A beautiful photograph of a Mum, Nikki Colquitt, holding her daughter in one final embrace before she labours and delivers her new baby Isla, has, well, gone viral this week.
The photo, taken by US birth photographer Laura Paulescu, was shared on Facebook in January earlier this year Laura’s business Facebook page.
When I emailed Laura at Crowned Photography, to request permission to share her beautiful photograph with Mamamia‘s readers, I had every intention of writing about the moments of pure love between a mother and her children, and how profound life feels when you’re on the cusp of new life.
I wanted to write about how those moments are made more tender when you share them in some way with the children already in your life. It’s a hello and a goodbye that happens to every mother going to give birth for a second or a third or a fourth time.
But, Laura, when she wrote back to me, shared so much from her own experience as a mother and as a birth photographer I felt that the words of the photographer deserve to placed alongside her work.
What follows are Laura’s words and more photos that show a family joyfully welcoming Baby Isla. I hope you find them as meaningful as I did.
“I originally posted this photo (along with a few others from Isla’s birth) shortly after she was born in January of this year.
“At first glance, it’s not one of those birth images that would grab your attention, but this is the beauty of true documentary birth photography. I capture the moments around a family welcoming their new baby just as they happen naturally, so there’s no posing or directing going on while the laboring & delivery process is going on.
“At this time, mom had both of her older two children running around the hospital room while she was in early labor, before their dad was running them home to stay with a sitter, and when her “little” big girl (whose birth I also photographed) climbed up on the bed to say goodbye, she scooped her up over her contracting belly and they just held each other so close.
"They stayed like that for just a few sweet moments before her daughter quickly climbed down and was off playing again with her big brother, oblivious to how much her life would be changing overnight. In fact, when she "officially" said goodbye to her mom she gave her a nonchalant "SEE YA!" as daddy was carrying her out of the hospital room.
"But the moment of that last hug goodbye was just so special, and I'm so honored to have frozen that moment in time for them to treasure forever.
"As a mother of two myself, I actually think you understand even more so how quickly life changes with that 'baby' when you bring another into your family, after you have two.
"So this mama knew even deeper in her heart how much things would be changing and how much she wanted to hold onto that moment just a little longer, because she had experienced this once before.
"Holding your "little" one so close one last time, before they aren't the little one anymore. That's a moment that stays with you forever- the gut wrenching mixture of overwhelming joy, coupled with heartbreak letting your "baby" go, and scared every time as you wonder how your love can grow even more.
"Clearly a lot of mamas out there related to this moment! It's a visual representation of a moment so many mothers have to quickly push through & we don't often talk about, but will always remember.
"Every mother of 2 or more children has had this moment, whether it's a kiss on their forehead in the dark of night, a final tearful hug before leaving the driveway for a scheduled induction, or a last snuggle in the hospital bed before they leave with grandma. No matter how it happens, the feeling is the same, and seeing this moment frozen in a photo brings you right back to how that felt.
"It's moments like these that make me love this job so much. When people hear about birth photography, they often have a very skewed, narrow-minded idea of what I capture.
"So I'm thrilled that this image is getting the attention it deserves, and to show people what special moments a birth photographer captures for your family that you wouldn't have thought to capture otherwise. Giving birth is so much more than 'THE MOMENT' when a baby is born- it's a whole beautiful mess of hellos, goodbyes, joy, sadness, sacrifice... and love that overwhelms you more than anything in your entire life.
I hope that by seeing this photo, more people start to gain a deeper understanding & appreciation of what we do as birth photographers; documenting every little significant aspect of one of the most life-changing days of your life, so that you can go back after the haze of labor, giving birth, and newborn-land has passed, and have those moments come rushing back to you.
Laura also made a video of Baby Isla's birth. It's as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than the photos.