We’re thrilled to introduce Heather Van Mil as a guest writer on our blog today. She is the General Manager of Gymboree North Shore Play Music & Arts, a business that has offered us tremendous support since we launched last fall, and we couldn’t be happier to provide Heather with a forum to share her recent birth photography experience. Without further ado, here’s Heather!
Most health care providers you will encounter in your pregnancy tell you to have a birth plan. Throughout my entire pregnancy with my oldest daughter, my birth plan consisted of one idea. Go with the flow. I’d never done this before, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to rule anything out. Sure I’d like to try a natural birth, but I wasn’t a masochist. I’d take the drugs if I needed them! We liked the idea of my husband being involved as much as possible, catching our daughter and cutting the cord. What I would later discover, much to my dismay, was that the first photo of me and my brand new baby would look like this one on the right.
By the time my husband had cleaned himself up from catching the baby – and oohed and aahed with the midwife over my placenta (a whole other story for another time), I had had my first snuggle with my baby and they had taken her away. I felt robbed of that first gooey baby/exhausted mom photo that all of my friends had had. To this day I never let my poor hubby forget about it, and the minute we were pregnant with our second daughter it was all I talked about with him. Whereas our first birth plan was “go with the flow”, the second one was “get the picture at all costs!”
It seems serendipitous then that I should come across a tweet from Connie Peters of Modern Mama about a local photographer looking for test subjects as she expanded her birth photography portfolio. I immediately jumped on the opportunity, and then sat back and thought “do I really want some stranger invading this most private of events? Taking pictures of that?!?!” As soon as I met Cherish from Cherish Bryck Photography in person, I knew the answer was a resounding yes! She was so calm and personable I instantly felt comfortable. When I broached the subject later that evening with my husband, he said that he was happy as long as I was happy. Translated: If we don’t get the shot this time around, it’s not my fault. Pressure’s off!! He was definitely happy.
From the very beginning working with Cherish was a pleasure. I discovered 2 weeks before my due date that I was 6cm dilated and could have the baby at any time. I let Cherish know that, and because we were so prepared, dear daughter kept us on edge for 13 of those 14 days, arriving just one day early. I was concerned that since I was expected to have such a short labour, she wouldn’t make it in time from Kerrisdale to North Vancouver.
Thankfully that was not a problem and she was able to capture every painful moment. It was hard to believe that she hadn’t been at thousands of births as she had this innate ability to know exactly when to chat, when to shoot and when to take a break. Cherish blended in seamlessly with the rest of the team and at times I hardly knew she was there! She also stayed a few hours after baby girl made her entrance so that she could capture the first shots of my eldest meeting her baby sister for the first time.
The entire experience from start to finish was beyond all expectations and my husband and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The cherry on top was a beautiful musical montage of the photos and video arriving in my inbox unexpectedly one day. This isn’t just a career choice for Cherish, but a true passion and it shows in every image. It was particularly meaningful to us as we know this is our last child and now we have a permanent – and beautiful, record of the experience that, unlike our own memories, will never fade. What could be a better gift?
– Heather Van Mil