On the 24th December my mucous plug came out late evening. The Braxton Hicks kept getting stronger too. We timed them about every 30 minutes but then nothing for a long period.

On the 26th, I felt stronger period-like pains in my lower back and started timing them.

Then everything just stopped. Suddenly. It was the weirdest thing. As if my body knew we needed to pause to get Daniël (my 1 year old) to safety. We dropped him at his grandparents’ and headed to Femina Hospital’s Midwife Unit.

Heather met us and started an CTG to monitor baby’s condition as well as contractions.

Everything with baba was fine and not a spasm – never mind a contraction! – measured on the monitor. She laid out our options as this was my 16th day overdue. Either we insert prostaglandin gel to soften the cervix. The pro was I only had to lay down for 40 minutes and then we would wait and see. The con was that once it was in and contractions got intense, we couldn’t remove it and I would have to ride the wave. Other option was an oxytocinon drip which they would set up on a very mild dosage to mimic what the body would do. This would induce contractions regardless of what state my cervix was in but, unfortunately, it would immobilize me for the labour and meant that we probably would go through the night.

I measured 3cm, my cervix was soft enough so we decided to opt for the most natural of the two – the gel.

Heather got right to work inserting it and Waldemar went to fetch flapjacks! By the time he returned, lower back contractions were already in full swing and I couldn’t even keep the breakfast in my mouth as my labour gag reflex had kicked in. I tried to breathe deeply and push the breath down to baby to relax and told myself it was just a minute and almost over.

Heather started paperwork to check us in and I decided on our lunch menu between the pains. Waldemar was out unloading the car and I went to sit on the toilet, push my knees open and swayed left to right. It seemed natural to hum a two-toned melody to baby and it put me in a type of trance for a few contractions. I came out and laid on a pillow on my belly on the bed. I asked for the stress ball to try to channel the pain to my hand and away from my belly.

Waldemar and Heather were discussing Waldemar’s plan with the GoPro recording and the chatter started to pull my focus onto them. I shh’d them. He continued at a lower volume, so I shh’d him again. He went even quieter and I could not find my rhythm again so I shouted, “shut up!”

They were both quiet and probably shocked. I felt Waldemar come sit next to me and put his hand on me. In my rest period I felt so bad, I apologized.

The next few pains made me cringe my body around the pillow and some moaning sounds appeared. During one of the contractions, I felt a bubble pop inside and a tiny trickle run out. I told Heather that my water just broke. I was elated that it didn’t have to be done manually this time. Heather came to put pressure on my lower back and that helped shift the focus away from the contraction itself. For the next few, Waldemar took over and I directed him on how long to hold and how hard to push. Heather came to me and said, “Remember how you said this time you wanted to be more active. Let’s try the ball.”

When I sat on the ball, I gripped the sink counter with both hands, pushed my forehead into the stress ball and planted my feet against the cupboard. By the third contraction here, I needed to stand and felt the urge to push. When I did, I smelled that I was pushing from the right place and Heather heard from my deep grunting that it was time. She and Waldemar had to sprint to cool down the bath as they had it super hot as I would have only needed it later. My feet burned as I climbed in. I felt so clear-headed at this point as Heather said, “Come into the bath so you can push your baby out”. I couldn’t believe I was already at the finish line!

Heather felt inside as I sat and she could feel baby’s head. I was relieved. She encouraged me to wait for pushing so I don’t tear. On each contraction I pushed controlled and on the second push, the head appeared and then slipped back in. Next, the crown came out and I held it there in place. Heather talked me through the ring of fire burn and I was absolutely determined not to let it slip back or push harder. They could see it slowly creep out by itself. I heard them discussing that there was almost no time for Waldemar to get into position to catch. This was the longest wait. The next contraction just seemed to never start. Finally, I pushed one last time and the head and entire body slithered out. Baba landed on my belly as the cord was so short, it couldn’t stretch to my chest. Waldemar looked and announced it was Judah James!

What a wonderful surprise. Judah was born at 12:15 after the prostaglandin gel was inserted at 9:40. This time around, I felt more capable of taking in the moment and being more present. A lot of the first time fear was gone. We cuddled Judah as photos were taken. When the cord stopped pulsating, Waldemar cut him loose. Heather and Esti wanted to give us our five minutes of bonding but I felt a strong contraction and with a small push, the placenta came out. Judah went to his Pappa and I walked over to the bed. We then had our bonding time.

On inspection, Heather found some first degree tearing and sewed two outside and three inside stitches. The anesthetic injection was almost worse than the entire labour! But luckily the focus was now on our beautiful bundle in Waldemar’s arms.