Madison Wisconsin Birth Photographer | Anencephaly Awareness — a Story of Love

This Valentines Day I would like to share a beautiful story of love. I met this mama (and the baby in her belly) on a cold January morning at the Starbucks in Janesville. She had emailed me a couple weeks prior that she was pregnant with a baby who had anencephaly, and she would love to have memories from her birth.

If you don’t already know, I volunteer to photograph babies who have passed, will pass, or will be born with lethal conditions and pass at birth or shortly after. While most of the time I go through the organization NILMDTS, sometimes I take on private clients for birth photography as well as labor support if desired. All free of charge.

When I met with this mama at that Starbucks in Janesville (by the way, you guys could really use a better parking lot), she was absolutely GLOWING. I can still see her beautiful face smiling across from me, touching her belly, telling me about Calla Mae, the baby she was carrying.

She told me the story of how Calla came to be, how difficult it was when she heard Calla’s diagnosis (anencephaly), the heart wrenching choices she was asked to make in such a short amount of time. She told me how much she loved feeling Calla move, and what an absolute joy it was being pregnant with her. I asked her if she every played with her belly — as I remembered how much I loved playing with my little ones in utero. She said yes, Calla responded to her pushing on her belly and feeling her little baby parts.

I told her about all my children, that my husband had been an OB/GYN and had passed in 2010, and that I do this work in part to honor him, as he truly loved his patients and their babies and families.

On the night of January 30th, this mama began what was a long induction of labor, and on February 1st — mind you, this is exactly how she hoped it would all go, she had just finished knitting Calla a purple blanket representing the month of February — at 11:18 am, Calla was born into heaven (as her mama put it.)

While we had all been hoping that Calla would have a little life in her after coming earth-side, mama had been secretly praying that Calla would be born never having experienced pain or suffering. That she would pass as she was coming out. She had felt Calla’s reassuring kicks during labor, and Calla was with her until the end. And it was beautiful. There was so much love filling that room, it was palpable.

I invite you to experience a little of it in the slideshow I made of a few (because yes I over-shoot pretty much everything) images from her birth.


A birth story, the birth of my first child in 1991

This is the first in a series of five of my own personal birth stories I will be telling.  Ultimately, my goal is to begin a dialogue on post traumatic stress disorder from birth, how that can affect future births, and ways care providers can work to help women recognize past birth trauma in order to heal.  I would also like to acknowledge all of the women (and men) out there who have experienced birth trauma.  I see and hear you.Read More


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