A special delivery

By Elly Akkerman

Maartje Akkerman - born at home on 31 March 2000, in The Netherlands

My husband Berry and I are both 39 years old. We have been married 15 years and we both work in healthcare. He is a qualified neurologic nurse (male) in a hospital, and I am a qualified district nurse. We had intentionally chosen to have children when we were at a certain age...not too young! When we decided it was time to have children, I didn't get pregnant straight away. We didn't get excited. Us having children is okay, but when it was not happening spontaneously we could live with that. We didn't want special medical intervention to have children. The fact that we absolutely unexpectedly would have a daughter, without any sign of pregnancy, is a real miracle.

Yes, I am rather strongly built and I put on some weight during the last months (Not that much though). I was planning to lose weight in the summer, but had not begun yet. My menstruation was not very regular, and I didn't menstruate very much, but I thought that was because of my age. The only time I really felt sick, I thought it was because I had Japanese food in a restaurant. I don't smoke and I don't use any alcohol, which has its influences on the health of our baby.

I had a terrible pain in my back ! "Hernia in the back" was diagnosis of the doctor and he left .

Friday the 31st of March 2000. This is a day I never will forget. The evening before I had a meeting for work. One of my patients is a rather heavy woman and while I took care of her, my back was beginning to ache. I thought I strained myself lifting the woman. I gave her some coffee and in the meantime I went to another patient. After that I came back as usual. The pain in my back however was so terrible that I wasn't able to help her anymore. So I went back to the office and asked if a colleague could take over. They looked surprised because I never complained, so they figured it was really bad now. They sent me home and advised me to go to bed and to take a rest.

I called Berry (he said he would be home as soon as possible) and I made an appointment to go to my doctor later that day (I had an appointment for 2.30). In the meantime the pain in my back was aggravating. However, when Berry came home and saw me, he decided to phone the doctor instantly to ask him to get over at once. The doctor arrived at 1.15. He examined me and used standard procedures for back pains and his diagnosis was Hernia on the back (herniated disc? - Angela;)or lumbago . "You have to stay in bed." He prescribed painkillers and Valium. At this time Berry had to go to work, but first he gave me a sleeping pill and helped me into bed. He was worried. He phoned me several times from work at the hospital.

" She fell right out of me! We caught the placenta in a frying pan "

At 3.30 I couldn't hold it, the pain was terrible. I decided to lay on the floor, knowing that in case of a hernia it helps to lay down on a hard floor or something like it.

So when Berry came home from work he found me laying on the floor. In the meantime I was more or less in panic, because I never felt that pain before in my life. Berry called the doctor again and he advised us to take more medication and to lay down. Suddenly I felt something in the lower part of my body and I was thinking of bulge of the bowels. I asked Berry to take a look. With a lot of pain I tried to get up and I was standing beside the bed, because I was planning to lay down on the bed..

That was the moment I gave birth to my daughter. It felt as if she was falling right out with no contraction at all. Berry instantly pushed me on the bed and on the same time he got hold of the baby. Both of us were so surprised, we weren't able to speak at that time. Very quickly after that Maartje started to cry and cry........

As you can understand we didn't have anything in the house for babies and we didn't have anything to use for a delivery. So the umbilical cord was tied off with a shoelace, and after that it was cut with sewing scissors. The placenta was caught in a frying pan. Despite our perplexity Berry luckily had the presence of mind to take pictures. All of a sudden the pain in my back was gone and I ended up laying in bed with my daughter covered in a towel. Without any preparation, we were mom and dad at this very moment. It was very hard to comprehend.

We hadn't thought of a name, so at first we called our baby just " Baby"

You can hardly explain what is going through your mind at a moment such as this. After Berry looked to see if it was a boy or a girl, he phoned the doctor. The doctor was very angry with himself because he didn't relate my complaints with the symptoms of a woman in labor. We, however, don't blame him at all. How could he have known that I had contractions? I wasn't even aware of being pregnant. Anyway , our daughter was born at 4.50 that day. At 5.00 a maternity nurse arrived and at 9.30 that evening we had everything you need for a baby, thanks to the doctor, friends and neighbors. We had a cradle , diapers, clothes and so on.

At first we called our baby " Baby" . It was not until later that evening the nurse asked what name we had for our " Baby". Because she was born on the last day of March we gave our daughter the name "Maartje". In the Dutch language, March is Maart , so we called her " Little March "= Maartje.

When we got over the shock, we had to contact the family. My sister's twins were just celebrating their birthday. The family was gathered at my sisters house. Earlier that day I had called my sister to say that I couldn't be at the party because of the pain in my back.. Nobody could believe Berry's story when he told them we had a daughter. Only when my sister saw the baby with her very own eyes could she believe our story. My elderly mother-in-law was almost in a state of shock; we thought we needed a doctor for her.

Happily for us Maartje wasn't born one day later, 1st of April, because nobody would believe what happened in the first place!

We always thought such stories only appeared in the newspaper. Now we know it can happen in real life.

Now we are over our first shock and first perplexity. Our Doctor however warned us there could be a reaction because our lives changed from one day to another.

In spite of her totally unexpected arrival, Maartje is of course heartily welcome in our family.

Because we missed the feeling of pregnancy we are catching up on that now. We read a lot about it, the baby bedroom is finished now and within a few months the three of us are going for a short holiday.

We are very, very proud to be the parents of Maartje

Written by Elly Akkermans

Translated by Ria Hendriks-Akkermans

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