Dad delivers twins on roadside

Lizel cradles Johan and Reetha just after Johan is born.

A Vryheid father delivered his newborn twins in his bakkie along the N11 when it became clear that they weren’t going to make it to the hospital in time.

Both babies were in breech position and were born feet first on the side of the desolate road in pitch darkness. Even though dad, Pieter Kruger, tried his best to prevent any trauma to the babies’ necks, spines and heads as he gently helped them into the world… When he finally got his newborn son and daughter to the closest hospital, there was a moment when he was filled with a deep gut-wrenching terror that he would never see them again as he watched them being taken by medical personnel to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

However, both babies are doing well at La Verna Hospital and Pieter beams with pride when he speaks of his beloved Reetha and adorable Johan. While Pieter and his wife, Lizel, had put a lot of planning and preparation into how and where the babies should have been born, in hindsight, Pieter admits that he would have done some things differently now that he knows that things don’t always go according to plan.

Pieter Kruger tube-feeding his newborn son, Johan, in the neonatal ICU at La Verna Hospital. Pieter has already proved what a hands-on kind of dad he is, having delivered both his babies in his car.

Pieter Kruger tube-feeding his newborn son, Johan, in the neonatal ICU at La Verna Hospital. Pieter has already proved what a hands-on kind of dad he is, having delivered both his babies in his car.

Pieter and Lizel Kruger had planned to have their babies delivered by c-section at Mediclinic Hoogland in Bethlehem. The hospital theatre had been booked for June 6 and they had agreed to travel to Bethlehem on May 20, giving them more than enough time to prepare themselves for the birth among close family that live in the area.

Last week Monday, while Pieter was preparing his delicious curried mince and corn crust pot-pie for dinner, and their elder daughter, Helani, was busy with her homework, Lizel announced that her water had broken.

Without a second to waste, Pieter, Lizel, and Helani gathered their already packed bags and their two fur-babies, Milo and Lula (both Jack Russells), and left to Bethlehem four days ahead of schedule.

“My wife’s previous labour with Helani lasted about 24 hours so we were confident that we were going to make it to the hospital in Bethlehem in time,” explained Pieter.

“Lizel, seated in the front passenger seat, complained of a few minor contractions between Vryheid and Dundee, and had her first major contraction when we were approaching the Dundee / Glencoe turn-off. As we turned onto the N11 toward Ladysmith, her contractions were two minutes apart. We were 18km from Ladysmith when Lizel asked me to stop the car as the first baby was already coming out.”

Pieter continued, “I am very proud of Helani who stayed calm and completely in control throughout. She got on the phone with ER24 and explained what was happening to them. I had helped Reetha out at 9.15pm, swaddled her in a fleece blanket and placed her on Lizel’s chest. I then continued driving, hoping that I would at least make it to La Verna Hospital in Ladysmith before the second baby was born.”

The Kruger couple are very proud of their elder daughter, Helani, who remained calm and in-control as she stayed on the phone with ER24 paramedics during the delivery.

The Kruger’s are very proud of their elder daughter, Helani, who remained calm and in-control as she stayed on the phone with ER24 paramedics during the delivery.

Four kilometers further, Lizel asked Pieter to stop the car again, explaining that the second baby was ready to be born.

“Johan’s birth was a bit more difficult. He had become stuck in the birth canal and needed a bit more help. After Johan was born (at 9.25pm), I turned up the heater in the car to full heat to keep the babies as warm as possible and drove as fast as I could to La Verna. The first person I encountered in the parking lot was the security guard who signalled which way I should go. Then, I found a nurse who asked if the umbilical cord had been cut. I hadn’t cut it so the nurse quickly cut it in the bakkie before helping my wife and the babies into the hospital. At that stage, my biggest concern was whether the babies were going to make it after being born under those circumstances. It is a relief that they are normal, healthy babies and I can’t wait to bring them home and play with them.”

Pieter and Lizel had struggled for more than three years to have another child before specialist, Henk Basson, helped them conceive.

“We were so excited to finally hear that we were going to have a baby and then, during the first scan, we were even more excited to discover that we were having twins. Dr Basson even jokingly asked me what on earth I had gone and done now,” chuckles Pieter.

Conveying the lessons he had learned from this experience, Pieter said he has now realised how important it is to ensure that your gynaecologist is situated close to you.

“Fortunately, we also familiarised ourselves with all the hospitals on the route so that if something had to happen between here and Bethlehem, we knew where the closest hospital would be. It is also very important to read up on everything that could happen when you are expecting a baby so that you are well prepared for anything,” concluded Pieter.

The Kruger family wished to thank staff at La Verna Hospital for their friendly and efficient service.

  AUTHOR
Estella Naicker

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