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Elly and Maartje
Surprise Pregnancy and Homebirth

My husband, Berry and I, are both 39 years old. We have been married 15 years, and we are both working in Health Care. He is neurological qualified nurse (male) in a hospital. I am working as a qualified district nurse. We had intentionally chosen to have children when we were at a certain age . . . not too young! When it was the time, we wanted to have children but I didn't get pregnant spontaneously. We didn't get excited. Us having children was okay, but when it was not happening spontaneously, we could live with that too. We didn't like 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 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 and this has had its influences on the health of our baby.

I had a terrible pain in my back ! "Hernia in the back" was the 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 in 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 that terrible 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 it was really bad now, they figured. 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 was scheduled 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 did arrive at 1:15. He examined me and used standard procedures for back pains and his diagnosis was a hernia in the back or lumbago. "You have to stay in bed." He prescribed painkillers and Valium. At this time Berry had to go to his work, but first he gave me a sleeping pill and helped me in bed. He was worrying. Several times he phoned me 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. 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 a 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 weren't able to speak at that time as surprised as we were. 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 with a shoelace, the umbilical cord was tied off and after that it was cut by a 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 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 that day, and 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.

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

When we got over the shock we had to post the family. The twins of my sister were just celebrating their birthday. The family was gathered at my sisters house. Earlier that day I had called my sister and said 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. Right at that moment my sister saw the baby with her very own eyes so she could 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 appear 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, she, of course, is a hearty 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.

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