A gorgeous little girl | Birth photography

Geboortereportage Rotterdam

In January I received a nice email from Moniek: “I was talking to my boyfriend about the upcoming birth, and the quality of the photos he would take. We came to the conclusion that it would be a pity if everyone appeared in the photos without heads. I thought that there had to be people who could do it better, and so I ended up on your website. Although I still think it’s an odd idea to invite a stranger to a birth, I became more and more enthusiastic from the photos and stories.”

A couple of weeks later, after a lovely introductory chat, they decide to do it: a birth session. Their baby is due at the end of June, and it’s a girl. The plan is to have a home birth.

In March I receive an email from Johan. During the 20-week scan there were some concerns about the growth of the baby, and a couple of weeks later it’s not improved. Their child is not growing as it should, and they are referred to the hospital. The midwife advises them to go home, and just cry it out. What a fright! They are now considered a ‘medical’ case, and the advice is to give birth in the hospital. Until then they have to come in every week for scans, and Moniek has to start working fewer hours. It’s a big change of gears for them.

In the weeks that follow their baby does a lot of catching up, and in week 37 there is no more reason for them to be considered medical. Apart from the fact that Moniek’s blood pressure suddenly shoots up. The doctors want to induce her immediately, but Moniek and Johan first want to find out whether the rise is due to stress, or whether it has a medical cause. They delay the induction, but so have to come to the hospital every day for a check-up. In spite of them taking things very easy over the weekend, her blood pressure continues to rise, and they agree to an induction on the 9th of June. They have to be at the hospital in the evening, and then they will assess how to start. An induction can take days, so that’s what they’re keeping in mind, even though they’re hoping baby will be here on the 10th of June. 🙂

They get off to a good start, because when they place the balloon on the 9th of June, Moniek is already dilated to 2cm. The night is quiet, and the next day I stay in touch with Johan via WhatsApp. At 10:00 they break her waters, and they’ve asked whether they can wait and see whether contractions start by themselves, before placing the IV. Johan sends me a message reaffirming, “today’s the day!”. I guess we’ll see!

Unfortunately the contractions don’t start up by themselves, and at 13:30 they start the IV with the medication to induce contractions. Moniek is already dilated to 4cm, so something is happening! Thanks to the IV, contractions slowly start coming. At 15:15 I contact Johan again. He sends me a photo of the monitors, and I see that there are contractions, but they’re not yet regular. He also sends, “Moniek thinks it’s still going to be a while.” We’ll see…

At 16:45 I send a message asking if there is news. Johan says the contractions are coming quickly now. I feel like I should start heading out there, and ask for another photo of the readout from the monitor. This takes a while, so in the meantime I put all my equipment in the car. At 17:15 Johan sends another photo, but I can’t make anything of it. Maybe the monitor isn’t placed correctly on her belly. He sends, “She really has to breathe through them now.” I decide not to wait for the next check, but to get in the car and start driving.

That turns out to be the right decision, because I’ve been in the car for half an hour when I receive a message from Johan: “7-8cm dilated” Wow! That’s going quickly! I’m already driving the maximum speed allowed, and I hope I make it there on time. The navigation says I’ll be there at 19:00. 15 minutes later I receive another message from Johan: “she wants to push”. It’s 18:20, and I have an hour to go… oh help. This is going to be tight.

At 18:30 I receive another message. I’m almost too scared to look, but Johan says that Moniek has been given the go ahead to push with the contractions. I reply that I’m sure I’ll be there in time, and I just hope the pushing phase lasts an hour, as it ‘usually’ does with a first baby.

At 19:00 I run panting into the room. It’s completely zen… no baby! There’s a note which says that she started pushing at 18:45. I’m on time! Moniek is on her hands and knees on the bed, and Johan is sitting next to her. The midwife tells me she’s really listening to her body, and knows what to do. It’s hard work for Moniek, but she’s quiet. Every now and then Johan gives her a sip of water, and encourages her. He looks very cam (which in retrospect, he wasn’t). The room is full of delicious things to eat, and things to help pass the time. They were told the induction could take days, so they were very well prepared! But it looks like everything will be going home untouched. 🙂

There’s not much progress being made in this position, and the baby’s heartbeat is hard to monitor, so Moniek turns onto her back, to see if that makes a difference. With the next contraction we see part of the baby’s head! Wow, it’s suddenly going very quickly! Bit by bit, more of the head becomes visible, and the baby has so much hair!

When the head is out, Moniek gets a cramp in her leg. The timing…. She uses this time to also put on some lip gloss. What a fighter! And just 3 minutes later, at 20:00 exactly, the baby arrives! Moniek catches the baby herself, with some help from Johan and the midwife. A beautiful moment, with so many hands around her, welcoming her into the world.

She’s a little drowsy, and needs a little time to get going, but once she starts crying, she lets us all know she’s here! Her cry makes Johan smile – you can see the worry fall from his shoulders. They are given some time without any interruptions to just enjoy each other. No blankets, no hats, no touching, just the three of them together. So special, and beautiful to see. A real moment for them.

After this lovely moment some blankets are laid over the baby, and we hear her name: Charlie. What a cool name for this beautiful girl. Moniek and Johan both feel the cord, and when it’s stopped pulsing, Johan cuts it. A short while later the placenta is born. Everything is perfect!

Charlie does not want to stop crying, and Moniek tries offering her a breast. She doesn’t need much help – she finds it herself and starts to nurse. Clever girl! When she’s done nursing she’s checked over, and Moniek and Johan start phoning family and friends. They hand’t told anybody about the induction, so everyone is completely surprised when Moniek casually asks them whether they want to come and meet Charlie. It’s such fun listening to the conversations!

The midwife pronounces Charlie in perfect health, and she’s not so small at all. She’s completely average for this gestation. She weighs 3075g, and is fine. Moniek goes for a shower, and Johan is ready to cuddle his daughter. Charlie enjoys it, and quickly falls asleep on him.

The visitors are already waiting impatiently in the corridor, and when Moniek is back, they can come in. Proud family and friends come in, and when Johan’s mother arrives a short while later, the party is complete. Champagne is served, and toasts are made in Charlie’s name. The nurse comes in to have a look, and while everyone watches, Charlie is dressed. Then they say goodbye, and it’s also a good moment for me to take the last few photos.

Dear Moniek and Johan, I wish you much happiness with your beautiful baby girl, Charlie!

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