Supporting and Doula-ing Wendy Kimani. A Home Water-Birth Story

Very rarely do births rely on luck. This here is a story of one birth i coached and supported from a distance that still leaves me in awe when i go back and read it. Of course every birth is different, and a baby born 'safe' and mother is safe is important. Wendy's story is purely to share her joy without the implication that different birth choices or not are not to be celebrated too. Their story is their own. This is Wendy & Marvin Onderwater's birth story

When Wendy contacted me I had no idea who she was. I have been away from Kenya for a while so don’t keep up with the music world back home, but she called and left a message while I was in the market. I couldn’t answer back immediately. I stopped for a bit, listened to the message and sent her a text I will call as soon as I have stopped. She had contacted me in the month of January, a day before my birthday. When we finally spoke on the phone and I texted her my email address so she would email me to send them further information about my services, I saw her profile picture on Gmail. Clicked it and I was stunned. WHAT? Songwriter/Musician? Singer? Oh my word. A Kenyan Celebrity? What are the chances of being contacted by 'one of those? I was excited. I searched her up that evening on You Tube.. up and behold.. she sung a Duo with a guy we had seen first time back in Kenya on a festival! Gilad! I was screaming with excitement, showed my husband the song on you tube he said the same thing. 'isn't that the guy who performed at Reef Hotel? I was just nodding at that time lol. My husband still has the clip from that performance so put it on and we looked at each other. I was just excited I was supporting a Kenyan in Leiden AND she is a singer, very known I later came to find out through my own friends list on Facebook

So! I had to send further information and anticipated an appointment. One was arranged 30th January. It was a click from the moment I walked in to their apartment. Her husband was witty, kind and very hospitable. He spoke some Swahili words too and laughed at the same Swahili jokes we shared during part of the appointments. Their house was welcoming and they were very down to earth too. When I visit potential clients I don’t attend with any expectations but these two were ‘normal’ people and their manners didn’t come across any different

I was booked almost immediately. And I had to create a plan for their preparations. One that would work for both of us. They agreed on a once a week session over a few weeks near to the birth so that information was fresh. Then the preparations started. From our first meeting I was able to customize a package just for them. They were both informed, and well-resourced with information. I made up a plan to cover more the areas they had overlooked, helped them prepare a birth plan, talked about the hospital system in the Netherlands, Midwives, Hospital births, Home births etc. Wendy knew what she wanted for her birth. She was aiming for a HypnoBirth. In the beginning it was all hospital plans. So we covered a wide area of preparations for different scenarios, covered Physiology of Birth and then planned 5 further sessions, meeting once a week in the evenings, covering a different topic every week. Every week we covered a HypnoBirthing topic and ended the sessions with a HypnoBirthing track so Wendy and her husband relaxed, reconnected, connected with baby, grounded themselves and went back to pregnancy mode almost sleeping as they were also moving house and Wendy needed to let go mostly and connect with her baby. Moments that didn't come naturally with packing boxes, choosing paint colours, midwife appointments and pregnancy

In one of our sessions, we mentioned the possibility of home birth. I had lent Wendy my birthing ball, the pump and had her try it for herself. She sent a text message a few days later stating ' I am reaaaalllly loving the ball, it’s so relaxing, and I have listened to one of the MP3s, I will work on my relaxing'. Wendy was concerned about the heap of arrangements you had to make and the anticipation of someone almost taking charge fully put her off. Hospital birth idea didn't really gel well with her. She had a midwife appointment in-between and would discuss her options with them. In one appointment, her midwife from the Lammenschanse Praktijk confirmed she had no medical reason to stop her achieving a home birth. I met them at home for our evening birth preparation sessions as usual, and with excitement she exclaimed ' I guess we have a change of plan! I think I am leaning more towards a home birth, I can't deal with the stress of being in hospital, foreign environment, 'fighting' for my birth as she had heard quite a significant of birth variations in hospitals from friends and colleagues already. Typical when you have a bump, eh?

So we had to alter the birth plan I had created based on their choices and aims, to cover both home and hospital birth event, should she end up being transferred to hospital. Her birth plan was very varied, straight to the point and easy to follow. I prepared it in a way that it was not all about her WANTS and WILL NOTS, it was a library of wishes they had, that they found important for them, and on it included a paragraph that stated they 'understood that birth can be eventful, but in any case, hoped that all procedures and steps are discussed with them so that they can make informed decisions', and their midwife loved the birth plan. It was a simple visualized plan and only 1 page. Easy to keep up, follow and understand even in the most rushed shift

We finished our sessions just as her family was arriving to support mainly after birth. We wrapped up and agreed to stay in touch by phone till time came.  I had introduced them to Celine; a photographer who had contacted me last November 2016, to ask if I would be ok with her walking with me during my Doula sessions, as she hoped to capture a birth, and walking with a Doula would make that possible. Between the sessions I had spoken to Wendy about possibly having the comfort measures session photographed. She was glowing in her pregnancy at that time, and it was the perfect moment to capture the moves, the connection, the session as they prepared for the birth. As time came near, Wendy was getting some of the extra anticipation emotions, and it was lovely to witness that, because it is so real, raw and so pure. It’s not something you 'can' control. We covered a wide part of preparations that it was normal for our meetings to catch up on other things life brings. Wendy was sold on the idea to have the session shot with a photographer. I called Celine and asked her to meet.

I had never met her (Celine) before. We had dinner that week and because the previous photographer I had worked with wasn't going to be available I decided to try working with Celine. I confirmed her position, explained what Wendy was planning and she was booked too! The result of that photoshoot? The pictures speak for themselves

                                              

Wendy's estimated due date (29th April 2017) came and passed. I travelled in the meantime on May vacation with my family to Limburg. Whilst in Limburg we kept in touch by voice messages and WhatsApp messages. On day 2 of my vacation, she had her bloody show. I was so excited for them. We exchanged a few voice messages that day, she confirmed she was relaxed, calm and just chilled waiting cos ' I AM SO READY' she said on her last voice message. 'SUPER! i responded

On Kenyan Labour Day 1st May her contractions started. Off and on, but they were significant enough for her to know something was about to start. My family and I were checking out of Centre Parcs in Limburg for an extended extra few days in Luxembourg. I contacted with Wendy's husband on 2nd May after receiving a message ' I think today is the day'. Then another came from the Photographer Celine who was booked to photoshoot the birth too following the Comfort Measures Session. She sent a message ' its baby time, I am on my way'. Oh!!!! I was excited and sad at the same time as I really wanted to be present for this birth. Nevertheless, I stayed online and available in Luxembourg that afternoon. They sent pictures back and forth of the whole setting. Wendy looked super calm. I was messaging with Wendy's husband and the photographer throughout. She remained calm and everyone around her respected her moments. She remained in her bubble continuously. She was serious about Hypnobirthing, she saved her strength to the end. 

                   

Back and forth we messaged, pictures kept coming until... Celine the photographer confirmed ‘water just broke’ at 12:13pm. She was still very calm in the birthing pool, it was amazing.  Wendy's husband sent another message, confirmed she's fully dilated, she will begin pushing soon. I asked him how he was feeling 'a bit nervous, but I am here hahaha. I reminded him he cannot save her. She needed strength at that time, no pity, no fear. Fear is contagious. Yes, he responded. Celine sent a message at 13:07 to say Wendy had started pushing. I replied 'yehaaaa!! I estimate baby will be born earth side before 13:40 :-), and confirmed again 'is she still calm? Celine responded ' super calm, no scream, no voice, I haven't heard a voice from her, you did very well with the preparations Naomie, I haven't seen a birth like it'. I asked her how is Marvin? She confirmed; 'he is super calm too. He did a few of those massages you showed him when I was here to capture the Comfort Measures Session'. I was HAPPY! Even now to look back at this picture of them working together achieve the birth they had prepared for leaves me in awe. He really stood by her, supported her completely which was what she had asked for during one of our sessions. I asked her to talk about the kind of support she expected when time came. He did brilliant. He knew when to step in and when to step away and leave her in her bubble and together they communicated their need for support. Wendy’s mum was around throughout supporting her daughter. The look of concern, encouragement, hope was out of this world. She was her rock support, you can’t put the emotions that are present during a birth. Every birth is special in its own way, this birth was amazing. The first birth I was present from a distance and felt like I was in the same room. The team communicated throughout and it fills my heart with gratitude that I was a part of it

                     

At 13:36 Celine sent a message; 'baby born 4 minutes ago'. Oh my word!!! AT HOME?!?! Yes! YES absolutely YEEEEEESSS I screamed. I was cursing on a hospital transfer. As you can imagine.. I was singing haha. In Kenya they would look at you like you're mad wanting a water birth AND at home. So I kept playing it in my head with excitement hahaha. And there he is!! Shortly after Celine sent me the capture of the moment she had anticipated too.


         

The look on Wendy's husband's face said it all. I was in tears! Tears of joy at how beautiful this moment looked. How proud I was they had a positive birth. Wendy's husband sent a message almost straight after Celine's to say in very short word 'I am stunned'. Then he sent a voice message to explain in words. I could hear his excitement, his emotions, his thrill, his pride in what his wife just achieved in the comfort of their own home. GO GO GO Wendy I exclaimed hahaha oh it was exciting. I felt like I was present, I was very much a part of this birth.

The first picture of the family together was to die for. Amazing. Celine did an amazing job, Wendy's birth being the first she had captured, she did amazing!

Wendy's family is now in their postpartum period. Enjoying bliss with her family around and they have support of a postpartum Nurse for another few days. I saw them yesterday afternoon the 7th May, met her mother who is around to help her transition, her sister is also around, Niece and her Nephew who came from Rome to be around their Aunt and welcome their little cousin. And he is for sure an adorable little wonder. What a grand entrance he made earth side. A true copy of his dad, a perfect mix of both parents, absolutely edible. We are getting ready to belly bind and complete our contract    

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Taji's Photo by Naomie @upendoDoula

As their Doula, i am VERY PROUD. Humbled to have been welcomed in a space so sacred, so intimate and so trusting. Thank you Wendy and Marvin for trusting me to walk the journey with you. Her words to me yesterday? ' i had this Naomie bubble right above my head reminding me what to do next. I even changed and switched techniques from humming to breathing every stage of the labor, it was like you were present. Thank you for an amazing Birth preparation :-)

I couldn't be any happier with a compliment like it!! Wendy.. you rocked this birth, Marvin was a super birth support. Everything i prepared them to do including the back massages he delivered. I am glad you have a positive story for your birth. May your little boy grow to be your source of pride and bring you joy all the days of his life.

I mean; what are the chances of being an 'Onderwater' baby and then be born 'chini ya maji' as well? Onderwater baby born under water. Amazing!

Photos taken  & produced by: CELINEMKPHOTOGRAPHY