The near water birth

Eva and I “know” each other via Twitter through her company Rondom Eva (Around Eva). When she spotted the water birth offer (the chance to win a free birth documentary for your water birth), she decided to respond. Only, she wasn’t due during the period the offer advertised. Under the motto: “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, she sent me an email. At that point I hadn’t received any responses yet, so I was definitely up for it! The reason I didn’t want to photograph a water birth in July was that I would be on holiday and I couldn’t guarantee that I’d actually be there. I discussed this with Eva and her husband Robert and they gladly wanted to “take the risk”. If I could make it: great; if not, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Due July 21st, and I’d be back from holiday on July 19th

When we first met I found out their oldest daughter Fien was born within 3.5 hours! It was clear I would have to jump straight into the car for this birth; otherwise I probably wouldn’t even make it. Fien came along when we first met. She is now almost 2 with a beautiful full head of hair. Her new brother or sister (it would be a surprise) was labeled beeby J.

During my holiday in Sweden I didn’t hear anything. No news is good news I thought. On the day I go back to work (19 July 2012), I get a WhatsApp from Eva: “Had a nice holiday? Our beeby has been waiting for you, doesn’t seem to be in any hurry! Regards Robert and Eva”. I’m busy with my mail and sitting comfortably in my garb in front of the computer. No need to hurry I even think. Later in the afternoon at 14:15 I send Eva an email, amongst others I write “So, the baby is still in your belly  Good news! How’s it going apart from that? Any signs yet? I’ll make sure everything is packed so I’m ready to go when the time comes! “. I realize that after I’m done answering my emails I should gather my things so I can leave immediately if necessary.

At 16:20, having just finished my last email, I get another WhatsApp from Eva: “I get the idea that it has begun. Midwife is coming over to check, I’ll keep you posted! “Huh?! I jump up, madly get everything ready, sprint to the shower, but before I want to jump in, Eva calls: “I’m 3 cm’s dilated!” It’s 16:26. In record time I shower, get dressed, pack my stuff and jump in the car. I don’t even make any sandwiches, because I feel there is no time. I start driving at 16:45 (quick or what?). I need to get to Breda, which is about an hour away.

When I leave my car behind in a parking lot, I still hurry. I walk up to the desk to ask where the birthplace Origin is. She has to call up to say that I’m coming. She respond with “they’re already waiting for you”. Now I really know that I have to hurry. In the lift on the way to first floor I get my camera out of my bag as quickly as I can and by the time I reach the first storey my bag is back on my back and my camera ready in my hands. Here there’s also someone waiting for me. Have I made it in time?!

 It’s 17:55 when I walk in. I quickly scan the room: it’s big; there are two beds and in a large corner of the room there is a bath. It is surrounded by a type of tall fake bamboo so that you can only see the bath properly through the “opening” you use to get in. The bath is full and Eva is standing next to it, leaning against the bamboo. In the short amount of time I’ve been standing here I can’t tell how far along she is, because even though I can tell she is in pain, she’s very calm. The midwife tries to help her get into the bath. Eva has already taken off her clothes. I briefly confer with Robert whether there’s a top she can still put on. In the mean I take readings of the light and I come to the conclusion that it’s good that she gets into the bath like as she is because she’s standing exactly in the darkest corner as well as being hidden behind the bamboo. Robert walks up to her with the top and suddenly says: “He’s coming, he’s already coming!!” From this point on everything flies by!

I crouch down to see what shots I can get and take pictures with the light I (don’t) have. The midwife, not even having had time to put on her gloves, also kneels down so that she can see what’s happening and sure enough there’s the head! Exactly 2 minutes after I walked into the room, Eva gives birth standing up, next to her the bath, of her child. The baby is born with the caul, which means it is born with some of the birth membrane over its head (in the first photo of this documentary you can see immediately how it came into this world, the midwife has just caught the baby and you can still see the membrane wrapped around it’s arm).

It’s a hectic moment; the baby is slippery for the midwife because she isn’t wearing gloves. Robert is standing next to her to help Eva so that she doesn’t slip, considering it’s extremely slippery because of the amniotic fluid (he’s already discarded the top somewhere in the corner), in the meantime the second person who has arrived to help is busy moving a bed in the direction of the bath and Eva is standing in complete shock with her baby in her arms, after the midwife has had to make several forward rolls with the baby because the umbilical cord is extremely short. I hardly realize myself what’s going on but I take pictures. I even hear the midwife saying: “It’s just like in Africa.” Because of the hustle nobody has even seen whether it’s a boy or a girl. “It’s a boy by the feel of it,” says Eva. It must have been the umbilical cord, because it really is a girl! Robert had hoped for this, so he’s thrilled!

Once Eva’s on the bed and it becomes clear their little girl is doing well, happiness washes over them and I hear them say: “This is Jet”. Jeez Jet what a birth! Jet herself looks quite purple because she was caught briefly and hung upside-down, but that will blow over soon. She has a beautiful head of hair! The ‘I can’t believe it went so quickly’ atmosphere hangs thick in the air for a long while. After Eva, Robert and Jet have more or less caught their breath, they call the family. Eva’s sister who works in the hospital and coincidentally walks in to give a course, can’t believe her eyes. It looks like she’s not quite ready to give a course 🙂

Little Jet, isn’t even that little when you consider how quickly she came into this world. She weighs 4110 grams and has chubby cheeks. Straight away she drinks incredibly well from the breast (hardly surprising with a mother in that line of work 😉 ! With Fien it took three days so it’s amazing to see that Jet can find her way immediately. Right afterwards her big sister Fien comes to have a look, even she seems like she’s doesn’t understand. If you’re almost two and you kiss your mummy’s tummy and say ‘hi beeby’ and you come back a few hours later and there’s a crying baby on mummy’s lap and the tummy is gone, you don’t get it. Her facial expression is priceless.

The granddads and grandmas also pop by and I take a few more nice pictures before I leave this super quick, out-of-bath birth 🙂 In any case I am happy I made it on time!

Dear Robert, Eva and Fien: I don’t think I’ll witness another birth like that soon 😉 so in any case it was special. I wish you all the best with your daughter and sister!