1 year ago today I was very pregnant.

1 year ago today I had only one son.

1 year ago today I was about to embark on the most amazing birth experience.

Photo Credit: Erika Ray Photography.

I struggle with what to say about that here, because I’m really kind of a “live and let live” kind of person. All too often, especially around parenting decisions, endorsing what works for us turns into inadvertently shaming others for their own decisions.

{Rant approaching} In a million years I would never begin to try to insist that everyone should have a home birth. I will insist, however, that everyone should have an empowered birth. This has nothing to do with epidural or no epidural, or cesarean or vaginal birth. This has everything to do with being informed, and being respected.   I do not care how you get that baby out- whether home in a birthing tub, or in the hospital under the surgical lights, the amount of strength, and power, and fortitude, and endurance it takes to become a mother is unparalleled. That experience for so many women is negative, and far too often women are told “all that matters is that you got a baby out of it.” Sorry, no. That’s not all that matters. If you felt disrespected, violated, traumatized, and depressed after your birthing experience, that matters too. One study shows (sorry, my academic side is showing) that up to 34% of women experienced trauma in their births. This is heartbreaking to me. This matters. It matters to every single one of those mothers, and those babies, and those families. We need to get our shit together, people. {Rant end-for now.}

Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of the greatest experience I have had in my 33 trips around the sun, and as much as I love my little boy, it’s ironic that this has nothing to do with him (well, in so much as that’s possible). It has to do with the respect and awe I have of my own body. It has to do with the love I have for those who were there with me, holding my hand, and documenting the experience. Ultimately my son’s birth gave me a gift of knowing the strength I have within, and as trite as this sounds, as long as I live that is something that no one can take away from me.

Photo Credit: Erika Ray Photography.

This summer, and every summer at this time, I’ll be not only celebrating my son’s birthday, I’ll be celebrating and remembering my own strength. And I’ll be working to empower women to celebrate it within themselves as well.

All photos are courtesy of Erika Ray. Hear her take- including why all women should have a photographer at their birth, and see more of her amazing pictures on the experience here and here.



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  1. July 27, 2012

    AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I’m DYING! I’m in the process of planning my home birth right now and I’m SO SO SO excited and everything I read from women who have done it makes me MORE and MORE excited.

    But I can’t seem to find a photographer and that makes me sad.

    Happy celebration!
    Happpy c

    • July 27, 2012

      And please ignore the last Happppy c…my keyboard was apparently EXTRA happy for you!

    • July 27, 2012

      What part of the country are you in? This place is read by tons of great photographers… maybe you could meet someone through here.

      • July 30, 2012

        I’m in Waterdown, Ontario (close to Hamilton and Burlington) YAY!

        If you’re a home birth photographer in the area and you can see this, please contact me via my blog at

      • joelynnej #
        July 30, 2012

        Oh no! Where is my helicopter when I need it!? I can’t believe you can’t find someone. 😦 How close is Toronto? You’d have your pick there, maybe someone travels?

  2. July 27, 2012

    One of the best experiences of my 36 spins. Thanks for giving it to me.

    • joelynnej #
      July 30, 2012

      That top photo is one of your all time top 10.

  3. bethanypetrik #
    July 27, 2012

    I had one terrible birth, and one amazing one. I agree, it totally matters.

  4. July 27, 2012

    41 spins, and two amazing births, and yes, women rock. Congrats on all of it!

  5. Jill #
    July 30, 2012

    That first photo gets me every.single.time. First time. Last time. Next time. Every.single.time.

  6. July 31, 2012

    I love the second photo, the smile on your face is exuberant and relieved. The power of the first photo also shines from it. A gorgeous couple of photos and a strong passionate voice out there for the promotion of how beautiful birth can really be. Well done and thank-you.

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