Wednesday, April 8

The birth of Edwin Hawke

It is hard to pick a starting point. All the important decisions that you make along the way from the very first moments of being pregnant have an impact - they're all part of the story. Settle in with a cuppa - it's a long one..

When did your journey to meet us begin little one?

Could it have been the vigorous dancing to TV on the Radio on Tuesday night? The hot curry your daddy cooked? The acupuncture Wednesday morning, the real cafĂ© coffee straight after, or the long (ish) walk I took at lunch time? Whatever it was, at 1pm on Wednesday I had a whiney text conversation with my midwife about how over being pregnant I was and how we wished you would hurry up! Whenever I walked I got regular tightening’s and as soon as I sat or slept it all stopped. Still, I was expecting you to begin your journey at night... of course with birth the only thing that's certain is no one stayed pregnant forever...

Instead, I was pottering in the garden, bare foot, at half past four on Wednesday 25th and popped into the chook yard to top up their water, bending over to the tap I felt a hefty gush of water.

I hurried to the loo. Sure that it wasn’t wee, but really unconvinced that it might be my waters. It really is impossible to guess how it will happen for you. As I was sitting there contemplating my soggy knickers my mother text asking if I wanted to go to the movies that night.

“Ermmmm I think my waters just broke…”

Excitement ensued! Still not convinced I called my midwife. She managed to persuade me that it was definitely amniotic fluid and that things would most likely kick off soon. I called Tim. He was surrounded by work mates – so much for being discreet! He rushed straight home - I can only imagine the excitement of his work mates who'd been asking him every day if baby had come!

I pottered back into the garden thinking I’d better get the water going on everything when I heard the sound of a car coming down the street. Knowing it would be one of Tim’s work mates dropping him off, I dashed inside (not graceful for a 40 + 3 weeks pregnant lady) because being in labour felt very private to me, and more fluid leaked out.  Once Tim was home and we had hugged, I called the hospital to let them know I would most likely be seeing them that evening and they said to come in when I was ready, for a quick check of baby. It was 4.50pm.

Mum swung by on her way home from work and we all sat and had a cup of tea. By now I had a somewhat constant period pain ache. We heated up the heat pack and I held it to my lower tummy. I sat on my bouncy ball and sipped my earl grey. We took our time. Tim started packing the car, just in case. Mum took Lola and went to get her stuff and some dinner for her and Tim. I sat and bounced feeling that ache come in waves now. We semi timed them. About 30seconds long and 3 minutes apart. Manageable to talk through. I directed Tim around even though he was already all over it. Water, camera, snacks, chargers and bizarrely I made the bed! We gave the heat pack another zap just before leaving.

At about 6pm we were in the car. The waves were pretty uncomfortable and I squirmed through them, Tim side eyeing me as I did. In between we talked. Wondering about how close together the contractions were and wether we'd be coming home again straight away or not... we were pretty excited.

Mercifully we found a park close to the entrance and I walked, stopping several times to grimace, to the maternity ward. I felt so self conscious stopping there in the car park, so very obviously pregnant and in labour, my husband loaded up with bags, a bright sunny day, people milling about. The staff showed us into the assessment room. A tiny room with two single beds, a curtain between them and a bunch of equipment on wheels.

We waited for Hannah, our midwife, to arrive and I knelt in a sort of wide child’s pose on the bed, softly moaning through waves. When she arrived she had to strap all the monitors to me, so I had to lay on my side, Tim holding my hand. The waves became more deeply achey, I squeezed Tim's hand as they came. Finally we had confirmation that baby was fine and I was fine (heart rates, blood pressure) and when she checked me I was almost 4cms! They offered for us to go home and I just couldn't bear the thought of two more car journeys, and they felt so close together. So we stayed put in the examination room. They got me a fit ball, and we set up the tens machine, got water and reheated the heat pack. The room was so tiny, only room for me on the ball and someone on a chair behind me jammed between the two beds. I sat leaning into Tim or forward into the bed, he did soft massage on my arms and whispered encouragement. Everything happening as it should be. 

It crossed my mind at some point quite early on that actually this was heaps more painful than I was imagining and maybe I could just get an epidural for this bit and it would wear off for the pushing bit. I put that out of my head quickly. I can only think how good it is that I had a plan I wanted to stick to, and that I knew my options so intimately.

Mum arrived with food and music, we turned off the lights and any ideas about photographing the birth ended! Mum sat in behind me while Tim went to eat. She murmered “good girl, well done” to me after each contraction. It felt lovely. I felt so safe.

Even if I had written the story down straight away I don’t know how accurate I could be. It really all becomes a blur for me from here in, where I disappeared into my body. Contractions came constantly mostly in close waves of 3 then with a 2 minute break. It didn’t feel how I expected. It was all so close together and it didn’t feel like the all over tummy pressure I experienced with Braxton hicks, it felt low in my pelvis like the worst period pain and it made me moan. In between I disappeared into my calm birth breathing – reverting to counting instead of my calm words. In 1, 2, 3. Out 1,2 3,4. And reciting to my self  “release, I’m going to meet my baby, that ones done, another step closer.” A lot of silent self talk. And then when a wave began to build I would breath in deep and let out a deep moan and as it peeked hit the boost button on the tens machine. Tim congratulating me along the way, always close, always touching.

As my moans became more intense I could hear Tim’s voice sounding concerned and almost upset for me. I wanted him to know not to be upset, that even though it hurt like buggery I was fine and I was strong. As far as I could tell people only talked to me in between contractions and did gentle stroking on my arms and back. Tim tried doing it on my legs at one point and I batted him away, I didn’t want to be touched there but couldn't communicate it another way in the middle of a wave - it was strange how sure of what was working and what wouldn't I was.  I vomited a lot, the whole way through in fact – contractions and vomiting at the same time is not fun. More fluid kept leaking out too – the whole giving birth process is very messy!

I remember Hannah getting back from having her dinner and saying to her “this is really happening isnt it? Shouldn’t I be going up to a birth suite?” And she gently told me that its best to stay where I was because in the birth suite they would have to monitor me every 15 minutes and I would then be running to a hospital prescribed schedule. Thank goodness for my luck in finding a midwife who not only offered continuity of care but knew and respected what I wanted for my birth and protecting me from things that could impede it. So staying put sounded good then – I think I just wanted to make sure that this was for real and not some pre labour business.

Along the way I remember wondering what the time was and purposefully not asking or checking. I’m glad of this. It didn’t feel long to me. However, I was surprised when during one contraction I grunted and pushed a bit, then it happened in the next one too. Hannah asked if I was pushing and I said I think so. She said she needed to check me to make sure it was okay. This time I did steal a glance at the clock – or did I ask? It was almost 11pm. I was fully dilated, I could push as much as I liked. They offered for me to go upstairs to a birthing suite and I declined – the contractions were so close together I couldn’t imagine having to move anywhere! Hannah went and got the birthing kit. She monitored the baby with a doppler several times and had to shuffle me around a bit so that there was space for her to be in front of me. Poor thing on the hard floor!

The pushing became incredibly hard work and I was growling. It really does feel like it’s all in your bum. I got rid of the tens machine, it wasn’t helping with the feeling of pushing anymore and I think I discarded the heat pack at this point too. I had one leg jarred up on the bed and the other against the wall. Did I mention that it was a really, really small room?! And when a wave hit I would push with all my might putting my whole weight through my arms onto Tim - it crossed my mind I must be hurting him - but he didnt complain at all! At one point Hannah said she could just begin to see the head – and I was like –what only just?? I think the next contraction was when I swore. I swear like a sailor usually, I’m amazed at how polite I was during the entire process frankly! Finally mum suggested I change position. I was still sitting on the ball, and she was right, how I was meant that my tailbone was curled up, not out. With a lot of effort I moved onto my knees, arms and chest on the ball hands wrapped very tightly around Tim’s arms. At one point I said “mum you’re going to have to catch the baby I need Tim here!” She thought I was joking but I was deadly serious!

The crowning was intense. In between waves, I silently whimpered, it was only at this point I really felt like saying “Okay I give up I don’t want to do this anymore!” but there’s nothing like a crowning head to make you know there’s no backing out – so I just went “right – I want this over with”. Involuntarily I reached down and could feel his head – more encouragement to get on with it. My pushes became silent with effort. And then there was Hannah’s voice saying, I can see your babies face, your baby is here! A blur, one more push? And a quiet, slippery body was passed into my arms. Its still a mystery to me how that happens, given the position I was in. I think I semi stood, with him in my arms to switch over to be half sitting, half leaning against Tim. And I stared at him saying “Oh my god, oh my baby!” over and over as I stared, out of breath, into his bright dark eyes, his little hand wrapped around Tim's finger. It was 12.55am on Thursday 26th
We double checked he was indeed a boy and things happened around us as Tim and I, in a puddle of fluid and blood, stared at him. Nothing like we expected. I was in complete awe of my body. I couldn’t believe I had done it. Tim cut the cord once it had finished pulsing and baby did that amazing thing newborns do and crawled onto my breast himself. I remember feeling completely overjoyed – so, so happy and completely bewildered and in awe. We moved onto a chair and after an hour Hannah gently said I had to push the placenta out otherwise they would want to give me the injection to make it happen. Tim took baby and had skin to skin time with him while I stood up and gave a little push and it slithered out. That was a very weird feeling! 

I was checked and had a 3rd degree tear so had to go upstairs to be stitched up. That was not pleasant. While we were up there they weighed baby, gave him his injections and I had a shower. Possibly the best shower I’ve had in my life despite it being a shitty public hospital one! As Tim and I held him he just thoughtfully contemplated us. His heart rate had stayed perfect the whole way through, he was so calm and curious, I hope, a result of his birth.

Finally I was in my room at 3am, Edwin fed for half an hour and I ravenously ate the muesli bars we had brought! The nurse wheeled him out so I could sleep – which I did for one whole hour then at 5.30am – my eyes pinged open and I wanted my baby! 

I was surprised at how my body felt – I could only just manage a slow shuffle. At last, at 8.30am Tim arrived after a luxurious (!) 4 hour sleep and we decided what to name him. His round cherubic face made us choose Edwin (or Eddie) rather than the other more serious sounding name we had and Hawke came to me on the spot after the founder of medicare, Bob Hawke, as well as the beautiful, bold creature. 

We checked out at 3pm that afternoon after all the checks and visits and snuggled into our own bed – now we were three.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story Soph, I really enjoyed reading it and am so proud of you! Congratulations to the two of you again for making such a spectacular little person! xxx

  2. Aww Sophie, this is just lovely- so nice to read a positive story! You are incredible and very inspiring- good for you for knowing what you wanted. Ouch though- 3rd degree tear. I had a bad 2nd degree tear which was really awful for a few weeks after birth- hope you're doing ok with that and all the other roller coaster stuff that happens too. x


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