Tension before, relief after | Photographer at a planned c-section

The introductory meeting with Esther and Wouter was so enjoyable. We talked about so many things that didn’t even have anything to do with pregnancy, babies or birth! Esther loves to talk, as do I, so getting off track happens easily! 😉 Luckily we did talk about the most important points, and I heard the birth story of Siem, their oldest child. It was not a pleasant birth, to put it mildly. Siem could not get past Esther’s pubic bone, because of the position of her pelvis, and so he was born by emergency caesarian section. They first tried all kinds of things to allow Siem to be born naturally, and this took its toll on Esther. It was scary for Wouter too, because Esther kept passing out, and the emergency c-section really was an emergency! Fortunately all ended well: Siem is healthy, and Esther recovered physically. Her mental recovery took longer. Esther is a perfectionist (this will become very clear as I get to know her more 😉 ) and she felt that she had failed. The experience also left its mark on Wouter. Together they decided to try for a second child two years after Siem was born, but under the condition (from Wouter) that they would have a scheduled c-section this time, so that they would never again have to experience something like that. And now they’re here…

We talk about everything you can talk about with a scheduled c-section, like what they have to do in the hospital to get permission for the photography. I have full confidence that Esther will do everything she can to get it sorted out. 😉 In theory she will only fall under hospital care right at the end of the pregnancy, so at that time we’ll know more.

The pregnancy progresses well, and when it’s time for the appointment at the hospital Esther soon sends me a message saying that we have permission for photography. Wonderful! The hospital once also raises the option of a vaginal birth, which makes Esther start to doubt their decision. It also brings back all the memories of what happened with Siem. They have an in-depth discussion with the doctor, and with each other, and Esther and Wouter come to the conclusion that a planned c-section really is the best option. Because there is no guarantee that the situation that happened with Siem will not happen again. The date chosen is 17 April, which is an extra special day for me because it was my mother’s birthday. A lovely, symbolic day!

Three days beforehand Esther is told what time she has to be there. She’ll be first up at 8:00. That means very early start! 🙂 We agree to meet at the hospital at 6:25, where they’re expected to report at 6:30. The only thing, which could cause a delay, is if someone else goes into labour on the same day. Esther and Wouter have chosen not to have a back-up photographer, which makes it even more exciting for me.

My alarm goes off early, at 4:00 on 17 April. I want to be sure I won’t be late. 😉 When I, just on time, park my car in a nearly empty parking lot in Schiedam, a car pulls up in the parking space next to me. Such incredible timing – it’s Esther and Wouter. I can also immediately see that she’s very nervous. She’s always chatty, but now extremely so. She is dressed in lovely clothes because she refuses to go into the hospital wearing tracksuit pants, haha.

Once inside we need to search for the place we need to report to, but soon someone shows us the way to the right department. Esther is chatting nineteen to the dozen, and is getting more and more nervous. Wouter looks very calm, and would like to try and calm Esther with a gentle touch every now and then, but he’s not allowed to. Esther won’t let him. She wants to be very brave. She’s put on the monitor, and everything is prepared. Wouter uses the time to brush his teeth. Things are moving at a good pace: monitor on, temperature measured, IV in, beautiful hospital gown on, catheter in… all moving along rapidly. The insertion of the IV doesn’t go well the first time, but the second attempt goes perfectly. In the meantime Wouter is getting the baby’s first clothes ready so that they can be warmed and ready when the baby has arrived. Esther really dislikes the catheter. It feels like she needs to pee all the time (which is normal), and is anything but relaxed in the bed. No matter what Wouter and I say, nothing changes how she’s feeling. I walk back to the room where our bags are, and when I come back I see that Esther is crying. The tension has reached its peak, and she says, “I told Wouter in the car I didn’t want to cry in front of Marry.” Oooh Esther it’s ok, but the tears are to be expected. It’s very scary. I know from experience that most women will say afterwards that it was nowhere near as bad as they expected, but right now that doesn’t help. She’s also worried that they’ll get to the OR late, because Esther and Wouter are often late to appointments, but that’s not up to her now. A short while later a nurse comes in to take us to the OR. Unfortunately they have some unpleasant news. The intention was that they would have a gentle c-section (where, amongst other things, mother and baby are not separated at any point), but now it turns out that this is not possible in this time slot. Apparently gentle c-sections can only be done in 2 time slots over the day, and 8am is not one of them. The message is just ‘dumped’ on them, and is so unexpected, because right from the very beginning they’ve talked about wanting a gentle c-section. It’s no longer possible to discover where the mistake crept in, and there’s also no time to dwell on it because we have to go to the OR now. It’s not a great moment, but Esther is determined to not allow this to ruin the moment. Very good!

A short while later we’re in the recovery rooms. Wouter and I are given our nice blue suits, and a hairnet each, and the last checks are done. Although it’s very early, it’s already very busy. Soon we can go through to the OR where everything will happen. It’s a room with a window, which is great – daylight! And it’s also strange to be able to look outside from an OR. Wouter tries to talk to the gynaecologist about where things have gone wrong regarding the gentle c-section, but we understand that they are going to do a gentle c-section after all, and the baby will stay with Esther. However, there is a small chance that mother and baby will be separated briefly due to insufficient staff to enable them to have a nurse at the ready in recovery.

In the OR everything goes smoothly. The epidural goes well the first time, which is a relief since that wasn’t the case last time (but of course circumstances were very different last time). Esther is now lying on the table, smiling. Everything is ready, and before I even realise it, they’ve started the operation. When the gynaecologist gets to the uterus he shows us how the membranes are filled with amniotic fluid – very cool! After that we soon see the baby. She’s lying face up, so we see her nose first instead of the back of her head. The curtain behind which Esther is lying is lowered, and Wouter holds her head for her so she can see her baby being born. It’s so special that she can watch this happening! And, tadaaaa, she’s here!

After they’ve taken lots of time to show her to Wouter and Esther, the baby is taken to the room next door to be checked by the paediatrician. Wouter goes with her. She’s already beautifully pink, and Wouter tells us her name is Roos. Hello beautiful Roos! ♥ Wouter is given a pair of scissors to cut the cord, but considering it’s already been cut, he thinks it’s nonsense to do it again just for ‘show’. Apparently people don’t usually say that to them, because everyone looks surprised. 🙂 The paediatrician checks Roos, and she looks great. She’s completely covered in vernix! A nice thick layer. She’s also weighed, because if she’s ‘too heavy’ according to the charts, then her glucose levels need to be checked. Siem was also a big baby. His sister is luckily within the limits dictated by protocol. She weighs 3925g, which is perfect. Then she can go back to her mother. She’s put skin-to-skin with her mother, and fortunately she can stay there until we go back to recovery. Esther looks great, and feels good too! Once in recovery they can no longer stay together, but Esther has no problem with that. She’s already very happy with how things have gone, and looking at her we don’t think we’ll have to wait long before she’s back in their hospital room. 🙂 Roos is put in the warmer and Wouter goes upstairs with her. Once they get to the room Roos can have some skin-to-skin time with her daddy. She’s very alert, and already rooting. She doesn’t keep still for a second! Wouter has to do his best to keep her warm under the blankets. It’s time for mom to come upstairs with the milk, because this baby looks like she has a talent for breastfeeding! Luckily it doesn’t take long. Less than 20 minutes later I can go with the nurse to collect Esther. Wouter can stay with Roos.

Esther feels good (apart from being hugely itchy, which is a side-effect of the epidural) and can only say: “I worried about that for months?!”. Once in the room Roos is immediately put to mom’s breast, and as I suspected, she immediately knows what to do. She drinks well right away! They take a little time to enjoy her, and then they call the family. Siem is with grandpa and grandma, and they’ll bring him to the hospital now. Roos is dressed in the meantime, and looks so sweet in her little pink suit. ♥

When he’s arrived with his grandparents, Siem goes upstairs with his daddy to meet his little sister for the first time. He is interested for a very brief moment, and then he’s mainly focussed on the gift he brought along. 😉 Time to fetch the grandparents, and aunt who are waiting downstairs. With a huge balloon, and lots of gifts they come inside, and they’re all so proud! They’re also all taking photos along with me, which looks funny! Siem also gets 2 gifts: a doll, so that he also has a ‘baby’ (which he is zero interest in), and a fire engine which he is thrilled with! That’s better than a doll and sister combined! 😉

Siem goes with his grandparents, and after I’ve taken some nice photos of Roos, the visitors can have some cuddles with her. After Wouter’s brother has been for a visit, I take one more picture of Esther, Wouter and Roos. Then it’s time to leave this happy family.

Dear Esther and Wouter, I’m so pleased that you can look back on an uncomplicated, peaceful birth. The results are worth it! Enjoy being a family of four!♥

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