’s a quick peek at the behind the scenes images I shot at the studio.
I have to say a huge thank you to Louise and Juliet for taking the time to talk so enthusiastically about the work that I do. With an idea so new as professional birth photography, there’s nothing better than delighted mums sharing their own story and personal experiences with others. So thank you both so much for showing the images, sharing the joy of them, and explaining what it means to have that incredible story captured forever.