The day before Perry Leo was born, I was in a terrible mood. I was overdue by varying degrees depending on the four due dates I had been given, but at least four days. I was absolutely huge, and my ankles were like tree trunks. There were no signs of my baby wanting to come out to meet us. I lay on the couch all day in a grump until late in the afternoon when I decided to go for a walk before joining Al at our local bar The King of Tonga to watch our friend Stephen play his regular Sunday session (which Al used to sometimes accompany on his bass).

Al was a bit worried about me going into labour but I set out with my iPod, at a snails pace, up the street to busy Brighton Road, and as I walked I suddenly felt such affection for this place where I lived on and on for more of my life than any other place ever. Elwood, with her gorgeous plane trees and European architecture, held so many happy memories and so many dear friends. The evening was still and lovely and I looked up and saw a full, heavy moon low in the sky and remembered my sister describing the full moon hanging in the sky the night that her son was born. I came to such a sense of inner peace and happiness. When I finally finished walking and came back to the King of Tonga everyone made a fuss of me and I sat on a high stool and listened to Stephen, knowing it would be a while before I got to go out and listen to him again.

After the set finished we walked the five minutes home and had some dinner while I watched Downton Abbey bouncing up and down on my fit ball. When that was over at 9:30 I got up to go the bathroom and felt a little rush of liquid, not a huge gush but enough to make me suspect that it was my waters breaking, and that it was the wrong colour, meaning there was meconium in the waters and there would be no early labouring at home.

I called one of my midwives, Alice, and she asked me to make my way to the hospital and she would call and tell them to expect me, and make her own way there in the next half hour to an hour. It was about 10:30 by then and we set out, happy and nervous, in the light rain, to the hospital. I was put on the ECG and the baby’s heart rate was ok but it was decided that I was to be induced right away. They hooked me up to the drip and then the obstetrician came in to give me an internal to see how dilated I was. He felt around for awhile and then said that he wanted to do an ultrasound as what he was feeling felt more like a groin than a head.

His suspicion was confirmed moments later, our baby was breech! I asked if this could have just happened, as I knew that the baby had been breech 10 weeks ago and had expressed concern at the time. I had been told that it was much too early to worry about, as the baby still had plenty of room to move. Since that time 5 midwives and an OB had all announced after palpation that my baby was head down, with the spine on my left side. In fact, Perry was in exactly the same position, head up, on my right side, as he had been in that long ago ultrasound!

We were now given a choice between a c section or a natural vaginal delivery, made more possible because there was a specialist in natural breech deliveries on shift that night. The risks and benefits of both were explained to us and we were left to make a decision. As it seemed to us that all of the risk lay with the baby if we tried for a natural birth at this point, and as we had no way of knowing whether the meconium in the waters was due to distress or a mature gut, we opted to go with a c section. We had been told that the surgery would take place in about half an hour if we decided to go that route but it ended up being a little bit longer while we waited for my midwife to arrive.

As we waited for her, I was prepped for surgery. It all felt so surreal. Everything that we had planned for, everything in my birth plan, had gone up in smoke. I couldn’t believe that after all of this waiting, everything should suddenly happen so quickly. Alice arrived and we went downstairs. I was sent into the operating theatre without Al to have the spinal block administered, and it was so incredibly bright in there, there were so many people. When he was led back in I think we both felt dazed and confused by everything. The anaesthetist cheerfully gave us a blow by blow description of what was going on behind the white screen. I began feeling very queasy at the thought of it all, and a little bit panicky. The anaesthetist told us that the bottom was out, then the legs, and the head. We heard no cry and they took him away to a table. There was no sense of urgency in the room, yet still, no cry. The OB asked if we knew if it was a boy or a girl, we said no, so he asked if we wanted to know and we said yes. I suppose it would have been nice to find out for ourselves but it was a thread of connection in the moment. I craned my head around the screen, over at the table, and saw a baby there, and my brain would not connect the dots to tell me that he was mine.

Finally, a great crying commenced, and Al was called over to cut the cord before finally, finally, my little boy was brought to me and placed on the slope of my chest, where I had to hold him in place. He cried into my face and I felt oddly detached from him. It had all happened too quickly, there was a disconnect between the love child in my belly and this great big boy child (who looked somehow different to what I expected) inches from my face. Nothing was as I had expected it to be.

I don’t remember the first time that I breast fed him, but I remember the warmth of him skin to skin in recovery. I spent a long time in there from blood loss and the memory of those hours is very hazy indeed. What I remember is finally being brought up to the ward and having my little bundle tucked up next to me. My boy. Sweet baby boy. I whispered my love to him in the pre dawn morning.

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