My whole pregnancy was lovely. I had almost all the symptoms except for cravings.

The first 3 months I had hectic nausea all day long and the last month I had aches in my bones so sleep was a bit of a distant memory. Oh yes, and of course I absolutely loved blaming everything on my porridge brain. Note to self: get yourself out of trouble, just say it’s the short term memory ;-)

I wouldn’t change anything in my pregnancy as Samuel is a gift and miracle from God. To try for years to have children and not succeed can be quite heart breaking, but God knew best and His timing is perfect. Leave things in His hands, and all things fall into place, according to His will.

From around 18 weeks, I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions all the way through my pregnancy, uncomfortable but pleasant.

Then on 31/07/2009 at 18:29, I had a contraction that felt like period cramps. For the next two and half hours, they built up from one every 15 minutes to one every 5 minutes. As my husband, Albin, and I had decided to have a home birth, I phoned my Midwife, Karen Clark, at 9pm and she talked me through one and said to try rest. If it gets more intense then I should phone her again and she’ll come through.

I then phoned my Doula, Euodia Carstens, who told Albin to put me in a warm bath.

One of two things will happen. As a warm bath relaxes, either it’ll stop the contractions all together, which shows it was just a pre-labour stage, or it’ll set the contractions off ever more. Well, the second happened. Albin phoned Odie and Karen again at 10pm and they both arrived around 11pm at our home. We live in Oudtshoorn, Odie in Groot Brak and Karen was staying with a friend in Knysna, so they both had a bit of driving to do to get to me.

Gee wiz, labour is no joke. Contractions were coming every one to three minutes and really heavy. It’s a pain I can not describe. You feel it coming and you think ‘oh no, not another one’. You try breath through it and try let the pain go through you. I tried to picture my every breathe that I breathed out was opening my cervix. It’s so sore I thought I wouldn’t make it through another one, but once the contraction passes, it’s a pain that you forget immediately. I reveled and enjoyed every rest moment in between. Intense, intense pain.

Throughout my every contraction, I went into a place deep within.

I spoke to the Lord continually, asking Him to carry me through. He had made me for such a time as this. Focus on Odie, focus on Karen, focus on Albin. I took turns with each one. As we had decided on a water birth, every now and then Albin would disappear and come back into the bedroom with a bucket of boiling water to keep the small pool warm. Our geyser is not big enough so Albin had lite a fire outside and had water continually boiling in one of our big cast iron pots. Wow, he was so calm and so in tuned with me. He could see where I was at and never once was there fear in his eyes. There was never any small talk, they were all so focused on helping me.

By around 2.30am my water finally broke just after I had a show. I then climbed into the pool and enjoyed the relief it gave. Suddenly I could feel a change. Every contraction that came, my body automatically started to push. It’s unreal how you push so hard yet nothing comes out. At one stage Odie asked Karen if she was going to ‘PV’ me, but Karen could see without touching that I was 10cm dilated and ready for more. She guided me through each contraction and each sensation. Time was near, I could feel the top of my baby’s head. My mind was only thinking ‘be calm, take it easy so not to tear’. Finally after what felt like an eternity, Samuel’s head came out.

All of a sudden a feeling of burning rushed through my body.

My one hand clenched Odie’s, other hand Albin’s and my eyes closed shut, only listening to Karen gently guiding me. Next push and all of a sudden this little body emerged. My baby boy, Samuel Albin Barnard, was born at 4:15am at home in water on 01/08/2009 weighing 4.1kg, 55cm long and his head 35cm.

Karen told Albin to take Samuel and place him on my chest. Samuel's birth 1

He didn’t make one sound, he looked so beautiful, no venix on him, eyes open and alert. He looked at me then looked at Albin as we spoke. This little being was finally here, healthy and well and blessed. He knew who we were and he felt safe. Albin and I cried and hugged and kissed. I remember saying ‘Thank You Lord for my boy’. Odie shed a tear and Karen had such a peaceful, sereen smile that could light up any cold heart. Samuel was here, God had heard and God had answered!

We both lay in the pool for a while, admiring one another.

I couldn’t take my eyes of his eyes, they were so content and full of love. Odie was taking photos and a video and so was Karen. Odie checked the umbilical cord and it had stopped pulsating so Karen showed Albin ow to cut the cord. She took Samuel and gave him a good check – 9 out of 10 Apgar, 15 minutes later 10 out of 10. Albin sat in the green bean bag with him and all Samuel wanted to do was suck his nipple. The sight of father and son is amazing. Samuel had found and enjoyed my breast while we were in the pool so he probably thought his Dad’s should also be as good.

Samuel's birth 2

It was now time to push the placenta out. With help from Karen and Odie, I stood up and gave a push and there it slipped out and into the water. I had quite a burn sensation as I had three graze marks but praise God, no tearing. They dried me off and lay me in the bed. Karen gave me a check up and all was well. I thanked her for what she had done and she just smiled at me, a smile that said ‘You did great, welcome to Motherhood’. I took Odie’s hand and thanked her and she said ‘Jy was awesome girl!’.

Odie took Samuel and put him on my chest.

Her and Karen showed me how to make him latch correctly and there our journey, with a bit of challenge added, started with breastfeeding. Albin made us all something warm to drink and then started emptying the pool and cleaning up.

By now it was 6am. Odie was starting to get tired so she gave us all big love and her and her hubby, Johan (who had been sleeping in their bakkie all night in our driveway), made their way back home. Karen then moved me and Samuel to our bedroom, put us in bed and gave us also big love. She chatted with us a while and then got all her goodies together and made her way back to Knysna. Karen is actually from Hamburg up the other side of East London and as she had quite a few ladies delivering in this area, she was staying with her friend, Mandi (who is also a Doula), for the past few weeks. She was able to come visit me a few time afterwards to check on Samuel and myself.

I rested the rest of the day, my beautiful Samuel slept most of the day and drank a few times, and my most amazing husband Albin passed out on the couch, absolutely pooped from all the excitement.

Wow!!! What an experience! I can not put into words the deep, pure love I have for this precious child of mine. The most precious gift I have ever been given is Motherhood.

Samuel's birth 3

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