Home Birth: The Story Behind the Best Photo of My LifeSerge Bielanko
The best stuff we ever accomplish, the best decisions we ever seem to make, always come hard and fast — I think.
Some of our greatest moments are just complete accidents.
I mean, one second you’re living your life, not really imagining that there is such ripe and awesome possibility floating all around you, and then, BOOM. The next second, there you are standing in the middle of a moment, a brand new witness to something more sublime than you ever bargained for.
Plus if you’re really lucky, well. You might just end up holding in your hand a little souvenir for the ages.
That’s what happened to me early this past Sunday morning anyway.
It was around quarter after four in the morning and there was Monica, our midwife/friend Sarah, and me, gathered in and around an inflatable swimming pool on the eastern edge of my living room, staring and smiling in awe at a baby boy born just three or four minutes ago.
Snowflakes were landing quietly on the street outside.
Our other two kids were upstairs sleeping. They’d slept right through it all.
It was our first home birth, and it had gone about as great as anyone could ever hope for, I guess. Monica had just taken all of us on a ride the likes of which I will never know again. Never say never, obviously. But I know, deep down, that realistically speaking, this had probably just been a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing. It just was.
Now, I was shaking.
And Monica was quivering.
And I can’t speak for Sarah, but I’m guessing she was pretty thrilled, having gotten to know her pretty good the past nine months. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t shaking a little bit too. Hell, she had every right to be. She’s kind of magic, and magic makes you twitch.
And then there was Charlie, our new baby. Given the wild journey he’d just taken down the dark tunnel that leads to this world, he was pretty much the soul of cool.
Everything had happened so fast and furiously in the final 10 minutes of my wife’s labor, from the time her water broke upstairs in the bedroom, until the moments we all seemed to have flown down the steps, and watched as Monica literally jumped into the birthing pool. I had completely forgot to grab my camera for any of it. With my other two kids, both induced pregnancies in a hospital, there had been plenty of time to plan a little lighting and stake out different angles from which I wanted shoot some video and photos.
But with this one? When Charlie decided it was time to hit the big stage, I was completely unprepared when it came to any documentation.
So there we were, in the first few minutes of child’s life, the baby on Monica’s chest half in the water and half out. I don’t remember anything anyone said, really. I don’t even recall if we said anything at all. It was just a moment, you know?
Monica had been pregnant for so long that she had started to think that maybe he was never going to decide to come around/that he was going to live up inside of her forever and ever.
But then there he was, and his mama’s body was her own again; the startling revelations of her new son in her arms and her true self returning to form, colliding with the fact that she had just done something so badass as having a natural childbirth three feet away from where we usually sat on the couch to watch Breaking Bad. It all just poured down on her off a heavy beautiful cloud, I suspect.
And as it all hit her, she began to weep.
I had just gone to grab my camera and so when I got back to the pool, I like to think that it was all in the stars from there on out. I started snapping pictures at that exact second simply because it was all meant to go down that way. I’ll never know, I guess.
None of us ever knows a thing when it comes to meant-to-be.
But still. If you’re a little lucky, man. You may just end up with a photograph that comes pretty damn close.
Image: Serge Bielanko
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