They are the moments that change a mother's life, body and soul, and birth photographer Vanessa Mendez has dedicated herself to preserving birth stories, giving them life outside of mama's memory.
A recent birth she documented, the arrival of baby Indigo June, has gone viral because it highlights the beauty of birth and the incredible strength mothers possess.
"Women are filled with such power and such strength," Mendez wrote on Facebook, where her series of photos documenting Vanessa DeCosta's recent home birth has been shared nearly 350,000 times.
When DeCosta, now a mom of two, felt the early signs of impending birth in the early morning hours, she was preparing herself for a long labor like the one she had before giving birth to her first child, son Golden Wilde.
Knowing that her husband (who is in the Army's Interservice Physician Assistant Program) had a big microbiology test the next day, she let him sleep and took her phone into the bathroom where she settled into the bathtub, being as quiet as possible—but soon she couldn't be quiet anymore and it became clear that this labor would be different from her first.
"My body seemed to be taking over and every...