Birth Story – Jennie

Our Midwife Jennie’s Delivery

As midwives, we experience a variety of births, but delivering a baby with your own colleagues or being attended by them doesn’t happen very often. Jennie had that experience, for the second time. In October, her daughter Belle Jolie Jeanne was born at the Bevalcentrum West under the care of Suzanne. This is the birth story of our own midwife, Jennie.

The Birth was Near

“On Sunday evening, October 1st, I noticed regular Braxton Hicks contractions every 5 minutes. They were short and not painful, but I thought it might be the start of labor. The night was restless with occasional cramps that were less frequent than in the evening, frequent trips to the bathroom, and a contraction every time I turned in bed. However, in the morning of October 2nd, there was no sign of real labor yet. I did have some bleeding, indicating that labor was approaching. Nevertheless, we started Monday quite normally; Robbie was dropped off at daycare, and my partner went to work, albeit from home, which I found comforting.

Creating Pink Ice Creams

Around 11 AM, my colleague Tineke came by for a check-up. I had about 2 to 3 cm of dilation, but I had the same last week. Following her advice, we went for a walk. On the way to the store, I had to stop occasionally because the contractions were becoming more painful. Back home, I put together the treat for Robbie at daycare: boxes folded into pink ice creams with organic strawberry candies and dates inside. It was a precise yet relaxing task, perfect for that moment. And it was needed because the contractions were intensifying. I sat at the table breathing through them, pretending as if nothing was happening. When my partner timed the contractions, they were now very regular, every five minutes. They were painful, and I had to cope with them using my breathing. Labor had truly begun.

Bolognese Pasta Preparation

To be well-prepared for what was to come, I quickly made a pot of bolognese pasta. I thought it would be nice to have it already cooked, as you never know how things will unfold. I also called my colleague Tineke to let her know that it was progressing. She was already at Bevalcentrum West, where I wanted to give birth, and immediately reserved a room for us. We packed our things, arranged for Robbie to be picked up from daycare by my parents, and drove to Bevalcentrum, where room 3 was ready for me.

6 to 7 cm Dilation

The car ride reduced the intensity of the contractions, and I started walking around the room. It was a pleasant way to cope with the contractions. At 5:30 PM, Tineke said her goodbyes as her shift ended, and Suzanne came to assist with the delivery. She left us alone for a while so I could take my time getting used to everything. I took a shower, but it made me so relaxed that the contractions decreased, and I didn’t want that. So, back to my room and back to walking around; standing upright would help with the whole process. When Suzanne returned a little later, I wanted to know how I was doing. The contractions had returned strongly, and I now had about 6 to 7 cm of dilation. I was pleased with that!

Retaining Control as Long as Possible

During pregnancy, I sometimes felt like a ‘ticking time bomb’; labor was approaching, and it was a tough task that still needed to be done. What I was very sure about was that I wanted to retain control over the contractions for as long as possible using my breathing. When Suzanne checked me, she found that the baby was still too high in my pelvis. It was too early to break the water. It was better if the baby descended a bit lower to exert more pressure on the dilation edge. That’s when Suzanne suggested the birthing ball. Sitting on it creates more space in the pelvis, allowing the baby to settle in. I followed her instructions; before a contraction, I would stand and sway my hips to cope with it. Then, I would sit on the birthing ball so that the baby could descend into the pelvis. This rhythm worked well, although it became more challenging. But I retained control, just as I wanted.

Desperation Phase

Around 7:15 PM, I felt a lot of pressure and discovered that I was already 9 cm dilated. After a good discussion, Suzanne broke my water and had me lie on my left side to create more pressure and promote that last centimeter of dilation. From that point, the delivery became intense, and I entered the so-called ‘desperation phase.’ I squeezed RJ’s wrist, my partner, and Suzanne massaged my back with massage oil, but I could hardly cope and had to concentrate completely. I followed my body, stood next to the bed, and pushed along. ‘This is the last part again,’ I thought to myself, ‘You better push hard now, so it’s over sooner.’

Just Three More Contractions

After a few of those intense contractions, Suzanne suggested the birthing stool. I didn’t like it the last time, but I just did what she said because I didn’t know what else to do. From that moment, I felt panic and didn’t know where to turn. The pressure was unbearable, and Suzanne massaged away the edge of that last centimeter, just as I had asked beforehand because this part had to be as short as possible. Suddenly, I felt Belle descend to my perineum, and I knew pushing was necessary. It had to be because her heart rate increased. I heard someone say that, but I couldn’t focus on it because I had to put all my efforts into finishing this task. ‘How many contractions left?’ I asked, ‘just one?’ ‘No, three more,’ said Suzanne, to which I cursed loudly and exclaimed, ‘This has to be over now!’

Belle Jolie Jeanne, a Beautiful Girl!

I felt Suzanne massage the perineum, and suddenly, she emphatically said that, due to the high heart rate, Belle had to be born with the next contraction. I pushed hard again, felt the ‘ring of fire,’ and there was Belle at 8 PM. With a lot of amniotic fluid and meconium. She really had to be born! Fortunately, she cried immediately, and from the stool, I was lifted into bed. It was over! I instantly fell in love with our daughter Belle Jolie Jeanne, what a beautiful girl!

My Midwife, Just as I Needed Her

Beforehand, I had indicated that I wanted to stay ‘in control’ for as long as possible, but if I lost that control, Suzanne had to take over. I wanted to be coached directly, and that’s exactly what she did. When it was still possible, Suzanne left us alone as much as she could. I needed that, and it was very nice. But when that was no longer possible, Suzanne acted very decisively, which was also exactly what I needed at that moment.

Heading Home!

After the delivery, I stayed at Bevalcentrum until midnight. Suzanne was there for the first few hours as usual. Then, the maternity care arrived, ensuring I ate something and helping with the shower, which took a bit longer due to the busyness. The food was well organized; I could choose from a cart with all sorts of goodies! After the shower, I dressed, sat in a wheelchair with Belle in the Maxi-Cosi on my lap, and went to the car to head home.

Just a Little Longer, and Then Back to Work as a Midwife

The birth itself was not easy, and both Suzanne and I had to work hard. But because Suzanne told me what she felt and saw, I could explain that challenging last hour afterward: Belle stayed high in the pelvis for a long time and then had to descend and rotate significantly. This felt uncomfortable and difficult, but it might have been due to my pelvic shape. It doesn’t change the intensity of that challenging hour, but it’s nice to understand why it went that way. Overall, I look back on a very positive delivery where Suzanne helped me tremendously, and I maintained control myself. I am enjoying Belle to the fullest, but I am also looking forward to returning to work. Just a little longer, and then I will be in Suzanne’s position, as a midwife for my clients. Until then!”

Jennie van den Boer