Special delivery: Nina — new life

“Told you I wanted you to be part of all important moments in my life?” Well, Laura was not playing. All important moments including maybe the most important of all: the birth of Nina. A moment so profound — where to begin?

But here we go. Into the unknown.

Photographing a birth was entirely new to me, but something I was hoping to one day be a part of. And I am so glad it was Nina’s. The trust I felt from the get-go by soon to be parents Laura and Joris is still so special to me and what made it all work. That, combined with no nonsense communication, laying it all out there. Expectations, boundaries, everything.

When preparing for all this, I thought it’d be a good idea to have someone at the ready in case I happened to be elsewhere. Not that I was planning on that, as two weeks prior to due date were entirely wiped of everything other than work behind my computer, at home. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. But just in case, someone. A very special someone.

Noah and I have been photographing all sorts of things together lately, all based on a good gut feeling. But maybe never before as strong as it was now. Noah would be our safety net, but quickly turned out to take on a lot more. We decided it was a good idea to all get acquainted during the pregnancy series we had planned before the big moment. “It feels as though you guys are living here”, Laura remarked as we were taking their photos. Everything felt organic and natural and fell into place in all kinds of ways.

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The synchronicity, timing, all the puzzle pieces coming together resembled something of a higher order. As we arrived for the pregnancy shoot, the cornfield in front of their home was just being harvested. We had a few moments to make use of the field and when we looked around as we arrived back at the house: the field that was just there moments before, was now gone.

The plan was for Laura to give birth in bath, in their beautiful bedroom. Which also has a stunning non-birthing regular bath, which we fittingly decided to incorporate in the series. Joris was such a champ during all of this, not only just being an absolute joy to be around, but also when it came to the practicalities. As all of this emerged quite spontaneously, we pondered it would be so nice to have a milk bath instead of just water. And off he went to get milk powder, regular milk, all things milk to make the water appear milky. What a legend.

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A week after this photo series, around 19.00: a phone call. Laura and Joris were on their way to the hospital. Three weeks before due date. That night, at 00.00, would mark the exact day at which a home birth would be allowed. But not before that.

At that time, I was in Rotterdam, an hour and a half from home. Noah prepped everything in terms of gear and logistics and when I made my way back to Arnhem, we were ready to rumble.

But more so: Laura and Joris were ready to rumble. Nina, soon to arrive, was ready to rumble. Getting to their home, Joris’ shirt was on inside out, he was – understandably – in a bit of an all over the place state. Physically downstairs, mentally upstairs with his wife. As he should. We got our things ready and greeted Laura, who was in a lot of pain. Which was hard to see, but what was beautiful to see was the way in which Laura and Joris were in sync. The way in which she was deeply cared for and oh so very loved. It brings tears to my eyes reflecting back on it.

All of it, this whole experience, breathed so much love. So much life. In its very fibre, all throughout, deeply intertwined in beginning, middle and ‘end’ – the start of new life. A perfect cycle.

As soon as Laura submerged in bath, a calmness came over her. Keeping herself steady with breathing exercises. Pure serenity. I don’t know what I had expected of witnessing a birth, but not this. I thought it would be accompanied by lots of noise, restlessness. This was of a different order. Calm. I don’t think I have ever experienced something as pure as this. As primal as this. As profound as this.

Joris sat down in front of Laura, lovingly stroking, encouraging, and shortly after yelled: “IK ZIE HET HOOFDJE!” at the first sight of the crown of his daughter. I pause while writing this, smiling and laughing, more tears in my eyes, at how astonishing this was.

In pure silence, there she was. Underwater, for what seemed to be eternity. Time stopped. Everything stopped. A pause – in between realms.

Below and above the surface, we stared in awe. All of us. Taken aback by someone so small. So innocent. The very start of life, right here and now. In front of our eyes. What a sight to behold and what a moment to witness. The tears in my eyes have now made their way across my face, waterworks in full. An ugly cry, if you will.

Nina was then measured, weighted, checked: “alles erop en eraan”, everything as it should be. Everything in its right place. The unity between Laura and Joris, now expanded.

We are – from the bottom of our heart – so thankful to have been a part of a moment so magnificent, so magical. To be able to share and do ALL of this with Noah, who rose to the occasion in ways I couldn’t have even hoped for, made it extra meaningful and attributed to so much more joy, quality, help, love, everything.  Thank you baby.

Without any further ado: enjoy. We highly recommend you to watch this (preferably here, as the embedded video down below seems to compromise the quality a bit) full screen, with the volume turned up. All the way up. Let it wash over you. All of it. The beauty that is life.