Remember, I told him, try and light the fire before I get there.
You see, it would be mid November and chances were I would be faced with shooting at night, or something resembling that in the late afternoon or early morning. The bulbs in their house couldn’t be trusted and I knew we wouldn’t get the photographs we were after with flashlights and the glow from an overactive iphone. So water birth by firelight it was. Lovely.
But then Alex gives me a call about 5pm, sounding incredibly calm but insistent. He says, you best get over here. Things are happening. And quickly.
The camera’s prepped. I’ve gone into “Action” mode (which consists of me brushing my hair and putting my shoes on) and I am ready to go. No hanging about. There’s no time. This is baby #3 and Polly’s got form for swift labours.
Sluggish Guildford traffic has other plans for me. It wants me to sit in stationary, ironically-named rush hour traffic, tapping the wheel, glancing at the clock, noticing that minutes passing = cm dilated.
But a break in the traffic, a short cut I know, and I arrive. It’s cold outside and it’s dark inside. Dry kindling neatly stacked in the hearth. No fire. One bulb.
But all is forgiven, because Alex barely had chance to fill the pool. This baby is not hanging around and it is up to me to make it work. Not the labouring. The really hard work is up to Polly, with the ever-present, ever-calming presence of Alex standing by. Plus I walk in to find a dream duo of midwives from the Royal Surrey Home Birth Team. We are all in safe hands.
Literally 20 minutes after I put my bag down and to the sound of Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei, baby Samuel enters the world. And my word. He is quite, quite beautiful.
The room appears lighter, and brighter. Because Polly glows, the water glitters and Samuel brings his own little light with him.
He is big and healthy and a boy! Proving the guesswork all wrong, and delighting his parents that now have a trio of boys to share their lives with.
To watch the full birth story, click on the video slideshow below. (If you’re a Google Reader reader, or following on an RSS feed, you’ll need to click here to view.)
It really is an incredible privilege to be trusted enough to capture such a wonderful, intimate moment in the life of a growing family. For me, birth photography has been a personal adventure and I adore every heart-racing moment of it. It gives me the ideal opportunity to do what I love most – tell a story. I get to tell a family story and then return it to them, for them to keep, and treasure, and tell over and over again.
So thank you, so so much, to Alex & Polly and their 3 wonderful boys for welcoming me so warmly into your home and your lives.
You were brought into my life by coincidence, a chance remark, and those beautiful coincidences continued. Because when I went to see the proud parents again, for their very first look at the images from Samuel’s birth, Alex put the radio on. We sat and chatted and cooed over their youngest. And when the time came for me to press play on the slideshow, we heard the heartbreaking strings of Samuel Barber’s music all over again, at just the right moment.
I wonder what beautiful music will be playing when they have a girl? I hope I am there to listen, to see again, and to tell the next beautiful chapter in their story for them.