Neither do mine. Sadly, devastatingly.
This is a common concern I get from parents considering birth photography for their subsequent children. And I understand, I really do.
I especially understand, because this morning at 7am, a little 5 year old boy came into my room sobbing. He’s a sensitive child, so it’s not an uncommon occurrence, but what he said when I asked him why just about broke my heart. He said, “Mummy, where’s MY birth video? I want one like Milly’s, I’ve just watched it 100 times!!!”
And I had to tell him, “Sorry buddy, but I don’t have a video of your birth. I wish I did, and it makes me sad too. I wanted photos and videos of your birth, but nobody took them. I’m really sorry”. And I gave him a hug while I felt his tears falling on me.
Then I said to him, “you know, I do have some photos I could show you, and I could TELL you about your birth”. He responded with, “but how could you even remember, it was FIVE YEARS ago”.
This is where I told him that as mamas, we never forget the day our babies were born. And I told him everything I remembered.
But deep down, I was sad because I know there is so much that I remember, but also so much that I forget. So many details that are becoming blurred with time. I can’t remember what his first cry sounded like. I can’t remember when he first opened his eyes and looked at me. I can’t remember the first thing I said to him. I didn’t even get to see him weighed or measured, and the first two hours of his life were spent apart.
I told him everything I could, but I know it wasn’t everything. And I told him I was sorry, and that I was sad too. And we both sat there for a little while, sad together.
Then I told him, I did have some video of when he was zero, and one, and two, and three and four and five. And we sat down for over an hour and we watched it. And he laughed, and exclaimed, and he remembered….and it was beautiful. Even though it was shaky, blurry, grainy and mostly taken on a phone up until he was about 3 years old.
I wish I could give him more, but I couldn’t – and all I could do is give him what I have. (And he THANKED me….hear him in the video, it was completely unprompted….even if it does sound like he’s reciting lines hahaha!!!)
But I COULD give my next child, and myself, what I wish I’d given him. I didn’t want to punish her for what I didn’t know better previously. I believe that when you know better, you DO better. And so I did. I had a homebirth, I had a birth photographer/videographer, I documented the things I missed out on documenting with my first two babies. I pushed aside the thoughts of making it ‘fair’ – because to me it didn’t seem fair that when now I actually know and realise how important it was, that I could make a conscious choice NOT to do it.
And the truth is, both of my older kids love the birth video and photographs of my youngest, too. Because it’s the day they met their baby sister for the first time, and I made sure they were included in that. The moments they share with their baby sister, and the moments we share as a family, are some of my absolute favourite! I cannot imagine not having them.
And I have no doubt that my son will watch it at least 100 MORE times in the future, as he’s requested I put it on his iPad, along with the compilation of his own baby/toddler footage.
While it was a hard conversation to have, I do not have any regrets about having my third birth photographed when my first two were not. The only regret I have is not doing it for all of them.