- PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant
Extreme Pain, But Also Extreme Joy
Dates2020 - Ongoing
After much of the US went into lockdown in early March 2020, I began following midwives in Los Angeles as they navigated new protocols caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. By photographing the midwives, I explored what it means to bear life in a time of sorrow and grief. The midwives’ phones rang endlessly with calls from terrified women hoping to deliver safely in their homes. With hospitals flooded and many banning partners from the delivery room, the possibility of going through childbirth without a mask and in a familiar setting seemed, to these women, like the only option.
Amid a Covid surge in late 2021, I started documenting midwives in West Michigan. Many of their patients have tested positive, refused to get vaccinated, or wear masks during their appointments. They are on the frontline of seeing Covid complications in pregnant women. The midwives are understaffed, overwhelmed and burnt out after the two years of working under extreme stress.
Midwives provide guidance and guardianship rooted in generational wisdom, combining medical expertise with emotional support. This work takes place under the shadow of the movement to overturn Roe vs. Wade. The midwives are adamant about empowering women to make their own choices and shape their own bodily experiences by terminating a pregnancy or giving birth at home.
At a time marked by separation and death, these stories of connection, care, and birth are especially healing. Childbearing and the work of midwives is not well documented; the realities of childbirth are still taboo. When a difficult process is made even harder by a global pandemic and restrictive laws, the need to be honest about childbirth and our own bodies is even more important. Each of these stories is unique and it is crucial to this project to present a diversity of mothers and birth workers, and not just a whitewashed version. This pandemic has disproportionately affected women, and this project illuminates some of the burdens they must bear.