A boy or girl? | Birth photographer the Netherlands

A boy or a girl?

When I photographed the birth of Wilco’s sister’s third child, he and his wife Nathalie became enthusiastic about birth photography, and when Nathalie fell pregnant with their fourth child, they contacted me. A few weeks later I met Wilco and Nathalie for an initial meeting. During the last 3 births they lived in Zierikzee, and Nathalie had to give birth in the hospital. This time she was allowed to give birth at home, because they had moved to Arnemuiden. The baby in her belly was a surprise baby. They didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl, just as they hadn’t known with the other 3. The first was a girl, Kyra, then her sister, Pearl, and the third child was a boy called Paz. The question now was whether Paz would have to grow up with 3 girls, or whether some balance would be restored in the family. 😉

Their due date is 7 July 2016. On the 6th of July Nathalie has her membranes stripped. With Paz she gave birth the evening after she was stripped, so maybe my Liv will get a baby for het birthday. 😉 There is some action, but it doesn’t seem to really keep going. Her due date also comes and goes. On the 9th of July she has her membranes stripped again. This time they manage to strip more effectively, and before I go to sleep I get everything ready, so I can leave quickly. Arnemuiden isn’t far away, but the expectation is that once things get going, the baby won’t take long to arrive.

And yet I wake up the next morning having not received a phone call from them… it’s all still quiet. I’m curious what the day will bring. At the very moment I’m wondering that, Nathalie sends me a message. There have been some irregular contractions all night, and they’re slowly starting to think this might really be it. She calls me at 8:50 to talk things over. She sounds very clear, and the contractions are not very intense yet. We agree that she will call the midwife, and after that we’ll decide what the next step is. The midwife comes immediately, and at 9:30 we are in touch once again. She’s dilated to 5cm! That’s going fast! Contractions are not yet very regular, but I don’t want to have to race to Arnemuiden later, and considering the midwife has decided to stay there, I think it’s a good idea if I slowly start heading out there too.

I arrive at 10:15am. It’s a beautiful day (wonderful, after all the rain!) and in the middle of the lounge there is a bed which they have hired specially for the birth of their fourth child. It’s a very light house (and incredibly tidy! Nesting urges?) and I know immediately that these are going to be beautiful photos. Nathalie is sitting on a ball in front of the bed, and the midwife is sitting at the table with Wilco. There is chatting, and more chatting, and more chatting… along with yummy cookies being handed out by Wilco. Is this really a birth?

The midwife decides to see how things are going at 11:30am. Nathalie is still at 5cm. She has her membranes stripped again, and we continue to wait and see. She is advised to go and be alone for a bit, because all the chatting is lovely, but not really helpful when it comes to increasing dilation. 😉 Wilco brings the cradle downstairs in the meantime, and gets the hot water bottles ready. Then Nathalie goes upstairs to have a shower, and at that moment the postnatal nurse arrives.

While Nathalie is upstairs under the shower, the groceries are delivered. It’s so handy having a delivery service called ‘granny’! I’ve seen Wilco’s mother before, when her daughter gave birth. She think it’s all very exciting, again, and it is, every single time!

When I go upstairs to see how Nathalie is doing, she comes out of the shower. It’s nearly 12:00. The contractions seem to be stronger, and I don’t want to upset the rhythm she has going, so I go back downstairs. Every now and then I go back to take a photo. She’s sitting in Paz’s room , which is the coolest one at this time. Nathalie is breathing through contractions on the ball, or standing by the wall, and it helps when Wilco applies counter pressure in her back. The contractions are really going well now.

The midwife has said that Nathalie can come downstairs whenever she is ready, so they can see how far she is. At 13:45 she does so. While she is breating through her contractions, it looks like she’s feeling the urge to push. She lies on the bed and the midwife says she’s at 8cm, and they agree to break her waters. It’s 14:20. Almost immediately Nathalie feels a strong urge to push, and at 14:30 she starts pushing with the contractions. It’s all going very fast, and it’s great that we’re all there. Nathalie is very calm and controlled and soon we see a lot of baby hair! As she breathes we see the head appear, and then it’s out completely1 Wilco is ready to catch the baby, but the shoulders are not quite so willing to come out. It turns out that the cord is wrapped around the neck twice. The midwife releases him from his bonds, and then he can be born completely. It’s 14:40 when the baby is born! He is covered in a thick layer of vernix, and is a little blue thanks to his exciting entry. Wilco is a little overwhelmed initially, but when the baby gives a good, strong cry you can see him relax. The midwife opens the baby’s legs, and… it’s a boy! Wonderful! Nathalie is smiling from ear to ear, and Wilco is proudly watching with his hands covered in vernix.

Before the placenta is born, Nathalie and Wilco feel the cord. They’ve never done this before, and they can still feel it throbbing gently. The placenta is born before they cut the cord; a half lotus birth. It’s special to see the placenta still attached to the baby. The midwife shows them how the baby ‘lived’ in the placenta, and then Wilco cuts the cord. I’m very curious about the name of this little boy, since all the other children have such unique names. His name is Jax! And Jax is beautiful! He is very alert, and with a big frown on his face he looks straight at the camera.

He’s lying comfortably with his mama, and they are given lots of time to cuddle. He soon starts to search and root, and the first things he finds is his own thumb, which is greedily starts to suck. Nathalie will be bottle feeding him, so he doesn’t have to keep searching. They phone their families up, so that they can come around, and then it’s time to cuddle with papa, skin to skin. He is very happy with his papa, and Nathalie looks at her two boys lovingly.

In spite of how comfortable he is with his papa, the midwife does need to check Jax over. He passes all his tests with flying colours, and is weighed in a muslin cloth, the ‘old-fashioned’ way. All of this happens close to Nathalie, so she doesn’t have to miss anything. The atmosphere is relaxed and calm. Jax weighs 3720g, and that’s mostly because of his height – he’s 54cm tall! Nathalie dresses him herself, and then his brother and sisters are at the door! They don’t know that the baby has been born, and come into the room very surprised!

Kyra immediately smiles from ear to ear, Pearl is shy, and Paz takes a little while to process the news. They carefully come closer to get a better look. This is so cute to watch! The proud grandparents watch from a little distance. Pearl and Paz watch in fascination, and when nobody is looking Pearl gives Jax a quick cuddle!

Instead of the traditional ‘beschuit with muisjes’, we get cake with whipped cream and ‘muisjes’. Wilco’s sister and her husband have arrived, and a short while later Nathalie’s mother and sister arrive. Nathalie’s sister is also pregnant, and gets teary-eyed when she sees Jax. Everyone is happy, and it’s a wonderful atmosphere! Someone has turned the TV on, since the Tour de France has started. Before I know it. All the women are sitting around the bed, looking lovingly at Jax, and the men are all watching the cycling – that’s how it goes with a home birth! 😉

I take photos of all the children for the birth announcement card, and then I take photos of the whole family together. How wonderful – 4 precious children, and what a beautiful family!

Dear Wilco and Nathalie, I wish you much joy as a family of 6!

 

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