I recently shared a photo on my Facebook page from the home birth of my brave and strong friends and their beautiful baby boy. The photo gained quite a bit of buzz due to the unique and surprising nature of its content. It gave us an intimate look at the concept of a water birth and also the rare occurrence of a baby born "en caul".
I also believe that this unique view of birth was quite intriguing for many who have never had the opportunity to witness or watch this miracle of life. You see, a number of adults do not get to fully view the birth of their own babies (for various reasons) and for parents (like me) a lot of our birth story is a fog because it is an out of body experience, combined with the sheer exhaustion or the medication taken, and for some it passes by so quickly that it can be hard to recall all of the details. So you can imagine my excitement when Mindy and Lou commissioned me to be their photographer for the birth of their first child. They didn't know the gender of the baby, and were hoping for a natural approach that would allow Mindy to labor and/or birth in her bathtub at-home. She wanted to be surrounded by the comforts of home where she is at peace and could have the birth that she had dreamed of.
She had a wonderful team of experts on hand to help bring the baby into this world, along with her husband (Lou) who was her fearless hand holder, cheerleader, comforter and best friend. I will let the slideshow tell the story of their incredible birth.
In my original Facebook post, showing the baby born "en caul" (with part of the amniotic sac or membrane remaining on on the head), I shared that "birth with a caul is rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births" as described by Wikipedia and I have heard that these statistics might conflict with what the medical community has experienced as of late. The caul is harmless though and is immediately removed by a physician or midwife upon delivery. There are also some old myths and superstitions about the caul or "caulbearers" themselves (the newborns), and many cultures believe that this rare occurrence makes your child a "King by right" and that he or she is special. The child can have unique traits that may range from leadership abilities to natural healers or having greater insight. As a parent and photographer, I find this fascinating, and I wonder why so many of us have never heard about this unique history or phenomenon until recently?
And if this sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because Jessica Alba shared a similar birth story as she also had an "intact sac" during the birth of her second daughter, Haven. This unusual phenomenon is especially interesting because babies do not know that they have been born yet while they are inside the caul. Mindy and Lou's baby Quin hadn't taken his first breath yet (in the outside world) as seen in that original photo, and it was a second or two before the midwife had removed the caul and we heard his first faint cry.
Thank you to the tribe of women who helped to bring Quin into this world in the most sacred and empowering way. Joni, Gengi and Christy from Circle of Life Midwifery in CT, Robin from Doula Westchester in NY and Mindy's friend, Stephanie, who's Reiki healing, cooking and constant support did not go unnoticed. It was an honor to work along side of you all.
Mindy and Lou, congratulations on the arrival of Quin! He is simply amazing, and I can't get over the fact that his name (when said in Portuguese) sounds like King! Your encouragement and love for one another (throughout this entire journey) has been truly inspiring. Thank you for courageously allowing me to share your birth story. I hope that it helps to empower others to birth without fear (however that looks for them) and to celebrate our most cherished roles as mother and father.