Rest and Strength | A nice home-birth in Vinkeveen | Photographer at birth

Fotograaf bij de geboorte Luca

I met Rianne at the 9 Months convention in February in Amsterdam where I had a stall together with Jeanette van Youngart (trendy birth cards). We had had contact before that already and Rianne had explained to me that wanted pictures of the birth of her 2nd son. During the birth of Robin, her first son, the mid-wife’s assistant had taken pictures, but they were all out of focus. Because she didn’t remember much of it anymore it was even worse that the pictures were so fuzzy and she desperately wanted good pictures of the 2nd birth. Her husband Fred personally didn’t see the added value of it, but for Rianne the emotional value was high and so she pushed on, because, as she put it herself: “I can never do this again”. Considering Rianne is from Vinkeveen, it was easier to meet in Amsterdam, seeing as I was there anyway. It was a really nice conversation and she assured me that, ‘even though Fred isn’t fully behind it’, that it was OK that I would come. Which is certainly not nothing ;-). She also had pictures of Robin’s birth with her and I understood perfectly well why she wanted to hire a professional photographer for the birth. She was going to give birth at home in Vinkeveen, so I looked forward to it extra much because I thought it was very special to be allowed to shoot a birth at someone’s home. I thought it was exciting as it was a 2nd child (considering Vinkeveen is a 2 hour drive for me), so we made strict arrangements about when she would call me.

A week before the calculated date Rianne called me up, while I was in the hospital waiting for a caesarean. It startled me, because for a second I was afraid that the birth had also started for her. But luckily this wasn’t the case. She called to say that the baby hadn’t descended yet so that the mid-wife thought she would probably go over time slightly. It is always nice to be kept informed during the last weeks even though this doesn’t guarantee when someone will give birth. Rianne was calculated to give birth on May 15th and indeed, that date came and went.

On Friday night May 17th as I’m going to bed, I have a discussion with my boyfriend Denny. I tell him that the chance is high that I’ll have a birth this Pentecost weekend in Vinkeveen near Amsterdam, but Denny says that it’s close to Utrecht. We look it up and it turns out to be right between the two :-). After that the lights go out and shortly afterwards I’m called! It’s Rianne, I look at the clock: it’s 1 o’clock, I think I was only just asleep. She has the feeling that it’s started and that at 11 that night she lost a bit of amniotic fluid, but she’s not sure. Hmm, dubious. For 2nd kids you often think that it starts and then it stops again. We agree that she’ll call again when the contractions have really started. Myself I hope to sleep a bit more and I laugh about the fact that in any case I now know exactly where Vinkeveen is 🙂 (even though I always drive with a TomTom).

2.5 hours later my phone goes again, it’s the mid-wife. Rianne is under the shower, the contractions have started but not so strongly yet. She was dilated 2cm when she came in, but now already 4cm due to the stripping, so the question is whether I want to come. Of course! I jump out of bed. Everything is already ready, so it’s a matter of brushing my teeth, jumping into my clothes, making sandwiches (which my sweetheart does for me in the middle of the night, the darling!), chuck my stuff in the car and go! 15 minutes later I’m in the car, its 4 AM.

At 5:45 I arrive in Vinkeveen and I can park the car right in front of the door, luckily I’m a star at parallel parking. The door already opens and I meet Rianne’s sister Simone. She was actually here the previous night coincidentally because Fred would have been gone. So she hasn’t closed an eye yet. Fred’s lying on the sofa and is trying to sleep a bit more, which is hard with everything that’s going on. On the TV the movie “the Life of Pi” is playing. I can hear that Rianne is upstairs. She prefers to be by herself to concentrate on the contractions. The midwife is with her. I will go have a look upstairs in a second, but first I want to make acquaintance with Fred and I want him to know that he’s the boss in his own house and that if there’s something that bothers him due to my presence that he can simply say it. He definitely doesn’t come across as someone who wouldn’t do that, so that’ll be fine 🙂 Simone is a hairdresser and later she’ll do Robin’s hair properly, so that he can look good for the photo for the birth card. She has also done Rianne’s hair properly during the night. It makes me laugh as I wonder how important Rianne will find it when the contractions get stronger ;-).

When I get upstairs Rianne is on her hands and feet on bed and her hair does actually look really nice :-). The calm atmosphere of the room is immediately noticeable. The mid-wife is calmly sitting on the floor. It is fairly dark. Rianne is in her own world and says little to nothing at all. I try to get a bit more light in the room considering it’s already light outside, but the mid-wife prefers to keep it dark so that Rianne can concentrate on her contractions, which is of course more important, so I try to see what I can do with this light. When she’s allowed to start pushing later, then we’ll take care of extra light.

Robin is sleeping in the room next door. He was also born here. Then, the birth took 12 hours. He’s 2 years old now. Even though he keeps sleeping, he notices that something is happening because he’s tossing and turning a lot. His room and the room where Rianne is, is separated only by a curtain. Rianne is very calm, so I don’t expect Robin to wake up from this. In the bedroom everyone whispers, so it’s an oasis of calm.

At 6:50 AM Robin wakes up. His aunt Simone comes to get him. A quick kiss for mommy and he’s taken downstairs to daddy. A bit later we hear the TV quietly. I have no idea which program is on, but Rianne hears it immediately. As she’s just dealt with a contraction she says: “Fred’s all cosy downstairs watching the little train, what a life that man leads while I’m here having a baby”. After all, the contrast is pretty big :-). She does add that he can stay downstairs because there’s nothing he can do anyway, she really prefers to do it alone. Fred comes upstairs every now and then to see if there’s something he can do and see how Rianne’s doing. We just can’t seem to warm up in the bedroom and even Rianne is starting to feel cold, so she puts on her bathrobe. In the mean time Fred keeps turning up the radiator a little bit at a time, but it seems to make little difference in the bedroom.

At 8:15 AM Rianne says the magic words: “I think I have to poop”. Anyone who’s given birth birth, or has been present at a birth, knows what this means: an urge to push a high chance of being fully dilated. The maternity nurse is already downstairs, so I go and get her. When she gets upstairs she immediately says: “It’s like there’s a window open in here” and of course, she’s right! No wonder it wasn’t getting any warmer in here. As soon as the window’s closed the temperature rises by the minute. Fred’s also upstairs and doesn’t leave Rianne’s side. The mid-wife performs an internal check and Rianne is dilated 8 cm. She’s not quite there yet so the midwife decides to sit Rianne on a bar stool. Together with the maternity nurse she gets everything ready. Rianne is still calm in the flesh, even though she’s had a few moments in which she’s not so comfortable anymore and can’t concentrate on a contraction. A few times she says: “Now I really don’t like it anymore”. No, I can imagine…

A chair is brought in for Fred and the bar stool in front of it for Rianne, in this way she can lean against Fred. I’m amazed by how well she can still move. Like it’s nothing, she gets off the raised bed over to the bar stool. Her calm nature and strength are admirable. She listens so well to the midwife! At 8:35 AM she sits on the bar stool, dilated 8 cm and at 9:28 AM Luca is born! And by the looks of it he’s not such a small guy. He’s the spitting image of Robin and considering Robin again looks just like his father, therefore so does Luca :-). Rianne simply says: “I’m so happy, we’ve done it, I love you, I’m so happy” and then looking at Fred: “are you happy too?” Rhetorical question, because he is definitely happy as well, you can tell :-). He even makes a quick joke that luckily Rianne’s hair is still OK which I think is hilarious :-).

Right after Luca is born there’s “panic” just for a second, because Rianne suddenly loses a lot of blood. She has to get off the bar stool quickly and lie on the bed where it gets better straight away. She also gets an extra injection that causes her womb to contract better and right afterwards the placenta is born. Luca has a fairly long umbilical cord and apparently he moved around a lot because he has a knot in his umbilical cord. Luckily it didn’t have any effect on him! Rianne is completely exhausted and she dozes off every now and then. Considering she’s lost quite a bit of blood, they keep a close eye on her. She seems a bit pale too. In the mean time, Robin and aunt Simone come upstairs. Robin doesn’t quite know what to think of it yet, but he does find it a bit exciting. His expression is priceless. And Simone’s as well, so proud of her sister and so happy with her new cousin!

We leave the newly sprouted family alone for a while so that they can enjoy the moment. We haven’t even been sitting downstairs for very long when Simone comes to get the midwife because Rianne is bleeding again. It seems that Rianne’s womb is lazy and isn’t contracting properly. By now she’s lost a litre of blood and in this situation it’s not wise to stay here, so unfortunately she has to go the hospital and the call for the ambulance is made. Rianne doesn’t mind so much herself, so it seems in that moment, but I think it’s also due to the fact that she’s so tired. In the mean time Luca is given a thorough check-up, he’s a very healthy lad that “passes” all the little tests. He weighs 4160 grams, so no feather-weight.

Personally I hope it takes a while for the ambulance to get here, because I know Rianne really wants to have a picture of Robin and Luca for the birth card. It was the most important photo of the entire shoot… As soon as Luca is dressed I prepare everything to take a picture with Robin and his brother and I hope that Robin feels up for it. I’ve already spent some time playing with him earlier, so I hope it helps :-). Luckily he cooperates pretty well for a 2 year old and I manage to take the picture. I quickly take some pictures of Luca by himself, of the proud father with Luca and then the paramedics are already in the room and everything goes very quickly. An IV is injected, the stretcher is fetched, Fred has to go look for the Maxi-Cosi and Rianne has to walk downstairs as quickly as possible, while she’s still feeling OK. Simone and I clear the hallway downstairs so there’s as much space as possible for the paramedics in case Rianne doesn’t feel well while walking downstairs. Luckily it goes well and before we know it she’s off in the ambulance! Robin’s standing in front of the window and just repeats “mommy”, “car”. For Simone it becomes a bit too much for a second when she sees Rianne going into the ambulance like that, which I understand all too well. As such, I stay with Robin so that she can catch her breath. In the mean time Fred gathers all of his things, puts Luca in the Maxi-Cosi and leaves as well.

I stay behind with Simone, Robin and 2 maternity nurses. We have a bite to eat together (thanks for the eggs Simone!!) and then I go home. Not really the end you would have hoped for, but that’s the way it is. Luckily Rianne is allowed to go home again the next day, so that she can enjoy her 3 men in the comfort of her own home! <3

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