April 2017

Birth stories and poems

A fiery beginning

Apparently it’s possible to orgasm during labour. Call me pragmatic, but my labour focus second time around was survival – mental and physical. Spending most of the pregnancy feeling mentally unbalanced (a few sandwiches short of a picnic...

Adele’s story of Geoffrey’s birth, 1949

I was 22 years old when I married an older widower with three young children and a year later I was pregnant, with my first and only child. I don’t remember much about the pregnancy, except that I developed toxemia (pre-eclampsia) and was advised to go into hospital at 37 weeks. I said ‘no, the baby’s not due for three weeks’, but my husband said ‘yes, you’re going in’...

Adrian’s poem of Hamish’s birth, 2005

A longed for cry
burst our bubble
of fear and what-ifs...

An easy one by Daphne Catchpole

With a shock, I realise that this is the ‘transition’ phase. I have studied the books and thought that I knew what to expect. But this is not it. This is much too quick. What happened to the long period of contractions... 

Anne-marie’s story of Georgie’s birth, 2004

The day of your birth is now known; you will be a September 22nd baby, a lucky ‘five’ in numerology, a gift to your parents, already a precious second chance for me. I name you as my magical one even before you are born...

Anne-marie’s story of Harry’s birth, 2001

I’VE BEEN OFF WORK for just over three weeks, intending to rest but busy cleaning the floor, the cupboards, the windows, the oven. I have blisters on my hands from pruning the wild spring garden...

Apeetha’s story of Hari’s birth, 2001

It was in the first few scorching days of early South Indian summer when our Tamil women friends sprung a ceremony on us. My daughter, Devi, and I were told that the ceremony was designed to call out her baby, to encourage him to brave the transition of passage by convincing him of the many happy friends and good cheer awaiting his arrival...

Danielle’s story of Alexa’s birth 2006

In August of 2005, at the age of 31, I was told by a doctor that due to my frequent cases of endometriosis that I would not be able to have children. On 6th January 2006 I had a doctor’s appointment because my period was a week late...

Diana's story of Lila Shanti's birth, 2004

How do you feel about labour?

It seems to me that too many expectant mothers approach their due date with feelings of dread, apprehension and anxiety. In fact childbirth has acquired a bad name over the years...

Emily’s story of Cameron’s birth, January 2003

When I fell pregnant I was absolutely terrified of labour. I was so scared that I decided to arm myself with as much information as I could...

Fiona’s story of Kate’s birth, 1984

What is this movement within me that flutters and turns? What is this rise in my belly, this plump, liquid-filled life, this swishing and twirling, this perfect world of warmth, of muted sounds?...

Get me the epidural!

Childbirth is a beautiful thing, apparently. I can’t quite see it myself. First time around the baby was upside down. Or right way up, in other words. Matilda was born feet-first via Caesarean section a fortnight early and before the sucking reflex had kicked in, so she was tube-fed...

Glenys: The birth of Jane, 1969

It is Christmas and the family has gathered as usual back at the farm, to share it with Mum and Dad. For David and me it is our first Christmas since we married, and we have news to tell. I am pregnant...

Jini’s story of Simon’s birth, 1990

What I didn’t know was that the pain wouldn’t stop. Naively I’d imagined that the moment my progeny burst forth from my anguished body I’d heave a sigh of relief...

Motherly instinct

“Lovely colours,” said the painter just before finishing the final coat in the nursery. The plumber also worked tirelessly to finish his job in our extension. He knew we had only one month left before our third daughter was due...

Oihan, a journey of love

Oihan means ‘forest’ in the ancient Basque language of Northern Spain, which is where I come from. I crossed continents and oceans to get to Australia, the land I fell in love with, and where I fell in love like never before...

On becoming a family: Melanie’s story of Benjamin’s adoption, 2002

I became a mother in the back of a taxi cab. No sit-com cliché, this. The taxi was a late-model, jacked up Honda, its plush chairs bedecked by delicate white doilies...

Pauline's story of grandson, Luke's birth, 2005 and her first son, Paul's birth in 1968

After my traumatic experience in a private Sydney maternity hospital in 1968 I joined the band of pioneers for better conditions in maternity hospitals in the late 1960s and 1970s...

Plan C

I had a show at six o’clock so I rang my friend whose father is an obstetrician. I wanted to know if it meant I had two weeks, two days or two hours to go. They weren’t home so I rang the hospital...

Ray's poem of Sarah's birth, 1981

Deliverance

When I feel the need
to push...

Sarina’s story of Alexandra's birth, 2008 (and the highs and lows of hospital)

After recently giving birth to my first child I look back on my hospital stay and I have mixed feelings about this life changing experience. If you were to ask most new parents they would probably agree with me...

Sarah’s story of Noah’s birth

When I fell pregnant with Noah two years after the birth of Jack my mind was a lot more open. Jack had weighed eight pounds, thirteen ounces (almost four kilograms) and had been hard to push out...

Sheryn’s story of Georgia’s birth, 2013

My life has always been ordered. Being a teacher of mathematics has meant that logic has a special place in my heart. Over the last six months I have learnt that chaos can be pretty special too...

Sonya’s birth story: Confessions of a vegetarian idealist

I’ve just come home with my son, my firstborn. He’s a toe shy of nine pounds, and is a beautiful, healthy little wriggler. I can barely see a path through the chaos of feeding, changing and settling him...

Sweet surrender

In a nursing home, an 80-year-old woman with end-stage dementia recalls one memory through the fog: childbirth. It is a memory she and the staff re-live daily for six months as she pants through mock contractions...

The birth day

I helped Carol climb onto the bed. She was on all fours. In this position she could reach the gas mask. It was nitrous oxide, laughing gas. It didn’t stop the pain. “For the gas to work,” Rosie, the midwife, said, “Carol has to anticipate her contractions and breathe in gas before it arrives.”

Tristan’s story Kellan’s birth (10 October, 2007, NYC)

Stewing fruit You’ve planned to have a baby, you’ve spent a year or so preparing yourself for this, and yet when you find out that you’re pregnant you wonder if it’s true. I’m pregnant? We got pregnant? How did my body know how to do that?...

“I value every precious moment with my children – or at least I try to.”*

Living in the moment is such an integral part of being a mother. The world rushes by, and so does their babyhood, despite all that relishing, savoring and devouring. Watching some home videos of my three-year-old as an infant and toddler, I found myself enraptured, remembering those blissful times (clearly blanking out the bleary-eyed exhaustion). Even now that we are well out of the baby years and immersed in more challenging times, I take the time to pause, be still and cherish.

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* by Anne‑marie Taplin, author of Being Mummy