The Top 20 Photos from 50 Births
April 9, 2015 7:53 PM   Subscribe

'Photographer Leilani Rogers feels watching a baby come into this world is a "heavenly experience," and along her way to capturing 50 births she’s witnessed tender moments as well as seen things that are extraordinary and unusual. Take a look at her personal selection of favorite photos.' (Note: vivid images)

An en caul birth occurs when the infant is born inside of a complete amniotic sac. A variant is the simple caul birth, where a portion of membranes cover the infant's head or face. Being born with a caul is rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births. [1]

It's far more common -- one out of 500 to 1,000 newborns -- for an infant to be born with an extra finger. Called polydactyly, adjoining the pinkie is the most common placement, and these digits are typically removed surgically. [2]

(More photos by Leilani Rogers.)
posted by DarlingBri (36 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a parent and I enjoyed these immensely. Thank you for sharing them!
posted by harrietthespy at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can I just say that I spent a lot of time gaping at the umbilical cord photo and stressing out over whether that was actually a brain that I was seeing until the caption graciously told me otherwise? I am normally a major birth/baby person despite not having any kids of my own but holy shit the physicality of all of this really freaked me out and I feel kind of ashamed about it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2015

Babies are ugly as hell when they're brand new. There's a lot of blood and shit missing from those water photos. Granted I've only attended one water birth but there was so much blood and shit. So much.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:12 PM on April 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Don't feel ashamed! It's very graphic and we will all have different reactions. All of them are valid, including yours!
posted by harrietthespy at 8:13 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

My wife gave birth to our first, um, yesterday, so these seem uncommonly vivid right now.

I will say that, impressive though it is, the placenta is SO GROSS.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 8:36 PM on April 9, 2015 [33 favorites]

Oh wow, congrats! Live long and prosper, to you both and the little one!
posted by jameaterblues at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of blood and shit missing from those water photos. Granted I've only attended one water birth but there was so much blood and shit. So much.

Everybody poops during labour! (Well almost everybody.) How much is very variable. The amount of blood is also really variable.

Congratulations, the duck!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:39 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

seems like they could be more creative in the choice of little hats to put on them
posted by thelonius at 8:42 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The colour of the umblical cord, and the shape of the placenta were different than I imagined
posted by PinkMoose at 8:55 PM on April 9, 2015

The colour of the umblical cord, and the shape of the placenta were different than I imagined

The difference in color between the newborns and their mothers was really striking, too -- the bright pink on top of pale skin.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree that the placenta looks different, but just imagine what a magnificent organ this is. But the best of all in my experience is that the little ones grow just by drinking their mother's milk. Nothing else. Just milk in, poop out, and . . . growth. How awesome is this?

I love my kids :-)
posted by nostrada at 9:44 PM on April 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

these were really sweet!

I am staring this down myself in t minus 4 months and slowly making the transition from being viscerally disgusted by the idea to embracing the animal-emotional origins we all share

and then there's this one, wow
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:31 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Placenta looked like a German pancake with mercury syrup. A shimmering thing you never expect to see.

Those little hats disguise the fact that your little one has a cone-shaped head for a bit. You'd think there was a better way than tongs.

Mom did not have any meds. Blood frothed, hand came out and I grabbed it. Some RN was telling me to let go because they needed to cut. Told her to fuck off and the Doctor pretty much told her the same thing as the second hand came out. Head was next and I suddenly had nine pounds of bloody boy in my arms. It was like he hit the ejector and rocketed out.

I had to surrender him for a snip and swaddling, We approached mom. She wasn't quite back yet. It had been all of twenty mimutes since we got to the hospital. Just moaning, semi-conscious until I said "He's here." She opened her eyes and said "Really?" Like I just borrowed this little copperhead from the adajent room.

Nine now and not too into holding hands. But when he does curl his fingers around mine there is something wrong. Usually right in front of us but I am all la-la-la because I'm with him. Creepy little guy who notices everything.

Be here now, Dads.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:02 PM on April 9, 2015 [15 favorites]

I've witnessed the birth of all my three kids, and while I'm mildly squicked out by blood and gore generally, the birth-related mess did not faze me the least. I don't know why.

A birth is quite a wild ride emotionally, even for the father. A couple of things have stuck with me, one being how utterly useless my role was, especially my attempts at being helpful ("A glass of water for me? You asshole!") Another is how little my wife's pain bothered me. I had expected that to be an ordeal for me, as I'm usually quite upset when she's hurt, but I tried to condition myself beforehand to accept the birth pains as something normal and that she was in the best of hands, and apparently it worked.

And then there was a baby, and I got to hold it and it felt quite natural, and emotionally it was confusing that they allowed us to take the baby home, as we had no kind of formal training or anything really and what if we messed something up? Intellectually I knew that it's the way things are done, of course, but getting permission to drive a car was a lot more involved than getting to take this brand spanking new human being home with us, and that just felt wrong.
posted by Harald74 at 11:21 PM on April 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

(I'll look at TFA later, I think, as I'm at work and my screen is quite visible...)
posted by Harald74 at 11:21 PM on April 9, 2015

Yeah, and congrats on the ducklings!
posted by Harald74 at 11:22 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Boy, even though my kid is 20 months old, just looking at those pictures has made me shakey and tearful all over again. Do you ever get over the best/worst experience of your life?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 3:20 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

We had both our kids at home and while they were the most incredible experiences of my life I don't find these pictures appealing at all. I think it's just different when it's your own.
posted by tommasz at 3:25 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I assisted with the birth of our daughter...labor had been going on for most of the night when, all of a sudden, she decided to come right now!!! in the middle of a shift change and the nurses were short-handed. I braced my wife's right leg and had a ringside seat to all the action. Pretty amazing.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've been there as support for three births. After the most recent the midwife showed us the placenta, all spread out, and said how they colloquially call it 'the Tree of Life, look, here are the roots, and see how the branches spread out.' In spite of having four children of my own, I'd never seen that before. We have pictures, and also pictures of the insanely snippy-looking scissors they cut the cord with.

And another thing. You wouldn't think a baby could fit back in that space, once it's born. But also, once the head is birthing, you wouldn't believe just how narrow and squashed it gets! Good job it all bounces back in the end or we'd all look like fish people.
posted by glasseyes at 5:06 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

About the poop issue. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. More could be done to prepare people for the possibility. At one of my antenatals* we were shown a live size 3-D model of a woman and a separate 3D model of a baby and very graphically shown how there is absolutely no room for anything else in the area as the baby makes its way through. That is good knowledge for everyone involved to have. In those days a pre-birth enema was often routine, depending on the hospital, as well as an episiotomy, and I don't think they do that nowadays. No one gets a week in hospital anymore either. Practices change.

* way back in the Neolithic
posted by glasseyes at 5:16 AM on April 10, 2015

The photo of the seven-year-old "assisting" with her mom's water delivery is kind of adorable, although I don't think I could have handled being at a birth at that age. Not sure how I'd handle it now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:17 AM on April 10, 2015

Absolutely terrifying.
posted by thivaia at 5:22 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hermione Granger: " holy shit the physicality of all of this really freaked me out and I feel kind of ashamed about it."

Be not ashamed, I have given birth to two, and the sheer mammalian physicality of the whole pregnancy-birth-nursing process was something I was totally unprepared for and really, really did not like. Other people aren't bothered by it, but I spent basically two years going, "GAAAAAAH WHY AM I A MAMMAL????" I felt like nobody warned me of the intense physicality of reproduction, and physicality is just not in my wheelhouse. I was so relieved when my kids outgrew the need to be attached to me 24/7 and could attend to at least a FEW of their bodily needs by themselves, without me and my body being involved. But, uggggggh, mammals, why you gotta be so gross?

thelonius: "seems like they could be more creative in the choice of little hats to put on them"

The hats and blankets that most hospitals use all come from one company, who make them all hypoallergenic yet appropriately stretchy yet still whisper-soft and have lots of experiences with baby head sizes ... I read an article about them a couple of years ago and their accidental near-monopoly of the hospital baby linens market, it was interesting. (Basically, they were much more responsive to parental needs and desires than other hospital linen companies, and much more responsive to hospital needs and desires than other baby linen companies, so they ended up with the lion's share of the market of "linens for babies in hospitals" and have been in that position since the 1950s.)

Harald74: "emotionally it was confusing that they allowed us to take the baby home"

I KNOW, RIGHT? "Uh ... isn't there supposed to be an adult in charge of something? Wait. Shit. SHIT. IT'S ME, FOREVER. SHIT."

Mr. Yuck: "Be here now, Dads."

One of the fun things I have in my baby book is, my parents were among the first to go through Lamaze classes in the Chicago area, so my dad was allowed to be at the birth, which was a brand-new pilot program at the hospital they were at, letting the dads attend. Afterwards, the hospital sent him a survey about it and whether he felt "prepared" for the process of childbirth and what the best and worst parts were, and whether, in his opinion, fathers should routinely be allowed to attend births. And questions about whether he thought seeing me be born helped or hurt his fathering of me, and how it had affected his marriage, and so on. I have the "patient copy" of the survey (reproduced through carbon paper). It's a really interesting snapshot into a different time! And he was a pioneer! And somewhere in the bowels of those hospitals there must be a report on the pilot program of dads attending births (after proper classroom preparation, of course), summarizing the dads who participated in the pilot and their survey responses for the hospital executives who set policy. I like to imagine the line for me says, "College-educated parents with healthy baby girl; father well-behaved in delivery room." Anyway, the pilot was successful (well-done, dad!) and two years later when my brother was born the policy was dads could be there if they wanted, with or without a class.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:48 AM on April 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I took one look and discovered it's not true that you forget how much it hurts. Closed that tab dang fast. Guess that's what I get for surfing when I should be working.
posted by evilmomlady at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2015

With my first, my mother was taking photos in the hospital, and somehow accidentally had her camera set to "video mode" for a couple of minutes, so that we have tiny little 1-2 second videos where she thought she was taking still pictures. This is how we have a swoopy, badly framed, 1.5 second clip of my husband being handed our daughter for the first time and saying "Oh my God" in a voice breaking with tears. Somehow the accidental nature of it makes it more incredible, despite the fact that it resembles all the cinematography from Cloverfield.
posted by KathrynT at 9:15 AM on April 10, 2015 [10 favorites]

Ohhh. I just witnessed my closest friends' first child's birth a month ago, and gotta echo all the 'holy shit, we're mammals' comments in this thread.

Tough at times watching someone you care about going through so much physically, but not as tough as I expected. Especially as someone with no plans to have children, I feel really grateful to have been present at a birth before witnessing a death in my life.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:29 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was present at the birth of my friend's son. I was up all night and then had a final exam the next day where all I could think was "none of this matters. NONE of this matters" because it was so overwhelming.

My own son's delivery was definitely more on the stunned physicality side. My delivery was very fast and I went into shock. How I loved learning there is a thing called a "blanket warmer" (they pressed warm blankets on me to help with the shock. it was the best feeling in the world, calmed me right down). I begged the nurse to give us one to take home.
posted by chapps at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2015

Oh and then the nurses made me peanut butter toast from their own lunch supplies as the kitchen was closed and it was 2 am and I was soooooo hungry. Gotta love nurses.
posted by chapps at 1:18 PM on April 10, 2015

Gotta love nurses.

We still remember the nurse who guided my wife through that long labor, 24 years ago.

Hi, Bonnie!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2015

God, I absolutely love birth stories and pictures of any kind (well, the ones with a happy outcome, anyway). They always bring me right back to those moments, 9 and 7 years ago now, when I became a mother. A MOM.

I am an educated professional woman who has traveled, experienced life and had plenty of wild adventures, but nothing - absolutely nothing - compared to that moment when I achieved my greatest goal, my dearest dream, my wildest ambition. I'm in a same-sex marriage and it took us a while and a via different route, but we got there in the end and now have 3 beautiful, amazing, miraculous children. And now I'm tearing up like I always do when I think about just how miraculous birth is. Holy shit, I love my kids so damn much. I tell them every single day how grateful I am that they chose us and our family. *discreetly wipes tears at work*

And congrats, the duck - you're in for a wild ride...
posted by widdershins at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've seen a few births, as a doula and as a nursing student, and I've gotta say my favourite part is always the look on folks' faces when they hold their babies for the first time. There are a few in this collection. It's such a beautiful moment, and it always makes me feel incredibly privileged to be in the room. Dealing with a little bit of blood and shit is easy when the payoff is being present to observe the look on a new mom or dad's face.

I'm very grateful to this talented photographer, and these brave new moms, who have put these images up for us to see. They're lovely!
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:30 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

> the physicality of all of this really freaked me out and I feel kind of ashamed about it

I was there when both my kids were born (I didn't want to be but I was the one giving birth so, fine), and I don't enjoy these photos, either; most of them are gross to me. Which is okay. It doesn't make us less, I don't know, feminist. They're just not our thing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I wish I had photos from my labor and birth, since I remember so little of it. I remember snippets of the 8ish hours of labor, and some of the bear-woman intensity of my 3+ hours of pushing. And then I remember my midwife's voice telling me his head was out and guiding me through a few soft pushes, and suddenly he was on my chest and I said "he's here! He's here! He's here!" Just like that. A new person in the world.

I'm 3 weeks away, give or take, from giving birth to my second. I'm interested to see how this one will be different.
posted by apricot at 8:06 PM on April 11, 2015

seems like they could be more creative in the choice of little hats to put on them

When my eldest daughter was born the hospital we received a lovely little knit hat that a local knitter's group had contributed to the hospital. There was something touching in the anonymous gift: some stranger had wanted to give a baby -- my baby! -- something nice they'd made. It gave me a warm feeling knowing someone out there was thinking of us in this moment, even if indirectly.

Twenty months later with ogrelet #2 we found that apparently the hats were decried as somehow noncompliant (I seem to recall flame redardency or something equally nonsensical) and therefore were no longer to be made available. I felt sorry that the we lost our community connection to the knitters: it was more than just a hat.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our local knitters make socks. Tiny little baby socks!
posted by Harald74 at 12:34 AM on April 21, 2015

« Older Shreds of Decency   |   Masao Kinoshita Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments