Baby Andries’ original due date was 10 July 2016. On 25 June, we had a nursery unveiling for our families. My husband, Deon and I had gone shopping earlier and at one stage I remember realizing that I was unable to walk without grabbing on to the trolley. But I was so used to cramps and pains by that time that I thought nothing of it.

Our families arrived around 17:00 in the afternoon and at one stage we were standing in the kitchen and I felt very weak. My mother and mother-in-law touched my stomach and both gasped at the same time, saying my stomach was rock hard! I reassured them that it was just Braxton Hicks, but later I told my sisters that I thought I could be in early labour; they were very excited to become aunties! Everybody left around 22:00, first offering to help clean up, but I waved them away; by this time, I was really out of it and sooo tired! My poor husband would seriously regret this decision later….

At around midnight, I woke up and told Deon: “I think this is it.” He didn’t believe me but I didn’t panic, as the HypnoBirthing training kicked in immediately; I knew the process could take a very long time and I decided to go and take a bath and listen to my HypnoBirthing tracks. I started timing my surges – my doula, Anina said I should only contact her if there were more than 3 in 10 minutes… at around 03:00 am I started measuring just that and decided to contact Anina and my midwife, Christel. They were both very calm and suggested I take things easy and keep timing. Poor Deon then had the lovely task of cleaning the kitchen at 3am in the morning!

My surges kept increasing and around 6am Christel said we should come to the Birth House. She checked and I was around 2cm dilated. She suggested we go back home, watch a funny movie and try to relax and rest. She told my husband to only bring me back when I could no longer talk to him!

So we went back home, watched a movie whilst I bounced on my ball, continued my HypnoBirth breathing and relaxed. We also went for a stroll around our complex, during which I counted 7 surges in the time it took us to walk. My doula advised me to take it easy and try to sleep as I would need my energy later – sound advice which I was glad I heeded! My husband also decided to take a nap and I then took another bath. At one stage, I could no longer take the discomfort and I just went to Deon and stared him awake. I was unable to talk and he realized it was GO time! The second drive to the Birth House was really rough, but hubby drove it in record time!

Christel met us in the room, candles lit, bath ready; it was so beautiful and so calm, I immediately relaxed and knew we were in good hands. Christel checked again and I was around 5cm dilated. She suggested I get in the bath – it helped so much – warm and soothing and my birthing exercises were much easier to do in there. I had also notified Anina and our photographer, Sam and they showed up around that time. Deon turned on our music selection and we got down to the business of birthing. He was amazing – he never left my side! I can honestly say I spent most of my birthing process at God’s feet, worshipping and praying through every surge and every emotion… and hooo boy, were there many emotions! Deon and Anina kept doing light massage and pain relief and encouraging me to breathe and not tense up. Christel monitored Andries’ heartbeat throughout and her constant calm presence reassured me that we were going to make it, although at times I really thought that this was crazy; was I really going to give birth with no pain meds?

At around 19:00 I was fully dilated, but by this time I was exhausted and started doubting myself. I remember Anina saying that was usually the moment they knew the baby was coming – when mom starts saying she can’t do this anymore! I really struggled to get past that barrier and Christel suggested I try labouring in the birthing chair – now believe you me I did not want to leave that bath! But she got me out, on the chair and it went much easier. However, I was still struggling; until Christel said if I don’t get him out with the next push, she would have to give me an episiotomy (she was worried about him being in the birth canal for so long); with the next push baby boy peeked his head out! And oh, what a feeling; touching my baby boy for the first time. One more push and at 20:06 on 26 June 2016, our 3,085kg, 43cm little Andries was born! He decided to greet the world by peeing all over Christel and mommy! We opted for delayed chord clamping and I held my baby boy close to my heart whilst he opened his mouth and greeted the world and received all the oxygen and blood left in the placenta (which I really believe made a huge difference in terms of his health). Deon then cut the cord and was able to hold his son for the first time.

After I delivered the placenta, Christel brought me the best cup of tea I’ve ever had and I got stitched up – I tore only 1cm, and I really think that the perineal massage helped a lot with this. The backup midwife then checked Andries’ vitals; our perfect little boy. Sam, our photographer was amazing through the whole process – and she took such beautiful photos almost without us even realizing she was there. After all the checks, it was time for me to take a bath – heavenly! And then Deon and I retired to the guest room to spend our first night with our son.

During the prenatal classes and in the HypnoBirthing (yes, we did both – I wanted to be well-prepared!), they suggested we sing to our babies whilst pregnant so they could get to know our voices. We decided to make Amazing Grace our song. That night, Andries woke up crying his little heart out – I started singing our song to him and he opened his eyes, looked at me as if seeing me for the first time and stopped crying. It was just the most magical night that we have ever experienced. And doing it at the Birth House was such a blessing – so beautiful and peaceful and we were all so well taken care of. The next morning we received a delicious breakfast and after Christel helped us to get Andries in his car seat, we headed home to start our new adventure. We have now moved to Randburg to be closer to my parents and my biggest regret is that we won’t be able to birth at Midwives Exclusive again.