Our Little Hurricane Turns 2!

Our second baby’s birth story is a confronting and amazing tale of strength, skill, and courage.

It could be lost to the lens of the emergency it turned into – but I never want to lose the memory of what an incredible night she and I had labouring, secretly together beforehand …

(To be fair, it was a secret to me too! Who knew labour denial is a real thing?! )

Whilst we had the most powerful reminder that birth remains unpredictable, we’re also very fortunate that our family’s story has a happy ending. So here’s our Little Hurricane’s Birth Story…

Photo in mirror of tired, blue haired mama in labour. Pyjama top is pulled up to frame round belly.
“I’m not really in labour!” …
But I might just document some things anyway…

It starts on a happy Tuesday afternoon, hanging with friends who have become family, laughing and discussing all things birth, labour and motherhood.

We were enjoying some beautiful Autumn weather and antsily waiting for my mother (Nanny) to arrive via plane from Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿. I was exactly 40+6 (if you’re into that sort of thing) and after seeing 42+3 with our first, no-one was going to convince me I didn’t have a week or more left before we’d meet our second baby.

We said bye to our friends and enjoyed dinner with The Littlest Birth Worker. Claire, being my wife and as you know by now (surely?!), also a homebirth midwife drew attention to the ‘practice’ contractions I’d been ignoring through dinner.

“How many of those have you had?” She asked smiling.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Just practicing. Not many…” or words to that effect. “I’m telling you it’s not today! Seriously, no! I’m not ready, Mam’s on her way. Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not going into labour the night she arrives! We’ve got a week yet…” (Spoiler – we don’t!).

Regardless, we got the little fella to bed and made our own way for a decent night’s sleep. Claire quietly reiterating that things were happening. Me continuing to deny all knowledge of what she was talking about. (Buuuut being the local Birth Photographer, also taking a quick selfie that probably speaks volumes about what I knew deep down but wasn’t willing to believe!)

Blue haired woman pulling silly face into a selfie as she gets ready for bed. Denying to herself even as a birth photographer in benalla that her homebirth baby was on their way!
Denial: A refusal to grant the truth of a statement or allegation;
a contradiction
(about the contractions in this case!).

I slept fitfully for a couple of hours. Avoiding the temptation to wait up to know Mam’s plane had landed and trusting our belovéd Sister-Friend, Melissa to pick her up safely and bring her to us at some point the following day.

Then I woke up at around 1.30am and knew I wasn’t going back to sleep! 😅 So as not to disturb our co-sleeping 2 year old and his other mother, I sneaked out of bed, into the lounge.

I had a dilemma to resolve…. We had planned that if I was labouring, Melissa would bring Mam straight to us (a fair drive to Benalla from Melbourne) but on the presumption that given a 5 week window of normal gestation, it was laughable that would happen the night she arrived, we were confident that we would see her after a restful sleep and relaxing morning with our adopted family. It hadn’t occurred to me I might need to call them when they’d been up all night and had probably only just fallen asleep themselves!

Easy fix. No problem...

No labour = No dilemma, right?

I cwched up on the sofa and watched Scrubs!

… Of course.

Whilst still not in labour (ahem…), I did take some video with a propped up iPhone when I found I needed to start moving around and using the pilates ball a fair bit 😂 I was playing mind games with myself. I had fully embraced Rhea Dempsey and Dr Sara Buckley’s descriptions of the hormonal cycles, escalations of intensity and finding new tolerances as your endorphins rushed to meet those demands during my first labour. Somehow this time, I was convincing myself that it was all fizzling out. (Another spoiler – it wasn’t!)

At around 5am I wondered if perhaps I should call my midwife. (You know, the one we’d employed, who lives hours away, and had given me strict instructions to let her know at the first sign of anything because she had a life to organise and a big drive to make…). I decided it was silly to wake her if I hadn’t even woken my own wife yet!

Anyway, 25 minutes later I finally made it from the lounge to the bedroom (not as far as you’d think but to be fair it takes time when the contractions you’re not really having are getting very intense, frequent, and lasting a while!).

Claire took one look at me and jumped out of bed crying “Have you called your midwife yet?! Why didn’t you wake me?!”.

Look at this point, I’m going to stop going on about the fact that I was very clearly in very established labour but I do need to let you know that my denial of this went right up to the point where there was an actual head in my vagina! We’ll get there.

From there, the 3 of us (plus 1) were awake and Claire started filling the birth pool and making phone calls. I think I recall hearing something along the lines of, “Yes, she’s having 3 in 10 and they’re lasting over a minute. No, I don’t know why she didn’t call. She only woke me up half an hour ago!”

Anyway, I realised everyone was now on their way and made sure that Claire had called for my Mam as well as the midwives as dawn was breaking. (That might have to be a guest blog in itself!).

Labouring blue haired woman curled over a large pilates / birth ball in a darkened room with blue lights in the background during a homebirth labour in Benalla.
I’m not actually sure I know who took this photo!

**Here I want to flag that I’m an intelligent woman, a health professional, a homebirth midwife’s wife, a second time labouring mama, AND a Birth Photographer that’s attended many, many births.

  • I STILL worried about making a fuss.
  • Getting it wrong.
  • Having to perform.
  • Calling everyone out for no reason.

Some of us don’t get out of our own heads during labour, and it turns out that’s okay too**

Labouring woman swaying with her wife in their low lit bedroom at a homebirth in Benalla. Next to them is a birth pool.
Thank you to our beautiful “LouLou” @shinebirth https://www.shinebirth.com.au for filling in the gaps when my Birth Photographer didn’t show.

We moved to the bedroom, my Mam finally arrived and I felt a weird pop in the front of my pelvis! 😳 Seriously, it was weird. Like a little air bubble, which I presume was some membranes rupturing as babe made their way down.

Mam started rubbing my back the way her midwife had at her favourite labour (her 3rd where a midwife was with her without interfering with her

A blue haired, labouring woman from the back kneeling up at the back of her bed at a homebirth in Benalla
This is where I was when I heard Mam come in the front door and knew I’d been holding back waiting for her to arrive.

We headed to the pool and climbed in. I knew at my birth plan meeting I wanted to feel this baby descend in a way I hadn’t first time and I’ve gotta tell you, I thought this one was twice the size coz I felt every last millimetre on the way down.

A blue haired labouring woman from the back in a birth pool, holding hands with her wife on the outside of the pool at a homebirth in Benalla
I was so grateful for being surrounded by so much belief in me and my body.
A labouring woman in a birth pool at homebirth in Benalla. Her wife in the pool, holding her face and offering support.
Being held by my wife, holding strength and space and reassurance for me during my crises.
A birth photography still from a birth video at a homebirth in Benalla showing a baby's face emerging underwater in a handheld mirror's reflection.
Hello Baby 🥰 I’m so grateful that my second midwife, Louise captured photos and video for me when my Birth Photographer didn’t answer the call. This video is deeply important to me and I love that I was able to take this still from it. Enjoy, it’s likely the only photo you’ll see of their face on here!

I still didn’t believe I was as close as everyone around me seemed to think I was. Seriously!

I remember looking up at my 2 year old baby in my mother’s arms and reminding him I was making those crazy noises that we’d all talked a lot about. Then I literally ROOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRED into my poor wife’s face >.<

He was chill. He knows birth. #thelittlestbirthworker

Someone suggested I reach down and feel inside and when I did, somehow I mistook the baby’s head for vaginal wall (or who knows what?!) and nearly panicked that baby was coming but I wasn’t dilated 🤷‍♀️ Labouring women are weird! Well, I was!

As I felt baby’s head emerging into my hands, and the turning and wriggling sensations as they made their way out of their comfy, loving home, I was blown away by the emotional intensity of that experience. It’s like nothing else in the world and I believe ALL birthing people should be left undisturbed enough to experience it in it’s entirety.

Coz it’s WOAH!. #IYKYK

I looked at my baby under the water, their big, dark eyes staring straight up into mine. Claire held her wife and newborn baby and checked for the cord.

And then I went to lift them to my chest and felt a strong pull on my pubis. Their cord was so short! I could barely lift them to my navel and whilst we kept them out of the water we all also realised that babe was then taking a bit longer to take that first breath than we’d like. We gave our love and words and blowing breaths and encouragement but with such a short cord, we had to get out of the water.

We were supported on to the bed and realised babe still wasn’t making the effort they needed to to breathe.

I looked around at the women around me. Were they going to panic?!

This is Claire’s baby!

This is OUR HOMEBIRTH!!! (like seriously, WTF?!)

If they lost it, we wouldn’t stand a chance. I looked at my midwife, my second midwife and my wife and saw each of them put it all to one side and do what they do so, so well.

I’ve been reminiscing and enjoying all the memories of our amazing labouring night together. This is my birth story and it’s one I hope our babe gets to read one day.

I’m not going to story tell this next bit in the same way. Because honestly, I can’t. So here goes…

Our babe needed a full resuscitation.

A blue haired woman on a bed with a freshly newborn baby in her arms at a homebirth in Benalla
Baby finally in my arms, cwched up to my chest where she belonged
A blue haired woman in a bed with her newborn baby in her arms at a homebirth in Benalla. Her wife leans over them and a paramedic's arm and torch is visible checking on baby.
So grateful to the wonderfully sensitive and compassionate paramedic crews that arrived

These bits are a little disordered now… (can’t imagine why…)

They had compressions, mouth to mouth and eventually even oxygen from the O2 bottle and mask.

All lying, supported in a spot I can still feel along my right thigh and hip. Eventually we needed to cut the white, flat, floppy cord and as my brand new newborn baby was hung upside down in front of me, on the small chance there was a mucous plug causing all this, I saw that they were born a girl and I immediately knew her name.

She was laid back on my body, given oxygen and her heart rate started doing what it was supposed to.


By now the ambulances were on their way and by the time they arrived, she was cwched up in my arms and breathing on her own.

We transferred to hospital to get her checked out and realised she still needed some oxygen to help her.

We watched as she continued to struggle that day and around 12 hours after she was born, our tiny little human hurricane was flown down to the Royal Children’s Hospital By the time I got down to Melbourne, she was on a ventilator and very sick.

That night was a very stark contrast to the beautiful one we’d had the night before.

A close up photo of newborn foot, held by birth photographer mama in a cot with lots of leads and wires. Context is NICU bed

Anyway, our very sick baby kicked every goal and blew the entire NICU staff team away.

Babies who have that much trouble when they’re born don’t usually do very well.

Ours had EXPERT physiological emergency care from her midwives, all her blood black, stayed connected with her Mama’s body (MAMATOTO), and recovered faster and with no scars to show for the fight she put up when she was born.

Blue haired birth photographer at home in Benalla, pulling back her hair with an expression of relief, baby carrying a newborn in a rainbow wrap

She was discharged from NICU 7 days later.

A photo of blue haired woman and purple haired woman holding newborn baby and toddler in loving embrace at their home in Benalla

I’m amazed at her.

I’m amazed at me.

I’m amazed at my wife.

I’m amazed at her midwives and the compassionate Paramedics that entered our birth space and treated it as exactly that. Respecting me and my specialist midwifery care team.

I’m amazed at the strength of her brother, her grandmother, her adopted aunty, our adopted family-friends, each facing a challenge no-one expected.

I’m amazed at the fact that I could stay calm, knowing the women around me would do everything they could to help our baby make her way to us.

I’m amazed at the wonderful team of NICU nurses who loved and cared for me, my wife, and my baby and never let me wonder if she’d make it home.

I’m amazed at how well she recovered.

I’m amazed at the community of our village that rallied around us, without even knowing the full story or what was going to happen, feeding us, providing donor milk for her, offering child care, places to stay, and even money.

I’ve been honestly amazed every single day for the past two years!

And now she’s 2!

Happy Birthday! Penblwydd Hapus! to our #LittleHurricane

We love you more than you know. Thank you for fighting for us.

A Birthday cake with pink frosting, 2 candles, white buttercream swirls and unicorns and rainbows at a homebirth midwife and birth photographer's home in Benalla
A Gluten Free Dairy Free Soy Free Creation by a Talented Homebirth Midwife and her Daughter!
  1. Elizabeth Murphy says:

    Dear wonderful strong Rhea and Claire, sending you all so much love. 💗💗💗

  2. Mel says:

    All the tears and love for you both and your beautiful little hurricane (and big #1 baby of course).
    Birth is incredible, you are incredible

  3. Kylie Muratore says:

    What a beautiful birth story full of all the twists and turns life sometimes challenges us with. Written so well I could hear everybody’s voices the whole way through. Extremely Grateful for the happy ending. Happy second birthday littlehurricane. X

  4. Emily Scott says:

    Heaps of love for your beautiful family, what a JOURNEY 😭😭❤️❤️ how is this two years ago and how does it feel like 10 yrs and at the same time last week!? Also the labour denial thing so so interesting!!?? Must catch up and talk birth finally someday one day soon 😂

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