Storytelling and Story Shaping: A New Adventure
My journey into photography was completely unexpected. After years of working in the wedding industry as a planner/florist (and having worn many different hats between) I had sworn to myself that of all the industry hats I might have tried on, I would never be a photographer. I’m not even really sure why, because I had always enjoyed taking photos, but I just didn’t see myself falling into that role. (Maybe it was the fact I had almost every nice camera I’d ever owned up to that point stolen from me? Thank goodness I now know the benefit of insurance!)
But then I met a new love, that far surpassed the infatuation I had long held with weddings: birth. It told a story rich with new life and history, linked with my husband’s love of medicine, and let’s face it: tiny squishy newborns that cooed like angels and smelled like heaven. I was smitten to say the least.
My relationship with birth started with my own initial birth journeys, from my miscarriage with Micah to the birth of my rainbow baby Rhys, which brought together tragedy and redemption interwoven with God’s faithfulness in a way that was staggering. Soon I began to appreciate birth for more than was at its surface, but for the incredible storytelling power that it held: for not only the mamas and babies that met life with robust cries and happy tears, but for the families who embraced life in all of its bittersweet sorrows as well.
After I documented my first birth as a favor to a friend, I knew I had found my calling. And more than 30 births later, I still feel every bit as in love with birth today as I did the first time I had the privilege of witnessing and documenting it first-hand. But something has changed and developed over the course of those 30 births… and especially as I’ve worked with the precious families of the Silas Program at Hillcrest Medical Center (a newborn palliative care program that I volunteer for). You see, I adore documenting birth and the strength that families display during the process… but I also have developed an intense passion in supporting and encouraging those families leading up to and during their baby’s birth day. This dual-passion has played out in numerous births now, as I’ve had the joy of capturing the arrival of some of my closest friends' and family members' little ones, while simultaneously lending an encouraging word, position suggestion, gentle massage to ease tight muscles during a pressure wave, or something as simple as “this is totally normal” when mom gets the hormone shakes near transition and dad starts to thinking she’s freezing and begins tossing blankets on her. ;)
I knew as this passion developed that someday I would need to do something about it; and so here I find myself, embarking on a new path that goes right alongside my current, blessed road of birth photography: my journey to officially becoming trained as a support person in birth… my journey to becoming a doula.
Doula training has actually been on my heart and mind for a while, but I hadn’t felt peace about the right avenue and timing to pursue it… and so had placed it into the “someday” category. And then I found Still Birth Day. Their doula training is intensive and world renowned — and is the only training of its kind in that it certifies graduating students as Birth AND Bereavement Doulas. I consider myself a lifelong learner - and have taken numerous courses over my journey as a birth worker to ensure I am delivering the best possible service to my clients, and truly I can’t think of a more important avenue for me to pursue as I have the immense privilege and responsibility of entering the birth spaces of families welcoming little ones who are not expected to spend much time on Earth.
So here I am announcing my next big step in professional development as I seek to serve my birth clients and families well: my journey to becoming a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula (SBD) through Still Birth Day. I will be starting the coursework at the beginning of October, and should graduate in early 2018. Please keep me in your prayers as I explore the sometimes difficult but beautiful journeys that families face as they welcome little ones, each with their own unique story… that through this training I might be able to better serve them with excellence, compassion, and above all with the love and light of Jesus. Because truly, for every bit of power I believe that the simple act of storytelling has... I also believe that being able to SHAPE the outcomes of those stories through compassion, support, and empowerment is equally as important. So here's to new adventures, friends... and thanks for shaping my story. <3