Monday, January 14

for a story on prenatal belly dancing, i was introduced to candace. she was already a week overdue and had agreed to let us (myself and a reporter) be present during the early stages of her labor when she would be "dancing" to help ease the contractions.

the first thought that crossed my mind was skimpy outfit, hand cymbals, heavy eye shadow, big bare belly. i was brought quickly back down to earth. labor is hard enough without a costume and loud clangy music.

during our initial interview, i wanted to make sure candy was comfortable with my presence at the upcoming birth. i'm working on being more upfront with the amount of time i would like to spend with people.

sometimes this can break the spell of blending into the background, but for such a sensitive situation i wanted to make sure she was comfortable and i was comfortable. if i hadn't had this conversation with her i would worry the whole time i was intruding too much, staying too long, marring the memory of this birth with "that pesky newspaper photographer".

she said the early stages were fine. that's when she would be using the belly dancing moves, but when the labor progressed she didn't want extra people around. she would let me know when she was ready for me to leave.

when i finally got "the call" i drove to her house with less anxiety than i'd normally have. we had met, i told her my needs, she told me hers.

in the end, i photographed for about 20 minutes before she told us it was time to go. her labor was progressing more rapidly than she had expected.

and a great thing happened, i didn't feel frustrated at the lack of time, or crestfallen at unmet expectations for my level of access, or guilty for staying too long. all my emotional energy was spent appreciating the time i did have with her, gratitude for allowing us into this intimate slice of her life, however short. i want to feel like that more often.

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