Welcoming Wilkie, the story of his birth














Wilkie’s birth was always going to be different. For one, we planned a home birth, something I had always liked the idea of but had never experienced before. In the weeks and days ahead of his arrival we made all of the necessary preparations — we talked through the birth plan with our midwife, we had an inflatable birth pool in our bedroom waiting to be pumped up, and we had briefed the children who were hoping to be present to watch the birth of their sibling. He would also be our first baby born outside of the UK. I had envisioned sunshine and blue skies welcoming him to Australia, but the forecast was for rain and stormy weather all week long. Mom reassured me that it was perfect ‘baby holding’ weather – all we needed was our baby!

For the 10 days leading up to the 18th I was a mix of emotions. Part of me wanted to savour every last day of being pregnant, the very last time I would await a baby. The other part couldn’t stop wondering when this baby would arrive — wishing it would be soon… growing slightly anxious. Having given birth four times before, I knew better than to start overthinking things. I knew that no amount of planning or hoping or fretting would change the course of the events ahead. And yet, I started overthinking. I thought about silly things like the baby’s birth date and the numbers I preferred (evens over odds). I worried about the baby’s weight and giving birth to a really big baby (aren’t subsequent babies supposed to be bigger?). I even worried, as the days went on, that if I went six days overdue we wouldn’t get a Pisces baby, which seemed so fitting after our year spent on the world’s oceans (since when do I pay attention to these things?!). Apparently silly things enter the brain of a woman who is three days past her due date. Even when she knows better.

It was now Saturday the 18th of March and still no major signs of our baby. Aside from the occasional Braxton Hicks contraction, which I’d been having for the past week; labour might yet be days away. We decided to get out of the house and go to The Farm for lunch. I had their delicious aubergine sandwich and we shared their amazing jam donuts for dessert. As we sat at the big wooden table eating, I had a contraction that seemed stronger and longer than the previous ones. I didn’t say anything to anyone for fear of raising false hopes. Maybe the baby just liked the donuts.

There was a break in the rain after lunch so we made our way to the tea tree lake in Lennox Head. The kids were desperate for a swim and I thought I might join them. Driving to Lake Ainsworth, I had two more of the stronger contractions. Still, I said nothing.

As my mom and sister swam with the kids I sat with Michael on a beach towel plopped down beside the lake. Another contraction came and I decided it was time to share my secret. I told him these could be real ones. He looked at me with excitement. Then the rain started to sprinkle and everyone came swimming back to the shore hurriedly. We scrambled to grab everything and get back into the car before the heavens opened up. On the 25-minute drive back home I had three more contractions.

The contractions continued that afternoon but I knew from experience it wasn’t full labour yet. Michael and I decided to make vegetarian chilli for dinner. We chopped tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and aubergines while Mom and Meg played games with the kids downstairs. As we made dinner I felt the contractions getting slightly stronger; strong enough for me to pause the chopping when they came. I could also feel the adrenaline building. These were labour contractions now, not Braxton Hicks, so I decided to walk up and down the stairs a few times to get things moving.

We sat down for dinner around 7pm and I told everyone I was having contractions. I remember looking over at Marlow and feeling sudden pangs of guilt. She was going to be bumped as our baby. I told her she would always be my baby girl and she looked at me with her very Marlow, ‘I’m fine’ expression. She didn’t need to be reassured. Marlow has always been like that – so confident and emotionally resilient. I stood up from my seat and leant against the wall for the next couple contractions.

After dinner, my contractions were still irregular, but were coming through stronger and longer. I didn’t think we needed to call our midwife just yet, but I wanted to go into my bedroom to get things ready. Michael needed to finish inflating the birth pool and I wanted to prepare my bed.

Mom put a movie on the laptop for the kids while my sister cleaned up the dinner dishes. Michael and I went into our bedroom and I continued to labour with long-lasting but irregularly timed contractions. Michael dimmed the lights, lit candles and put some music on. I remember him setting up the speaker as I experienced a series of stronger contractions. I leaned against the wall in our bedroom and let my lips flutter as I exhaled, trying to relax my mouth and body.

Around 9pm Michael suggested we call our midwife, Leanne. When she picked up, I told her I was in labour, but quickly had to pass the phone to Michael as a strong contraction swept through me. She told him to start filling the pool and she’d be over as quickly as she could.

Leanne arrived around 9:40, though by this time I was unaware of anything happening outside of my body. My brain had entered that soft, inward state – edges, objects and details blurred, the room dark, the pain coming in waves, rushing over my body. When I first saw Leanne she looked at me and reassuringly said ‘that was a big one’ referring to the contraction I had just experienced. The look in her eyes told me that she knew this baby was coming. She quickly checked the baby’s heartbeat and took my blood pressure before the next contraction came.

Meanwhile Michael was rushing to get the birth pool filled. The warm water just wouldn’t come out of the tap quickly enough so Leanne asked my mom to start heating pots on the stovetop. There was a lot of rushed, frantic activity in the room and I quickly ducked into our bathroom for the next contraction. It was severe. I was leaning against our bathroom counter with pain so strong I couldn’t decide whether to sit or to stand. I tried to relax my mouth and my body, but this time it was noticeably more difficult to endure the pain and remain relaxed. I envisioned my cervix as a flower, opening up. I fluttered my lips, exhaled and groaned. Just then I felt my cervix open and my waters broke. Water dripped down my legs, blood too. I was now squatting on the floor and felt pain in my bottom and my back. The pool wasn’t quite ready and I worried I might give birth right there on the bathroom floor. Mom came rushing in carrying pots of water and I squatted aside the pool for the next contraction. I hung my left arm over the side and felt warm water. It was nearly ready for me and I suddenly felt the urge to push.

A moment later Leanne gave me the ‘all clear’ to get in the pool, but I felt completely paralysed from the waist down. I couldn’t move my legs and there was no way I could climb into the pool. Somehow Michael lifted me as I remained in the squatting position. He helped me into the warm water, which felt so welcoming against my tense body. Within seconds I had the urge to push. Leanne and her partner, Kris, called everyone in—baby was coming! I pushed and looked down. Through the water I saw the baby’s face looking up at me. He was in the posterior position and came out looking up. I looked into Leanne’s eyes. She smiled reassuringly—it was fine. The kids came rushing into the room along with my mom and sister – they could see the baby’s face. I pushed once more and gently lifted him up to my chest. He was in my arms. I felt such an enormous sense of relief and also, a bit of shock –it had all happened so fast! He was born at 10:15pm. We had all been eating dinner only a few hours before. The kids had barely finished watching their movie. Yet here I was, sitting in the pool holding our baby, surrounded by everyone in the house – Michael, the kids, my mom, my sister and two midwives.

“What is it?” Ivy shouted. “What’s its name?” she asked again. For some reason I didn’t feel compelled to lift the baby from my chest to find out the gender. I held the baby tightly and just looked up at all the children. I just wanted to savour that moment, to take in what had just happened, and to tune into each of the kids as they stood there at the edge of the pool having just witnessed childbirth for the first time in their lives.

I saw Easton standing directly in front of me, pressed against the pool. He was crying uncontrollably, wiping the tears from his eyes as they continued to fall. Of everything that happened that night, I think this is the moment that will always stay with me: my eldest child crying tears of joy, so moved by the moment. Remembering him experiencing such deep, grown-up emotions, brings tears to my eyes whenever I think about it. I am so thankful he got to experience this.

I scanned the room for Marlow. While the three big kids were standing directly in front of me, Marlow was standing slightly behind, right next to Michael. I looked over at her and found her wide eyes, just above the edge of the birth pool, staring straight at the baby and me. I don’t think I have ever seen her eyes look as big as they did in that moment. She watched so quietly, standing there, taking everything in.

Ivy asked again, “What is it? What’s its name?!!!!” She needed to know.

After what felt like 10-minutes but was probably two, I lifted the baby from my chest and looked down to see the gender. “It’s a boy!” I announced, feeling immediately certain that this was exactly what was meant to be. I never had a feeling during the pregnancy but suddenly it made perfect sense. How could this baby be anything but a boy? Of course it was him in there all along. Our baby boy!

Of all the children, Quin was the one who, from the very beginning, wanted a baby brother. When I announced it was a boy, I looked up at him, standing off to my right. He started squealing with delight and jumping up and down–so, so happy to have a younger brother. We decided that Quin should be the one who cuts the umbilical cord. And surprisingly, none of the other children protested.

My friend Millie arrived about 15 minutes after Wilkie was born. I was still in the pool when she walked in expecting to photograph the final moments of my labour and birth, surprised to see there was already a baby! Millie stayed to document his precious first hours of life. It was so easy and natural having her with us, and she captured these precious moments as the children met their baby brother in a way we never could have ourselves.

Time seemed to stand still over the next few hours. Our family huddled together on my bed, cocooned in a cosy, magical bubble while the skies thundered and heavy rain belted down outside. We took turns holding and admiring our serene little boy. We talked about the thick layer of vernix that covered his body, we admired his long fingers and toes and tried to figure out which of the other kids he looked most like. The midwives weighed and measured him: 3.8 kilos and 55cm, then left us alone with our little treasure.

Marlow slowly fell asleep on Michael while the other kids helped me dress and swaddle our baby boy. Mom and Meaghan took turns holding him before saying goodnight and taking the big kids with them. Michael and I found ourselves alone in our room with a sleepy baby in our arms. The night I never wanted to end was coming to a close.

Michael and Wilkie slept peacefully that night as the storm raged on, while I lay there wide awake, still buzzing with endorphins and adrenaline, unable to put my mind to rest. What an incredible night it had been. I had always wanted a home birth and could hardly believe it had just happened. How fortunate we were and how incredible for our family to have this experience together. I lay there admiring our baby as he slept so beautifully next to me.

Waking the next morning I felt as if I had just emerged from a beautiful dream. I stepped out of my bedroom for the first time since the evening before, with a bundle of sweetness in my arms and my heart as full as it’s ever been.

 

All the photos above, except for the last two, were taken by our friend Amelia Fullarton

90 thoughts on “Welcoming Wilkie, the story of his birth

  1. Thank you for sharing the most precious and personal moment in a woman’s life!!! Beautiful story, specially the part about Easton!! I had my second baby in the water on 19th March. It is so amazing to have the opportunity to give birth in the water. Congratulations on the arrival of Wilkie ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Oh my….I am also lying here with tears rolling down my cheeks. What a beautiful memory to treasure forever. You did wonderfully xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  3. Birth stories are one of my most favorite things in the world. Thank you for sharing the story of Wilkie’s birth. Having had my second baby, a girl, 7 months ago, you had me in tears. There is nothing more special than bringing a life into the world. Congratulations to your beautiful family!

  4. Stunning, written so so beautifully, I shed a tear actually quite a few tears when reading Easton and Quin’s reaction. Thankyou for sharing X I too have a 9 year old boy who has 3 younger sisters, he is the most loving boy to his toddler twin sisters, and your boys response reminded me so much of my boy xx

  5. Oh I loved that! I started tearing up too when I read about Easton. It’s all so sweet. 😉 Beautifully written, thanks for sharing! I would love to know how you came up with the name Wilkie? xx

  6. Oh wow, I cried throughout that beautifully written account of your son’s birth. I had my first baby 12/16 and it brought back so many wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Dear Courtney,
    I’m in Tears – what a wonderful Story. For you and your Family i wish all the best and many wonderful Adventures ahead! Best wishes from Germany to Oz.
    Nina

  8. UF! Realmente motivador.
    Hermosa historia.
    Desde buenos aires, Argentina, madre de dos niños.
    Gracias por compartir!

  9. Oh my goodness. Tears are flowing! Thankyou ever so much for sharing your beautiful birth story. So inspiring and refreshing to hear such a relaxing and powerful journey.
    Your story made me smile, cry and hold my breath. It took me straight back to when my son, Cedar, was born, 12 months ago! Kris was also one of my midwives!
    Thankyou again. Loved it. And your eldest sons reaction. Oh my. That got me!
    Xx

  10. Huge congratulations Courtney on the birth of Wilkie to you and your lovely family! Also thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and highly emotional birth story, wish I’d been able to have more children than my gorgeous two but relishing hearing about your fantastic bunch. Best wishes and love to you all. Lucy in 🇬🇧 X

  11. Such an incredible, beautiful story!! Being a mother, I love hearing other women’s birth stories. They are so special. Childbirth is like nothing else in the world and I always feel like it connects us (mothers) all in a way. Thank you for sharing! How you wrote about watching your children that night was so moving, it made me cry. I wish you all the most happiness and love. xox

  12. Oh Courtney, thank you for sharing. I also cried at Easton’s reaction, but I loved reading the little bits about all the kids, I find it difficult to feel like I have enough attention for my two year old and my baby, and yet clearly you have such a special thing with each of your four- now five! I still haven’t written the baby’s birth story- this is a good reminder to do it! Love to you all from across the oceans and the internet!

  13. I was 10 years old and present at the birth of my baby sister and this brought it all back. Just like Easton I was very moved and cried afterwards, it was so impossibly beautiful to witness. What a wonderful memory for the children to share, and you must be so grateful everything went well, and so fast! Congratulations!

  14. There is nothing like a birth story!! Thank you for sharing this beautiful one. Your oldest sounds so sweet. Reading about his experience makes me weepy, too. Enjoy this sweet time. Xo

  15. I have to say this is your most beautiful post ever. I felt the raw emotions and the serenity of the moments after birth. Your desciption of the children’s reactions and of this moment of communion is gorgeous. I also particularly like the fact that you paid attention to the weather. The storm outside somehow matches with the calm after the h of Wilkie. I am not a mother and I am not sure I can ever be one, but this birth story lifted my spirits and hopes

  16. Oh Courtney, what an absolutely beautiful birth story. I so admire how in tune you were with your body throughout your entire labor, how wonderful! Reading this brings back so many memories of my 4 year old’s birth. It sounded absolutely magical. What a priceless gift you have your children too! That part about Easton really got me crying hard. Pure magic, he will remember that moment for the rest of his life. What a gift for a young man, to witness such female strength and beauty at such a young by age. Bravo!!! So much love for you all.

  17. Thank you courtney for sharing. I just cried reading your story as it brought back the emotions of giving birth to my own children (moments I loved so much). I wish I could have easier pregnancies and have more children (my husband and I have 3 beautiful children so we are already very lucky). I know it must be trickey to sometimes share bits of your personal life vs keeping it private. Sometimes, we – readers- might think you have a perfect life, un reachable for us, which I know is part of the deal with social media, but you are really an inspiration for me. You inspire me to do things differently. So, thank you for that and enjoy your little baby boy! Sending you warm wishes from London.

  18. quin’s tears made me cry too, such a beautiful and powerful moment.
    thank you so much for sharing and all the best for everyone, especcially baby wilkie.

  19. Oh Courtney! Beautifully written! I just wrote you a mail and then saw you’d posted this after. So wonderful to read – I loved Easton & Quin’s reactions – just how Elias would have been! I’m not 100% sure that Wilkie is your last baby (we did have similar chats after Markow remember!) but if he is then what a fine way to celebrate the miracle that is birth! Sending lots of love. X

  20. Congratulations and warm wishes from Singapore! Such a magical birth story! Beautifully written and such a joy to read. If you don’t already have it, the kids might enjoy “On the Day You Were Born” (Debra Frasier).

  21. Wow how incredibly beautiful. Reading your story and seeing your photos made me emotional. It is beautiful written. It almost looked liked i was there. Enjoy you bubble of joy and love and stay there with your family
    Lots of love Janneke

  22. A follower of the babycchino blog and a momma to two little ones, I so enjoyed your birthing story. As I contemplate another baby at this point in my life, your story gives me some peace in the thought that it may happen but maybe not right now. When I read about your son crying upon seeing his little brother, I burst into tears. I think because how often are we reminded of how beautiful life is? In the media? In politics? In the news? And there it was, in your son’s very real reaction. A wonder! What joy! Many blessings, to you and yours!

  23. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Your kids are blessed to have a mama like you! I have few tears coming down my face “Easton cut the cord” Congratulations! Welcome Wilkie! X

  24. Amazing! I would really like to have read a post on your reflections on being a mama to 5! Giving birth to my first babe, I immedieately felt that I wanted more kids. And never once did I doubt that I would love the next one as much as number one. And I was right, it was the same complete bliss with my second babe. And the third! But, returning home to my 2 year old with a newborn baby, I felt a pit in my stomach that wouldnt leave. It took me a while to figure out where this feeling came from, but I eventually realized that I needed to allow myself to mourn. Mourn over the fact that I would never be able to give ALL of me to just one of them. I could no longer run to my two year old in a second in the middle of the night, cause I was nursing my baby. And I couldnt get completely lost in the baby in the same way as with number one, cause I also had to take care of a two year old. It gets easier, and after a while you see the wonderful aspects of having siblings etc. But I still feel, now as a mother of three, torn sometimes. Torn because I so badly want to fall asleep face to face with all of them. Torn because while I’m nursing my smallest to sleep, I’m wishing there was two of me, so that I could also lie with my oldest girl and talk to her about her day. Does this make sense? Seeing you and your family brings me joy. You seem so happy and peaceful, and your children as well. I enjoy my kids so much, and I am hoping for at least one more. So, I am collecting all the positive experiences I can get from other large families! As you are a big inspiraton to me, I am therefore asking you: please tell me all the upsides of being a pack!❤
    And any tips and triks and secrets on how to make all your kids feel seen and loved are taken with gratitude. For instance, my 4 year old girl loves playing house and make believe, but I find it hard to focus on that as I am often interupted by diaper change and nursing, or putting someone down for a nap. How do I explain to her this type of thing in a nice way? Hope I dont come of as pessimistic, I am really loving motherhood soo much!! It is just that I sometimes fell the mama hormones overflowing, and that there is not enough time to spread the love❤ Oh, and thanks for sharing that amazing birth story!!

  25. Oh Courtney, your birth story is just magical! I am so happy for you. Just sad I did not have time to send a baby first kit on time as for Marlow ;-).
    Justine

  26. A story so beautifully told, my husband is looking at me strangely wondering why tears are rolling down my face. I had our second daughter in the water and it was so special. Enjoy your little darling x

  27. I have tears streaming down my face while reading this. What a beautiful essay capturing the most beautiful of days. I had my baby boy at home, in the water too. Magical. I love how much you love being a mama.

    • Thanks so much for your sweet comment. And how wonderful that you also had your baby at home in the water. How lucky we both are to have had this experience. Hugs! x

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