Melissa Cate Photography bio picture
  • Welcome to Melissa Cate Photography, by Melissa & Krystle

    We are Melissa & Krystle, the photographers of Melissa Cate Photography. We are passionate about documenting birth and the transition into Motherhood. We are blessed to be the birth photographer in lovely Southern Oregon. Documenting the birth journey of women and babies is one of the greatest joys a photographer can have, and we respect the beauty and sanctity of the moments you chose to have us document.

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    Why Birth Photography?
    by Melissa

    I had my first daughter seven years ago. It is a day that will forever be close to my heart, evoking some of the most powerful emotions of love, triumph, and euphoria I have ever known. At the time I did not know birth photography existed. I wish I had. I was lucky to have a nurse take photos for us as our daughter was entering our world. And I love the photos - I looked at them hundreds of times in the months after she was born. I studied the time stamp to understand exactly when moments happened. I looked carefully at each photo to remember the conversations that took place, what I was feeling in the moment. It was easier to piece together little details by looking at the photos. I still look at them and soak in the amazing moments we experienced meeting our daughter for the first time. But they were shot with a little point and shoot camera, and even though the photos I do have are so precious to me, I wish I had more. So much more.

    As I learned from first hand experience, hiring a birth photographer is usually not the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about birth plans, and the thought of someone photographing such a personal and private moment can be intimidating. But once that amazing little miracle is in your arms, the overwhelming desire to freeze each moment in time takes over.

    Your birth team does not have to worry about fumbling with a camera, or worry about missing out on first moments because they are behind the camera. Let a professional document each moment, tastefully and discreetly. Someone who has years of birth work experience, and will attend your birth calmly and quietly, documenting the first look, the first time you examine tiny baby fingernails, the first moment you smell the perfectly new baby smell.

Birth of Georgette – Southern Oregon Birth Photographer

This first time mama had a speedy labor and pushed under 30 minutes before her beautiful baby girl came into the world. Baby G’s birth went off without a hitch, but it was apparent right away that mama was having an unusual amount of bleeding. That stubborn bleeding would not stop, even after the appropriate drugs administered. The midwives did such an amazing job of working quickly while keeping the new family calm and excited about their baby. Papa was amazing, he stayed cool as a cucumber the whole time, encouraging his wife that she was in great hands and everything would be fine.  It was soon discovered the bleeding was coming from a retained placenta and major 4th degree tear, and the ambulance was called to take mama to the hospital for a D&C to remove the placenta. At the hospital mama was put under, and the placenta was removed. The midwives were astounded when they realized the placenta was a quarter of the normal size, with a velementous cord insertion. What a lucky baby! And not a single blip in heart tones to warn of such a poor-functioning placenta or dangerous cord insertion. Mama & Papa were not disheartened by their change in postpartum plans, and mama made a full recovery.

VBAC of Chloe – Southern Oregon Birth Photographer

One Saturday I was headed to the birth center to film a childbirth class. I noticed the birth center calling as was pulling out of my neighborhood but I didn’t pick it up since I was driving.  I assumed they were just calling to remind me of the birth class at noon. They left a message and called again. At the next stoplight I picked it up on the third call.

“Mel, come now, your VBAC mama is here and moving FAST” One of the student midwives urged quickly. I could hear the moans of late labor in the background.

“I’m already on my way for the birth class, I’ll be there in 3 minutes”

I hung up and felt giddy with excitement that this VBAC mama was moving so quickly. I rushed through the doors of the birth center and started snapping my flash in place. I flashed a smile at the students sitting there as I slowed my step to a calm, relaxed demeanor and slipped into the birth room. It was warm and steamy from the tub and the heater, and mama was busy pushing her baby out. The contractions rolled almost one on top of the other, and mama begged her daughter to give her a break for just a minute. After a short break from the non stop contractions, another started up and she pushed the head out. One of my favorite things about VBACs is the moment the head emerges. I think every VBAC I’ve been to, mamas are in disbelief that their baby will actually come out until the head comes out, and suddenly, it clicks. This baby IS coming out the old fashioned way. This birth was no different, and mama and papa giggled through tears of joy as they waited for the next contraction. A beautiful baby girl emerged from the water 15 minutes after I arrived, and 12:08pm.

I LOVE big brother’s reaction to his new sister.

Jemma’s Breech Homebirth

36 Weeks

The Breech Homebirth of Jemma

     It was a regular Wednesday for my two year old daughter, Eden and me. We decided to go for it since we had lots to do and were hoping to encourage baby sister out (and the midwife was back in town! ) After we dropped my husband, Eric, off at work we went to Target to get baby hangers for the nursery, the mall, and the Co-op for some yummy food. Next we stopped at Mom’s to kill a little time before we went to see some kittens that I had taken Eden to see born just a couple weeks before. Mom laughed at my pregnancy snacks of the day a big banana, a quart of fresh Co-op half & half and string cheese! Nothing like good rich milk when I am pregnant! Next stop after kittens, and Eden’s gymnastics! At the gym, like usual she ran all around and was wild as heck! I felt heavy and achy in my cervix as I ran after her.

At my 35 week homevisit, I was 6 cm dilated and 75% effaced. I was put on modified bed-rest in hopes of making it to 38 weeks and for my midwife to get back in town! Thank goodness I had the Olympics to entertain me each night! I knew I would be dilated but was shocked to hear I was that dilated at 35 weeks. I had many more noticeable contractions this pregnancy unlike my first pregnancy, where I barely noticed contractions up until 8cm before going into labor with my first baby. I never experience much discomfort with labor. The contractions were often and strong but not painful. I surprise people with my descriptions of contractions and the efficiency of my uterus. I wished that I had delivered with my midwives the first time so they could have seen what labor and birth was like with my first daughter’s birth! I ended up walking around 6cm for a month.

After gymnastics we came home and my mom, sister, and friend came over. Eden nursed which gave me some contractions like it often did. I think she even took a nap for me! My contractions just kept coming and there was no real break as my uterus just stayed hard all the time. I’d think one contraction was still going and another would start. I walked and bounced on my birthing ball and sipped on a mango smoothie. Eric was going to be off work soon so I had my sister pick him up. My mother kept thinking my water was leaking and convinced me to just give the midwife a call. So I did and the midwife told me she could be there as soon as I needed. I told her I would call her back if something changed.

Around 9 pm or so she called me and convinced me to have her come by and just check on things. I agreed, she really did convince me, as I never was quite sure I was in labor. The contractions were not painful, no other real signs of labor had occurred. I had experienced non stop contractions many evenings that had always faded. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a big deal and calling up for a false labor.

She arrived around 10ish, and when I saw her I just started crying. I don’t know why exactly I just felt very emotional and was really glad she was going to make it for our birth. By midnight, we had established a couple of things; I was 7 cm dilated and 90% effaced and the baby was breech….Surprise!  I think I smiled and then even laughed. I stared at her with disbelief. I was half sure she was mistaken as I never felt a big shift of the baby. I had been the practice belly at multiple midwifery student study groups and had the baby in my belly palpitated many times by many people and midwives. Many people, including myself, had been very hands on during my pregnancy. My midwife said she was very certain the baby was breech, called the other midwife and checked again.

By 1am it was decided, after all options were discussed, we would go to bed and see if I could hold off labor for an ultrasound that would show me more in the morning. I was worried about her cord, and she was so engaged in my pelvis and for probably so for a long time that turning her was not really an option, nor was I very comfortable with trying at 38 weeks and 2 days, all things considered.  I most certainly felt a risk with breech delivery but I felt just as much with a c-section. It amazes me how at this time Eric was so strong and had so much faith in me. He didn’t want a c-section for us and knew I could do it. He never even doubted me and advocated for at least trying to deliver her as long as things were going good during delivery. I just had to try! Fortunately she was frank breech (bottom first), the best type, and a good size. At that point my midwives left and I attempted sleep with everything heavy on my mind, I had strict instructions to call if I felt anything different.

 

 

 

       Around 3:30 am I awoke and felt a sort of vibration in my head with a contraction and they felt a   little deeper in my cervix. I waited, longer than my midwives had instructed and then sent a text. They were back by 4am (ish) and I was 10 cm and complete. I had slept through transition! It’s crucial to be dilated to 10 cm before the baby descends into the birth canal, with the head being the largest part of the baby, descending sooner poses the risk of head entrapment. Another risk of breech delivery already alleviated. I was told to lay for as long as I was comfortable. At this point we just decided to proceed with the utmost caution, completely ready and willing to transfer to the hospital at any point if necessary. My midwife was confident, scoring me very high on a scale for breech birth candidates. I had a proven pelvis along with the strength and mindset to do it. Everyone planning to attend was called and the house buzzed with excitement as the pool was being filled and candles were being lit. Finally I got up and nothing much really happened.

    We were planning on leaving the bag of waters intact if possible. I labored contently, got in and back out of the pool. I went for a walk as the sun was rising with Eric and we looked at our garden and then I picked a few blackberries that tasted divine. Eric made breakfast and the rest of the house came back to life. I snacked on garden tomatoes, cucumbers and cottage cheese, peaches, watermelon and coconut water.

        At last we proceeded to rupture my amniotic sac after being fully dilated for around 4 hours, it proved to be very strong after not breaking with three attempts! I expected her to come quickly, and for things to get very intense and uncomfortable but they didn’t really. I stood and squatted on the birthing stool, bringing contractions around 3 minutes apart. With each contraction I had to completely surrender and let her come down by herself and not push. I had to focus and sway but it felt like the how I would labor with any birth. Eventually I felt a similar sensation to the baby coming through my pelvis only much softer. She was close now, and I was told to gently urge her to come more with soft pushes.

      Eden awoke and looked like a rested angel and dove right into the birthing pool with me. She was so pleased that she had a pool in her living room. I labored as she swam and played joyously behind me. Eden got out and fed me mango popsicle. Eventually, when baby’s bottom began to emerge Eric got in the pool and held me.

I reached between my legs and felt her tiny bottom. I saw her little bottom and girl parts in a hand mirror. I held my hand over my skin next to her body as my midwife supported my perineum and I pushed her out slowly, feeling her whole body move past my finger tips, her heart always chugging along strong and perfectly. I felt empowered and was surprised I was pretty much delivering her myself into my own hands. 

 

At last her head was all that was left to come, and I pushed it out into my midwife’s hands with a resemblance to a champagne cork! The cord was loosely wrapped around her neck once. Then she was on my chest and looked so different than her sister, and from what I expected! I talked to her and rubbed her head and she took her first breath, we all took it with her, and she let out her first cry!

 

 

It was so wonderful to look into her sweet little face and meet her for the first time lying in Eric’s loving, strong arms. Eden hopped right in to meet her and was adorable and amazed!

 

 

      Though Jemma’s birth was a surprise breech she and I are living proof that breech birth is another version of normal! That a natural breech birth is safe and possible in the appropriate situation! I am truly glad and blessed that I have had the pleasure of birthing our sweet little girl breech. Thank you to everyone who loved and supported us through our pregnancy, labor and birth journey! And especially thank you to my wonderful husband who always believed in us and my midwives who helped us make it happen!

We did it!

 

born August 16, 2012
7 lbs 6 oz
22 in long
at 11:24 am at home!

Our birth photographer came back to our home when Jemma was one week to do her newborn photos. She did our Maternity, Birth, and Newborn photos all in our home!

Eric and Jemma.

February 18, 2013 - 11:04 am

Patricia - This birth story was both beautiful and inspiring. It exemplifies the natural ability of a mother to affect the very success of her birthing experience. This mother is strong, capable and her attitude was the foundation for such a perfect delivery. I love this story.

February 18, 2013 - 11:39 am

Mrs. M - Beautiful photos!! My 5th child was a surprise breech at a planned home birth. It was an easy delivery for both of us. Just a little scary, since it was a surprise and I didn’t know what to expect. Everything happened so fast.

February 18, 2013 - 12:13 pm

Virginia - Thank you for sharing your birth story and beautiful photos! And for inspiring other women to trust their bodies and trust birth.

February 18, 2013 - 12:21 pm

gayle Wolfenson - I have never had a child but seeing seeing that”breech” birth is a victory story! : )
I love the picture of the whole FAM in the pool and know that she was birth naturally …Truely a victory story ! I pray shalom over that family !!!

February 18, 2013 - 8:14 pm

Beverley Walker - You have made my day.

Blis and Breech birth in one package. This is birth at its ultimate and I will keep on campaigning – I am 75 and growing weary.

Love to the whole family on behalf of those babies born into heaven onearht to come.

An oldie but a goodie.
XXX Bev

February 21, 2013 - 1:59 pm

Laine - Absolutely Perfect!

February 23, 2013 - 8:07 pm

Rhonda Mcconahy - These are beautiful pictures! I have never seen a more beautiful, or more contented family! And you have them posed so natural, it’s just the most precious family picture, i could ever imagine, and the one with the father & daughter? Priceless! What a gift you are for all the mothers you have worked with. I wish there was someone around 32 years ago when I was giving birth, to have an exspericance like this!

February 23, 2013 - 8:09 pm

Kim Helm - beautiful!!! :)

February 24, 2013 - 3:39 pm

Wuanita - Such a beautiful story!!! Absolutely love the photos, t

February 24, 2013 - 4:00 pm

Lauren - These are the most beautiful birth pictures I’ve ever seen! Congratulations on your beautiful family!

February 24, 2013 - 4:17 pm

Sarah - The Fashionable Housewife - Absolutely perfect! Excellent shots and beautiful story! I had a home water birth and it truly is such an amazing experience!

February 24, 2013 - 4:46 pm

Kimber Bogema - Absolutely beautiful !!
Thank you so much for sharing!

February 24, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Lisa - Gorgeous! If the mother and baby are good candidates then why not birth a breech baby! My little Frank breech, Ava, was born about a week after your Jemma. She is a peaceful little soul and I think her positioning at birth was just her way of making herself extra special :-)

February 25, 2013 - 1:18 am

Faith - All the photos are soooo beautiful. You don’t know just how incredibly blessed you are to have so little pain during your labors…

February 26, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Krystal - Congrats on the successful breech birth! Our daughter are 11 hours apart lol Aaliyah was born 8/16/12 at 10:48 pm

February 26, 2013 - 2:02 pm

Linda - Absolutely beautiful. Made me cry in awe and joy. Blessings to this beautiful family. This is the type of birth and bonding I hope for.

March 9, 2013 - 8:59 am

Nicollette - my 35 weeks today and my little lady is still breech..my ob is very supportive on letting me deliver I have been pretty scared until now. thank you for sharing

March 15, 2013 - 11:42 am

Sharni Budd - Congratulations on a beautiful baby girl! What an awesome testimony to birth and how strong women can be! I too had a ‘surprise’ breech baby boy at home with my sixth baby (he is now 3months old) Although we didn’t find out he was breech until an hour before he was born, I knew something was up because my labour was progressing so differently than my previous babies. So lovely to hear other stories too! Thanks for sharing!

August 16, 2013 - 5:22 pm

KP - Beautiful family. Beautiful story. Strong, courageous mama!

August 17, 2013 - 3:24 am

dana reason - I had 3 of my children at home with a midwife! It was awesome..and yours looked even calmer than mine did..love it and congrads to u and ur beautiful family, what a wonderful way to show the world how easy and safe it can be.

August 17, 2013 - 9:38 am

Anne - This is a great birth story. My son was breech also, home-birth – and I had an “un-tested” pelvis as it were. It was scary going into it only b/c of all the negative crap out there but I decided to read positive information and was confident in my body and baby and we did fine. (Although my labor was 35 hours and extremely intense and painful back labor towards the end). One of the midwives at the practice I went to has 10 children of her own and lives in Amish country – often attending breech births of Amish families. Always at home. Never cut open. Good, healthy babies. The question is, why do women in hospitals have c-sections with breech and the Amish don’t? My OBGYN told me that in school they just don’t teach doctors HOW to deliver breech babies anymore – they only teach how to slice and dice and interfere with nature. It’s too bad really.