Due day was a lovely warm spring day, and I was 110% ready for our baby to be out of me. So we summoned him. My girlfriend gave me a massage on all the induction pressure points (naughtily, as we had been told to save these for labour), we tidied and cleaned the house, we said ‘come on baby, we are ready, you can come now’ and we listened to Hirini Melbourne’s incantation for labour and birth over and over...

That afternoon I had a little tiny show! We had so much hopeful excitement, it was a similar feeling to those little signs that maybe just maybe I was pregnant nine months earlier.  I had more shows over the afternoon, but I went to bed as usual as my midwife had advised.  I tried to keep calm and not get too excited as I noticed some possible little pains – I’d already had one possible false labour so I didn’t want to get all worked up for nothing. At about midnight I went for one of my usual many-a-night toilet trips and when I was finished weeing the sound of water trickling in the toilet kept going – my waters had broken!  It was nothing like I had imagined (I later found out that it was my ‘hind’ waters ?!?).  Anyway, even though I had promised not to wake my girlfriend unless I was in active labour, this was too exciting so I woke her up and said “umm I’m pretty sure my waters just broke”. Despite her excitement she managed to go back to sleep, and I went back to the couch (‘my bed’ as it was called now as I spent most of my pregnancy there). Needless to say I didn’t sleep as the period-like pains got worse.

At about 2am I needed something to help with the pain as I was whimpering a bit, so I ran myself a bath. This woke my girlfriend up, and this time she got up and – not sure exactly why – vacuumed the house and cleaned the bathroom (!!).  We started trying to time contractions and I tried to watch Masterchef, which had gotten me through the third trimester as good distraction material but the pain was too bad and I couldn’t concentrate.  I was leaning on a yoga ball, and I think the contractions were roughly 5-7 mins apart-ish, and then they began to be more like 3 mins apart, and I was really struggling to get accustomed to the pain. I rang Mum at about 4am I think, crying because I was so sore, and she was sympathetic and suggested that I have another bath.  I’m not sure if I did, my memories are quite foggy.

My girlfriend decided at some point that it was time to call the troops  - our midwife, student midwife and chosen friend, who all arrived over the next hour.  By then I had vomited and was complaining a lot – my midwife, to my furious disbelief, sat down and took one look at me and said “You’re not in labour yet. Its ok, I knew this is what would happen. I’ll come back in a few hours, try and go for a walk”.

“What the FUCK do you mean I”M NOT IN LABOUR YET?!?” I thought. “If this isn’t labour then how much worse can it get?!?” In retrospect I can see that the fact that I was able to be complaining and having coherent thoughts showed that I wasn’t in active labour.

Active labour wasn’t far away though – we went for the ‘walk’ which was halfway up the stairs to the street, with a contraction outside sci-fi guy’s gate (our neighbour), and then back down to the doorstep and a vomit. We had sent our lovely student midwife out to the supermarket and she came back with all our strange requests, including Up&Go which was a GENIUS idea.  Some of the things I thought I would want to eat during labour were SO not a good idea (runner’s snacks like muesli bars, cheese, peanut butter and bananas – but I’ll know for next time that in labour I couldn’t even chew! Let alone manage peanut butter).

From about then I went into the strange mystical world of labour and my memories get very fuzzy...


While I was in the shower with my dedicated girlfriend hosing my back, our midwife arrived again.  I fondly remember how she just sat quietly on a stool next to the shower and observed and just offered the occasional encouragement. I have been told that my girlfriend and I spent a long time in our bedroom but I have no memory of this at all. I remember coming out to the lounge when the pool was FINALLY ready and vomiting and wetting myself all at once on the way. Thank you to the team for cleaning everything up.



 In the pool things really ramped up pain-wise. My girlfriend says that she noticed a contraction that went on and on and that my midwife said it was transition. I just remember hazy bits and pieces, moments of someone passing me Up&Go, or stroking my hand, sponging my forehead, saying something encouraging. Our student midwife brought out my photo collage at just the perfect moment and I remember my midwife saying something like ‘just think about how good you felt at the top of those mountains, how powerful and strong’ and it really helped. This still makes me tearful to remember.

This whole time my girlfriend was so wonderful, she was pushing on my hips tirelessly.  I remember that occasionally she would (understandably) slacken off a bit, and I would snap at her to keep going – what a trooper, and she didn’t even complain. She was in the pool with me and that was so comforting.  It’s funny now to look at photos of all this happening in crisp clear bright broad daylight because you really are in a kind of tunnel in labour and I didn’t really SEE anything that whole time...It’s as though you are between worlds, with baby...

Then the amazing thing happened when I started pushing. I hadn’t realised how much your body just does it all, and you are just along for the unpleasant ride really. I had done so much mental preparation telling myself that birth by was just going to be like an especially hard long distance run – but it is so different! When you are running and you hit a wall of exhaustion the whole battle is telling yourself to keep going, but during labour you don’t have a choice!



At some point the second midwife, who was just perfect, quietly arrived. I think she was introduced to me, but I can hardly remember... she just slotted into the background.

Long hard pushes, then rests and sips of Up&Go in between more pushes. I remember the encouragement and cheerleading from my wonderful supporters, and when we could feel the head, and then when my girlfriend could see it. I also remember getting cramp in my leg (I think from all the whole body pushing!) which was just the last thing I needed really on top of everything. I remember my wise midwife saying at some point “this baby is going to be born by lunchtime” and looking up at the clock and thinking, yes, I can do that, I can keep going until lunchtime. Then the clock was a helpful reminder that I could do it, it would pass, I could get there....

Baby wasn’t coming, despite rolling over and trying being on my back in the pool rather than on all fours.  So my midwife said “I want you to get out of the pool and try going to the toilet and do a few pushes there”.  So I climbed out of the pool, which was a bloody mission, supported by helpers on either side, and staggered into the bathroom. I think the time in there was the scariest part of the birth, it was just so so intense. I needed to cling onto my girlfriend and I remember punching the wall because it was so scary and sore pushing in that position. Baby still didn’t come though, because my perineum wasn’t stretching enough (I was a bit cross with myself later that I had been pathetic about how ‘sore’ perineal massage was and didn’t really do it much leading up to due date – ha! All in perspective now!).

I assume it was explained to me that we might need to do an episiotomy, I can’t remember. (My midwife explained a week or two after the birth when I asked all the questions that had come to me once all the drama was over that baby had spent a bit long in the birth canal and wasn’t recovering so well after contractions, and she said that it’s best not to be in the water in that situation).  So there we all were in our bedroom, the bed had been all set up by the wonderful helpers, with the ridiculous birth mats that my girlfriend and I had almost been in tears over trying (badly) to make a week or so before, and I was pushing on my back – THE ABSOLUTE LAST PLACE I intended to be. I had read Active Birth and been so keen on being in a powerful upright position, but I guess you never know how it’s really going to be! My midwife said “ok, this baby needs to be born on the next contraction”. (I’m so glad that we got the birth on film, from about this moment, and I was able to watch it many times in the following weeks until I finally believed it). After the episiotomy, and our baby’s head was out with the next contraction. There was a really long gap between the head and the next contraction, and with the next big push he was born, with such a huge wave of relief and joy, and he was there on my tummy and had a nice little cry and then was quiet.

Another thing that didn’t happen as imagined was that I had also read Birth Without Violence, and I wanted the lights to be dim and everyone to be quiet and calm when our baby was born, but we were all crying and whooping and he was crying and it was the bright middle of the day!

My midwives stitched me up while we got to know our baby. Our friend cut the cord. At some point I said “I am SO FUCKED UP” and everyone laughed. I am a little bit disappointed that I couldn’t birth the whenua naturally, but apparently I had bled a bit too much and my wonderful midwives did what they needed to do so that we could stay at home – which I am SO grateful for.

In the hours after the birth I felt quite happily traumatised (if that is possible), but also on that wonderful high! I said “I never want to do that again, its AWFUL” but by the next day I was saying “when can I get pregnant again that was so awesome”! Even now, and he’s been in the outside world almost as long as I carried him inside me, and I still think about his birth every day.

Having a home birth with those amazing women around me, holding me and encouraging me and supporting me, was the most wonderful and perfect thing.  Giving birth to our baby was the most empowering, magical and awesome thing I have ever done, and he is perfect.