Here at Love Mamas we share a lot as a community. With these birth stories we want to share our labour experiences, to share in the joy, awe and amazement of what women do to bring life into this world. Everyone's story is different and special.
Mary-Ann Moller shares her very personal rollercoaster ride from discovering she was pregnant, reconnecting with her mother and finding love through a long labour.
Finding out I was pregnant was the biggest shock of my life. I was in a new relationship of about two months, madly in love and had recently dropped the “L-bomb” on him. However, I had just found out that I was six months pregnant. It was my ex-boyfriends baby. Thoughts of ‘what am I going to do?!’, ‘my life is over’ and ‘I’m not ready to be a mum’ ran through my head as tears streamed down my face and I cried uncontrollably.
“So, I’m guessing this wasn’t planned?” the Doctor said to me. 'No you dumb b####!' (That’s what I thought, but didn’t say of course). I was so angry! I had been to see this Doctor a couple of months earlier complaining of stomach pain, discomfort and pressure in my lower abdomen, needing to pee all the time, nausea and dizziness when training, and generally feeling terrible every day. She sent me away telling me I was bloated and needed to alter my diet. I didn’t think I could be pregnant but I knew my diet wasn’t the issue. I had come back this time to tell her the “bloating” hadn’t gone away! Previous to seeing her I had been to another Doctor who did a pregnancy test which gave a false negative result. He sent me away with a diagnosis of gastroenteritis. I also went to see a Dentist and a Naturopath. No one could tell me what was wrong with me and it was really upsetting.
So, it was confirmed that I was six months pregnant, it was too far along to be my current boyfriends’ and therefore definitely my ex-boyfriend Paul’s baby. “Your only option at this stage would be adoption”. When I heard the Doctor say those words my immediate reaction was ‘don’t say that my baby can hear you’. It was still all thoughts and no talking though as I was crying too hard to get anything out. Even though I was so upset, my maternal instincts had already kicked in and I loved this baby more than anything.
I contacted both men immediately and told them the news. They were both so supportive and reassured me that everything would be ok. I was overwhelmed at just how lucky I was to have their support. They are both such great men though, so I never doubted it would be this way. I knew it meant the end of my current relationship though as there was no way (regardless of how he felt) that I could ask him to go through a pregnancy with me, when the baby wasn’t his. I was totally heartbroken.
Paul had told me without hesitation that he was “all in!”. He said that if I didn’t want the baby, he would have it. Totally naïve but sweet nonetheless. We decided we would co-parent as friends, living together for the remainder of the pregnancy and for the first year after the baby was born. After that, we would re-assess and go our separate ways if that was decided upon, no hard feelings. We named ourselves “Team Baby”: we were once in love, and for the sake of our baby we would be open to seeing if any of those feelings came back, as this would be the best case scenario. But, there was no rush and we weren’t going to force it, especially since I was still heartbroken and not ready to jump into a relationship with Paul.
Paul was incredible, he was so excited to be a dad. He really stepped up to the plate and took on his role of being the provider and a father. He financially supported me and was physically present and involved. However, due to us not being in a relationship, he couldn’t give me the emotional support I really needed at this time, and I recall this being one of the loneliest times of my life.
After I told my mum, she jumped on a plane from Melbourne and came to stay to look after me. She cooked, cleaned, rubbed moisturiser into my growing, itchy tummy and went for walks with me. She would even iron Paul’s undies! The woman knows how to keep a house in order. She fussed over me and made sure I was resting and staying healthy. We talked about all things pregnancy and childbirth. It was a lovely time. Being raised by my Dad, growing up I didn’t see my Mum much and as a result, we didn’t have a very close relationship. This served as an opportunity for us to reconnect. We now had something to bond over, being mothers, and it gave her the opportunity to look after me when I needed her most. It was a really special time for our relationship.
Fast forward a super quick three months of moving home to Wellington, getting our own ‘grown up’ place, attending antenatal classes, and doing a crash course in all things baby-related, to two days past my ‘due date’. I notice bloody mucus when going to the toilet and text Helen, my Midwife, who tells me this is a good sign. I go to bed at about 10pm and before I fall asleep I know that these are definitely contractions I’m feeling. I tell Paul, I’m in labour. I wish I could sleep but it’s so painful so I get up and have a bath. Paul gets up too but I tell him he may as well get some sleep as it could still be a long time yet.
My mum had five home births and growing up in the house I was born in, I always knew I wanted to have a home birth too. Despite being in unbelievable pain, mostly back pain, I felt relaxed knowing I didn’t need to go anywhere and just had to wait it out at home. The bath did nothing for the pain so I paced the house and tried to watch some Kardashians. The pain was so bad though so I just paced the house, dreading the next contraction, then willing it to stop once it came. Once it was a reasonable hour in the morning, I text Helen to tell her I had been in labour all night. I also text my friend Ellen who I was supposed to catch up with that day, “I can’t catch up today because I’m in labour!”. Despite the pain it was exciting that this was happening.
Paul got up and was excited but also freaking out. I could tell he felt a bit guilty for having slept while I was up all night by myself in labour. He called family members to update them and called my mum in Australia. I had chosen to just have Paul and Helen for the birth, but had told Paul I wanted mum there immediately after the birth. They sorted out her flights and she would be arriving on the last flight that day when surely the baby would have been born. But, that was not to be the case and I spent the rest of the day in just the worst pain I could ever imagine. It was so much worse than I had expected and I really did not feel prepared for this.
I spent the day pacing my house as the contractions got longer and more intense, although still irregular. Paul sat on the couch watching, horrified and feeling totally helpless. I had told him I didn’t want him to talk to me or touch me, so he just had to watch.
Come the evening Paul and Helen set up the birthing pool in our lounge. Paul was so happy to have a task to do. I was then mixing up my pacing of the house with lying in the pool. The pool didn’t do anything for the pain either. I used a wheatpack for my back, which also did nothing.
The hours dragged and I started to think to myself 'how much longer?!'. I was so tired, but I couldn’t eat or sleep. By the time Mum got to our house it was about midnight and I was still in labour. She dropped her bags and started rubbing my back and stroking my hair. There are times in your life when you just need your mum and this was one of them. I was so glad she arrived when she did. Through the contractions mum would hold my hand and give me words of reassurance. Paul grabbed my other hand and said words of similar effect. Mum would rub my back, Paul would rub my back. It was slightly awkward with Paul since we weren’t on touching terms, but I appreciated that he was making sure I knew he was supporting me too.
Coming up to the early hours of the morning, and well into my second night of no sleep, I had given up on my dream of having a home birth. After 28 hours in labour at home, I told Helen I wanted to go to hospital. I had previously had a very strong stance on wanting a natural birth with no pain relief or medical interventions. Believe it or not but I didn’t have a lot of faith in the medical profession! I also wanted to feel what it was like to give birth naturally if I could. But as I walked down our bush track to the car, I thought to myself 'once I get to hospital I want an epidural and any other pain relief possible, and a c-section, I don’t care anymore just get this baby out of me'.
We arrived at hospital and Helen offered me the gas. I said “yes” and started inhaling. “This isn’t doing anything!” I shouted at Paul. “Have more!” Paul shouted back and encouraged me to continuously keep inhaling. I could tell he was relieved that I was finally taking some form of pain relief. I lay on the hospital bed exhausted and Mum, Paul and Helen turned into fairies in front of me, flying around with stars everywhere. Someone was talking to me but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I stopped inhaling the gas and came around and felt an overwhelming and uncontrollable urge to start pushing. This had all happened really fast, within about 15 minutes of arriving at hospital. I felt an incredible sense of power during the pushing stage. It was so good to finally be in control of what was happening. As the baby was crowning Helen said I could touch the head if I wanted. I reached down and touched a slimy head… crazy! She held the head in so the baby would come out really slowly, so I wouldn’t tear (thank you Helen!). She told me to push again and then said “Not that hard! Too much crossfit! Push very, very lightly.”. The head was out, then one shoulder, then the next and then followed a huge gush and the baby came out, my waters breaking on delivery.
Braxton Sema Wood was born about half an hour after we arrived at hospital. It was suspected that the drive gave him that final jiggle into position that he needed to come out. He was placed directly on me but those first moments weren’t as I had imagined them. When I was pregnant I pictured this moment and cried, thinking about how emotional it would be to finally hold him. But I didn’t cry (Mum and Paul were crying!), instead I just felt relieved it was over and noticed how long and wriggly he was! I wasn’t done yet, I still had to give birth to the placenta but after pushing a human being out through your vagina the placenta is nothing. You could basically sneeze it out. Paul cut the cord and I took off my top so that my wriggly boy could nuzzle into my breast. Once he latched on to my nipple and I held his little naked body there against my naked body, the overwhelming love for this precious little boy flooded over me.
I lay there for a while with my wriggly boy feeding and then went with Helen and showered. I put on the largest sanitary pad I’ve ever seen into my granny undies/comfy undies and got changed. I decided I wanted to go home to lie in my own bed so was back home about an hour later, hobbling up the bush track to our house. Paul, Brax and I climbed into our bed together and we lay there staring at this little human being we had created. Two years later he’s still firmly attached to my nipple and still sleeps cuddled up in my arms. Brax that is, not Paul (not on weeknights anyway).
Mum stayed for about two weeks after the birth which was the best thing ever. She was in full ‘Mum and Grandma mode’ – cooking, cleaning, doing the groceries, holding Brax so we could sleep, changing Brax, helping me bath him, everything that you need a mum to do for you. She was amazing and truly the best support we could have had and I was so grateful for her being there.
I really struggled with the adjustment into motherhood and I think an unplanned and very ‘short pregnancy’ had a lot to do with that. Not to mention that Brax never slept. Paul and I had decided we wanted to be back together but starting a relationship in the thick of life with a newborn was really tough. Paul was away a lot for work and when no one comes home at the end of the day, all of a sudden there is no ‘end of the day’ and the nights and days roll into one and become very long and lonely.
The thing that helped me the most was having food dropped off to me, as I was so exhausted, often alone and not eating or sleeping. Connecting with other mothers who also had terrible sleepers and confiding with close friends about my struggles gave me a lot of emotional support. Food and company were so helpful postnatally, but even just some encouraging words and kindness could really have a huge impact on me. I had some conversations with my mum and my grandma that I will never forget. They acknowledged how hard it was and empathised with me, then told me that I would get through it and that I was doing everything right. I felt like they really understood me and by feeling connected to the women in in my life, this gave me a lot of strength. I knew I needed more help though, which is when a friend recommended Vic from Love Mamas who showed up on my door step like Mary Poppins. She is the most kind and caring person ever and will always be a part of the family and a lifelong friend.
Today, Paul and I are happily married and can’t believe how awesome our lives are. Brax is the coolest little boy and we hope to add to our little whanau in the not so distant future.
— Mary-Ann Moller