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Friday August 4, 2006

Catherine and I are very proud to announce the birth of our daughter

Mariska Rose Gertruda Braeken

Mariska was born today, August 4th, 2006 at 7:20 in the morning.
She weighted 3.68 kg (8 pounds, 2 ounces) and was 51 cm (20 inches) tall.

I have mentioned before that the pregnancy was quite uneventful. Little did we know that 'everything' would happen at the end of this ride.

On Thursday Catherine went for her regular appointment at her OB. Given that the due date was still a week away and that Catherine had felt fine up to this point and that the baby hadn't dropped yet and because first-borns in general are late, we didn't expect that our family size would increase very soon. However, the OB measured a higher blood pressure level and there was some protein in her urine. As a result the OB decided that it would be best to induce the labour either that same evening or the next morning. But she had to go to the hospital asap.

First I got the 'guess what' phone call at work. Furiously I tried to do everything I had to do: cancel a get-together with a friend that evening, turn the "out-of-office email notification" on, create an "extended absence" greeting for the phone, e-mailed all the project managers that I would not be in the next couple of days, contacted the group manager, my manager and my colleague, forwarded documentation and meeting invites to my colleague etc etc etc. Well, you can imagine that the adrenaline was rushing through my veins. No way, I could miss my GO train stop today.

Things started fast once I got to the hospital. At 6:30 PM they started the IV and 15 minutes later they started to induce labour. Another 15 minutes later the first contractions arrived. It wasn't easy for Catherine. They came quickly after each other. After a bathroom break, she got several contractions in a row and the pulse of the baby dropped. With some oxygen for the mommy-to-be and a scratch over the head of the baby by one of the nurses, everything got back to normal even though the daddy-to-be didn't like the look of it. Catherine decided to have an epidural and at 9:30 she got it. I have to admit that I did not expect it to be such a complicated procedure as it was. But it worked. The pain dropped and that was a big relief for Catherine and me.

In the mean time they had brought in a stretcher so I could sleep on it and at 10:30 we both tried to get some rest. Unfortunately for Catherine the contractions started to hurt again an hour later. The anesthetist got called but this took time since there is only 1 on call during the evenings. To take the edge of the pain, Catherine was given "laugh gas". It didn't make her laugh, but it did help against the pain. At 12:30 the anesthetist arrived and after more drugs, the pain from the contractions disappeared again. This time for ever.

This was the start of a long period with not a lot of action. In fact, I tried to sleep again and although I woke up every now and then, I slept quite a long time till I got a wake-up call at 5:20. The nurses, who had checking up after Catherine every 15 minutes, told me that it was 'push time'.

At 5:30 the first push was executed and many would follow. 90 minutes later some progress was made but the baby still preferred mommy's tummy. Time for some extra help: the "vacuum". The doctor placed it on the baby head and tried to pull her out with the help of the pushes from Catherine, who was clearly very tired. Three times the suction head came off and the doctor told Catherine that he would try it 1 more time before he would tried the forceps (the tongs). That was enough for Catherine for a good push and miraculously the head came out. However the shoulders were stuck but fortunately it didn't not take very long before the baby girl was officially born. It was 7:20 in the morning.

I didn't have opportunity to cut the umbilical cord but I was happy enough that it was over. It had been tough on Catherine and was happy that it was over for her.

We had an extra reason to be happy that it was a girl since we only had picked girls names. The ultrasound technician told us 5 months ago that she thought it was a girl although she was only 80% sure. We had 3 names but it really was between 2 of them. I liked both of them but destinity played a role for me. You have to know that the first nurse we dealt with had 2 Dutch son-in-laws and the second nurse had Dutch parents. On top of it all, across from the bed of Catherine was a picture and on the bottom of it, there was some text. This whole text was in Dutch. It was for an art gallery in the Hague. Just all these coincidences pushed me towards Mariska as the first name of our girl since Mariska is not an uncommon name in the Netherlands. Fortunately Catherine prefered the same name, so the decision was easy.

The first middle name is 'Rose', since Catherine, her mom and her grandma all have Rose in their middle name. So that is 4 generations in row. We also selected a 2nd middle name and that was the official name of my mother: Gertruda.

So we called Catherine's mom and my parents who were of course very excited. My dad immediately hang out the flag :)

Unfortunately Catherine had lost a reasonably amount of blood and she kept on bleeding so the doctor was called back for inspection. They gave more epidural drugs but as a result her blood pressure dropped and she got dizzy. Immediately action was taken and fortunately she recovered pretty quickly and she regained some of her colour again in her face. They also discovered that some veins in her vagina had busted and got some stitches there and they inserted some packages to add pressure which hopefully will help. As a result Catherine had to lie in the bed the whole day and we had to cut back on visitors that were allowed to visit us. At the end of the day, she was feeling pretty good and her blood count was high enough for her not to have a blood infusion. She stayed in bed, also because all the drugs meant that she could not walk anyway.

I am happy to say that everything turned out well. The baby has undergone some tests and everything looks good so far. Catherine will having some extra pain and probably she will need to stay in the hospital longer than normal but in the end she is doing fine and just as me, she is very very happy to have such a beautiful little girl. A little precious gift and she has had already a big impact on her lives.

More pictures can be found on the photoblog.

PS I am sure I need to proof read this piece a couple of times but I am too tired... ;)

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