No one else was there, save the cat (hiding somewhere I’m sure) and our older daughter, who was sleeping soundly in the room next door.
I had expected to have an entire birth team with me when she arrived, to be relaxing in a tub in our living room, for my big girl to be at a friend’s house and a photographer to be capturing important moments of labour, birth, and the early hours after. But things didn’t happen the way I’d planned or expected.
The thoughts you have whilst giving birth. Post continues below.
My husband showed me the now-famous picture not too long after she arrived, as the doula supported me in nursing the baby and we waited for the midwife to come. The moment I saw it, I knew the photo was a thing of power. I just couldn’t have imagined where it would go from there.
Many now know what happened with the photo one year later, after I shared it with a private Facebook group dedicated to discussions and support around childbirth. It was banned. New York Magazine wrote about it. It went viral. The world took in this image.
"I know how to trust myself, as a mother and a woman and a human." Image Lailo Varsa.
In the first days of its news life, I made the mistake of reading people's comments, including the negative ones. Some said I looked like a man. Others said I clearly wanted to show off. One woman wrote me, complimenting me on its beauty, and chided me for sharing it outside the circle of my close friends and family. I soon learned not to read these, but what sank in about their criticism was this: They just don't get it. I thought, if they only knew what happened in my life that led up to that moment - then, maybe, they would understand its true power, and its importance in my life.
So, a couple weeks in, I shared the story with a reporter I trusted implicitly, as she was recommended to me by a dear friend. We worked on it together, crying at times, stopping to exclaim over the wildness of it all - at the deep unfairness and the incredible joy that is life. At the stories that somehow make sense, years later. Steve Jobs said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." This is my backwards; here are my dots.
".... if they only knew what happened in my life that led up to that moment." Image supplied.
Twenty and a half years ago, in my second month of ninth grade, the 14-year-old me was babysitting for two kids - a little boy of almost two, and an eleven-week-old baby named Catherine. I was Catherine's first and only babysitter; her parents had a wedding to attend, so I was charged with her care. I put her to sleep and she died.