Happy New Year everyone! As you know, I’m a Melbourne photographer specialising in wedding, maternity, and all kinds of family photography. However, I wanted to start 2023 with a more personal blog post about my journey of becoming a mum to my two beautiful kiddos Max and Elle.
My partner Jez and I first fell pregnant with Max, who is now a big three-year-old! We had decided we wanted to have a baby and were so excited when we found out I was pregnant. That’s a moment I will never forget. I can remember what we were wearing and where we were standing so clearly! Not to mention the amazing reaction from Jez.
I’m a family photographer and at the time was shooting a lot of weddings (the sole focus of my business at this stage) and had secured a wedding in Amsterdam, Netherlands. We’d planned a big overseas trip around this. Plans changed slightly with the news, but we decided we would still go on our trip after my shoot and take extra care.
We were away for about five weeks, and I was six weeks pregnant when we left Australia. Luckily, I wasn’t suffering too much morning sickness. Apart from a few queasy mornings, I can’t complain. If I’m honest the worst part was being in the South of France, able to take wonderful maternity photographs in a beautiful setting, but unable to enjoy the amazing wines in all the regions we visited.
The pregnancy was all very straightforward and as we neared the end, growing larger and larger and more excited, we found out our bubs was breech.
I was offered the procedure to turn the baby in utero but something about the process didn’t sit well with me. I figured my babe was in the spot they were (didn’t know it was a boy at this stage) for a reason and seemed very happy with its head under my ribs. I tried acupuncture and burning special sticks at my feet to try and turn the baby- but no success.
Feeling absolutely shattered at the thought of having a C-section, I started doing deep research to understand the process. Though one of my specialties in Melbourne is newborn photography, there’s something largely different when you’re the one about to deliver. I needed all the information I could get.
The Australian Birth Stories Podcast really helped me get my head around it. Sophie interviews amazing women about pregnancy and birth experiences and it’s so great to hear all the details. I highly recommend this podcast to my pregnant readers if you haven’t jumped onboard already.
Even before the breech bomb, I’d been pondering on Max’s due date – January 7th. With Christmas break and New Year’s in the mix my date was set very late, due to holidays and who was going to be available. I thought I was going to share my birthday (January 8th) with my firstborn, in this tricky time of year for kids’ birthdays. I remember my birthday parties as a child were either very delayed, ended up just being family or in some cases, joined with another kid’s haha. I kept thinking, “Oh no, what have I done to my own child?”
I finally got my date and felt more at ease. I had my instructions of times, where to go, and what was going to happen. I had to be at the hospital by 1 p.m. I remember thinking, “This morning is going to suck,” and boy was I right. Heavily pregnant, fasting and thinking about having a baby – but also how this bub was arriving! Out the sunroof we call it!
Jez was more nervous than I was. In bed the night before we didn’t really say much about the events of the next day haha. I was hot, I was large, and I just couldn’t be bothered even going for a walk the morning of. Instead, we passed the time watching something to completely shift our focus. Not sure why we chose the movie It, but anyway.
By 12 p.m. I couldn’t wait around at home anymore. I ordered the Uber and we headed to the Royal Women’s. I remember the Uber driver asking, “And what are you guys up to today?” Jez and I looked at each other and laughed. “Well, we are actually having a baby,” was our reply. We all just cracked up laughing.
At the hospital we unloaded our little suitcase as if we were on holiday and walked in. As a Melbourne photographer, there’s irony for me in that image. A little waiting around and lots of paperwork later, and we were shifted into a cubical and given a gown and Jez’s scrubs.
Many midwives and medical team personnel came to see me until finally the anesthesiologist came in and talked me through the process. I remember her voice so clearly, but two thing she said will never leave me the first: “You won’t be able to feel pain, just pressure. And it’s like someone is looking around in a handbag and can’t find what they are looking for.” The other: “You will hear something that sounds like a coffee machine milk frother, this is when you know you baby is about to be born, and right after that you will hear your baby.”
At the time I was like what is this lady saying? Maybe it was my nerves at this point, but I remember thinking what a strange description of the operation. Next thing I knew we were going in. Sorry to all the ladies reading this about to go in for their first C-section.
This next part was my least fave. I knew it was going to happen but when it did, I felt instantly saddened. Jez had to wait in a waiting area solo whilst my spinal block was done. They had told me this would happen, but at that very vulnerable time all I wanted was him with me and close!
In the end, it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be. It’s a funny sensation sitting on the edge of the bed with a pillow and people holding you, trying to curl your spine with a baby’s head up under your ribs, while heavily pregnant. Then after sitting and getting the block, those people holding you switch your position so you can lay down and the whole time you can’t feel anything. I could see them moving me but not feel a thing. Overall, it’s uncomfortable a second, but is honestly not as bad as you imagine.
Afterwards Jez could come into the room and my goodness, he was nervous. I remember saying talk to me and he was seated up above my shoulder doing just that. The curtains went up and things started straight away.
The process is fast! Before I knew it, we had a little bit of body shaking where I could feel pressure and tugging, as Max was really under my ribs. It took two of them to get him out. I was talking to Jez as my body wriggled around everywhere. His eyes were fixed on mine, and he was stressing. I remember he asked me, “Are you okay?” like five hundred times. It was at this moment the anesthesiologist’s first comment resonated – I now knew exactly what she meant by digging in a handbag.
Next minute the milk frother noise filled the room and we both looked at each other – our baby was born. A beautiful cry of a healthy baby!
Jez went over to bubs and cut the cord, announcing we had a boy. He said (and he will never live this down), “It’s a boy and he has massive balls!” Hahahahaha”
I completely lost it with laughter to the point my obstetrician had to keep telling me to stop laughing as they were stitching me up. A quick little cuddle with Max – well face cuddles – and he and Jez were taken to a recovery room, whilst my stitching was finished.
I was dying to see them. Thankfully, only about 10 – 15 minutes later I was wheeled in and met Max properly for the first time. It was the most beautiful family photograph I’d ever seen and it was captured only in my mind.
Jez had beautiful skin on skin time with our son and when I got Max in my arms and experienced that first feed it was the most incredible feeling of my life! We were parents. We had a son.
Look at us go.
You’ve walked with me on our journey to delivering Max. Read my next birth story post, where I introduce Baby Elle to the world in the most surprising way.