This is the birth story of Stevie, first child of Emily and Jim .
E.D.D. November 21
D.O.B. November 25
Jim and I had been apart for almost six months when, well into my third trimester, we finally realised that a misunderstanding had caused separation. It was ridiculous, we were bickering over finances when the realisation hit. But then misunderstandings were par for the course - we’d only known each other for 12 months after all.
Jim came to visit me a day after our baby girl was due. We took a long walk with the dog and I can’t quite remember what was said, but then he looked at me in a way that made me nervous, like I was on a first date without realising it. Butterflies in my stomach. The walls I’d subconsciously constructed since we broke up started to become a little less sturdy, almost flimsy. I noticed that I wanted him to touch me again.
That night we cooked dinner together. It was getting late and I was aware that Jim had probably missed the last train - something we both let happen and didn’t mention. He sat next to me on the couch. My heart was beating fast and I found it hard to look him in the eye. My walls were becoming paper thin. I sat crossed legged and my thigh was touching his arm and then he had his hand on my thigh and then I had my hand on his hand and we just continued to touch like that until we hugged … and then kissed and then were in my bed … naked and then … well, about an hour or so after that it was 2am in the morning. Jim had said, “You know sex can bring on labour,” I’d smiled and said, “I guess we’ll see then.”
He fell asleep and I lay there awake feeling each contraction and smiling to myself. I waited a bit because my pride didn’t allow for a false alarm. When I was pretty sure it was happening I woke him up and said, “It’s happening”. It took him a little while to cotton on and become wide awake again. He urged me to call Jess, my midwife, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay in bed and keep making out and well, having sex again. So we did and then I lost my mucous plug. Not entirely sexy. I ran to the bathroom and when I came back I called Jess. We timed the contractions over the phone- definitely pre-labour- so I just had to wait.
The contractions were coming every five, then 10 minutes; then seven, then four, then 11 minutes apart. They were painful but I thought to myself, ‘It’s not actually that bad. I can totally handle this. I don’t know what everyone was going on about. I got this’.
At about 6am I called my birth partners, Chloe and Leah. “So you know the guy who’ve I’ve been complaining about for the past six months who I’ve just wanted to disappear from my life? The Dad. Yeah, him. Well I’m in labour and he’s in bed with me and in fact I’m pretty sure it’s fair to say that he induced me. Also I don’t want him to leave. So he’s going to be here for the birth. He just became another doula.”
Yep. It was awkward. But luckily this kind of chaos isn’t too out of step with my life in general and our relationship. I prefer the adjective ‘spontaneous’ over ‘impulsive’.
Leah and Chloe arrived at around 10am. It was game on.
Settling inI have really fond memories of that day. I remember Chloe looking at me with tears in her eyes and saying, ‘She was waiting for her dad’. I remember Chloe, Leah, Jim and me all lounging on my bed. My brother coming in and out asking if I needed anything. Leah with the labour aid and coconuts. Chloe and the vibrating thingy that I wanted to marry every time I had a contraction. I remember saying, “OK, now,” and then everyone massaging me for a minute and then we’d all go back to our original conversation.
But wait; shouldn’t I have had a baby yet?
It was probably around 8pm-ish when Jess, the midwife arrived. At this point I was confused as to why I didn’t have a baby yet. I’d had about 100 contractions and I was sure that should have equalled a baby. They were getting more painful and I was exhausted. At around 10pm Jess suggested we go for a walk, which felt completely ridiculous and impossible but I decided to do whatever was needed to get this show on the road. I put my sneakers on and cried as I stamped my feet through the contractions down to the beach and back whilst being carried arm in arm by Chloe and Jess.
I think utter despair was the right emotion for what I was experiencing. I remember feeling that I couldn’t do it. Not a fleeting “I can’t do this” feeling, but a resolved feeling. I was too exhausted. I didn’t have it in me. I hadn’t slept for 48 hours. I couldn’t do another night like this. I needed active labour to start right now and even if it did, I didn’t think I had the energy to go through with it. I started to think I’d have to go to hospital and I wouldn’t get to birth her at home. I felt like I’d failed. Either this labour was my life now and it was never going to end or I went to hospital got induced or something. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I remember Chloe saying, “C’mon babe, we gotta turn this around”. I knew I couldn’t. I thought I couldn’t.
Then Jess came in and told me to just, “cry it out”. I felt glad I had permission to sob. So I did. And then I stopped and laid down on the couch and the contractions didn’t stop rolling in. Everyone slowly went to bed and Jess stayed up with me in the lounge room. She told me to sleep, I thought she was crazy: “How am I supposed to sleep with these bloody contractions?” But I did lie down and they slowly became further apart and I slept in between them, although I was still confused as to why I didn’t have a baby.
Taking a break
The sun was up and Jess had a plan to get me some Panadeine Forte and Diazepam. I don’t remember what I did whilst I waited - maybe lay in bed with Jim and not talk about what the hell was going on between us…
When Jess came back with the goods they worked. It dulled the pain of the contractions. I had about 3 or so hours of sleep. Interrupted only a few times by some pesky contractions but they didn’t hurt too much. When I woke up it was really game on, and I actually felt like I could do it this time. I lay in bed with Jim feeling so much love for him and wanting him to never leave me. I don’t know what we were talking about, but then suddenly… WHOOSH! My waters broke.
The brilliant haze of birth
I ran to the shower. Chloe got in with me and I think we stayed in there for about an hour. She applied the shower head to my lower back as I tolerated and breathed through each contraction. Leah spoon-fed me some kind of quinoa bolognese and coconut water. From this point my memory gets really sketchy. I remember Jess arriving back, me leaning over the bathroom sink, moving to the couch, leaning over it, telling everyone to not tell me the time between contractions, knowing that I’d made it through pre-labour and that I was finally in established labour, demanding the hot towels come faster, being told to make deeper lower moaning sounds and then eventually moving to the birth pool.
The more internalised I became, the more sketchy my memory is. I remember telling someone to turn the clock away, being too hot and wanting a cold compress, Jim being in the pool with me then Chloe, then telling everybody not to touch me, to open the glass doors, needing fresh air, telling someone not to eat anywhere near me, feeling nauseous, feeling the need to push, pushing, being concerned she would be birthed from my butt, thinking of the German word ‘arschgeburt’- born from the arse- kinda like son of a bitch, hoping that wouldn’t happen, finally finding the contractions helpful, only having a few pushes in me for each contraction, pushing from a really deep place within myself, Chloe and Jess telling me to reach down and feel her head, not knowing what the hell they were talking about, pushing with each contraction and being the most internalised version of myself I’ve ever been in my life.
I remember someone yelling for Jim to wake up, I remember feeling her head come out, I remember hearing Jess say, “Catch your baby, catch your baby”, I remember her guiding Stevie through my legs, I remember picking her up and feeling the most overwhelmed I’ve ever felt. She looked so perfect. I didn’t understand how she could look so perfect. Everyone around me was crying and sobbing and taking photos. It took me a while to realise what had just taken place. I finally got to meet my baby, Stevie… and she was perfect.