Poopy! | A beautiful birth session
Jessica and I made contact for the first time nearly two years ago, when I took photos of their family. She was still breastfeeding her youngest, Elin, at the time, and we had to take a beautiful photo of that!
We talked about the possibility of them having a third baby, and both she and Michiel said that they would find it very special if I could photograph the birth if it did happen. In the time that followed we had regular contact because Jessica is a volunteer at La Leche League (LLL), and has her own company for graphic design, Jessika.nl. She does a lot of designs for LLL and I occasionally provide photos for them. We’re also both in the Facebook group “Vrije Geboorte”, which is about honouring and protecting the natural birth process. That sounds a bit ‘crunchy’, but it’s a group where are encouraged to think through exactly what you want for your birth, and what your rights are, and what you do and don’t want. It’s a private group, with a lot of information.
The births of Joel and Elin both took place in the hospital, and were quite lengthy labours. This time Jessica really wanted a water birth at home. She had arranged the birth tub via the same Facebook group, where a number of birth tubs have been made available by women who want others to be able to have the same great experience they had. All you have to do is buy a new cover, and you can use the tub. The fun part was that the tub would be coming to me after Jessica’s birth, and we had the same post-partum caregiver lined up (Jolanda from Embrasse Kraamzorg). Jessica also changed midwife practise, to find one which was more in lime with her wishes, and was now at the same practise as me! So I was hoping to witness a birth which would be very much like how I’m hoping my own birth will be. 🙂 The birth team included myself, Jolanda, the midwife from Verloskundige Praktijk Veere, and Yvette. Yvette and I know each other from when I did my midwifery training. She is doing the training at the moment, and for her studies she needed to follow a pregnancy. After I shared her request on FaceBook, she ended up with Jessica and Michiel. When the time comes a whole birth team of familiar faces will be ready!
When Jessica is 38 weeks pregnant Denny and I go and visit Jessica and Michiel to see how they set up the tub, and what the lighting is like for taking photos. Denny can also see how the tub needs to be set up, so that’s also sorted now. It’s actually really simple. Jessica and I both try the tub out, and I test the light, and then we’re ready. Now it’s just a waiting game. Jessica and Michiel know whether baby is a boy or a girl., but they’ve kept it a secret from their friends. They both think baby will arrive a bit early, before the due date of April 13th. We’ll see. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to it!
On the 2nd of April Jessica creates a group conversation in What’sApp so that everyone can be kept up to date easily. Everyone chats about birth, and which days would be handiest for the birth to happen on. 😉 It’s sweet how we all sit and make these plans, when it’s really the baby who gets to make the decision on when to arrive. I’ve just received my new camera, so I’m totally ready for it! But the baby isn’t… A full moon goes by, but no baby. Its nowhere near April 13th, but because of all the talking about it, it occupies the mind, and you kind of expect it to happen really soon. We recap all the ways in which you can try to naturally kickstart labour. Even if it doesn’t help, it does no harm, but nothing helps. Jessica looks to be getting a little impatient. She’s having Braxton Hicks contractions, but that’s it. At her appointment on April 8th the midwife says everything looks good, nothing to worry about, and the baby’s head is engaged. We’re all ready to go, but on Sunday April 12th I wake up in the usual way. Nothing. It’s till quiet. Jessica is convinced that the baby will be here within the next 3 days. Pfff… it’s extra nerve-wracking when you’ve already been waiting for ‘so long’. But there’s still time aplenty, so we just keep waiting.
On Tuesday 14 April (1 day overdue), things get a little complicated. Jessica’s blood pressure is high. 🙁 All the other checks were good, so for now it’s just a question of keeping an eye on things. There was no possibility of stripping her membranes, so we go back to ‘wait-and-see’ mode. In the evening a midwife pops by to check her blood pressure again, and it’s even higher, so she has to go to the hospital. Oh no! Incredibly, once she’s been checked over she’s allowed to go home, and the gynaecologist also managed to strip her membranes. A home birth is still on the cards! And the ‘stripping’ seems to have had some effect because that night Jessica starts having mild contractions.
By now it’s Wednesday 15 April. The midwife comes by in the morning, and Jessica is dilated to 3cm. Yes! We have progress. 🙂 Because her blood pressure is still high, she does have to go back to the hospital, but luck is on her side. Once again, she’s allowed to return home and her blood pressure is no longer seen as an obstacle to the home birth she wants. The contractions do have to get stronger, and if the baby hasn’t been born by 9am on Thursday morning, then we have to head back to the hospital, but for now everyone’s working on the assumption that that won’t be necessary.
But then the contractions fade away again. Sigh. 🙁 Talking about testing your patience! Luckily in the evening they come back, and with some more regularity and strength. We’re all on stand-by once again! At 9pm the midwife comes, and I’m waiting to hear how that goes so that I don’t get into bed and then have to get straight back out again. At 10pm I’m almost falling asleep where I am and I decide to just get ready for bed after all. If I have to get out of bed again a short while later, then that’s just how it is. At 22:40 I get a message saying “ 5cm dilated” Normally with a third baby this would cause me to start heading there immediately, but the midwife has gone home, and is only going to call again at 1:30 to hear how it’s going. She’s obviously got good reasons for doing that. I ask Jessica what she thinks, and she tells me to get some more sleep. I’m feeling torn, but considering I’m 7 months pregnant myself at this point, I’m going to trust the midwife and get some sleep. Finally, at 2:30am I hear my phone again: is it finally happening?! Or have I missed it?! It’s Jessica calling me, and she sounds very calm, and I briefly think, “Nooo! I haven’t missed it have I?!” But no, contractions are still going well, Michiel is filling the tub, and the midwife is on her way. Would I please also come over? Of course!
So after a very slow run-up, it’s finally going to happen! At 2:55 I walk in to Jessica and Michiel’s home. Yes, I’m there, and I’m not leaving until the baby arrives. 🙂 Yvette is already there, since she went earlier to support Jessica so that Michiel could get some sleep. Michiel is busy with the tub, and Jesscia is hanging over the couch while Yvette applies counter pressure on her back. There’s a small lamp on, and the atmosphere is calm.
The midwife comes in and checks again. Jessica is – unfortunately – still at 5cm, and the baby is still up high. Breaking her waters is therefore not an option. Apart from that, the baby is also not in an ideal position right now, with a face presentation, and babies in this position often cannot be born vaginally… Once the tub is full, Jessica steps in. A smile lights up her face: it feels great!
After one and a half hours in the tub, with contractions subsiding a bit, the midwife checks again. Still 5cm. Together with Jessica and Michiel a decision is made to try breaking her waters. Maybe that’s just the extra push needed to get things going. I hear Jessica say, “Is the fluid clear?!” The midwife has something in her hand which looks like a blood clot, but when I take a closer look I see what it is. It’s a little chunk of fresh meconium. The baby has pooped in the womb. 🙁 No more home birth, no more water birth, no more birth with her own midwife and post-partum caregiver. This means one thing: a trip to the hospital. Such a great disappointment after the happiness at being able to leave the hospital a few days earlier, and something so totally unexpected. We give Jessica and Michiel a moment together. Jessica is so disappointed, and sad, but she’s keeping a brave face. It’s just the way it is. In the end the priority is that the baby comes into the world healthy. It’s so strong of her to let go of her ideal picture on the water birth at home. We all get ready to leave for the hospital. Now we just have to hope for a bit of luck in getting a midwife who is good, friendly, and willing to take the time to read the birth plan….
At 16:10 we arrive at the hospital. Jessica’s smile is gone, but she’s still coping so well with the contractions – she’s hasn’t given up! She’s asked whether her own midwife will stay with her, and she’s agreed. How great is that? We also get lucky with the hospital midwife! It’s a woman who takes the time to look at who is coming in, and what the wishes are – wonderful! The monitor is connected, and Jessica sits on the side of the bed the way she wants to. She absolutely does not want internal monitoring, but because the external monitor is not proving very effective, this option is suggested. They stick to their decision, and Yvette, Michiel and Jessica’s own midwife hold the monitor in place so that it can work effectively. Michiel also fills in all the necessary paperwork in the meantime.
Once they’re a bit settled, a plan is made. The hospital midwife wants to check how things are now. She does a check, and there’s good news: baby has dropped deeper into the pelvis, and in a better position. Dilation, however, is still at 5cm. She advises Jessica to lie on her side to encourage baby to get into the right position, and she also advises starting a drip with medication to stimulate contractions a bit more. The contractions haven’t really changed since her waters were broken, and maybe just a tiny bit of help would be beneficial. It’s something Jessica and Michiel don’t want, but she’s been at 5cm for hours now, so that’s not really getting them anywhere. They decide to go for it. At 7 o’clock the IV is put in, and the medication set to the lowest setting.
Jessica is coping well with the contractions, on her side. Michiel is applying counter-pressure on her back and Yvette is keeping the monitor in place. The hospital midwife will be back later, and the midwife from home leaves for a little while to do a handover of her patient consultations. Of course this is the moment that Jessica suddenly says, “I have to push!” It’s 7:45.
I look at her and can see that it’s now not going to take long any more. I fly into the corridor and look for one of the midwives. I find the ‘home’ midwife first. She comes with me, pushes the call button, and starts looking for gloves. She’s technically not allowed to deliver the baby because it’s now a ‘medical’ birth. Jessica suddenly turns over and gets onto her hands and knees. At that moment the hospital midwife walks in. She immediately registers what’s happening, and gives the ‘home’ midwife a nod, indicating that she can continue. Great! She grabs her gloves, and I hear her say, “Feel it Jessica. You can feel the head.” What?!! The head?! Already?! We’re all a bit shocked. Ooooh! I have to take photos!
Well, what can I say? As slow as the build-up was – that’s how fast the finish is! At 8:00 Jessica starts pushing, and at 8:05 Aaron is born! She grabs him through her legs and the moment is magical. While I’m taking the photos I know that I am immortalising this amazing moment, and that the photos will incredible! Not at home in the tub, not completely according to plan, but still exactly what they wanted! And with their own midwife who deserves a spot in the photo. It’s beautiful! <3 Aaron immediately let himself be heard, and looks good.
It feel so intimate with the birth team practically complete. After the birth it’s all about enjoying the moment! Michiel cuts the cord after it’s completely finished pulsing, and Aaron is at the breast in no time. Couldn’t be any other way with his mother, of course. There’s plenty of time to enjoy him before the midwife does the necessary checks. He weighs 3330g, and passes all the checks. Now daddy can have some skin-to-skin time with his son. Yvette doesn’t mind holding him briefly 😉 and then he’s in daddy’s arms. There he is immediately given the nickname ‘poopy’ because he poops all over daddy! When Michiel stands up he’s covered in meconium down to his swimsuit (which he had put on in case he could join Jessica in the tub for the planned water birth). So when mommy goes to shower, daddy’s washing up at the tap, and Yvette is cleaning Aaron up!
Once everyone is clean, the visitors can come! Joel (the big brother), and Elin (the big sister) can’t wait! They are so proud of their little brother. What a beautiful way to end the story of this birth.
Dear Jessica, Michiel, Joel and Elin: I wish you much happiness with your little brother Aaron in the family! ♥