Waiting takes long… | Birth photography Belgium

Geboortereportage België

From the moment that I started working for myself, I have been afraid that I would forget an appointment. And of course… there had to be a first time..

It is Sunday and it has snowed. I have a passionate dislike of snow and the cold and considering my agenda is empty for the day I decide to do nothing at all and not go outside. So when the doorbell sounds at 12 I am, just like my boyfriend, in my PJs. I even call out something about door-to-door collections and “I’ll get it” and there they are… 2 people, 1 pregnant, no collection tin… Uh oh…

Of course I realized immediately that something somewhere had gone and with 100 apologies I let them in. Lucky I was even home, because they came from Belgium and the snow and everything… What a bad first impression! Luckily they do not mind themselves. I had already spoken to Kim by e-mail and now she’s here together with her husband Tom. I keep feeling uncomfortable and keep apologizing and they keep saying it’s no problem. And of course in such a pleasantly civilized Belgian accent 🙂

We have a nice conversation and right then and there they decide to book a birth report (could it be my nice PJs? 😉 ). Kim is due on July 4th and wants to try and give birth without epidural in the hospital. It’s a boy, this they already know.

On June 12th she calls me while I’m at a newborn shoot. I pick up just to be sure, surely she doesn’t have contractions already? It turns out not to be the case, she wanted to ask something and check that the phone number worked. In hind sight perhaps it was a premonition? Because on June 14th (while I’m at another birth) Tom calls me: her waters have broken! For a second I panic slightly, as I can’t leave here just yet. In all honesty I tell Tom, but they’re already at the hospital and there they’ve said it can still take a while before the contractions start. If they do not start by themselves then they’ll only induce the birth the day afterwards, Saturday. I only hope it works out OK! We arrange that I’ll call as soon as I’m done here and he’ll do the same if anything changes.

Late in the evening I still haven’t heard anything. I drive home exhausted and hope very much that the contractions stay at bay because I’m in no condition to drive to Belgium without sleeping. We have a quick call, but it’s still calm. As planned they’ll induce labour early tomorrow morning. Tom promises to let me sleep as long as nothing special happens. That’s a nice thought 🙂

Saturday morning at 8:24 I get a message from Tom. At 5AM they gave Kim a pill to soften her cervix. At that point she’s 1.5 cm dilated. At 9 the gynaecologist will come back to see how she’s doing then. I read this still half asleep and I’m happy that it looks like I’ll manage to be there after all. The rest of the morning it’s still quiet. At 12:30 we have contact again. I understand from Tom that by now Kim has had 2 pills and that she’ll get a third at 3PM. If this doesn’t allow the contractions to start naturally, she’ll get an IV to induce them. Slowly the day passes and at the end of the afternoon I have Tom on the phone again. He’s clearly tense. He indicates that it’s hard on him, that he can’t do anything and doesn’t know what’s going to happen and how long all of it’s going to take. His mother is also nervous because it’s taking so long and that makes him nervous. I reassure him that in fact it’s good. It’s better to give your body the chance to start by itself than immediately starting with “heroic remedies”. He sounds a bit more at ease. Sudden so much has happened in such a short period and all kinds of decisions are being taken that as a father to be, you have no knowledge about, I understand this worries you.

At 17:46 the message finally arrives that Kim has started getting contractions. Not by itself unfortunately (by the IV), but they are there! And she’s almost 3 cm dilated. If the following check indicates she’s making progress I’ll start driving. In the end that’s at 8PM. She’s 3.5 cm dilated and the contractions are coming in quick succession. I make my way over there at my leisure!

A little before 10PM I arrive at the hospital in Turnhout. The ‘vroedvrouw’(midwife, just to maintain the Flemish atmosphere) comes out to meet me and says that it can still take long or that it will be a caesarean. This hits me like thunder on clear skies, apparently I’ve missed a lot while I was in the car… When I walk into the room there’s a calm atmosphere. I see immediately that Kim has been given an epidural. Tom’s sitting next to the bed with his feet on a ball (one you can sit on when you have contractions). There’s a small light, apart from that it’s dark. Tom starts telling the story and only now do it all becomes clear to me.

Kim’s water broke the previous Friday morning (it’s Saturday evening now) in the hospital during a check-up. The previous weeks she’d been retaining a lot of moisture. She shows her legs and for a second it startles me, they’re stretched tight. Because the doctor was worried about it (due to moisture and a high blood pressure), she was already under strict observation. When her water broke she had to stay in the hospital straight away. So they’ve already been here since Friday morning, going from one check-up to the other, but nothing happened. The contractions only started when the IV was administered at the end of the afternoon. Immediately they came quickly and in full strength. Kim desperately wanted to do it without an epidural, but because the contractions were so strong and fast due to the IV she had already been trying it herself for a few hours which completely exhausted her, on top of which the dilation wasn’t progressing, so unfortunately she had no choice. At 9PM she was given an epidural. Now she’s doing better, but she’s terribly tired. Even Tom is tired. Neither have slept much since they arrived. In the hospital they doubt whether the baby will fit through the pelvis and so, if the next check doesn’t show any signs of progress, it will have to be a caesarean. Phooey, so much has happened already! There’s nothing else for it but to wait for the next check-up.

At 11PM the doctor comes by again. Tom is waiting in anticipation for what she has to say. Everyone is… Kim is not much more dilated, now 4 cm, but the baby’s head has descended a bit. As such they decide to wait and see a bit longer. The baby is doing well, so there’s still time to wait. After the doctor leaves I suggest that maybe it is best that we all try to sleep a bit. Kim is exhausted and needs to gather her strength, as does Tom (so do I by the way, considering the birth I just came from). Kim closes her eyes, Tom lies on the sofa and I grab a chair with a pillow.

1 to 2 hours later they come to check again. We’ve all been dozing off, but now we’re really tired. Luckily the doctor has good news: 8 cm! Fantastic. We have wait again the next 2 hours. I move to the floor with my pillow and fall asleep, Tom on the sofa and Kim tries to sleep in bed.

3:15 AM. We’re all sleepy. The only noise in the room is the baby’s heart beat. Again they’re doing an internal check. I look up sleepily and Tom gets up. Kim is 10 cm dilated! Only the baby has descended far enough yet and because he’s doing so well they still want to wait to a while to see if he’ll descend more. This also allows Kim to save her energy. They’re keeping a close eye on her for her blood pressure and they’re also carefully monitoring the little one. Again we wait…

5:15 AM. The baby has descended a bit more, but still not enough. I crawl out of “my hole” under the table and Tom goes to freshen up in the bathroom. He says: “I’ll only be at ease when he’s here”. I understand… They’ve been for 48 hours now and still no baby. That’s a long time to be waiting in anticipation to see your little one for the first time and it’s a long time to see your wife like that without being to do anything about it.

7:15 AM. Kim as to throw up, a pity. It’s now been 4 hours since she was 10 cm dilated. The little one is still doing well, but now she has to push. She’s ready for it. At 7:25 AM she starts to push. At first there’s a tense moment to see whether Kim can get him “around the bend”. But then suddenly the doctor says: “Yesss this is going to work!” She’s been at it for about half an hour and this gives everyone courage. I think she’s doing great! Tom is also behind 100%. If she pushes, he pushes. His hands grab the bed just as hard as Kim’s and he’s just as red (from holding his breath) as Kim does after a contraction. They’re truly giving birth together! And then everything happens in an instant and – after a long wait, being patient and a bundle of nerves- at 8:14 AM a beautiful little boy is born! Kim can hardly believe it and Tom sheds tears of joy! His name is Nino <3

He’s immediately checked by the pediatrician because the membranes have been broken so long, but he’s doing extremely well. He turns pink quickly and makes himself heard with his full lung capacity. He weighs 3065 grams and is 48 cm long. After the checks he gets to snuggle up to daddy. Unfortunately Kim still isn’t feeling well and they’re monitoring her closely. After an hour she slowly gets better and Nino is allowed to go lie with her. Tom and Kim’s voices calm him no end.

Not much later he drinks from the breast for the first time. Tom steps out for a minute to call everyone to say Nino is born and shortly afterwards his parents are in the hospital. They’re not allowed into the delivery room so I walk out with Tom to meet them. His mother is in tears. Of Joy and of relief! A truly beautiful moment right there in the hallway!

Luckily the hospital is willing to make an exception – too nice! – and the proud grandma and grandpa are briefly allowed to behold Nino. I take some nice pictures, and I make some more for the birth card (even though Nino prefers lying with mummy or daddy) and then I leave this newly created family in peace. They truly need their rest and I’ve been able to make a beautiful report.

Dear Kim and Tom, thank you for your confidence in me despite the PJs 😉 and all the best with sweet Nino!


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