Almost a week ago, I was waiting for someone to call me about an induction date, whilst trying to figure out how to negotiate my way through our various options with BOB. My deliberations, however, soon became moot - like many parts of this surprising journey. The carefully-laid plans for an FET. The alternative birth options we researched and living arrangements we put in place when floods overtook our city, leaving us to evacuate our house in the eighth month of this pregnancy. The backup sleeping spots I organised in case the bassinet mattress failed to arrive in time. All moot, to name but a few.

Because the FET never had to happen, and the floods subsided, leaving our house high and dry and pregnancy intact, and the bassinet mattress turned up more than half a week past our estimated due date but days before the baby arrived. And in the case of my ponderings over the induction, they were moot because labour started later that night, and by the morning our little girl was safely in our arms.

Let me tell that bit to you from the start.

In Monday's report, I mentioned that I was having haphazard cramps, kind of like period pains. And that I had become so irritable and fed up with The Prata Baby, who wasn't really misbehaving, that I had called Mr Bea home from work an hour early to give me a break. Around ten pm, whilst watching TV, I noticed that the cramps were becoming more intense. I found myself closing my eyes until they passed, but they were irregular, and I was still able to keep one ear on the program in front of me. I decided, however, that things were starting to get underway, and that it was a good time to catch some sleep before I lost the chance. I had a shower and went to bed. I ordered Mr Bea to bed, too. Ordered, apparently. He said that, in hindsight, it was a sign he should have heeded more seriously. I may not have been doubled over with pain or breaking my waters throughout the house, but I was irritable and bossy and that should have been a warning. He's probably right.

Somewhere around midnight, having dozed on and off for nearly two hours, I started absent-mindedly counting contractions. When I woke up properly, around one, to go to the toilet, I calculated that they were probably coming around ten minutes apart. Or not, depending on how reliable you thought my counting had been, given that I was three-quarters asleep. Then I lost the mucous plug, and I decided to tell the entire internet about it before going back to bed, and sleep. But my plans were never carried through, because when I stood up I had a succession of rather intense contractions quite close together, which I rode out in various positions in the living room. When things quietened down a little, I decided to wake Mr Bea.

Mr Bea was quite reluctant to be woken. I got extremely frustrated with him and started bossing him around forcefully, which didn't work either. He was wandering around in a daze, taking ten minutes to complete simple requests that should have taken one, whining and arguing the point every step of the way. At about 1:30 I asked him to bring me the cordless phone and after I wheedled the action out of him (it took maybe ten minutes), I rung the hospital to speak with someone about when, possibly, I should come in. Mr Bea's attitude changed slightly at this point - apparently he had not realised that I was in labour. He must have thought I was waking him in the middle of the night and asking him to gather hospital supplies for kicks or... look, the guy was half asleep, let's not judge. We can all be really, alarmingly dense between one and two in the morning.

As soon as somebody answered the phone on the other end, the contractions started to ease off. I spoke to the midwife for a while, as she timed the duration and frequency of a few contractions, and tried to assess their intensity from my tone of voice over the phone. I could still speak through most of them, and through the others I was taking deep, slow breaths or producing softly audible sighs. She told me I should get my parents around to take over care of The Prata Baby, and maybe have a snack to eat whilst I waited for their arrival. She suggested toast. I thought toast sounded great, so I asked Mr Bea to make me some and this time, he got right onto it. I was to call them back when we were ready to start in.

On my way to the kitchen, things picked up. I dropped onto my hands and knees twice before I reached the end of the hallway, and one contraction was so strong it sent shudders through my body. I used the hypnobirthing techniques I'd gleaned from the book - deep breathing and visualisation. In my mind, I pictured my cervix as a big, shiny ribbon, gently unravelling before my eyes. I pictured my body dissolving, leaving only the sensations of labour, then I focussed on causing the sensations of labour to dissolve away, too.

When I got to the kitchen, toast sounded less appealing than a cool shower to take the sweat off my suddenly-heated body, so I made my way to the bathroom and hopped in. I worried briefly about how I would look to my parents when they arrived, and then a new series of contractions sent me to my knees in the tub. These ones were powerful enough to make me switch to the vocalisation techniques we'd gone through in yoga class. I opened my mouth and produced a low "aaaahhh" sound, sliding it down through the scale like a trombone. I remember feeling compelled to press forcefully against the bathtub with my arms, and I knew I should head for the hospital, but I wasn't really sure how to get out of the tub. I tried to plan a sequence of movements in my head, but it was hard to concentrate with the contractions coming one of top of each other as they were.

Then all of a sudden - it didn't seem like more than a few minutes later - I felt a change. And all at once, I knew these concerns were moot, too.

Mr Bea was hovering uncertainly by the bath, bringing me the news that my toast was ready. "I feel like pushing," I said simply. He made some sort of alarmed noise, but I didn't hear what he said, because I was having another contraction. I fought my instinct to push upwards with my arms and say "aaaahhh" and instead lowered my chest and puffed, to slow things down. When I could talk again, I said, "It's alright. It's fine. Everything's ok."

It's always amazed me how well that technique works. If you ever feel like taking charge of a situation that has everyone in a tizz, follow this advice: appear calm, authoritative and reassuring. Tell everyone firmly that things are under control, no matter what the truth may be. They will instantly decide - although decide isn't quite the word; the reaction is less deliberative than that - to follow your every instruction. Immediately, and without fuss or question. Try it and see.

I assured Mr Bea that everything was okay, then after a short pause (to allow this hard-wired human reaction to take effect) I went on to say, "I want you to go into the living room and get the cordless phone and bring it straight back in here." He left. Immediately, and without fuss or question. I had another contraction. This time, I felt the baby moving down the birth canal and knew we didn't have much time.

"Can you see anything?" I asked when he got back. He told me he couldn't see much - just some blood. "Okay. I want you to remove the redback spider from the wall in front of me."

"The what?"

"The redback spider. There is a redback spider crawling around in our bathtub in front of me. Please get it out." After a moment of stunned disbelief, he did this, whilst I had another contraction. Puff, puff, puff. Soon I could speak again.

"I want you to call triple O and ask for an ambulance," I told him.

He started dialling. I heard him give our address as I fought my instinct to bear down during the next contraction. Then I heard him say he could see the head. This seemed to alarm him somewhat, and he started shouting in exasperation at the person on the other end of the line, who was obviously still going through the initial, routine questions. "What? How old is my wife? I can see the baby's head! It's happening really fast!" he was saying.

A new contraction started, and I knew there was no way I could keep her inside any longer. "The head is coming," I said to Mr Bea, and I eased her out as gently as I could.

"The head is out!" he shouted down the phone.

And I asked him, "Are you ready to catch the baby?" I think I asked him several times, and I never really listened to the answer, but I heard him get into the bathtub behind me and I saw him under my armpit, ready and waiting with arms outstretched.

There was one more contraction and Surprise Baby was born. "Have you got her? Is she pink? How's her breathing?" I asked Mr Bea. I heard muffled infant noises.

"The cord's around her neck," he said urgently, and I turned to look and saw that it wasn't, really, it was going over her shoulder and around the back of her neck, well away from her windpipe.

"It's fine, it's not obstructing her airway," I assured him, but I had to say it several times. "Give her to me and grab that towel." He did. I unwound the cord in order to bring her to my chest and bundled her up, wiping her mouth and nose with the towel as she stared up at me in wide-eyed disbelief. Mr Bea was talking down the phone again.

"She's making soft noises. Yes, my wife's doing that. Yes, she's doing that, she's doing that. Um, I don't know, we haven't checked yet..." I checked... "A girl, it's a girl. Thanks. Yes. Ha!" He was babbling with relief, and grinning wildly. Then, "I have to go and let the ambulance guys in," he said to me, and he took off up the hallway to the front door.

There's not too much more to tell. The ambulance guys came in, they clamped the cord, they checked us both over, placed the very Adam and Eve of all maternity pads under me and escorted us to the ambulance waiting outside. They suggested they snap us a quick picture. Then Surprise Baby - how aptly named! - and I took off for the hospital whilst Mr Bea made a cup of tea to go with my uneaten - but still slightly warm - toast, and waited for my parents to arrive.

The Prata Baby, bless his tender little heart, slept through the whole thing.

Thus endeth the tale.


42 Comments

Betty M said...

Amazing! I certainly was not expecting an " I delivered my own baby" birth story!! many many congratulations to all of you! perhaps that hyponbirthing was a mite too effective......

Vee said...

Wow Bea!!!! Surprise baby indeed! What an amazing birth story, well done to you. Congratulations again, I can't wait to "meet" her :)

BigP's Heather said...

That is a FANTASTIC story!!! I love it.

I was cracking up at his response to how old his wife is!!!! I can totally see him screaming at them. Too funny.

unexplainthis said...

WOW! What a birth story! Well done Bea, well done! Mr. Bea's responses in hindsight must seem really funny to you, maybe not so much at the time.
Typical toddler, sleeping through the whole thing!

Congratulations!

Leah Goodman said...

Congratulations! You're amazing. And glad it happened in the bathtub... soooo helps with the cleanup! :)

Hope she keeps giving you great surprises!

Rachel Inbar said...

YOU DID NOT :-D WOW!!! She will forever have one of the best birth stories ever!

Not on Fire said...

That is totally awesome. I am so happy about your happy beginning.

Summer said...

Oh. My. Gawd. I was not expecting this at all. What an amazing and wonderful birth story! Probably THE best I've ever heard. Surprise Baby, indeed!

Thalia said...

OMG. A post that truly deserves an OMG. Not what I was expecting at all! Well done you and Mr B and surprise baby herself. PICTURE now please!

Jess said...

WOW...CONGRATULATIONS INDEED! So happy that it all worked out and impressed at your calmness!

Ok, so, but....as someone who just bookmarked a page on "emergency home births" on her iphone, this both comforts and alarms me. Remind me, if you will, how fast you went with PB? Because I went FAST (4h at the hosp, additional 2 at home with mild contractions while I got ready and we got Ava around) and am concerned that we're about an hour away from the hospital....considering that is LEAVING asap, and not taking into account that we have these two other children that someone will have to take! Oh my. Oh dear.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Holy fucking shit -- okay, those weren't perhaps the proper terms to speak about a birth -- but this was possibly the most amazing birth story I've ever read.

Louise said...

What a fantastic story and birth! The Surprise Baby truly lives up to her name in so many ways. Best birth story ever (you had me in tears of happiness for you)! Congratulations to you all...

Ellen K. said...

O. M. F. G. That is a hell of a birth story. Great storytelling, too -- I did not see this coming until the end!

So extremely glad everything went so smoothly and everyone is well.

And LOL that PB slept through everything. The early nap-dropping has its benefits. ; )

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Wow, that is the most amazing birth story I've ever heard!! You did an awesome thing and so calm. Congratulations!

serenity said...

Oh, Bea. This is the most amazing birth story I've read.

(And I think I want you by my side in a crisis, too.)

And yes, I echo Vee and Thalia's request. A picture please? :)

xoxo

sharah said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful way to welcome the little one into the world!

DaisyGal said...

PICTURES!!!

oh Bea, if I ever felt inadequate around you before, UM...now I know I'm not fit to sit at your feet.
That sounded more like "FLASH FICTION" to me...OMG Bea, you did it..and I'm in awe.

CONGRATULATIONS...and welcome to the world..Surprise Baby girl!!!!!
xo

megan said...

wow. just wow. i secretly hoped adeline would be a surprise tub born baby too, but it was not to be.
this is an amazing story that i wish everyone would read. our bodies *know* how to birth a baby, and your story is such a great example of that.
congratulations, Bea. this is the most beautiful birth story ever.
xo

Lut C. said...

You what?!

I'm astounded! And so relieved that it went well.
Even though I already knew the ending, it was suspense just reading it.

MrsSpock said...

Wow, she was a surprise in more ways than one! Glad all went great!

foxy said...

Wow Bea -What a beautiful and powerful birth story! Your Mr Bea sounds like he was a rock star, and you were the mother of all RAWKSTARS to run the show so calmly and confidently like you did. Incredible.

Congratulations Dear Bea!

My Reality said...

She is a surprise baby, indeed!

I think this is the best/most exciting/surprising birth story I have read. You kept your cool during it all. I am so impressed.

Huge congrats. And I would love to see a picture.

~Jess said...

Holy Cow! Good for you! What a wonderful story to have to share with your daughter some day.

Congratulations!

Nearlydawn said...

You don't get much in the way of half-a$$ emergencies, do you? Floods, moving a whole house on a moments notice at 38wks pg, and now self-delivering your baby at home. Let's all hope you don't have many more surprises in store for a while, k?

So glad all went well, and congrats on the new baby girl!

Cibele said...

OMG, I am speechless! WOW! You are a brave woman. I would have panicked , but you were in control and kept your cool, way to go!! I am so glad that you are all okay. Congratulations on having a baby girl!

Hopeful Mother said...

I think all of those almost-emergencies beforehand prepared you for that fantastic moment. Way to go! I am in awe.

Congratulations to you!

Portia P said...

OMG! Like Thalia said that is a total OMG story!!

I also feel humbled by your total cool. I got as far as pushing with no drugs and totally LOST it! You ARE the woman!

Number 2 is a whole lot quicker to turn up.

Well done xxx

Sarah said...

OH my god this is AMAZING! I cannot even begin to imagine, but I guess you do what ya gotta do :) Love it. Congrats on your sweet girl.

Jenny said...

Amazing! Many congratulations!!!

cowgirltn said...

That was a story you only see in movies. God bless you for being so brave, and calm.

Congratulations!

Articia said...

Wow, that's incredible! Congrats to you, especially for enduring what you did!

babyinterrupted said...

I have to echo Mel - holy fucking shit. That is amazing. Well done, you.

loribeth said...

Here from the Friday roundup. I've heard second babies often come faster than the first -- Surprise Baby is living proof of that!! Congratulations & so glad it all ended well.

theluckylife said...

WOW! Love that story. It reminds me of an acquaintance whose baby was born on the floor in the lounge, her friends who had popped around for tea that afternoon had to deliver her!

Warrior Woman said...

Wow, what an amazing story! And what a strong mama you are! Way to take charge and remain calm. Simply amazing!

areyoukiddingme said...

Amazing! And Congratulations!

Natalie said...

That was amazing, and made me cry. Congratulations!

MrsH said...

Congratulations! and good for you for picking the bathroom to do it in, rather than say...the car, or the living room carpet.

Sara said...

Wow! What an amazing story. Huge contgrats.

myinfertilitywoes said...

Congratulations! What a story! You are so strong!

from the Friday Round-Up

Meegs said...

Holy birth story!! Surprise baby indeed. :-) Congratulations.

m said...

What an amazing, beautiful story - complete with warm toast! I have tears in my eyes... x

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