This is me and the nestled-in-and-sleeping-cozily Kiddo by the waterfront in Williamsburg last weekend. The photo is by our friend, Liz Rubincam.
Liz is an amazing photographer and an all-round fantastic person. I have known her for less than a year, but I feel bonded to her for life as she was one of the few people present at the Kiddo's birth. We met Liz through our Midwife, Cara Muhlhahn, and developed a relationship with her as she sought to learn more about the dynamics of home birth for her documentary photo project. Originally, I was very adamant that I did not want photos of my labor and the baby's birth, much less an extra person in the room snapping away, creating a distraction and infringing on our privacy. However, as I got to know Liz, those concerns fell away. She is very passionate about the issue of birth and she has an intense respect for women, as well as a huge heart to go with her impressive talent. It didn't take me long to know that her sense of compassion and empathy would come before her interest in getting a particular shot, and that her sensitivity would ultimately inform the photographs themselves. For weeks before the birth, Liz attended and recorded the prenatal visits at our apartment, and also spent time with me and T as a couple, taking photographs of giant-bellied me in Central Park and really getting to know us. By the time I went into labor, we not only wanted her to be at the birth, we were really excited about it! Liz ended up recording the entire day beautifully, as well as bringing a wonderful energy to the event, and many times really helped out as an attentive friend and caretaker. A great example of this is when Liz left us briefly to go to Blockbuster and pick up two of my favorite movies...this led to an unforgettable couple of hours of the three of us watching Say Anything on T's laptop, punctuated by my ever-more-frequent contractions!
The birth experience ended up being so incredible, and my sense of personal achievement and pride (not to mention happiness and love) in the wake of bringing Kiddo into the world is so great that I am immensely thankful to Liz that that day was captured so fully and artfully on film.
In the months since Kiddo was born, Liz's photos have received exciting recognition, as Liz was Highly Commended in this year’s Ian Parry Scholarship -- an international photographic award -- and in connection with this honor a selection of images from Liz’s birth series Day One was exhibited for two weeks at the Getty Images Gallery in London, UK in connection with the Ian Parry Scholarship.
So, in a relatively short period of time, I went from being squeamish and shy about having the birth photographed at all, to being completely comfortable and indeed proud to know that images from the birth were displayed in a fancy-schmantzy gallery in London. I guess that says a lot about how much childbirth can change you, but it's also a testament to a very skilled artist and a good friend.