A lot of my friends joked when my wife was having our babies... 'Are you going to take your camera'? The answer was obviously YES!
We all take pictures at birthday party's, mundane walks in the park, nights out with friends and yet it seems a little taboo to take pictures during one of the most amazing days in your life, the birth of your child. Just think, what an amazing story. This person who you have never actually seen and yet have dreamt about is going to be introduced to you. But before that the woman you love is going to go through 'Labour' (I think that deserves a capital 'L') to make this happen! To others they may be just photos but to us it's our story and ones that our kids will love to hear and see.
For us, our first birth was so much different than our second. On the first you just don't know what is going to happen or when. On our second we were much more relaxed. Melissa even had time to slag me off that I hadn't taken many maternity pictures of her and what sort of Photographer was I. Que impromtue maternity shoot in the corridors of Holles Street.
I wasn't using a lot of camera equiptment and lighting, just my Canon 5D, a 50mm f1.8 lens and the beautiful soft natural light flooding in from Holles Streets massive old windows. Probably the same same light that wrapped around me the day I was born there 34 years ago. Despite this we drew very little attention. That was until I began taking this controversial shot...
Yep, the head nurse was very protective of her little cups and asked in a stern voice "what are you taking pictures of? Thinking it wasn't too obvious I told her... 'The cups'! She didn't look confused or too amused and rather just informed me she had to protect her nurses because you never know what people do with pictures these days.
Having waited to be induced for 7 hours, and looking at the rack of tea cups like it was a mirage, we were told that they were too busy and would have to come back the following day.
Some people might have been upset but we were hungry! So off we went to Powerscourt for lunch. Well what is the sense in wasting a perfectly good day. It was while having lunch and discussing the lack of a name for the iminant arrival that a we met Eloise, a Brazilian waitress in the hotel. She asked how our day was and well, of course we told her. She in turn told us that she was actually named something else by her mother and it was in fact when her father went to register the birth 3 months later, he on a whim renamed his daughter Eloise (without mammies knowledge or consent!). Later, on the way home we decided if it was good enough for a rogue father in Brazil, it was good enough for us and we fell in love with the name Eloise.
In the mean time Melissa began to have pretty serious contractions which we both took very seriously, well after a quick selfie of course!
Now I know what you are thinking... Some husband, you should be helping your wife. I assure you I was very supportive.
While it might look like we were having a great time, this was the start of what was to be a very long forty hours. By midnight that night we were wearing out the tiles on the labour ward. Little Eloise was not quite ready to come yet.
These images remind me of how amazing my wife is. They remind me never to give up no matter how hard things get. I hope some day they remind my daughters of how much their mother loves them. They remind me to keep taking pictures through the bad times and the good.
The next afternoon it all kicked off again. With the support of an amazing midwife, Melissa gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter Eloise Genevieve Doyle. Needless to say I was a little preoccupied to take photos but I am sorry I never got a picture with the midwife. She was such a huge part of Eloise's story.
It is actually after the birth of our first daughter, Dubheasa that I captured probably what will be my favourite image of my entire life.
Now that was a tough few days! I love this image because I believe it captures the pure euphoria that Melissa felt meeting her daughter for the first time. That look captured on Melissa's face tells a thousand word story. After a two day labour, clearly still in some pain and needing gas and air, she held our daughter like she had held her for 31 years and had a smile on her face that said she would hold her close for every year more.
I am thankful for all the amazing moments in my life but I am more thankful that I have captured a few of them so my family and I can cherish them for many lifetimes.
Make sure you take many photos of those special moments. You will know you have a photograph of something special when you look at the image and it awakens all five of your senses. When it makes you smile or frown, laugh or cry. You know you have something special when... You just know!
Dubheasa at 7 days
Eloise at 7 days