Thu, 23 Jan 2020

Madelein Meissner-Roloff from Bryanston in Johannesburg was calmly getting dressed when she realised her third child's birth was closer than she thought.

"We have two boys, Heinrich (4) and Erick (2). Both had been natural births, so I knew what to expect with their little sister's arrival," Madelein tells YOU.

Madelein had been in labour for 42 hours with Heinrich's birth and 13 hours with Erick's.

"My water broke earlier that day and we went for a checkup but everything was fine and Sune [the baby] was happy. I wasn't having any contractions, so we went home to wait for things to start happening," says Madelein, a scientist who specialises in genetics and stem-cell research but who's been a stay-at-home mom for the past four years.

When her contractions were just more than five minutes apart, she and her husband, Karl, got ready to go to the Genesis Maternity Clinic in Saxonwold.

"I struggled to dress myself because the contractions were suddenly much closer together - every minute-and-a-half - and quite intense. I should've just grabbed my bathrobe," she says.

On the way to the hospital Madelein realised the baby wasn't waiting any longer.

"Luckily, I've done it [given birth] before. Though it was dark in the car, I knew what was happening so I stayed calm and carried on with the process. We'd grabbed a hot-water bottle when we left the house - it's a lifesaver for pain relief."

Not long after they got in the car Madelein felt the baby crown and started pushing.

Calmly she told Karl, "She's out." Madelein had just given birth in the front passenger seat.

"He asked, 'But where is she?' She was lying between my legs on the seat. She started crying when I picked her up because my hands were cold. I tucked her under my jersey and she calmed right down. She just made a few moaning sounds," Madelein recalls.

Sune was healthy and weighed 3,4kg. Madelein had been just more than 38 weeks pregnant. Both mother and baby, who's now a week old, are doing well.

People say I'm an iron lady'

"People say I'm an iron lady but any mother in my situation would've done everything she could to manage matters to the best of their ability. We're just grateful there weren't any complications."

Madelein says it helped that her husband hadn't panicked either.

"When I told him she was on the way, he stayed calm and say, 'It's okay.' I even apologised about the mess in the car," she laughed.

"But Karl had planned ahead and put a linen saver on the seat, so the car wasn't even dirty."

Though not many people know the story of Sune's car birth, those they'd told struggle to believe it. "At first people think we're joking."

Though everything worked out well, Madelein says she's grateful it wasn't her first child because she might have panicked.

"I'd read up on emergencies during childbirth so I knew what to do," she says.

And her two boys? "They're chuffed to have a little sister and already quite protective of her."

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