When Maddie McCormack woke up at 38 weeks pregnant with what felt suspiciously like the beginnings of labour, she didn't let herself believe she would soon be meeting her baby.
No?t for any fear of the impending labour, but to avoid any disappointment if it turned out to be Braxton Hicks.
Instead, the now 24-year-old went back to sleep. When the contractions, though mild and sporadic, continued, she was unphased. Meeting her sister for a coffee that morning, she casually dropped that she may be in labour as they ordered.
"She freaked out and said: 'What, right now?!' But they were pretty sparse and spread out, so I said 'It will ware off, I'm sure'," Maddie told 9Honey Parenting.
After going for a walk, she returned home to pack a hospital bag for herself and partner Nigel Murfet, and went to her sister's house - a trained hypnobirthing practitioner based in Devonport, Tasmania, where Maddie lives, to get into a calm headspace.
Although her contractions were becoming more frequent, Maddie said she was in 'complete denial' at what was unfolding.
"So at this stage, it was probably about 2pm and they had been going for a while. My sister told me afterwards I was like 'They're just going to go away', because she'd had a few false labours and so I expected to as well'," she continued.
"?But she was sitting there thinking 'this is not false labour, you're going to have a baby'. I was happily in denial, didn't want to get my hopes up."
Even when her contractions were only five or so minutes apart and lasting up to a minute, she told a concerned Nigel, who she had been updating through the day, to stay at work. ?
"I was like they're not affecting me so far, stay at work, you'll be home soon anyway. He was freaking out, he'd had his stuff packed up ready to go all day thinking he'd have to run at any minute."
As soon as Nigel got home, she says, "things ramped up". But the couple were in the midst of selling their land and had a solicitor's appointment to sign a contract and an unperturbed Maddie insisted they keep it. ?
"I just said to Nigel before we went in - obviously we weren't going to say to the solicitor 'I'm in labour, I'm having contractions, don't mind me'. I said I'll sit my phone on my lap and if I have a contraction I'll start the timer on my phone and if I put my hand on your leg you'll know I'm having one and you may have to take over for a minute."
After a quick run to the supermarket to buy snacks for the hospital - having a few contractions in the lolly aisle, they went home.?
She texted her midwife to let her know she was in labour, only to find out she was in Melbourne. With her obstetrician in Adelaide and her mum three hours away in Hobart, Maddie was without the support she'd been expecting.
After arriving at the hospital just after midnight, Maddie was sent into the ward alone, while Nigel was held back and given a COVID-19 test.
With all proceeding well, Maddie was able to try for a water birth. Both she and Nigel hopped into the bath, with Nigel applying counter pressure during each contraction, and Maddie reverting to the hypnobirthing techniques her sister taught her. ?
"After a few hours the bath was cold and dirty, and the midwife wanted us to jump out while they refilled it. So we hopped in the shower. But I wasn't comfortable standing, so I spent most of that time sitting on the toilet with an exercise ball in front of me which felt really comfortable," Maddie recalled.
I started pushing and I just remember seeing her head that just gave me so much motivation.
"My waters broke on the toilet, I watched it happen and I stood up and with the next contraction the baby felt so much lower and I was waddling."
"It was quite difficult at this point and I'd been told that once you start thinking 'I can't do this' it's about to happen. I was feeling quite intense and getting to the point of thinking I couldn't do it.? But in the back of my head, I thought it probably means that bub is just around the corner. The underlying excitement was a bit of motivation I think."
It was just 15 minutes after getting back into a fresh bath that her baby was born.?
"I got back in and it was game on. I started pushing and I just remember seeing her head that just gave me so much motivation. Thinking 'I'm about to have my baby, she's about to be in my arms!'. The second her head came out I think my contraction hadn't even ended, I just kept going and got her out fully, I was too excited to wait."
Born at 4.01am, the couple chose to do a delayed cord clamping for their daughter Amman, who they named after the capital of Jordan, which holds a special meaning to them, and birthed the placenta with Amman still attached.
And spent a quiet morning bonding with Amman and enjoying skin-to-skin.
Maddie describes the birth as 'just awesome' and says hypnobirthing was what allowed her to push through the discomfort.?
"Most people when they talk to you before you give birth, they ask are you nervous or scared? But I had no other emotion than just pure excitement, not just for having my baby but for the birth experience. I didn't have an ounce of fear."
"It just really puts you into a meditative state. As soon as we started doing the course and training to get into headspace, I found it really easy to get into calm state, which very much helped during the labour."
Do you want to share your baby's birth story? Send details to firstname.lastname@example.org the subject: birth stories.
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