Indiana

Newborn Herbal and Floral Bath Shoot (with little Henry)

What is a newborn herbal bath? Well, as it relates to my photography, it's a time set aside for mother and baby, when I draw a bath and add an mix of gentle, healing herbs for both to enjoy. Then I add some pretty flowers provided by the wonderful Sugarfield Flowers). Baby relaxes and I take adorable photos of a sweet little baby in the water. And because a bath with a photographer can be only so relaxing, I leave a second packet for mom to use at her leisure when she needs a little time to unwind and be comforted. 

This is little Henry. Just perfect.

 

What is Sehnsucht?

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Shot on expired 35mm Kodak HD 400 in Lowell, Indiana 

Shot on expired 35mm Kodak HD 400 in Lowell, Indiana 

 

The soft sweetness of warm air after an early summer rain.

A gentle gleam in the clouds and trees, while you drive with windows down and the smell of a perfect breeze. 

Have you ever been struck by something in the atmosphere that makes you want to go back, but to where you do not know ? Has the light ever filled you with an ardent wish to be again in a place so beautiful that to not be there is painful?  Does a beautiful piece of music evoke this in you ?

The moment is fleeting. With it's departure comes heartache, however brief it may be. 

The Germans have a word for this. SehnsuchtAt it's simplest, it means "longing" or "yearning". I described this feeling to my husband one day, a feeling I'd experienced many times before, and I was thrilled when he told me that the word existed. Still, it's only a word. It doesn't come close to conveying the exquisite sense of contentment that is just beyond our grasp. 

Have you experienced this? What does it mean to you?

 C.S. Lewis talked about it in many of his writings. He had his own theories, and I tend to agree with him. I'll leave you with this and a hope that someday your yearning is fulfilled.

 

“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited."

C.S. Lewis

 

Sharing is Caring!

The Homebirth of Amelia Jane

On Thursday, January 2nd, the evening Julie's baby was due, I made a Facebook post about how I was feeling antsy waiting my first birth photography job. With almost a foot of snow already down and still more falling, I was also worried about driving conditions should I have to suddenly leave. In the recent days, I had been going through various contingency plans in my mind. Getting my kids situated was my main concern. I went to bed that night and told myself to get some sleep. 

I got the message from Julie at 5:50am that she had been having contractions, but felt there was no need to rush. I was pretty immediately wide awake, and so excited that as I was getting the rest of my things together, there was a lot of, "what was I just doing?" going on in my head. My excellent husband, who had gotten up too, cleared mass amounts snow off of the cars and paths. I got things situated with my kids, kissed them goodbye and began my short journey through the perilous terrain. (I just like the word "perilous".)

If you have never seen a completely snow covered landscape through the rose-colored glasses of the early dawn, then perhaps you have never seen pure, whimsical beauty. Everything in sight was covered in a soft purpley, orangish, reddish blanket and I couldn't help feeling at peace about whatever lay ahead. I arrived at Ken and Julie's large farmhouse at around 7:10am. One of Julie's doula's, Theresa Armstrong, arrived just minutes later. 

Ken greeted me at the door and led me up to the bathroom where Julie was quietly laboring in the tub. I softly greeted her and asked how she was doing. I tried to assess how far along she was. She had the same head-in-arms-on the side-of-the-tub position that I and many laboring women assumed when things were getting real. This was not a time for chit-chat.

I discussed with myself how long I should stay in the room. It wasn't a big bathroom. I didn't want to disturb her and I didn't know if she would be in there long since Ken was in the other room blowing up the birth pool. Surely she would be leaving soon and I could give her more space. Judging by the intensity of the low moans during her very calm contractions, and by the length of them, I could tell she was a lot further along then I had expected. How long would it take? Only God knew. I took a few photos, and after asking if she would be alright alone for a couple of minutes, I left to see what was happening in the rest of the house.  

While I was downstairs getting some shots of the kids, and about 20 minutes after my arrival time, the doula charged with attending the birth arrived. She introduced herself as Stephanie Gordon, and although we had never met, she opened her arms wide for a big hug. This was a special time and there was a lot of love in the house. 

Stephanie and I went upstairs together. After spending some time with Ken, who was setting up the tub in the bedroom, and with Theresa and the kids, who were playing casually around the house, I returned to the bathroom with Julie and Stephanie. We sat quietly while Julie labored. With a gentle strength, Stephanie offered kind, encouraging words. Ken came and checked on Julie several times and sat with her for a few minutes when he got the chance, but water temperature of the birth pool remained an issue and he had to get it right. At this point I had only been here for about an hour and a half.

During the entire hour and a half that I'd been there, Julie had remained in the same position. Her contractions intensified with the very opposite of typical television drama effort. Barely detectable, I could tell that she was pushing. Although in obvious discomfort, she remained outwardly calm. I again wrestled with the idea of leaving the room to get some other shots, and again decided to stay.

Suddenly, Julie changed positions, and within 5 minutes, baby Amelia emerged from the water and was born into this world. Immediately tears streamed from my eyes at the sight of a brand new life. I have the same issue when I shoot weddings. I'm overcome with joy and my vision is temporarily obscured. Se la vie. I am so grateful to Ken and Julie for trusting me to be present at one of the most sacred times of their lives.

Only 11 months earlier, Julie had been the birth assistant at my littlest daughter's homebirth, so this was a particularly meaningful first birth photography experience for me. I pray that more people would reject their fears and see birth for what it really is: the most beautiful and astounding thing that happens in this world. To embrace the natural process and shun the notion that having a baby is a frightening and tortuous experience is to experience life in a whole new way.

The photo that Ken took of  myself  and doulas  Stephanie Gordon  and Theresa Armstrong.

The photo that Ken took of myself and doulas Stephanie Gordon and Theresa Armstrong.

Write me at jillian.pancini@gmail.com for information regarding the birth photography services I offer.

If you would like to sign up for my new monthly newsletter and receive awesome photography tips and offers, just click here!