Over the years, I've had the joy of accompanying many families on their journeys to parenthood. Looking back, I remember each and every one and all of its unique, special moments. No two births are the same, and babies all arrive differently. Some babies are born sunny-side-up, some babies are born early, some babies are born butt-first, feet-first, some with vernix, some with caputs, many with cords around their necks, some with a nuchal hand, some are born in pools, some on the floor, some in cars, and some in ORs.

If you know me, you know there's a special place in my heart reserved just for babies arriving via cesarean birth.

You might assume that by the time one is admitted to the OR, every cesarean birth is the same... a cookie cutter operation. After all, the surgical team has their regimen perfected like a finely-tuned machine, right? As a birth photographer, I can tell you that each cesarean birth is just as unique as each vaginal birth... it's just a matter of noticing the details, the small important moments, and honoring them.

And so now, I'm thrilled to share with you, in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, some of my favorite cesarean images I've captured during my career.

(C) 2014 Michelle Garey Photography

Hold on.

Before we get too far in, I first want to raise a question: What does Cesarean Awareness mean to you? You're probably seeing a dramatic uptick in cesarean-related posts this month (if not, you will), so I'm wondering, what do those images mean to you, as you scroll through? Do you feel more educated by these posts? Do you feel Inspired? Honored? Validated? Frustrated? Defensive? Joyful? 

Cesarean Awareness Month is an advocacy initiative by The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc.  

(ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
— ican-online.org

And that's the whole mission behind awareness month.

This month, let's honor cesarean mothers and support them. Let's share research. Let's ask our local hospitals whether they ban VBAC births, and advocate for change if they do. Let's steer clear from shaming cesarean mothers. Let's never imply that they "had it easy". (Honestly, how devoid of empathy must one be to emit these words?) Let's spread love to those around us without judgement. To become an ICAN member or volunteer, visit ICAN.

Alright, back to the photos, all taken during cesarean birth days! (Some viewers may find some of these images to be graphic.)