Birth Photography | Cara vd Walt

Birth Photography_Gauteng_Natural Delivery

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

Birth almost never go according to plan. Leanne had a totally different plan for her daughters birth but unlike my previous post her birth didn’t change from a planned natural delivery to a C-section. It changed in the way she planned her natural delivery to go. This mom was strong and courages! Her story reflects truth of not only the pretty parts of birth but also the very, very hard parts.

“We were very lucky because I fell pregnant only a month after I stopped with contraceptive. I had a very good pregnancy as I didn’t have any morning sickness. I did however suffer from hip and back pain.

So with an awesome pregnancy almost over, we “patiently” waited for Cara. I am saying “patiently” because Ristian and I are control freaks. So this “can’t plan for anything” was a huge adjustment for us but taught us that you can’t control everything and it’s difficult to plan ahead (it was good that we got used to it, especially with a new baby on the way 😊)

I wanted to give birth naturally,

not just because it’s the best for Cara, but I wanted to experience everything. I wanted to know what it felt like to push. I also liked the idea that God, and not a doctor, will decide when the right time is for her to come. In short, Cara chose her own birthday.

That being said, I didn’t think that it will give birth naturally. I thought in the back of my mind that the gynaecologist will say that Cara is too big or that she is bridge. You hear of so many stories where women want to give birth naturally but then something goes wrong and they have to get an emergency C-Section. We didn’t go for antenatal classes, because I thought it might end up being a C-Section anyway and then you don’t need to know how to push etc.

I have a low pain threshold, so I was very scared to go through the whole process. I therefore said that if I give birth naturally I must get an epidural!! Come hell or high water… But, again, you can’t plan ahead and the picture you have of what’s about to happen is far from what’s expected.

I therefore want to tell my story. The whole story, not just to pretty parts.

On Saturday the 9th of September 2017, I woke up at 5:00 with what felt like period pain. I was about 39 weeks pregnant. I went to the bathroom and when I came back I woke Ristian up and said to him that I think I might be having contractions. As we didn’t go for antenatal classes, we didn’t know what to expect. We only watched a lot of videos online of what might happen. So when we realised that the time has finally come, we couldn’t remember anything 😊. We had to Google the timing of the contractions. Ristian used his stopwatch and we started timing.

I am not sure when, but I did lose my mucus plug sometime during the morning. And it’s exactly what the name says… its very slimy.

We had plans with friends later the day and decided not to cancel as we didn’t know how quickly I will progress. They came over for a quick boerewors braai and by 14:00 I said to Ristian that my contractions are closer together and starting to get really sore. He said that he will see our friends out and that I should take a shower in the meantime and pack my last stuff for the hospital. Cara’s hospital bag was packed a month before ☺

It’s difficult to explain how a contraction feels, but if I have to say, it feels like very very bad period pains. I started to feel the pain in my lower back as well.

By 17:00 I could not stand while a had a contraction and had difficulty talking through one.

We greeted our animal kids and we were off to Olivedale Hospital. On the way there I started to get very emotional as I was scared of what’s about to happen. I prayed so much and knew God was with us to whole time.

We arrived and I were booked in immediately. I had to do a urine sample and undergo all the checks etc. They took my temperature, blood pressure and they had to see how far dilated I am. I was very nervous for this test because the stories I heard were shocking!! Before the midwife did the test, I told her that I am scared and she should be gentle on me. She instructed me to take a deep breath and open my legs so that my knees are flat on the bed (you almost look like a chicken flatty) and I must be honest, it was sore and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t as bad as expected. The contractions were much worse…

At around 18:00 I was only 1cm dilated.

Ristian looked at me and I said to him that this is going to be a long night. He made himself comfortable on the lazy chair next to me. They gave me my supper and then Ristian went to eat something and the midwife came in and started to explain everything to me and what I can expect.

She explained how to use the pain medication. I was very relieved that I could get some pain relief with every contraction. They gave me Entonox. This is a 50/50 mix of two gases – nitrous oxide and oxygen and is breathed in through a mask or mouthpiece.

She also showed me how to use the exercise ball. This however felt very uncomfortable and it didn’t do anything for me.

They also gave me a Pethidine injection for the pain.

The midwife informed me that my gynaecologist was not on call that weekend. I was a bit upset as I really wanted my gynea there because he was very supportive and had a relaxed atmosphere. But she assured me that the gynea on call was brilliant and she is awesome with natural birth.

It then began to sink in that I’m actually going to give birth naturally. I told the hospital staff numerous times that I really want an epidural, but they kept on saying that I wasn’t dilated far enough.

The contractions at this stage were almost unbearable.

I kept on using the Entonox just to get some relief. I must admit, I started to feel dizzy from the pain medication, but I just kept on using it.

At 23:00 the midwife checked again to see how far dilated I was and I was at 4cm. They said they are going to break my water and things might move quickly.

It wasn’t sore when they broke my water, just an uncomfortable pinch. They used a tool that looked like a knitting needle. Once they broke my water, there was water everywhere. After this, they moved me to the labor ward.

I kept on asking for the epidural and the staff finally said that I can get an epidural.

They called the anaesthesiologist and he was on his way.They checked again, and I dilated to 9cm in 30 minutes! The pain was unbearable at this stage and I kept on using the Entonox. The midwife said that because I dilated so quickly, I can’t get an epidural anymore…

They therefore cancelled the epidural and I was furious.

I think it’s just because I was in so much pain and I didn’t think I could pull through without it. I then had to wrap my head around the fact that I’m actually going to give birth without an epidural.

I started to feel very dizzy from the pain meds and my whole body was pins and needles. It felt like nothing worked anymore and the mask was almost permanently on my face. When the midwife checked on me, my eyes were seeing double. She told Ristian to keep the mask away from me and I’m not allowed to use it anymore ☹

In the meantime, Ristian contacted Sam and said she should come as soon as possible because I progressed very quickly. Luckily, she made it in time 😊

The gynae on call arrived and I knew that its going to happen now. She seemed very calm and collected and had a calming effect on me.

The midwife then explained how to push. She said that with every contraction, I need to pull up my legs and imagine I am diving into a swimming pool. I need to hold my breath and push hard for 10 seconds. They will do the counting. After 10 seconds and I can take a breath (as if I am coming up for air in the swimming pool) and then I need to dive in again and hold my breath for the next 10 seconds and push.

At first I did it wrong.

I didn’t hold my breath and breathed as they do in the movies 😊. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t actually listen to what the midwife said. I eventually got it right, but I was very tired and my legs felt like jelly. I couldn’t hold it up anymore, so Ristian and a nurse had to help me. In between Ristian kept on giving me water and Powerade and he also wiped my face. I was eventually so hot and sweaty, that he took a wet towel to cool me off. He was very supportive.

I pushed for almost an hour and Cara was still not out. I saw the look the gynae and midwife exchanged, and I realised that its now or never. Cara’s heartbeat started to change and she needed to come out as soon as possible. The gynae then also said to me that I really need to give it my all. Sam told me afterwards that Cara’s meconium (black poo) was in my amniotic fluid. Meaning that Cara started to stress as well.

They then gave me an injection in order to cut me (episiotomy) and also used a vacuum suction on Cara’s head to help her out.

I then gave one final push and felt extreme pain and then it was gone immediately.

Cara, my world, my beautiful baby daughter was on my chest. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe everything is over and she is okay. We made it!! I felt instant relieve!!

Ristian was next to me with a huge smile on his face. Our daughter is born 😊. He gave me a kiss and I knew we were safe. He was with me every step of the way and I will always be grateful for that. With Ristian next to me, Cara in my arms,

I felt LOVE!! Love and peace and joy!!

After I held Cara in my arms for a while, they asked Ristian to cut the umbilical cord and the nurse took Cara to weigh her followed by all the checks. Ristian stayed with Cara the whole time. They then injected me with something that helps the placenta to come out easily. I can remember telling them that I can’t push anymore, and they laughed. They said everything is over, I can just relax. They will pull out the placenta after which that they stitched me up (this wasn’t sore at all).

When they were done with me and Cara, I could finally breastfeed her. This was an amazing feeling! She latched immediately, and it was awesome watching my daughter while she gets in all the liquid gold.

We had wonderful family time talking about the whole experience while Cara slept in my arms. Sam continued to take awesome photos.

They then took Cara to the nursery so that I could get some rest. Ristian took all our bags to my hospital room. The midwife asked me to stand up and I should be careful because a lot of blood will spill out of me. I’m glad she warned me, but I still wasn’t prepared because when I stood up, A LOT of blood spilled on the floor.

I felt so embarrassed but also grateful that no one else was in the room with us. After she cleaned me up, she said I should walk to my room.

Half way there I felt very dizzy and I can remember I saw Ristian close by and then it went black. I fainted in the middle of the corridor on the way to my room. I woke up almost immediately and they helped me to my room. The midwife brought me tea and salt & vinegar popcorn 😊, I appreciated that a lot. I was exhausted. I could get some sleep for about 2 hours when they brought Cara for her next feed. It was such a special time because it was just us. Mother and daughter. I can’t describe the love you instantly feel for that precious little bundle in your arms. Your flesh and blood. It’s actually overwhelming 😊

The gynaecologist and midwife were awesome, and it was amazing how everything worked out perfectly 😊.

I never knew I had it in me and I praise God that He gave me the strength and that He showed me what I am capable of.

I thank Him that He was with us every second. I also realised that God will never put a mountain in front of you if He knows you cannot climb it. And sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Cara was born at 1:52 am, weighing 3.38kg and 53cm long.

I didn’t know how everything will go with Sam and if the hospital staff will allow her to take pictures while I give birth. Luckily the hospital didn’t have a problem at all and I felt so comfortable with Sam. On the one hand she was so discreet and on the other she stepped in when needed. She encouraged me along the way and afterwards she told me that she kept on praying for me and Cara because she could see I was struggling. That meant the world to me 😊 and now I can look back at awesome photos and a very special video of the birth of Cara.”

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Birth Photography | Moné Vermeulen

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal” – Unknown

As we are preparing for the birth of our children, most of us have very set ideas or plans for these sacred moments. Most of us don’t like change and almost all of us hate it when things don’t go the way WE planned. But with life and specifically with birth, it doesn’t always go as we plan. Here is the birth story of baby Moné and all the plans mom Mia had for this life changing experience.

“I had this wonderful birthing plan: I wanted to go all natural with as little pain meds as possible, with a c-section only an option if either me or baby went into distress.

My contractions started Friday morning at 3am. I initially thought that it may be Braxton Hicks contractions, as it wasn’t painful at all and very sporadic. Luckily I had my final (39 week) check up at the gynecologist later that day, so I planned on asking her. A few hours later after having our morning coffee, my husband deliberated if he should go to work or not. My mucus plug came out as we were still discussing whether this was labor or not, and I gave the doctor a call asking if we should come in earlier. She said yes! So we started getting ready and were off to the doctor’s just after 7. I had not started dilating yet and she asked if I wanted to induce labor or let things play out naturally.

I opted for naturally, so we went home.

At home we had breakfast, and relaxed while watching series. My husband timed the contractions, and round about 3pm when they were 8 minutes apart he called the labor ward asking when we should come in. They said that we can start making our way there, as it was a half hour drive to the hospital. So we packed the last few things in my hospital bag and drove to the hospital. All the while timing the contractions.

At the hospital I was hooked up to machines to monitor baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. They were now 7 minutes apart and still bearable. I was examined and was still not dilated. We were again sent home and told to come back at 7pm.

At about 5pm the contractions started getting painful, but I waited it out until 7pm.

We had dinner at home, fed our cats and were off to the hospital for a second time at half past 8.

There I was again hooked up to the machines and examined, where the nurse found that I was only 1cm dilated. By that time the contractions were 5 minutes apart, so I was admitted. We called Sam and explained what was going on. As things were progressing very slowly, she told us to wait it out and keep her posted.

At 10pm I could not handle the pain anymore and asked for pain medication. It did not feel any different before and after the pain meds!! So I then later asked for laughing gas as well (which also made no difference in the intensity of the pain I felt).

I tried sleeping through the contractions, with little success.

I was examined by the nurse at 1am and was 2cm dilated, slowly showing progress. My doctor came and examined me at 5am and found that I was only 4cm dilated. I then asked for an epidural, after which they started with augmentation. The doctor found that my baby was posterior and not low enough, so that was why I was not dilating faster. I was again checked at 6am – 4.5cm, and again at 7am – 5cm. Sam then arrived a few minutes after 8am.

At around 9am I was examined again and the doctor found that I was still at 5cm, so no dilation in 4hours!! They broke my water and found that there was a bit of meconium in the water, which was a sign of an unhappy baby. We then made the choice to rather do a c-section, to spare myself and baby a traumatic natural birth.

I was prepped and wheeled into theater at 09:45, and our gorgeous baby girl was born at 09:57.

She was perfect! And even though I was in extreme pain throughout the surgery (I experienced all the side effects to the drugs administered), I was elated when they said we had a healthy 3.1kg baby girl. And all the while Sam was there capturing this life changing event.

Even though the birth did not in the slightest turn out the way I planned, everything worked out like it was supposed to. And now we are the proud parents of baby Moné Vermeulen.”

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Birth Photography | Lilly-Su Dreyer

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“It is time!”  and I knew I had to hurry…..

When you are a birth worker, these words are magical, not as much when there is a history of fast deliveries. Ranel birthed her first two babies in record time, we anticipated a 3rd fast delivery. The Dreyer family waited 9 months and a little bit, for this day! (This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24)

Heather (the midwife) was just in time, I however, missed this beautiful girls birth by seconds.

I was welcomed by a dad that was a little flustered, two wide eyed smiling brothers and “tannie Elanie”. They were all mesmerized by what just happened. The atmosphere was loaded with excitement, pretty pink balloons and a beautiful drawing. A drawing of lilies with the meaning of her name, by her mom to help welcome little Lilly-Su.

Lilly: elegant flower, innocence, purity, beauty, humility…Su: gracious Lilly ….Janel: God is gracious.

Ranel was holding her against her breast Johann was wiping tears of gratefulness from his eyes, touching and talking to his perfect little girl, while the two now big brothers was pouring warm water over their brand new baby sister to keep her warm. Priceless moments. Ranel held Lilly-Su ever so gently to float on her back, while Johann cut the umbilical cord, a home birth like they wanted.

A water birth like they imagined, in these moments every prayer were answered and every sacrifice worth it.

I enjoyed listening to the tales of Johann and the boys running up and down to fill the birth bath with water. How they couldn’t get that perfect temperature and had to through ice in to cool down the water. How relieved everyone was when Heather arrived. Just in time to get Ranel into the birthing pool and Lilly-Su safely in her mom’s waiting arms. I loved Lilly-Su’s first birthday party, complete with cupcakes and her family singing happy birthday. Truly a day to rejoice and be glad in.

I missed my very first birth. It saddened me a little bit, but I knew all was well and exactly as it should be because Lilly-Su was fashioned for greatness!

If you missed her Birth video here it is 🙂

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Birth Photography | James Garnett

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If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”- Wayne Dyer

I couldn’t make this birth and was extremely grateful for my back up photographer Lerissa form Lerissa Kemp Photography to step in (This is one of the many things you have to consider when booking a birth photographer, make sure she has a support system in place 😉 ) Even thought these images are not mine, I still love to share birth stories. I feel that they empower woman in their diversity and hope that they could challenge some of those rigid ideas around birth.

One of the things I love most about birth photography is that like every child, every birth is different. Their stories are different, their beginnings are different. This is a story that started with the Absa Cape Epic Entry.

“When you meet your soulmate, and you plan your life according to all the things you love to do together, you think life can not get better. Life is all about planning. Planning things the way you want it to be.

And then life happens….

We thought we would live life and do most of the things before we have children and before we are too old. That was our plan….

As a wife of a keen cyclist (and a keen cyclist herself), what better gift to give your husband than an ABSA Cape Epic entry? I thought it was a good idea to TRY to enter but in the back of my mind thought, “what is the chance?”. Yet I was one of the lucky 9-second people who managed to get an entry for 2016! I was over-the-moon and super excited and happy. 

We started to prepare. We started to train harder than we have ever done before. We planned. We organised.

We trained, we ate, and we slept Epic.

In between we worked and somewhere in between life happened. Our focus was Epic, until one Friday afternoon, a month before the Epic, when my husband shared devastating news with me. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Our plans, hopes and dreams were shattered in minutes. All our hard work felt like a waste of time and energy.

As we got our minds around the disappointment, the fear and anxiety, my husband had a successful operation and has been cancer free ever since. The organiser of the Epic gracefully postponed our entry to 2017.  We were preparing for our new journey to  the ABSA Cape Epic 2017 when I discovered I was pregnant and the baby would be due on 24 December 2016.

The first thing that went through my mind was “what about the Epic?”!

I even tried to work out if I would manage to get fit and strong within a few weeks after having had the baby. I was making plans and trying to figure out a way because I still believed that there was a reason why I was one of the lucky 9-second people, but unfortunately we were left with the choice of entering or being refunded. We decided on the refund hoping to get another entry one day.

Two days after I have asked for my refund, I had a miscarriage.

I was devastated and was blaming myself for the miscarriage. Perhaps I am getting punished because I was disappointed that we won’t be able to do the Epic. So many thoughts and emotions crossed my mind.

My focus moved slightly away from the desperate need/want to do the ABSA Cape Epic and I have realised that events like this will always be there but having a baby doesn’t just happen. After all we have been married for more than 3 years with no luck. We have tried and planned and I started thinking that perhaps we were not meant to have children.

I’ve tried our last resort, the fertility lab. We had our first appointment where the doctor told us that we won’t be able to fall pregnant naturally or without any help. We had to think about all our options but our 2nd appointment never happened because I discovered I was pregnant.

Naturally! Without any help.

We were over the moon. Fear and anxiety was obviously a major thing and the first trimester was quite stressful for me. It turned out to be an awesome pregnancy without any issues or complications. I had a little bit of food aversion up until 16 weeks but otherwise I was healthy, and the little baby was healthy.

We have decided that we didn’t want to know the gender beforehand. We wanted a surprise. This was the best decision we have ever made and the anticipation and excitement of not knowing was wonderful. And oh, my word, what an awesome surprise it was!

My plan was to have a natural delivery but unfortunately things didn’t work out the way I have planned, which was okay because I have learned that life doesn’t always happen the way we plan it. Luckily, I was open minded about everything from the beginning and I was more than happy to do whatever was best for our little baby. 26 October, 38 weeks 4 days, was THE day.

I went for a nice relaxing pedicure that morning with my sister-in-law. I asked for pink toes because I teased and said I think I am expecting a little girl. From about 9am I started getting cramps which at that point in time I didn’t know was the start of my labour, in fact, it felt more like menstrual cramps and I could manage with it.

I expected severe pains from the word go as well as my water to break, just like in the movies.

I didn’t make much of it. After my pedicure I went to work. During my staff meeting my “menstrual cramps” started getting worse but I have put on a straight face and nobody noticed that I was experiencing some discomfort. At about 4pm I decided to go home, and I told Alasdair that I don’t think he should come home too late. I thought I will have a nice warm bath which will help with the “cramps”. And at that time, Alasdair came home. The bath didn’t help much. I contacted my doctor who advised that we should go to the hospital so that they could check me out. And that is when I contacted Sam to inform her that she should be on standby. Luckily my bags were packed. On the way to the hospital, in 17h30 rush hour traffic, my cramps got more intense and 3-4 minutes apart. We both realised that this is it, I am in labour. And yes, at the hospital they confirmed it, I was in active labour and I was about 4cm dilated, and no, I am not going back home. My doctor came at 9pm to check on me. And then she gave me the news.

My baby is not coming down ,

even though I am in full labour and I am dilating. On the examination both baby and I were still doing fine, and she said we could wait a while to see if baby will come down, but she was not very hopeful, and the possibility might be that baby can go into distress which is not what we want. And I obviously was not keen on the idea of being in labour for days. We’ve decided to opt for a caesarean while baby and I are still healthy and happy. After we made the call, things happened so quickly. So quick, that Lerissa, the photographer couldn’t make it in time to the hospital to capture the whole process. But at the end, the pictures afterwards speak a thousand words and will be treasured forever. Alasdair notified the family and they came immediately and waited in anticipation.

I was calm and relaxed and had a feeling of contentment. I was quite surprised that there was not a negative feeling of anxiety or nervousness. The time has come where we are going to meet our little BabyG. Our little surprise. My doctor and the staff were superb, and I knew I was in good hands, both of us were. A lot of pushing from the doctor, her assistant as well as the anaesthetist to push the baby down. And then, next moment, at 22h17pm the doctor pulled the baby out and lifted him in front of me… “It’s a boy!” she shouted.

A moment I will never forget. Tears of joy rolled down my face.

The family was super excited to meet BabyG and welcome him into the family. They didn’t mind waiting at 10pm after a long day of work to meet the new addition to the Garnett family. Lots of happiness, excitement, and adoration. A small family with a close bond and I never thought that a little baby can bring a family even closer together. Something special happened that night, something I can’t explain but I feel a warmth in my heart every time I look at the images from that night. This baby boy is so special and will be loved so much.

When that tiny little hand grabbed my finger

as if to say, “please mommy, don’t leave me, you are the only one I know, and I am not sure about this thing called world” and I looked at those fingers and saw pure perfection. I couldn’t believe that we made a tiny little human being. That little baby boy grew inside of me. He was growing for 9 months in my tummy. Pure perfection. I am in awe. I am content. This is pure love.

Even though I was the only person he knew, it was such an amazing sight when Alasdair took him, and he laid on his chest and he didn’t make a sound. He was happy and peaceful as if he knew this is his dad who is going to love him and take care of him. The bond between father and son started immediately.

A little baby boy climbed into our hearts and we will do our best to raise him to the best of our ability.”

Images By Lerissa Kemp Photography
Editing By Sam Schröder Photography
Music Slide Show By Sam Schröder Photography

 

Birth Photography | Nadia’s Birth

“Don’t give up on your dreams…… keep sleeping” – Unknown

Bianke and Hannes stopped sleeping with the birth of their daughter Nadia, but they had to learn to trust. Trust and not give up. They had to keep sleeping….

“After being diagnosed with Endometriosis Stage 3 I knew our struggle to have children was real…..

We got married on 27 August 2011, on the most beautiful sunny day, at Avianto. Everything was perfect, and I knew, I married my best friend. Someone that will be with me and support me no matter what challenges we face….

We wanted to get to know each other for a few years before starting a family. As we reached 3 years of married life, we both knew we wanted a baby….

After trying for almost a year there were no signs of a baby…

I decided to seek medical advice and my Gynae recommended that we go and see a fertility specialist. We did and he said that I might have Endometrioses. He recommended that we do a laparoscopy to see how severe it was. I was diagnosed with widely spread stage 3 Endometrioses. Our chances to conceive naturally without the help of IVF was 14%

I immediately started doing research and knew that our struggle to have children was real. The thought of not having children made me sick to my stomach and I knew it was something I would not be able to handle.

In 2015 we made the decision to start IVF.

Nine eggs were retrieved, five fertilized but only three was good enough to freeze. We decided to take a chance on two. After 2 weeks of waiting and praying the results came back negative.

I was not pregnant, I was devastated….How can both not work?

We had 1 Embryo left and I placed all my hope in my last Embie. A month after our pervious failed attempt, we decided to use our last one. Full of hope that this was definitely the one we went back for another round. But after the 2 week wait the results came back negative….again not pregnant….I cried uncontrollably….how could it not work again…I had so many questions going through my head. Both myself an my Husband went through a very emotional time but we were not ready to give up. After this full failed cycle we knew that we would go back again. My husband reassured me that even if he needs to max out all our credit cards, our dream for a baby is one we are not going to easily let go of…..

God spoke to me through Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay

This verse carried me through our infertility journey, and I knew that there was a bigger plan for us….
My husband wanted to go back immediately after our failed cycle but I was not ready. I just wanted a month of no injections, no pain, no heartache, and no Doctors….who knew???

The month that we waited was the month our little miracle Nadia happened…..naturally….”

Here is there little miracle

“I hope that our story encourage others that share in the struggle. Know that there is hope and it’s not always what the doctors say….

Never give up, no matter how big or small and especially not if its a dream to become parents.

Bianke & Hannes Nortman
X”

 

 

Birth Photography | Samantha Graham

“We do not remember days, we remember moments”

The birth of your baby is one of the most life changing, pivotal days in your life. Definitely filled with moments to remember forever. Definitely worth getting a photographer for, specifically for that “moment of birth”. Right?

Wrong!!! Yes, you want a birth photographer at your baby’s birth, but to get permission from some hospitals and doctors allowing your photographer access can be a nightmare. I often get the question from prospective clients about access at hospitals, and I have to admit, I love capturing the whole thing but it’s not a deal breaker. There is so much more to your baby’s birth story than the actual moment of birth.

Here is Samantha’s birth story, we knew from the start that I wouldn’t be allowed in theatre. Normally I wouldn’t post the images the dad or staff captured on my website, because it’s not my work, but I decided to show you what is possible, even though I was not in theatre…..

I think we pretty much still “GOT” the birth 😉

Here is her birth video, you decide …..

 

A note from Michelle to her daughter Samantha;

“My liefste Samantha

Jy is al twee maande oud ! Dit voel nogsteeds onwerklik dat jy nou elke dag deel is van ons lewe!! Elke dag is net n blessing!

Jou geboorte storie :

Jou oorspronklike geboorte datum was die 10de aug, maar dr.laker het besluit om jou vroeer uit te haal omdat jy nie gegroei het soos jy moes nie. Ek is toe al die maandag hospitaal toe sodat hulle vir my steriods en magnesium kan inspuit om seker te maak jy is mooi gesond. Die drie dae voordat jy gekom het,het maar vir my baie lank gevoel en ek kon nie wag vir donderdag nie!!

Donderdag het finally aan gebreek! Pappa was al vroeg die oggend daar en ons het saam gewag in opwinding! Dit was die langste paar ure ooit!! Finally was dit ons beurt!

1uur was ek in die teater in. Ek was maar bietjie bang omdat alles so nuut was. Maar ekt geweet Liewe Jesus is by ons en dat alles perfek sal wees! Die nakootiseer het die spinaal gedoen, die inspuiting was bietjie seer, maar dit was glad nie so erg nie. Daarna moes ek gaan le en hulle het my begin prep. Die dokter het in gekom, toe was ek bang ek is nie heeltemal dood gespuit nie en dat as sy sny gaan ek dit voel, maar die volgende oomblik toe kyk sy vir my en se “knyp knyp” , ekt na haar gestaar en gese “huh?” , toe  haal sy n knyp tangetjie uit en se “ekt jou geknyp, het jy dit gevoel?”

Dankie tog ek het nie. Die dokters het gesels oor hulle vakansies en langnaweke terwyl ek en pappa baie anxious wag. 10min later (13:13) is jy gebore.

Wow wat n asemrowende gevoel! Die pediater, dr.angela colquhoun het vir ons die fotos geneem, sy het net aanhou se “aah, sy is so mooi!” ! Ek kon jou net so vinnig oor die lap sien, toe het die dokter jou gevat en pappa het langs jou gestaan en jou bekyk. Later op die fotos was dit vir my so special om te sien hoe hy saggies, met liefde aan jou koppie vat. Hy het toe jou umbilical cord gesny en hulle het jou bietjie in die broei kas gesit om warm te word. Na so 5min het hulle jou bo op my kom sit en ek kon bietjie na jou kyk. Die nakootiseer het toe n medisyne gespuit wat maak dat my baarmoeder weer terug trek, dit het my bietjie duislig gemaak. Ek was toe bang jy val van my af omdat ek jou nie meer so mooi kon vashou nie, die suster het jou toe weer in die broei kas gesit. Pappa het langs my gesit en my hand vashou en my verseker alles is oky.

Toe hulle my klaar toe gewerk het het ek vir so 10min in die recovery saal gele, jy en pappa was nog saam met my, pappa het jou vas ghou. Toe het hulle my saal toe gestoot en jy en pappa is na die baba kamer. Hulle het my gou kom was. Daarna het jy en pappa weer terug gekom en jy het so bietjie gevoed, wat amazing en special was, en ons het lekker skin to skin gedoen terwyl Sam (ja ook Sam, how cool!) vir ons stunning fotos geneem het.

Ouma tutti en oupa charles was eerste by ons. Dit was vir hulle so lekker om jou te ontmoet, en ek is so bly hulle kon hier wees. Oupa sam , ouma lorraine en jou ouma grootjie ella het toe ingekom. Hulle was so bewoe. Ons het toe ook vir die eerste keer vir ouma lorraine gese dat jou tweede naam raine gaan wees . Sy was heeltemal onkant gevang en so surprised. Dit was so special.

Daarna het ek so bietjie gerus en pappa het gou gery om boris en linka te voer. Maar hy was gou gou weer terug, haha. Jy het heeltemal jou pa se hart gesteel!!! Ekt so bietjie pyn gehad en vir die susters gevra vir iets. So, daai ietsie het my heeltemal deurmekaar gemaak, en die res van die dag is bietjie n blur, maar

Ouma lorraine, oupa sam, ouma ella, oom louis, oom stephen, tannie carien en tannie vicky het die aand kom kuier. Oom louis was heeltemal in awe met jou! Oom stephen was sommer afgeskrik omdat jy so klein was, hehe (nou dat jy bietjie grooter is, 2 maande, hou hy jou baie lekker vas) hulle het nie lank gebly nie omdat ek nie heeltemal by was nie, maar pappa het tot laat gebly en jou vas gehou terwyl mamma op haar trip was 😉

Die volgende dag het ek baie beter gevoel. Ekt vir die suster gevra om die kateter uit te haal sodat ek kan gaan stort. Die stort was maar bietjie moeilik, ek was maar seer. Note to future daughter – drink eers n pyn pil voordat jy gaan stort! Tannie jenny, vicky en lene het ook vir jou kom kuier vandag. (Oom ruan, danie en tannie karen het die saterdag vir jou kom kuier. Asook oom wynand)

Die vrydag aand in die hospitaal kon ek jou nog in die baba kamer gaan los dan sou hulle jou elke 3 ure bring om te voed. Ekt jou die aand gevat. Oh, by the way, daar was 9 babas gebore op die 3de aug 2017 in kloof hospitaal!!!! So… Toe ek jou vat toe is al 8 al opgeline en ekt jou in die que gesit, my hart het alklaar gebreuk! 2 ure later , (nadat  ek vir 2 ure luister na verskillende babas wat nou en dan huil ) het ek besluit, nee wat ek gaan my baba haal!! Haha ekt jou gaan haal en jy het die hele aand op my bors geslaap, selfde met die volgende paar aande in die hospitaal! Dit was so lekker en ekt geweet jy is veilig en gelukkig.

Die volgende paar dae im die hospitaal het maar vinnig verby gegaan en ek kon nie wag vir sondag om huis toe te gaan nie!!

Sondag was ons so 12uur by die huis. Al jou oumas en oupas was daar asook oom louis, oom stephen en tannie carien. Ons het almal lekker middag ete saam geeet en toe het almal gery en dit was net ons. Dit was so lekker om jou finally by die huis te he!!

Die eerste drie weke was pappa hier, en wow , dit was vreeslik lekker om saam as n gesin net deur elke dag te gaan en mekaar lief te he, en elke nou en dan vir jou te staar 😉 pappa het n nuwe favourite gekry, jy was instantly sy oogappel! Hy is regtig my mr.perfect! Hy help met ALLES! En nie omdat hy moet nie, omdat hy wil. As jy n geluid maak is pappa daar! As ek net dink dis tyd om jou doek te ruil is hy daar! Ek en pappa het actually gefight vir beurte om jou doek te ruil hahaha!!

Pappa was baie hartseer om weer terug te gaan DRC toe! Maar vandat pappa daar is video call ons elke aand, en oggend oor naweke! Jy kyk aandagtig na die skerm.

Vandar jy begin smile het op 6 weke het jy sommer baie hom gesmile. Toe jy 7 weke oud is die saterdag oggend toe pappa bel het jy die hele tyd vir hom gesmile!! Dit was so special, little daddy’s girl! Voor dit het jy maar net nou en dan vir my en oupa en ouma gesmile. Maar nie so baie na mekaar nie! Dit was regtig ongelooflik om te sien! En van daar af het jy altyd baie gesmile as hy met jou gesels.

Pappa kom nou weer oor 11 slaapies en ons kan seriously nie meer wag nie!!!

Ons lewe is soooo geseen met jou in dit xxx

Oh ja, nog n ding , ek neem te lekker fotos van jou! Oom louis het gejoke en gese eendag as jy groot is en jy vra vir al jou baba fotos , dan gaan ek se, ja hier is al die 12 000 baba fotos my kind, haha

Maar ek dink actually dit gaan meer as dit wees, haha

Ongelooflik, ontsettend baie baie lief vir jou!!!

Liefde
Mamma
Xox ”

 

Birth Photography | Karli’s Birth

“A mother  might give birth  to a child  but before that a child gives birth to a mother. “- Unknown.

Waiting on God to fulfil your desire to have a baby is one of the hardest things to do, I know, I’ve been there. When I met with Juanita to go over their birth plan and I realised she has also walked the road of waiting and praying, I was so honoured to be a part of their journey, being able to capture a small part of their testimony.

Juanita, I’m so glad you had the courage to share your story with others, not only by allowing me to share your images, but also in this heartfelt letter to your daughter.I know this will give hope to many and Karli will be touching people everywhere she goes …

“Karli… we waited for you. It felt like forever. We prayed, we waited, I cried, sometimes I got angry, other times we would just know… that one day you would be ours.

You sure took your time! I loved carrying you inside me, where I could protect you and where I knew you would be safe! But I also had the anticipation, like a little child waiting for her Birthday present. The doctor said that you would be here around the 25th of November. And we waited some more…  12 more days! Everyone was tired of waiting and everyone waiting for the phone to ring.

The morning you decided to change our lives, was the longest and the shortest 9 hours of my life! Daddy slept, well, like a baby. Mommy started contractions at around 3 on a Wednesday morning. Unsure of what it was, yet knowing you are on your way, I started getting ready to meet you! I messaged Sam, telling her I think its time, bearing in mind I told her this 2 weeks ago as well and we ended up waiting longer! I showered, I did my hair, I put some make-up on (because a girl can conquer the highest mountain with a little lipstick!) And at 6 that morning, I made daddy his coffee. Sam stayed in contact with me the entire time, wanting to meet me at the hospital. I was in denial of what was happening and telling her to stay put for now.

I had an appointment to see the dr at 10, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it! Daddy took me to the dr to check things out.. And then hearing those words I didn’t want to hear:

“You are now only 3 cm dilated, we are admitting you and will do induction if baby’s not here by tonight”! I cried…

I was scared and I knew the odds of me having a natural birth after getting induced was not good. I prayed and begged for God to step in and take over.

So off to the hospital we went, me sobbing and daddy stressing. Then, out of the blue…. two terrible cramps. In hospital I got checked again. Why I asked. Dr checked me 5 min ago. I’m 3cm dilated… No, you’re 4cm’s! Luckily Sam trusted her instincts and had just parked her car when daddy had phoned her to come. By the time your daddy got back from fetching our medical file, about 20min later, I was in active labour. 8cm dilated!

It happened so fast. There was no time for any pain medication. Just the way I wanted it. They wanted me to stop pushing, but I did not know how! I didn’t want to push, scared of what I know was coming, but at the same time yearning to meet you. And so I pushed. With every contraction, with every ounce of pain, I knew I was getting closer to holding you in my arms. Daddy was holding my hand, leaning over every now and again, to check on you. Then they saw it! Red hair! A lot of red hair. Before I could get around to the idea of you having red hair, you were laying in front of me. Pale like the hospital sheets with shocking red hair. You were the most beautiful human being I had ever laid eyes on.

And with you in my arms, 8 years of tears and heartache, turned into the sweetest reward I could have ever dreamt of.

You have taught me patience. To wait on God. Because His timing is perfect, and now I have found my favourite human <3

Oh the adventures you will have. The grazed knees, sticky hands from eating ice cream on the beach and giggles while flying kites with daddy.  And falling asleep after chasing butterflies in the garden. All these things await you.

I cannot wait for you to live life my little precious Karli. While you sleep in my arms it feels as if time melts away. 8 years feels like a fleeting moment. You where worth the wait, more than worth the wait. Never have I thought that this thing they call motherhood is such a sweet experience. No words can explain this feeling.

Everyone warned “You will never sleep a full six hours again, good luck, dirty nappies and screaming baby is now your new normal”. But no one warned me that I will never feel the same again, no one warned me that before I met you, I was walking around half a human! No one warned me about this feeling. The feeling that your heart is now living outside your ribcage! No one warned me –  a tiny little human being can stir so much love in you!

I must have done something terribly right! God created you so perfectly. From your ruby red hair, to your milky white skin. Ten toes, ten fingers and a button nose, every inch of you was created perfectly. I know you are the apple of His eye! And I know you will do great things!

Love your Mom”

 

“A mother might give birth to a child but before that a child gives birth to a mother.” – Unknown.

 

View Karli’s birth slideshow below 🙂

 

Birth Photography | Liemè Graaff

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.”- Isaiah 43:1

Birth Photography is sometimes hard, most of the times the hours are extremely long. They take you away from your own family in order to capture the beginning of a new family. At times it could seem that the sacrifices you make, are just too great. Then you get to be a part of the birth of little Liemè Graaff……

When Lulindie originally contacted me for birth photography, I was a little sad that her due date was the 25th of December. You see, that is our annual family holiday time. I met Lulindie at the birth of her nephew Aaren in 2015 and was already booked for the birth of her twin nieces, in a few months time. In my heart I knew, there is no way that I could miss this one….

Lulindie and I started planning around this actually huge obstacle. Each of us hoping that the little one would make her appearance a little later than planned. Lulindie’s family were on holiday over the same time period than I was. Nevertheless we planned around this and agreed that I will fly in from wherever I am and there is the possibility that I might miss it all together.

As I was packing the last things for our camping holiday, I spoke to Lulindie on the 15th of December. Her midwife were happy and baby was perfect. She even thought that this little one might just wait for her Granny to get back from their holiday on the 30th. Relieved at the news we left the morning of the 16th, our wedding anniversary, at 02:00 in the morning. As was expected the roads were extremely busy, but we had a save journey. Now for setting up camp!

Those whom have camped with me before, know this no quick job. Although I LOOOOVE camping, I hate struggling. So, when we go camp, I pitch every fold UP table I can, closets, basins, you name it! As I was unpacking the last of the suitcases, kids fed and in bed, I got the message from Lulindie…. “Lyk my Liemè is haastig” Long story short, 20min later I got a flight and was on my way back to JHB.

This HBAC (Home Birth after C Section) was one of those life changing experiences, one that can never be explained to anybody.

Lulindie had to work really hard through this birth. There were some moments that you could really see her struggling, doubting and not knowing how this will end. But she never gave UP! There was something insides of her that urged her to go with it, to work with her body and not give up, everything was under control! Under His control! Oh and did I mention, she also had the amazing support of her husband Dirk, incredible midwife Elrika and fantastic doula Tertia. They helped her through this journey that she later described to me as being incredibly “stormy”.

In the early hours of the 17th Lulindie was fighting fatigue as her legs started cramping during contractions. As the last couple of leg cramps past, and the next contraction was building, Lullindie suddenly asked for her phone. She selected “Oceans” by Hillsong United. This was Lulindie, communicating the storm inside her, the fight she was fighting, the new beginning that was about to happen.

“….. lead me where my trust is without borders.Let me walk upon the waters. Wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander …..”

These lyrics were floating through the room and as Lulindie surrender this storm inside her to her Savoir, her daughter was born, and with her, new life, new beginnings, promises and the end of an era.

Liemè Graaff, you were called by your name!

xXx
Sam

 

 

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C-Section Birth Photography | Luan Viljoen

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

I received a frantic call at around 12 in the evening, but I did not need to answer to know that a special boy was being born that evening. As soon as I saw the caller ID, I knew we were ready to roll, instantly my calm birth photography mode took over my sleep muffled brain. By the next morning the lives of my friends will be changed forever ….

On my way from Pretoria to the Wilgeheuwel Life hospital in Krugersdorp, I was thinking of all the surprises that comes with the territory of having a baby. There was a few I could think of and I few I knew would surprise Rickus and Tharien on their new journey. I made a mental note to do some reasarch on the most common themes to the ways that kids revolutionize our lives. Have a look at the top 10 I found and let me know how acurate they are.

Surprise #1: Your relationship with your partner will change
Surprise #2: You’ll have no idea where the time goes
Surprise #3: You may look different
Surprise #4: You’ll join an exclusive worldwide club
Surprise #5: You’ll be stronger than you ever imagined
Surprise #6: You’ll make “mistakes” you never anticipated
Surprise #7: Your friendships will change
Surprise #8: There’ll be times when you hate parenting
Surprise #9: You’ll be overwhelmed by love (and other emotions)
Surprise #10: You’ll have to let go sooner than you think

Luan saw to a couple of his own surprises that evening and being part of the incredible journey called birth photography, I got to witness and capture a few.

He started his strike of surprises by his birth, born at 36 weeks, which was a few weeks earlier than his scheduled C-section date. I think his dad knew he would love him, but I saw how the overwhelming love for this little boy took his him by surprise. His big brother was a little surprised by his first pictures, but that was soon forgotten as he got involved in a betting game with his grandfather over the size of his brother. The surprise and wonder of the miracle of Luan are almost tangible in the images below. The love for this boy striking, evidently beautiful, unmistakable moments of utter happiness! 

No matter how much you prepare for it, the birth of your baby and parenting will blow your mind.

Your kids will challenge you, bring you to tears, crack you up, and make you forget what you urgently had to do. They’ll shatter the life you knew into a million pieces. Then they’ll put it back together, like a stained-glass window, into something infinitely more complicated and beautiful.

Riki-Riks en Lallie, you are special friends! Enjoy every single surprise your little boy brings into your life, and by the looks of his beginning you’re in for the ride of your life!

xXx
Sam

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Luan’s Birth slide show

Vbac Birth Photography | Welcome Skylar

“It is said that women in labour leave their bodies… they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.” – Anonymous

First I think I have to explaining what a VBAC birth is. You will then understand the incredible strength this mom has shown throughout her delivery. VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Caesarean section. It’s the term used when you give birth vaginally, having had at least one baby born by caesarean section. There is risk involved here, however many women feel robbed after an unplanned C-section. Having a VBAC birth give them their power back.

This is the story of baby Skylar being collected in the stars and brought back to this world ….

Charlotte, Bruce and I met for coffee about 2 weeks before her due date. Now normally by this time (around 38 weeks) I am already on standby and we have done our “meet and greet”.

Once you meet Charlotte, your will understand that “normally” and Charlotte just don’t fit in the same sentence. I was taken by her strength, courage and determination. And knew that if anybody can deliver this rainbow baby* through VBAC it will be her.

This mom was in no rush to have her baby and she wanted her to “bake” as long as possible. There were also a couple of anniversaries her mom wanted her to miss, like her great grandmothers passing. Charlotte wanted her daughter to have her own special day.

Never the less by 42 weeks we all got a little impatient with this baby…. but she just needed a day or 2 more. At around 03:00 Wednesday morning things started to happened and by 06:00 Charlotte knew it was early labour and contacted her midwife. She was only 1cm dilated by the time they got to hospital at around 9 and decided that a few more hours of home labour sounded much better than an overdue hospital stay. They would return at around15:00 for a check up unless labour progress significantly.

Charlotte is a seamstress so she went about doing some work in between contractions. By 13:30 her water broke but she calmly first took a shower and then a lovely relaxing bath. Hubby timing the contractions. I met them at the hospital around 16:00 and we went to the birthing house around the corner from the hospital. She was dilated around 4cm and active labour would start anytime.

Just after 18:00, we were back at the hospital and contractions were intense enough that she knew her baby was on her way. Surrounded by her midwife, husband, mother and two sisters, she breathed, moaned, and visualized the clouds of Paris to get through particularly painful contractions. “We move in a pack” her mother said to me.

Bruce and the women in her life stood by her side, rubbing her back as she rocked, sat, and walked, trying to get the baby to move into position. Somewhere along the way she got in the bath for the 2nd time, working with each contraction. Riding each wave, bringing her baby closer.

Five hours later her midwife suggest more movement to help get this baby earth side. Charlotte was tiring as she spend some time in the birth chair. Bruce right behind her, her midwife right in front, coaching and soothing. You could see her reaching deep inside, reaching for strength that she did not feel and could not comprehend.

She was moved to a squatting position next to her bed, her sisters taking turns holding her hands, encouraging, comforting and motivating her to reach even deeper. She got terrible calve cramps that just showed how exhausted her body was.

After 4 hours of pushing, she was ready to give up. She wanted out… her body was tired, her mind forgot all the techniques and methods she wanted to apply. She could not stand the pain any longer. She wanted SOMEBODY to do something. But within minutes she realised that no one could do anything. It was up to her, and solely her, to push this baby out.

She closed her eyes and reached into the darkness, into reserves she did not know she had, in order to bring her daughter into the world. At 04:20 am Skylar was born Kiwi assisted. A successful by VBAC.

If you have missed their birth slideshow, click HERE for the link

xXx
Sam

 

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*a rainbow baby is a child who is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant/child loss — the rainbow after the storm.