I started my labour on Thursday, 24 March at 23:30 with my entire supper coming up and then labour pains started. They were at first 30 minutes apart. A long way from the 5 minutes I was aiming for before I went into hospital. I phoned my doula, Colleen Pedersen, to tell her but unbeknown to me she was in hospital with another patient. So my hubby, Kegan, and I waited it out together. I started in a rocking chair covered in blankets because I was very cold. I was too excited and nervous to sleep and the pains were too sore. But once Kegan had fallen asleep, I realized that I needed to rest. So I climbed into bed exhausted. But for every contraction I had to stand up so rest was very elusive and contractions were still 20 minutes apart.

We spent the next day walking the garden, the block and to the park with the dogs. My labour seemed to be going well. Contractions were 10 minutes apart. That evening I was so tired. Felt apprehensive because knew how hard it was to sleep while contracting, but desperately wanted a break and it was too soon to go into hospital. I managed to get some good rest because contractions slowed, but by the next morning contractions were even further apart and I was feeling so disappointed. Colleen came around in the morning to check on me. She said it was time to go into hospital. My heart dropped because I knew it was too soon. But she could see I needed a change. I needed to feel like I was moving forward in labour.

So we agreed to go in just to check on Ben and see if I had dilated. Our bags were already in the boot so off we went. The nurse found a strong heart beat so Ben was fine and next was the internal. I was nervous again. I have vaginismus which is a spasmodic contraction of the vagina due to physical contact or pressure.

My hubby and I have walked a long road with it and have obviously overcome it as our pregnancy is the evidence. But during my pregnancy it had come back again and I was worried that it might interfere with natural labour. But my physiotherapist and Colleen had assured me it wouldn't but it did mean that the internals would be a challenge. Kegan held my hand and I reminded the nurse of my condition and survived my first internal. I was horrified to hear that I hadn't dilated at all. My cervix had only softened and Baby Ben was in the right position. After all that pain and waiting, I felt so despondent.

Colleen came and chatted to us. She suggested we go do something enjoyable to move things along. I felt hesitant at the thought of it but soon got into the spirit of it. I'd been at home doing very little for too long. It was Splash Festival weekend so us crazies decided to go down to the beachfront for a brekkie at Angelos. For every contraction I stood up at the table until it was finished. The people around us were very curious. But it worked, my labour started progressing. Keegs wanted to go back to the hospital but I didn't feel it was time. So we went home and tried to relax and watch a series. I got through one episode and told Keegs that it was time.

Wow! So the real thing was finally happening after all the long waiting. We checked in at 3pm on Saturday, 26 March. Colleen met us there. She got my room ready with candles and soft music while I was checked out first. During that internal my water broke. There was a lot of blood and I had to wear one of those maternity pads for the rest of my labour.

Things started out slowly but there was an excitement in the air. I was filled with nerves. I unpacked my things. I put out the pictures I had bought of my mom. She had passed away almost 8 months before and I had wanted her to be with me for my birth. The pictures were my reminder of her. I had to have a drip put in my wrist to receive an antibiotic every 4 hours because I had streptococcus (bacteria infection that can be passed to baby). It was very uncomfortable because it was right on my bone.

After the first drip we went for a walk in the parking lot of the hospital. That was my last outside walk, after that we kept inside the hospital walls. For every contraction I still stood and leaned against something. The pain from the drip took my mind off of the pain from each contraction. It was another thing I had to accept and come to terms with.

By the evening, not much had changed. I had dilated about 2cm. I was getting much better at handling my contractions. At first, in my mind I pushed them away and clenched my body against them. But by that night I was in the zone, focused on my breathing and trying to embrace each contraction and go with it. Not an easy thing but Colleen coached me through it and Keegs supported. That night I desperately needed rest which was impossible because my contractions were much closer together and for every one, I still needed to stand. Colleen and Keegs had to work with me to get me to sit through a contraction so I could finally rest. So from about midnight, Colleen would rub my feet and Keegs my shoulders and they'd hold me down when a contraction came. I'd feel a desperate need to stand but they'd hold me and I got used to staying sitting and just leaning forward if I really had to move.

Because I'd gotten some rest, my labour had slowed down again. Where the night before I was having 2 in 10 minutes by the morning they'd slowed right down again. I felt like I was losing my mind. It was so hard to remain hopeful and expectant. I wondered if Ben would ever come. The nurse did an internal and I was in active labour, 3/4cm dilated but still very slow. Because I needed to sit up from the bed or lean forward in the chair each time they strapped the monitor for Ben on to my stomach, the readings weren't always a true reflection. The readings showed that Ben was in distress.

At that point the doctor came in. He said no-one had informed him that I'd checked in yesterday afternoon. He was very upset about it. We were very grateful though because it had given me time. He probably would have wanted me to be induced the night before. I did not want to be induced because of the intense, unnatural pain which might then lead me to have an epidural. I wanted to go completely natural if possible and I was scared of being trapped on the bed while having contractions. After he left the nurse on the day shift came in and said she needed to do the readings and internal again to get a true reflection. She said Ben was fine but I had only dilated another centimeter since the evening before. The doctor said I'd need to be induced because my labour was moving too slowly. Since my water had broken, I was now on a timeline. After consulting Colleen we asked to speak with the doctor. Kegan acknowledged the doctors' concerns and then asked for more time to try get things going naturally.

So we continued with squats and walking around the hospital, doing stairs. At my next internal I had only dilated another 2cm so now I was 4/5cm. Keegs and I went for a long walk and had a good chat. I realised that my fear of the pain was what was slowing things down. I wanted an escape but I needed to face that this was my job. I had to do it and the pain was a part of it but there was a great reward at the end. Maybe the induction was the way forward. Keegs asked what my mom would have said. I know she would have said, "You're not a failure Jessie, you just need a little help."

So we asked for the doctor to come back so we could tell him to do the induction. But before he ordered it he first wanted to see for himself how many centimeters I was. Again I warned him that I had vaginismus. He was so gentle and he gave us the best news. I was actually 6/7 cms dilated. An awesome, miracle answer to prayer. He said an induction wasn't necessary and that we should keep doing what we're doing. We were full of relief. We went down to the cafe to visit briefly with my sister, so excited and hopeful.

But after my next internal I hadn't dilated further and the nurse said that the doctor had ordered an induction. We couldn't believe that that was still on the table. I felt hit by a ton of bricks. She said we could decide when to do it but that the doctor was coming to check on me in 30 minutes. Colleen said that meant we had 30 minutes to make things happen. We got down to business. This is the point when I really focused and took the pain to a whole new level. I groaned with every contraction, I leaned into the pain and tried labour positions that I'd been too afraid to try before. The nurse came to tell us that the doctor had been called into an emergency caesar. This was another answer to prayer because it gave me more time. When he did come I was so nervous. He said he'd do another internal and praise Jesus, I was 10cms dilated. Now I just had to wait for the irrepressible urge to push. That came quickly. I would go down into a squat with each contraction, but then instead of standing again I'd feel the need to keep pushing down. Colleen told me to pant and they got me on the bed, legs up and open. The midwife was going to do the delivery because the doctor was in another caesar.

For each contraction I had to push but without making a sound. It was so quiet, it unnerved me. The midwife could see Ben's hair but things were going slowly. But then the doctor came rushing in and took over. He was a most amazing labour coach. There was no silence while I pushed. There was his voice urging and cheering me on. He had to cut me because there was a point where Ben's head just couldn't push through. Then he decided to use a vacuum because Ben's head kept going back into the canal. The vacuum would just hold him in place until my next contraction. I pushed my heart out. I summoned every ounce of left over energy and I prayed "Lord help me". With every push I hoped it'd be the one. After over an hour the final push came and Ben's head was out and one more little push and his whole body followed.

It was so unreal. After 66 hours, 27 in hospital, I was exhausted but ecstatic. I had done it. It was over. His little wet, squishy body was on my chest. Ben Topper born on Sunday, 27 March at 18:03. We looked in each other's eyes. He was mine. We'd done it together and there was nothing I couldn't do after that. I got to experience him crawling up my chest to find my breast which he did with a little assistance. He drank from both breasts. Nature and God were at work. I felt so empowered and in love. My heart was full of joy. Kegan looked at me with new eyes. He really saw me. Ben was born on Easter Sunday, the day that we celebrate Jesus' resurrection and seat at the right hand of the Father. Ben's name means the Father's right hand. It was also the 8 month anniversary of my mom's death. She also died at 6 p.m. God was at work from the beginning. He knew the perfect time and there was purpose in the journey.