Jacob's birth

My third Bolle Buik baby was due on May 19th.  I had had a lovely pregnancy and felt well enough to work right up until the end completing my last meeting as a conference interpreter 5 days before giving birth. I had slept well and felt strong and positive with no cramps or heart burn or other nasty stuff and only concerns about my high blood pressure threatened to interfere with my planned home delivery in the water.

My two other babies had arrived after their due date and I was aware that blood pressure concerns would amplify if this baby too was late so we prayed hard for an on-time delivery and were rewarded with contractions in the early hours of the morning of Wed 16th May. This was the day of the midwife shift changeover and Patty, who had delivered my daughter Lucy three years previously, was due to come on duty that day although, when I phoned her at 7.00 am, she regretfully said that she wasn't on call until later that afternoon.

I then called Leen and told her I was having contractions every five minutes or so lasting around 60 seconds. She was unperturbed by this news and just said I should call back when I needed her. I could have done with knowing whether or not I was in labour or whether this was a false alarm but I decided to adopt her laid-back attitude and went back to bed. The contractions receded to ten minutes apart and mid-morning Leen arrived anyway just to say hello and check the baby's heart beat. Mercifully blood pressure concerns seemed to have disappeared by this stage. Since all was well with the baby and the contractions were quite far apart Leen left again and I went to pick Lucy up from school (Wed lunchtime), stopping for contractions on the way there and back. A couple of hours later, with contractions still about ten minutes apart but getting really painful, I rang Leen again : I really wanted to know if this was it. She popped round and examined me to find that I was already five centimetres dilated and my husband Andrew started to fill the birthing pool.

At this point I became aware that this was not a convenient time for me to give birth. Wed afternoon with David (6) and Lucy (3) at home from school and just before a four day week-end was not how I had planned things. Lucy had been born in the middle of the night and David had slept through the whole thing upstairs : this was obviously going to be a family affair and I didn't know how inhibited I might feel with the children around. Leen rang Patty who was happy to come on call earlier since she had delivered my previous baby and she came with a second midwife (Ann) in tow who helpfully went upstairs to entertain the children. It felt reassuring to see Patty who knelt down to my level (I was in the pool by now) and smiled and encouraged me. In between contractions, which I was able to cope with in the blessed relief of the water, I was able to chat to the children who kept popping in and eat my muesli bar and drink my water. Things hotted up pretty quickly then and the contractions became more and more intense although still quite far apart. Suddenly my body was overtaken by the urge to push and I heard Patty shout for Andrew who had gone upstairs to check on the children. He came dashing down : I felt desperate and overwhelmed by pain. I remember praying; I remember shouting that I couldn't do it; I remember deciding that this would be the last time I put myself through this ordeal. Patty told me to push if I wanted and that the head was there. I touched it and with a couple of pushes Jacob was out and the pain and pressure thankfully stopped. And then there we were. Me and Jacob in the water, Andrew looking on and then down came the children to see their new baby brother and David, my six year old, to cut the umbilical cord once it finished pulsing.

It was noisy, exciting and happy; it was a family birth and Jacob joined in at the top of his lungs. What a lovely experience for all the children : a completely everyday event for them, no association of Jacob's birth with mummy being taken away; no big drama, just a new little brother of whom they are very proud. And for Jacob, the gentleness of the transition through the water to the world, skin on skin, hugs and kisses from his daddy and his siblings, gentle dressing and examination by the midwife and then straight on to the breast. For me, labour at my body's own pace, gentle support and no imposition of anyone else's timing, no tears, no stitches, no hospital routines. Two hours later we were all cleaned up and ready for bed.

At my six week check up Patty asked me how I had felt about the whole Bolle Buik journey. For me pregnancy never felt like an illness. I was lucky enough to be healthy and, thanks to Bolle Buik, medical intervention during my pregnancy was limited to some blood tests. There were no internal examinations or unnecessary scans or alarms, just one big scan around 21 weeks to check that all was well. For me this hands-off approach was exactly what I wanted but I nevertheless felt very cared for. Every appointment with a midwife was at her home : no sitting for hours in hospital waiting rooms  and the best bit of all was giving birth with the expert help of someone I knew and trusted rather than surrounded by strangers.

So, thank you Bolle Buik, Leen, Patty and Ann for the hands-off, gentle accompaniment and delivery.

Now, seven weeks on, life is settling down again. Lucy and David love their little brother and Jacob is a happy, contented little baby who sleeps for five hours at a stretch at night. The first weeks I found difficult, trying to manage the transition to three children, despite the help and support of my husband, visiting family and our wonderful friends from church who cooked for us for the first two weeks. Breastfeeding has never been easy for me (it's still uncomfortable) and the combination of engorgement, sleepless nights and baby blues made the first few weeks difficult. I feel so much better now though! Suddenly five hours sleep a night seems fantastic and Jacob is now alert and can focus on me so our communication is much better and he cries a lot less. He loves to be carried around and snuggled in close and we are very happy to oblige!

Most of the time now I am able to count my blessings and realise how marvellous it is that we have been granted these three remarkable children to nurture and help on their way and, thanks to Bolle Buik, we were able to bring them into the world gently and lovingly starting as we mean to go on...

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