A birth photographer meeting a birth photographer | A peaceful home birth
Lobke is a birth photographer herself, and I got to know her when she did the ‘birth photography’ workshop with me last year. A few months ago we had a reunion day, and Lobke mailed that she wasn’t sure whether she’d be there since she wasn’t feeling very well. She was there on the day, but said she was tired, and not eating much. I insisted that she go to the doctor, because it didn’t sound good to me. I didn’t even think about the possibility of pregnancy. 🙂 But a couple of weeks later the news came out – Lobke and her boyfriend Carlo were expecting their second child in August. Mats was going to be a big brother!
It took a while before they decided to have a photographer at the birth, because although Lobke wanted it, Carlo needed to get used to the idea. Finally in the summer they came for an introductory meeting, because I hadn’t met Carlo and Mats before. It was a lovely, relaxed chat, and Mats is a child you fall in love with immediately! 🙂 After our chat they decided to do it. Both Lobke and I found it quite nerve-wracking. It is different when you’re photographing someone who also knows all about it, and nerve-wracking for Lobke to have to be the subject this time! 🙂
In the last weeks her belly grew beautifully, but there was less and less space, and the baby was pushing against everything. Lobke thought she wouldn’t reach her due date: the 22nd of August. I know by now that the amount of space baby has doesn’t say much, but you still start to wonder anyway. Of course, the 22nd of August came and went. No baby. Lots of labour signs, but nothing that really kept going.
On the 25th of August we have contact via What’sApp. Lobke says that Mats jumped out of bed this morning, and in the passage on the way to the baby room, full of expectation, asked, “Is the baby out of your belly yet, Mommy?” But no, the little bed is still empty. The little big brother just doesn’t understand all this. Neither does Lobke. So today she’s going to bake a Jamie Oliver carrot cake because, as she says, “You have to have something to do!” I think it’s a good idea, and always nice for a birth photographer to have something yummy in the house. 😉 At 15:15 I receive a photo of the carrot cake, and a message saying, “Now I just hope that you and the midwife can help us eat it!” I hope so too! Yummy!!
In the evening I’m getting ready for yoga, and Lobke phones. Can it be?? Yes, she tells me she’s having contractions, and she thinks this is it. They could be false labour contractions of course, so I ask whether she’s done the ‘shower test’. False labour often stops when the mom takes a warm shower, and real contractions don’t. Lobke also thinks it’s a good idea. I go to my yoga lesson, because it would be a shame to miss it for no reason if the contraction do stop. My telephone goes with me, as always, and during each ‘downward dog’ I check it briefly. 🙂 At 20:00 I get onto my yoga mat, but at 20:30 I get off it again. Carlo has sent me a message saying that the contractions are continuing under the shower. Off to Rosmalen!
When I’m in the car I get another message at 21:30. The midwife has been, and Lobke is dilated to 2cm. Things really have started. I hope she’s not disappointed because I know that Lobke didn’t want the midwife to be there too soon, in order to avoid disappointment.
At 22:30 I take the first photo at Lobke’s home. Carlo has opened the door for me, and Lobke is upstairs. The atmosphere is incredibly calm and serene, even downstairs. After I’m settled in (and have admired the carrot cake in the fridge), I go upstairs. Lobke is leaning forward over the bed, and is busy dealing with a contraction. There is a lovely atmosphere here in the bedroom too. Some calm music is playing in the background, candles are burning near a lovely buddha on a cupboard. It’s an environment, which encourages whispering! When the contraction has passed, Lobke says hello. 🙂
She is beautifully pregnant! Her whole belly is just baby. In between contraction we chat a little. The contractions are intense, and she really wants to get into the shower again. She was a little disappointed that she was ‘only’ dilated to 2cm. “I still have so far to go, ”she says. I tell her that’s not necessarily true, but I don’t want to give her false hope that it will all go really quickly, because nobody really knows. But that’s what I’m thinking: it won’t take long. During a contraction Carlo and I are silent. We both just watch her. Lobke asks Carlo once to apply pressure to her lower back, but when he does it, it doesn’t feel good. In between the contractions we take a look at the baby’s room. Mats now has a bedroom upstairs, but he’s not at home. He’s sleeping at his grandparents’ house tonight.
At 23:15 Lobke gets into the shower again. She’s got a ball in there, and when on her knees she can just ‘hang’ against the ball. Carlo switches the mattresses in the meantime, so that Lobke can be on the best side of the bed for the midwife, but doesn’t get his mattress dirty. 😉 After that he goes and sits in the shower with Lobke, because she really needs his support. She is coping so well with the contractions, but they are getting more intense. At 23:42 Carlo decides to call the midwife. Lobke still has her doubts about the timing, but I think it’s a good decision. I hear her saying, “my tailbone is hurting, but that’s not possible”. I’m wondering why she says it’s not possible, because it really is possible! I know the answer, but I think Lobke just can’t believe that it’s going quickly this time. She thinks it’s still going to take hours and hours. She apologizes a few times, and when Carlo asks her what she’s sorry for she doesn’t answer. I don’t think it’ll be much longer before this baby arrives…
At 23:58 the midwife arrives. Lobke needs to get out of the shower, but I hear her say, “I can’t stand up. You need to stand up first,” to Carlo. Slowly, one step at a time, she comes out of the shower. She says, “I really don’t like this.” Had I mentioned that I didn’t think this would take much longer?
Carlo encourages her, and helps her to the bed. At 00:10 she’s lying in bed. Slowly but surely she’s getting more and more demotivated. “There’s so much pressure, I can’t do this. I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” Carlo keeps encouraging her: “You can do this. You’re doing wonderfully.”
The midwife checks her again, and Lobke is dilated to 8cm! When Mats was born Lobke had to go the hospital when she was 8cm dilated because there was meconium in her waters. Once she got there she had no urge to push, and eventually contractions had to be induced, but she never really felt an urge to push. Before this birth she was afraid that this would happen again, and she’s told the midwife that she hopes that she will feel the urge to push this time. She is feeling more and more pressure. “I don’t know what to do. Can I push with it? But what if I fart?” We all laugh. “Don’t laugh!” she says. Women often worry about some very funny things at moments like this. It’s so sweet to hear. Then she says, in a shaky voice, “I’m a bit scared. I can’t do this. ”I’ve stayed in the background, but suddenly Lobke says, “I’m sorry, Marry” I tell her she doesn’t have to say sorry for anything. She’s doing great, things are going well, and she’s nearly there. Then another contraction comes, “Don’t talk.”
At 00:23 her waters go! The first thing Lobke wants to know is whether there’s meconium in the waters. I hear her say, “I don’t want to go to the hospital now.” She still hasn’t realized that she wouldn’t even make it to the hospital now. The midwife tells her the pressure will increase now, and it immediately does. “This is what you wanted, ”she says. “Not any more!” says Lobke. She has a real urge to push now, and we can already see hair! Lobke is still afraid that, as with Mats, she’ll have to push for 2 hours, and doesn’t believe the midwife when she says, “A few more pushes and your son will be here. Do you want to feel him coming out?” Lobke debates it for a moment, but then says no. And at 00:35 a beautiful baby boy is born! Lobke picks him up herself, and wraps her arms protectively around him! It’s such an intimate, beautiful, emotional moment… <3
Carlo looks at his second son, and Lobke becomes so emotional – a real release. Carlo is completely calm, but I do see him wipe away a tear, and a short while later he needs a tissue to blow his nose. Lobke has both her hands wrapped around her baby “Mama is here.” His name is Roman.
Lobke hasn’t seen him properly yet, so he’s put on her belly so that she can admire him. After that he creeps into a little corner by her neck for a cuddle. The cord gets cut, and the peace that was in the room before he was born now returns. I hear the music again, and I see a content baby, a content mama, and a proud papa. <3
They want to rest and recover in peace and calm, and they do that. No family are phoned yet, and nothing has to be done. It’s good like this. The post-natal carer has now arrived, but she politely keeps her distance. The midwife, the carer and I go the baby’s room, so that Carlo, Lobke and Roman can have a quiet moment together. Carlo comes and fetches me a little while later to tell me Roman has found his thumb. So cute! I have to take a photo of that!
Roman is now one and a half hours old, and Lobke is not ready to give him to anyone else yet. 🙂 But he does have to be checked over. He gets his Vitamin K, is weighed, and is looked over from top to toe. Everything is complete, and it all works. When he’s been cleaned (he pooped, and everything is covered in it), it’s time for Carlo to dress him. He hasn’t forgotten how to do that. 🙂
Lobke phones her mom to tell her she’s a grandmother again (she knew that labour had started). The rest will all be called in the morning, and Mats will be left to sleep tonight. I ask Lobke if she wants any more specific photos, but she just wants to enjoy this moment. “It’s all good like this.” It sure is.
Dear Lobke, Carlo and of course Mats: enjoy this beautiful little man!