‘a Life Leaving and a Life Beginning’: Photographer Suffers Miscarriage While Capturing Friend’s Birth

“My eyes cried real, heavy, warm, salty tears for the life before me and the life leaving me. It was painfully beautiful how that juxtaposition felt…”
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
May 2019

Over the course of the last week, a stunning photo from photographer Alex Michele has gained Internet fame. The picture captures one of her friend’s bent over in pain after giving birth to a baby boy. While everyone’s attention was on the newborn baby, Alex Michele was drawn to the elephant in the room: Just how quickly people forget mothers need help too.

The picture speaks for itself, but the story doesn’t end there. At the time of the photo, the photographer was going through a whirlwind of different emotions. When she got the call that her friend was in labor, Alex Michele was in the emergency room a few floors down going through a miscarriage. When faced with the choice to take medication to help make the miscarriage easier or to postpone it and photograph the birth, she chose the latter—and has no regrets. “It was such a beautiful juxtaposition of life beginning and life ending all in one room,” she tells The Bump. The brave mom is now sharing the story from the other side of the lens, walking us through the rollercoaster of emotions:

I remember standing in line at Publix to fill the medication that would help continue to remove the life within me. For about 30 seconds, I questioned whether or not I should photograph this birth for my friend. I knew what I was going to do…I looked at Nick and said, “I’m going home, grabbing my camera and heading back to the hospital. I can take these pills later.” Naturally, he was worried about my physical well-being and my mental health, but I knew if I didn’t do this, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I remember being in the room, feeling blood dripping from my body—the signs of my own child’s life going and knowing that in just a few short hours I would no longer be pregnant. And I watched my friends’ body bleed simultaneously in agony and pain, signs of life, the movement down the birth canal, as she waited to bring her baby into the world. A life leaving and a life beginning all in the same room at the same moment. I was transfixed. I wasn’t as sad as much as I was painfully magnetized by the heaviness of God’s love in that space…

Her birthing room was a sacred room. It was filled with gentleness, motivation and tough, aggressive love and encouragement, mostly coming from women…And I stood wide-eyed, bleeding and breathing, not wanting to miss a moment. To be in a room filled with women empowering other women is truly a surreal experience that supersedes all the words I have…and in that moment, I realized truly what gift my grief had turned into. As she bared down and pushed with all her muscles and confidence, the oxygen in the room grew thick with anticipation as the baby boy left her heaving body, sliding down from her to this world…My eyes cried real, heavy, warm, salty tears for the life before me and the life leaving me. It was painfully beautiful how that juxtaposition felt, but it reminded me how much God truly loves me to place me in this space and to gift me the eyes of perspective.

And the truth is, I have never felt closer to humanity than I do now. My pain has brought me closer to the human condition…And empathy is healing my broken heart. Joy and grief often coincide, they hold hands as old friends, but only if we allow our minds to surrender the pain and know that God’s story for our lives is much grander than anything we could ever conjure up…

Her name is Birdie. We knew this the same evening we found out we were having another baby. We laid in bed, giddy laughing on a high of hope, tossing names back and forth like catch and landed solidly on this one. We loved its simplicity and its quirk. She was to be a real badass one day. We just knew it.

Now, here we are gently moving into peace from surrender, and from holding on to letting go of the dreams we had for her and for us as a family. We know that her life was grand even in its brevity. Our little Birdie took flight to a place that is pastel colored and sublime and perfect, awaiting for us to join her one day. She is with my parents now, they left only a short time ago, and she is free and her life will always be unforgettable.

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