Charlie's Birth Story

It all started on Friday, at 7 in the morning... (16 December 2005). 

But, before that, an introduction of other actors and events.


Baba and Deda arrived the day before -- they were supposed to help Nana to 
prepare her new house, and me with the kids. The plan was that they will stay 
at our place for two days, then move to Nana's. 

We had the power-cut  the day before -- very unusual event in Amsterdam, and 
it catches everyone unprepared, and since almost everything depends on the 
electricity, it has a big impact on the regular life..

Camiel was in the middle of re-decoration of the house -- in the previous 2 
days he painted both sleeping rooms and the kitchen; he had cut the hole in 
the floor to use the "crawling space" under the floor as a storage space.

And I was in the middle of tidy-ing up of *everything*, and shopping for all 
the small "thingies" that I always needed to make the life easier or nicer.. 

So I took Alisa to the shopping trip on Wednesday, and almost didn't manage to 
come back - I had so much pain in my hip (sciatic nerve, damaged by 

My last meeting with the midwife was not a very pleasant one -- she measured 
my iron again, found it too low, and said that I will have to receive an 
injection of "oxitocin" after the delivery, to induce the coming-out of 
placenta. I was very much against it, and she said that they have to do it, 
otherwise they should not even let me have birth from home, but in the 
hospital.. I was very upset with that -- I really wanted to do it at home, in 
the bath, and in the as natural way as possible, without added chemistry & 
medicine; I also wanted it in the bath, which was standing there ready for 
already 3 weeks.. I did so many tests for iron and they were never that bad - 
always low, but not critical; and I didn't feel week or fragile or in any 
other way forced to do it in the hospital.. so I was not looking forward to 
meeting that midwife again (out of the 5 that were in the "team" that I was 
dealing with). 

We had lot of plans for that Friday: Alisa was supposed to go to Matiess, her 
"buddy" -- it was his parents' turn to take care of them both (Camiel took him 
on Monday); we were supposed to finally go to the City Hall to do the 
registration of the unborn child -- for Camiel to recognise the baby as his, 
"in case something happens to the mother at the delivery" (or so we thought 
the reason was -- see the part about Bureaucracy below); Baba and Deda were 
supposed to go to Nana's new house in the afternoon -- she was getting the 
keys that day.

I also had the feeling that the baby will be born one week after the 
calculated due 
date -- which was 17th, Saturday. So I really didn't expect the contractions 
when they started...

The delivery

(warning - lots of physiological details ahead! not for the weak stomachs!)

The night before I had a weird discharge - a bit of a bloody slime loss from 
"down there". But, it was very small, more brown than red, and not painful, so 
I just ignored it. I slept through the whole night (that means, getting up 
every 1 or 2 hours to go to pee), until 7 -- quite a long sleep for me, and a 
very quiet night, compared to the other ones in last 3 months.. 

Then I went to the toilet, to have a poop. Now, all these events are very 
significant in the life of the pregnant women, because our condition and diet 
makes us quite constipated, and nothing comes easy - to roll-out of the bed, 
to waddle to the toilet, to sit for a long time, specially with the painful 
nerve in the hip, and to push, in the manner similar to the actual attempt to 
give birth.. so I didn't really recognise the first contraction as such, but I 
thought that I have a particularly hard "case" that morning. 

Having finished shitting, few minutes later I felt strange pain in the area 
around my bladder and pelvis. Hmm.. can not be that I have to "go" again, can 
it?? Or, do the contractions feel like this?? -- I could not remember from the 
last time, but it seemed that they should be somehow over the whole belly, and 
lower back, not only the bottom of the belly.. Still, I decided to check the 
time, and if I will get the same pain, to notice how much time they are 
apart.. Well, it was 7:20, and the next one was at 7:25.. Sooooooo.. maybe it 
DID start?? 

I told Camiel: "I think it's starting.. I think I had 3 contractions, and they 
are 5 minutes apart". He was just paining the ceiling in the kitchen, but he 
decided to start immediately with filling in the bath. "Maybe it's not that.. 
" I said, but he insisted, because last time we were too late with the bath, 
and he wanted to be better prepared this time. I asked him to also call the 
midwife, because I was already too scared of the next contraction coming - and 
they were already seriously painful :(( He called, and they wanted to arrive 
in 1 hour. "EARLIER!" I shouted, and he explained that last time we called too 
late, and this is the second baby and they pop out even faster.. 

So, he went on with setting-up the pipe for filling-in the bath, and every 5 
minutes he had to come back to me, because I was screaming and calling him... 
I couldn't go though the contraction without him.. 

I was in the yoga "cat" position: on my hands (or elbows?!) and knees, on the 
bed, and he had to massage my back _very hard_ with every contraction. I was 
trying to...
a) breathe them away
b) say positive things, like "this one is going away..."
c) scream less
... but the main thing was a very strong rubbing and squeezing of my back by 

Through all that, my parents also woke up and got up; Alisa woke up; Camiel 
called Matiess' parents to tell them that Alisa is coming earlier; I was 
giving instructions to Baba and Deda how to prepare her and to take her there; 
I was unpacking the "kraampacket" that I got from health insurance, with all 
the things needed for the midwife during the delivery.. Camiel was tidy-ing 
up, making the wood fire, and preparing the bath.. ah, how many things can be 
done during 5 minutes in between contractions ;-) 

Very soon - after half-an-hour? - the midwife arrived. But what a surprise -- 
it was Annegot!! The same one that delivered Alisa!! I was too busy with my 
painful experience to be pleased with this fact, but it was very good indeed 
that we knew each other already!! And, apart from that, she is genuinely a 
pleasant person to have near you at that moment - quiet, decisive, sharp, and 
But -- she was not supposed to be here!! She was not in our "team"!! Still, 
she decided to come because she lives in the neighborhood.. Wait a minute, she 
_used_ to live around the corner when we lived in our old place?! Yup -- in 
the meantime, she also moved.. so she lives nearby again! What a lucky 

She checked me (I had to crawl off the bed, in the break between two 
contractions, and I had to squat on the floor), and she said: "You are 
completely open, you can push now". I had a curious phenomenon of deja vu! It 
was like this last time, too! I wanted to do it in the bath, so I walked to 
the kitchen, with her help.. 
There was not much water in the bath still -- it had to be heated up by the 
small kitchen gas-boiler. I sat in there anyway, and that helped to relax a 
bit, but she said I should let the pushing work itself out, and to press also 
myself.. I did on my knees, and leaning on the edge of the bath with my arms, 
with Camiel massaging my back -- but she told me to lay on my back. "Why??" -- 
I thought that's the worst position. Apparently not, unless the legs are 
lifted up by the medical equipment or staff... 
But, for the lay on my back I needed Camiel to help!! So he got in too, and I 
leaned on him with my back.. and I pushed (or I just stopped holding on to the 
contractions), and after 2-3 pushes the head was out!

But then the complications started -- the baby was stuck! Annegot was shouting  
at me "Push! Now push!" but I didn't know how! She told me to change the 
position, to get my ass out of the water, because she couldn't reach there to 
help.. So she helped to flip me into the previous position.. still in the 
bath. Then I pushed -- I still didn't know how, but I was making some efforts, 
and doing like while shitting.. and something happened! The baby was out! They 
took it -- Camiel and midwife -- but they gave it to me straight after, with 
the umbilical getting entangled in my feet... And they said "It's a boy!" I 
checked his toes and fingers -- all there; and a little dick, and big balls 
hanging there.. Yeah, real boy!!

Apparently, what happened, as they told me later, because that was all "behind 
my back", literally and how conscious I was of it all (not!), was that the 
head was out, but the rest not; the baby started breathing, but was still 
under water, so it swallowed some (maybe) and also for that reason I had to 
get out.. The shoulders were stuck! I knew he was bigger then Alisa, I wanted 
him to be big, but I didn't count on too big, because  I also didn't enlarge 
so much. 

And he was big -- long and fat :) Annegot said "more then 4 kilos". 
Impossible! Last time they said it will be 3.2! Still, when she weighted him 
afterwords, he was -- 4.180!! 

But I'm getting ahead.. 


We stayed in the water for another hour or two. The water temperature went up 
to 40; outside temperature also, everyone was undressing :-)

"Kraamzorg" lady came soon after the birth, to act as an assistant. Baba and 
deda also arrived; Marieke brought Alisa and Tis -- so Alisa got into the 
bath, too!! (she went back with Marieke soon afterwords...). 

"Baby" was enjoying the warm water; placenta came out after one more push 
(without the need for the oxitocin - ha! -- and I didn't bleed to death!); 
Camiel got to cut the umbilical cord; "baby" was trying to get hooked on my 
breast. Baba liked to know the length of the baby, and he was lying there so 
relaxed, that they managed to use the measure-tape, which said -- 55 cm! Alisa 
was that long after 2-3 months! 

I had to get out, eventually, to go to the toilet (ordered by the midwife). 
Then I was examined, and found that I tore a bit, and needed one stitch. 
Anesthetic or not? Yeah, no need for extra courage ;-) 

That afternoon I made few phone-calls to Serbia and Croatia, to let them know 
the news. Most of the people said: "oh, it's a boy -- so he is Nikola!" -- 
because the holiday of the patron saint St. Nikola (Nicholas) was approaching 
(19th December, according to Orthodox-Christian calendar and belief...). 

But, for few days we couldn't decide on the name!! Finally, after getting 
tired of calling him a "baby"  (and often saying "she" ;-) , we settled for 
CHARLIE. That was one of the choices for the boys name for the first child, 
either boy's or girl's name, but that time Alisa won.. and now it was 
Charlie's turn :) 

The first night .. uh-oh, I already forgot :( It must have been uneventful. He 
slept with us in the bed -- there are all kinds of measures we had to take to 
make this safe. But I liked him to stay close...

"Maternity after-care" week

They have this service in Holland, called "kraamzorg", when the mother and the 
new-born child are taken care of, for a week, for 5-8 hours a day, by a 
"nurse", who gives advice, helps in the house, and in general helps and takes 
care. It's payed by the insurance. I had Suzzane for the first two days; 
Georgine the third; and Natalie for 5 days. Since my mother is here, they 
didn;t have much to do in the house; but, since I forgot most of the practical 
things with the little baby, they had a lot to do with me and Charlie ;-) 

The ladies were here from 9AM till 1-2 PM, and in the meantime I had to keep 
track of the feeding times, and to keep all the diapers we changed, so that 
they can examine the poop later on. They wrote it all down in the 
"kraamdosier" book, so later I'll be able to see mine and his temperature 
every day, and how many times he was fed and changed.. 

(I remember, with Alisa, I kept writing down the times for a long time, just a 
reminder to myself.. Now I'm more relaxed - or lazy - and can;t be bothered. 
He eats when he eats..) 

In the first week we went through several phases:
- sore and broken nipples -- until Charlie got used to proper sucking;
- "stewing" -- too much milk being produced, with the result of swollen 
breasts, full of hard bits; I had to massage them with hot water, and do the 
"pumping out" (which Alisa drank)
- irregular drinking rhythm: either having too little, or asking all the time 
(in the night); I feed him 12-15 times a day! 

And for my sleeping patterns:
- adrenaline phase: I was able to be up for the two first nights, on the power 
of hormones only;
- depression phase: could not keep awake any more, but he wouldn;t let me 
sleep; that made me very nervous and snappy on everyone...
- more-less regular phase -- only in the second week, really... 

We had few visits: Marike, Merlijn and Matiess; Peter, Flappie and Koos; 
Oma-Willie, Simone and Rosalie (and Patrice few days before!!). 

Other "officials" also visited: few midwifes, to check on my stitch and blood 
loss; GGDG (another Dutch health-care institution, mostly preventive, 
vaccination etc) to do the hearing test and to take Charlie's blood sample 
(from his heel!) for the analysis of some illnesses. 


In the meantime, Cameil had to go and register Charlie in the City Hall. What 
started as a routine administrative duty turned into a bureaucratic nightmare: 
since we are not married, nor "registered partners", we were supposed to 
"pre-register unborn child" before the birth. 

When we pre-registered Alisa, they told us that the purpose of it is for 
Camiel to be able to keep her (and/or "have the father's rights"??) in the 
event that the mother (me) die at the birth. And we had to choose the last 
name in advance (Koch, for the simplicity-of-life, and the traditionalism's 
sake), and they informed us that all of our next children will have to have 
the same name, so this initial choice will spread over on them, in the future, 

This time, as I said, we planned to do it _on_ that Friday.. Well, I was 
"planning" to do it for a long time already, but didn't really "schedule" it 
until Friday (thanks, Leo, for pointing out the difference ;-) .  Actually, we 
didn't take it that serious, because we figured -- it's our second child, we 
are living together for so long already, it's almost as good as married ;-) ; 
and I was not afraid that I'll die at childbirth... 

But, we were wrong -- it was more important than we thought, because the 
consequences are: Charlie can not have Camiel's last name!! Nor can he have 
Dutch citizenship!! 
But, luckily, there is a small exception to the rule, so since our first child 
is called Koch, second is also - so he stays "Charlie Nikola Koch", but he is 
a "Serbia-and-Montenegr-ian"!

Now, these are not too tragic consequences, only quite inconvenient from the 
practical point of view:
- I'll have to go to Den Haag to register him as Serbian citizen, and to put 
him in my passport (so he can travel) 
	-- and he'll always have to travel with me ;-( ?! not with Camiel?!
- he'll need a visa for many countries (so we won't go there :((( )) 
- he will have to get a "staying permit" -- I'll have to register him in the 
"police for strangers"...)

Apparently, after 3 years he can apply for Dutch citizenship, but then he'll 
have to give up his other one.. or not?? We'll see...

Second week

So, Charlie's life starts as an identity crises: we can not get to the fact 
that he is a "he" -- we are used to the babies being a "she"; he's a Serbian 
in Holland; and he is called Charlie here, and Nikola "over there". His 
birthday is also in between all the other holidays and celebrations -- and 
exactly on Alisa's half-year! (she was exactly two and a half when he was 
born). And in all the other aspects he will be inevitably compared with 

St. Nicholas (Sveti Nikola) we celebrated very modestly, with only Nana and 
Thijmen visiting, and us serving Ame and some dried fruits and nuts. 

Xmas we didn't celebrate at all -- Camiel, although originally Catholic, does 
not care much about it, and me, although originally Orthodox, would have to 
celebrate it on the 5th and 6th January -- if I would care at all. We have a 
"Xmas tree", but I prefer to call it "New-Year's tree", and we'll have 
presents for the New Year.. brought by "Deda Mraz", Communist version of 
Father Xmas. 

Compared to Alisa, Charlie is much bigger -- we know it, but can't imagine any 
more how small Alisa must have been then, because to us he seems so tiny, 
fragile, helpless... He is more quiet, on average: he cries less long, but 
much louder when he does -- which is only to ask for food, and sometimes 
because he has cramps in his stomach. He has less complaints then she had: 
less cramps, no "thrush" (white fungus in the mouth), no flakes on his head.. 
And we are less worried and careful -- we change his diapers less (although it 
seems very often ;-) , we bathe him less - but that's because it's winter 

He doesn't fit in Alisa's smallest clothes, and he got some new one, but still 
we mostly use what she was wearing, only when she was 3 months old. But, her 
winter things are still too big for him, because she was 6 months in the 
winter time.. 

I am counting my luck only in the number of hours of sleep I manage to gather 
during the night or day. I am not so sensitive any more -- I can sleep _any_ 
time -- if it's sunny outside, or if they are drilling in the house next door, 
of if I am not sleepy at all -- if Charlie is asleep, I go to sleep, too. 

But, I am so spoiled -- by the fact that my mother is here (and that 
Camiel also does so much in the house: cooking and shoping and wood-fire) 
 - she cleans everything, all he time, AND takes care of Alisa, AND takes 
over Charlie whenever she can. So I only have to feed him (well, that's 
8 hours a day...).


Alisa is taking all the changes very good, although we notice some changes in 

She is very happy to have a brother, and she likes him, she's kissing him and 
caressing him; helping out to "hold him" and give him a bath.. 

But, on the other hand, for 2-3 nights she was waking up in the night, crying 
or would not want to go to sleep; and during the day, she is a bit more 
naughty then before, saying "no" more often, falling and hurting herself , and 
asking for attention in not so nice ways.. We are trying to be patient and 
have understanding, but with little sleep and lot of things to do, sometimes 
we also slip and are not nice to her... (for example, I used to put her to 
sleep every evening, singing for half-an-hour; now I have to be with Charlie, 
and Camiel or Baba can't do it as good as me ;-) 

She got a new bike as a present from Baba and Deda -- but it will t ake a 
while until she can reach the pedals. Anyway, the weather is not good for 
cycling - it's cold and wet and slippery and snowy and rainy...

She is now getting used to the role of Big Sister - more serious, more 
responsible - and all the play and cuddling is for the Little Brother.. and 
that's not so nice.. 
At the same time, she has to get used to be with Baba instead of me or Camiel, 
so she is "pushing her boundaries" and Baba is letting her, and spoiling her.. 
so that will have to change.. 

She can already read: A, M, T, S, O, and sometimes P :)  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
		happy new 2006!
	charlie, alisa, camiel, vesna
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Charlie's data: 16 Decembar 2005; 8:30 AM; 4.180g; 55 cm
address: Andreas Schelfhoutstraat 43HS, 1058HS, A'dam, NL
SMS: +31-6-21-25-81-91
skype: "becha-phone-home"