Made in heaven | Scheduled c-section in Belgium

Geplande keizersnede belgie

Sometimes people come to me via other people. Sophie and Stefaan knew about my work because Denny, my boyfriend. Used to play football with Stefaan.

Early in the pregnancy, Sophie sends me an email. She and Stefaan have a beautiful blended family, and all the children are boys – 5 of them to be precise! Sophie already had 3 boys when she met Stefaan, Stefaan had a son of his own, they’ve had one son together, and now number 6 is on the way! All 4 of Sophie’s births were c-sections, so this one will be too. They live in Belgium, where they are generally a lot more difficult when it comes to allowing a photographer in the OR, so I mail back that I’m not sure that Sint Lucas hospital in Bruges will give me permission to be there. I also send her all the info she needs when asking them, and then we wait and see.

In early 2016 I receive another email, and I’m pleasantly surprised. Not only has the gynaecologist given permission; she’s enthusiastic about it! How great! We immediately make an appointment to meet up. At the end of March they will come to the Netherlands, with their youngest son. Loeck.

The story is a special one. In August of 2015 Sophie’s father passed away after a long illness. They told him they wanted to have another child, and that they would love to have a girl. Shortly before he died, her father said that he would do his best ‘up there’ to send them a girl. One month after his passing, Sophie was pregnant, and after having 4 boys, she’s now expecting a girl! With Stefaan’s son that means this little girl will have no less than 5 big brothers! Wow!

We talk everything through, and in the weeks which follow we stay in touch. The c-section is planned on 1 June, and the boys do not know this. They also do not know that the baby is a girl, which makes it extra fun! They’ve all been allowed to guess what the baby is, and some of them think it’s a girl, while others think it’s a boy.

Sophie and Stefaan are planned in early on June 1st, so we agree to meet at 6:50am in front of the hospital. It’s a misty day, and the roads are very quiet. I take a photo of them in front of the hospital, and we head for the hospital room in which they’ll be spending the next few days. Sophie is nervous, mostly about the placing of the IV (which often is difficult for her), and the epidural (which was placed with difficulty the last time). Once we’re in the room there’s not much time, because she has to be in the OR at 7:30. A lot of pink things come out of their bags (logical, after all those boys 😉 ) and baby’s first outfit. The first outfit is very special. The text on the front says “Made in Heaven”… Sophie’s father is with them in spirit. Coincidentally (or not?) this item was part of the newborn collection in the stores this year.

Once everything is unpacked, Sophie can change into her hospital gown. They’re not actually too ugly in this hospital. 🙂 The matching stockings are put on, the baby’s heart is listened to, her temperature is taken, and the IV is placed – perfectly on the first attempt! What a relief! At 7:34 everyone is ready to go. At the OR Stefaan and Sophie briefly say goodbye to each other, because he won’t be with her while they place the epidural. We have to wait upstairs until we’re allowed into the OR. After a long half hour Stefaan is fetched. He can get changed into scrubs, and at 8:20 we’re in the OR. Stefaan goes and sits with Sophie. The placement of the IV also went smoothly, and didn’t hurt. I think Sophie’s dad is making sure everything goes perfectly today.

Everyone in the OR is very friendly, and helps me to figure out the best way to get great photos. Sophie has said all along “I’ll believe it’s a girl when I see her.” They’re doing a gentle c-section, and in the blue sheet hanging up over Sophie is a piece of clear plastic through which she can watch while her baby is born. 9 minutes later, at 8:29am, the moment has arrived – there she is! She’s covered in vernix, and let’s her voice be heard. She briefly goes with the midwife to a room where the paediatrician is waiting to check her. They’re finished quickly, because she’s perfectly healthy! She’s wrapped in a warm cloth, and quickly taken back to her mama and papa. She is allowed to stay with her mama. In the meantime, Sophie is stitched up. We’re told her name: Billie-Fleur. What a great name for this beautiful baby girl. First she has some cuddles with papa, and then, once some room has been made, she can lie with her mama. From the moment she is lying there she’s completely calm, until she gets hungry and starts rooting. The midwife suggests letting her latch, and with some adaptations they manage it! At 8:53 Billie-Fleur is happily nursing as if her life depends on it. The midwife has to crouch in a very uncomfortable position to make it possible, but as long as Billie-Fleur keeps nursing, she doesn’t give up. What great service!

At 9:15 they’re finished the suturing, and Stefaan briefly take Billie-Fleur upstairs, so that she can have her temperature taken, and be weighed. She weighs 3288g, and is 50,5cm long. Her temperature is a little low, so she’s immediately dressed before being taken back to her mama in recovery. She’s given her vitamin K, and I take a few photos of her placenta, which was also brought upstairs. At 9:45 we’re back with Sophie in recovery and Billie-Fleur grabs her chance and latches onto the other breast. She stays there until we’re back in the room at 10:30. There she has a brief cuddle with papa, and then… you guessed it – she nurses again! When she lets go of her own accord, I grab my chance and take a few nice photos of her, and then it’s time for papa. Sophie watches proudly from the bed, but after a while she says, “You can give her to me you know, and then you can get some coffee,” trying to be subtle, but we all laugh, because it’s obvious she just really wants to have Billie-Fleur in her arms again. I completely understand! 🙂

The older children are at school right now, so we wait until they can come and visit. Sophie closes her eyes, and Stefaan goes and gets the rest of their things from the car. In Belgium it’s traditional to give every visitor a gift with the new baby’s name on it. Usually it’s some kind of candy. Sophie has been hard at work, and Stefaan returns with a whole trolley full of stuff, He sets everything up neatly in the room, under the watchful eye of Sophie (who is willing to open her eyes again for the purpose of checking that Stefaan is putting everything out correctly 😉 ). It looks wonderful!

Not long afterwards we hear children in the corridor, and the first 2 little heads appear around the door. Hand in hand they come into the room, followed by the other 3 boys. All of them are wearing denim shirts, and they look absolutely adorable! They stand and watch with a mixture of amazement and pride, “It’s a girl after all”. One by one they give their mama a kiss, and have a good look at their sister. In the meantime Oma is waiting impatiently in the corridor, and when she comes in the tears soon follow. A very proud grandmother!

Loeck cannot be torn away from his sister, and one by one all the big brothers are allowed to hold her. It’s beautiful to see them staring proudly at the little girl in their arms. I take a photo of all the brothers with their sister, and a photo of the whole family together.

One thing is sure: Billie-Fleur is a lucky girl who will never need to fear anything, because her big brothers will do anything to protect her!

Dear Sophie and Stefaan, Warre, Yaro, Jobbe, Bouwe and Loeck: I wish you much happiness with your sweet daughter and sister!

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