Natural Water Birth | At Home: Meeting Beth

I was not yet on standby for Michele and Raymond Kroger and on my way to a kids birthday party with my own little munchkins, when the call came through from Lana, the doula – Michi was in labour.  Thinking I could steal a couple of moments with the camera at the birthday party, I had my camera bag in the back of the car (but not my ‘birth photography bag’ – which I will do a separate blog on).  This is the story of Meeting Beth on that rainy Saturday afternoon as told by Raymond (original source Your Pregnancy Feb/March 2014, photography Love Alda Maternal & Family Photography).

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The best snow in years fell in the Western Cape Mountains that last weekend in August. We observed as our friends made plans to get to the snow, and agonisingly considered the possibility of one last walk before the due date. Beth would have none of it. Turns out, she hates being cold.

On the morning we planned to go, my wife Michi’s water broke, and expectations changed. Most people told us the firstborn would be late. Beth had different plans.  

A message to Marianne our Midwife was replied to with a smiley-face, and Michi began her contractions. What now? Set up the birth pool – it only arrived last night. A week early should cover us, we had thought. Just.

Michi started timing her contractions and within no time, they were four minutes apart. What was so important about the 4 minute mark? – I tried to recall from the ante-natal classes. I think that’s when you call for help. Do I bother Marianne yet?  I sent another message. Marianne replied “On my way”. Oh boy, this is getting serious. I learnt later that she had to run down Table Mountain.

Lana (a Doula) arrived shortly to find Michi on the exercise ball, concentrating and breathing. Now on the bed, now on the ball. “Fill the pool”, Lana suggested. Good idea. Michi began to cry from the painful surges. Marianne arrived as I started to feel out of my depth. Together their experience, calm and wisdom settled us. I tried to remember my birth-companion responsibilities: Project manager. Chief communicator. Mediator. Decision maker. Tea maker. I don’t think I have multitasked like that in a while.

Our birth photographer, who we have come to know and love, had been in contact with us about capturing the birth. Her frantic change of schedule was hardly noticeable in her quiet presence as she joined us.

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Marianne suggested that I join Michi in the birthing pool. Do what? I had seen this on the birthing videos. Caught up in the moment, I didn’t even hesitate.  The pain was real. I could feel it as I embraced my sobbing wife. It was intimate, emotional. Marianne and Lana draped a cool cloth on Michi’s face between surges- both calm but not interfering. Michi cried out for help, for relief. Marianne’s wisdom and timely jokes soothed her and my anxiety.

My emotions cycled from calm to chaos. The stretching of the muscles seemed like round after round in a boxing ring. But Michi pressed on. Now a head was visible. The rest was agonisingly long. Boy? Girl? Come out already! At 16H45, our child arrives. She’s a girl! A cold girl. Beth announced her discomfort – utterly displeased that we had let the bath get that cold – something we hadn’t noticed in the euphoria that remained for days.

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We are very grateful to God that her birth went as smoothly as it did. They say it takes a village to raise a child. What an appropriate start.