This is a story I’ve waited to tell. The wait wasn’t something I intended. I’m a pretty impatient person by nature. I like things to happen quickly.
Roo’s birth didn’t happen that way.
Kesh was always meant to be a mother. She has in her an indescribable passion for nurturing living things – me included. She saved my life. Not because I was going to die but because the life she helps me to live is more than I would have ever had without her.
There is within Kesh an unconditional love that could fill any space. It filled my failing heart and now flows into our little Roo.
Pregnancy and birth were important to us. We made a conscious decision to be informed, educated and prepared. The only thing is, we had no idea that birth is something you can never be prepared for. No matter how many books you read, no matter how many people you speak to and no matter how many courses you attend, the hallowed ground each woman walks upon through the miracle that is child birth is something you can never know unless you’ve been there.
We knew what we wanted; a drug free, natural birth, resulting in a healthy Mum and baby. And that’s what we worked towards from the moment we found out Kesh was pregnant.
On Tuesday night, May 29, Kesh woke me and told me she was in labour. It was a touch before midnight and I was relieved the time had come. Birth was something that we honestly were looking forward to. We had very little fear in the lead up. We were positive and spent the final days with each other. We visited our favourite places and walked along the sea’s edge in anticipation of what was to come.
I asked Kesh if she could sleep. We knew that if she could, this is what needed to happen. Sleep was an impossibility for Kesh. Her contractions were already five minutes apart and were lasting up to a minute. She told me to try and get some more sleep. ‘I’ll need your strength later,’ she told me. I never realised how significant those words were.
I laid my head on the pillow and at 2am, the contractions were at the point where Kesh needed me. I reminded Kesh of what her body was doing, to allow it to happen and helped her breathe through a few contractions.
Kesh jumped in the shower and it felt good. I timed each contraction and the break between. Strangely, this is something I became a little too concerned with over the next day or so.
We headed back to the bed and Kesh contracted, while the Sun began to rise. We called our Mums and with the frequency and intensity of Kesh’s contractions increasing, we decided to head into the hospital around 8am.
The car trip was actually calm and felt right. Contractions slowed but we knew they would. On the way in, Kesh and I spoke about her desire to be a midwife.
When we arrived, we decided Kesh would be checked. This wasn’t in our plan but we felt it would be good to know where we were at. The news was what we expected. Kesh was 4cm and everything felt about right, according to our midwife, a beautiful lady we’d met with through the clinic on more than one occasion.
And this is where things get a little blurry in my mind.
The next six hours were hard. We were active, we breathed, we took walks, we showered and used the bath, we squatted and used the birth ball. We worked really hard. And when I say we, I mean Kesh. Kesh worked amazingly hard. Her body began to shake, her legs cramped, her back ached but she was ok – just.
Around 3pm, we decided it would be a good time to be checked. Kesh had made it another centimetre, maybe two. This time though, we received some other news, which was a little harder to bear. Our baby wasn’t in the right place. A little too far to the right, with its head in between the right place and the wrong place. With the advice we received, we decided to have Kesh’s waters broken. It was hoped that this would help to bring our baby into the right position and increase the rate at which dilation was occurring.
I held Kesh’s hand and told her that I was there with her.
For another three hours, I held Kesh. Her body was, we believed, doing what we needed it to do. Our baby was close. The sounds Kesh was making began to change. There was a primal rawness in her. She was bearing down and moving into each contraction. Our midwife readied herself just before 6pm. It seemed our baby wasn’t far away.
Soon though, Kesh needed to change positions. When she did, everything slowed. The noises she had been making were no longer heard. The intensity and frequency of her contractions had lessened. Kesh welcomed this. Her body was exhausted. Her mind, too.
I wasn’t sure what to think. I was sure our baby was about to come into the world and now, Kesh was almost asleep and her contractions were coming every ten minutes – the least frequent they had been since labour began, 16 hours earlier.
We could never have been prepared for the news that came next.
Another examination revealed that Kesh’s cervix had not dilated over the last three hour period. Instead, due to our baby’s postion, her cervix was swelling with each contraction, which was actually working against the natural process of dilation. The space for our baby to move through was getting smaller, instead of getting bigger.
Around this time, I received a text from my Mum telling me she was about to begin the three hour drive so that she and my Dad could be close. Kesh and I had decided early on that we wanted this experience to be ours. I’d told my Mum at least five times that day not to worry about coming.
Not long after that, I also learned that Kesh’s parents were already on their way down to be closer to us.
I can see now that they were being pulled to us by a greater power and not by coincidence. Things were not going how we had planned. While we knew that things wouldn’t go perfectly for us, we never anticipated the problem that was before us.
Kesh was properly exhausted and I let her sleep. I sat there in that room, watching her. She breathed heavily but quietly and woke every ten minutes or so with a contraction and then, almost immediately, fell asleep again.
I woke Kesh at 7pm and we spoke about what was happening. Kesh was scared and asked me if I’d offer a special prayer.
I told Kesh that we were going to get up and in the shower and work as hard as we could until 8pm. I told her we were going to get the baby out. We’d been told that the situation was serious enough that if things hadn’t changed by then, intervention may be required.
In the shower, I held my wife up. I placed my head next to hers and I told her to use my mind, my strength, my everything. I told her that she could do this and that she was doing this. With each contraction I felt her pain. And I started to get scared. Really, really scared that my wife and my baby might not be ok. I started watching the phone more and more. I knew I needed help and that Kesh’s parents were close and my parents weren’t far behind.
Kesh’s parents arrived to find Kesh naked in the shower and me in my green shorts, holding her up. I didn’t know what to say, so I asked Kesh’s Mum where her bikini was. I laughed but only briefly.
8pm came and with it, my parents. Kesh lay, barely conscious on the bed, covered by a blanket. I watched her Dad, a beautifully strong man, fight back tears as he struggled with the scene that lay before him. His baby daughter was exhausted and in serious pain, while her body continued to do the opposite of that which was required. After a few minutes, he left the room, unable to bear it anymore.
Kesh shrunk into each contraction. Another midwife was called for a second opinion based on the findings of our midwife’s examination. She confirmed that Kesh had actually regressed and her cervix was closing due to the pressure from our baby’s head and the swelling this was bringing with it.
Kesh cried, and me too.
We realised that something serious needed to happen. We realised that Kesh’s body wasn’t going to do what we needed it to do. Both Kesh and I had never wanted to use any drugs during birth. None, at all. When the midwives advised us that Kesh would need syntocinon and an epidural, it wasn’t what we wanted to hear.
I thought I would hate this news – that I would fight it and refuse. I quickly learned the truth required in surrendering to child birth.
And surrender we did.
Our parents headed to the waiting room and the anaesthesiologist arrived somewhere around 9pm. I held Kesh’s hand and watched over her shoulder as the needle went into her spine. Fluids were administered through a drip around the same time. Kesh was dehydrated and finding a vein was close to impossible. I watched as the most skilled midwife on duty dug around Kesh’s forearm, trying to find a vein.
Kesh lost feeling on one side of her body and never completely lost it on the other. Syntocinon was administered and these stronger contractions began to move our baby into the right place.
I stayed with Kesh and we turned out the lights. We would both need rest for what was about to come. I sat in a chair in the corner and watched Kesh’s chest rise and fall in the darkness. I realised how important she was to me, from the corner of that birthing room.
With the change of shift came a new midwife. I silently watched her observing Kesh. Somewhere around 1am, she told me to get some rest. Kesh was progressing and she would need me.
Just before 2am on the 31st of May, Kesh was examined. She had fully dilated and it was time to start pushing. I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought that our baby was never going to make it and now we were ready to push.
Kesh woke a little upset. She couldn’t move her legs and this bothered her. She had always wanted a drug free birth and the ability to move freely into whatever position felt best.
The bed was lifted and Kesh was instructed to push.
And she pushed.
After not many contractions, I realised that this is something we could no longer do alone. I regretted telling our parents to go home. Once Kesh had the epidural, I had been out to the waiting room to update them. ‘Things are happening but really slowly,’ I’d told them. ‘You should just go and sleep at our house.’
It wasn’t just me who’d told them to go home. The midwives had said the same. Looking back, our parents had been told to leave the hospital on about five different occasions. Now, just after 2am, I would have done anything to have them there with us.
In between contractions, I offerred a prayer, in my mind, and ran from the birthing room and down the hall to the waiting room where our parents had been, hours earlier. I prayed that someone might be in that room who could help us. I will never forget the feeling when I opened that door and saw all of our parents there, waiting. They hadn’t left us.
My Mum was the only one still awake. I spoke very directly to her and said ‘Come and help us get this baby out.’ Kesh’s Mum must have heard me and stirred on the lounge. ‘Please, come and help too.’
All three of us walked down the dark hallway and into Kesh’s room. I’ve never felt such relief, as I did when I saw our parents there.
I later learnt that after being told to leave so many times, they actually had. They were in their cars and had already pulled out of the hospital car park. My Mum felt drawn to us, the whole day. So did Kesh’s Dad. They had been texting and calling, pleading to be near us. So, for them and my Mum especially, leaving didn’t feel right. Mum asked Dad to pull over and she flagged down Kesh’s parents.
‘I don’t feel right about leaving,’ is all my Mum said. The four most significant people in our lives turned their cars around and walked back into the waiting room, not knowing that in a few hours their son and daughter would need them, more than they ever had. I am forever grateful to them for not leaving us.
In order for Kesh to be able to push properly, the epidural had been allowed to wear off. With it came extraordinary back pain, again, due to our baby’s positioning. All three of us took turns massaging Kesh’s lower back to the point that our bodies wouldn’t allow us to push any harder. One midwife told me not to push as hard as I was. ‘You’re going to bruise her.’ Kesh came back quickly with ‘I don’t care about bruises. Push harder!’
From 2am until 5am, I have never seen such things. I have never known my wife until that time. I have never witnessed such strength, such will and such love. There are no normalities when it comes to birth but I’m aware that pushing for three hours is pretty much unheard of these days. It gets dangerous for all involved when things go for that long. Kesh started to not look like Kesh and I started to doubt if our baby would ever come out. Seriously.
Kesh was in labour for almost 30 hours. We were in labour at the hospital for almost 22 hours. During that time, there was only one contraction that I wasn’t with Kesh. I had been holding her leg up for about twenty minutes and asked her Mum to take over. I sat against the wall, a few metres away. My mind was in a dark place. I really believed that our baby might not come out naturally and that this night might never end. I saw my wife hurting. I saw her crawling up the bed to try and get out of her own skin.
You cannot be prepared for what child birth will do to you. Until you’ve been through it, you just don’t know.
I said a prayer. I put my head in my hands and pleaded with the Creator of life to allow this life into ours.
For this whole three hour period, we could see our baby’s head. It was right there. It just wasn’t coming out.
We were told that this was becoming a risk to both Kesh and our baby. We were told that this delivery would be instrumental, at best. The Doctor had been called and he’d ordered a top up of the epidural. Up until this point, Kesh had been squatting, with the support of me and our Mums, who had been taking turns holding Kesh up.
We were blessed to have two amazing midwives, who wanted us to deliver naturally. With the top up syringe in her hand, our midwife told us that she could give us four more contractions and she wasn’t even meant to give us that. One more in the position Kesh was in and three squatting.
With the first contraction came nothing. We lifted the naked body of my wife into a squat and pushed with her. And almost suddenly, our baby began to move. By the last contraction we were meant to have, the head was almost completely out. With the 5th contraction, the head came out and then Kesh simply breathed.
You know, I am in awe of my wife. I’m in awe of every single woman who has ever given birth – in any way. Birth is no joke. I would go as far as to say that what each woman does to bring a child into the world is unbelievable.
‘It’s a boy,’ I told Kesh with tears in my eyes.
I have never known such emotion as I did at that moment. He did come out, seconds before the arrival of the Doctor.
Roo Joe Coulson was placed on Kesh’s chest and I exploded with joy, relief, ecstasy and love. I actually remember grabbing our midwife and kissing her. I remember seeing our Mums and being so grateful they were there for us. I thought about the strength in them, having birthed six children each. It was then that I began to marvel at womanhood.
Kesh cried, a lot. She couldn’t believe she had done it. ‘He’s so beautiful,’ she said over and over.
I left the room to tell our Dads the news. I walked through the door to the waiting room and they were still there. Their faces pleaded with me for good news. ‘We had a boy. You have a grandson.’ They were overjoyed. We hugged and I returned to Kesh and Roo.
For my Dad, the birth of Roo was extremely meaningful. Roo is the first grandchild to carry on his family name. Dad hasn’t really told me how much this means to him but he doesn’t have to.
Roo was born at 4:55am and weighed 3.9kg or 8 pound 10 ounces. His middle name, Joe, is in memory of one of my best friends.
Roo is a week old today. He is more than I could have ever imagined. I hold him and struggle to imagine him being in Kesh’s belly, even though I know he was. He made me a father. I’m his Dad. He’s my son. I love him. I tell him that I’m going to be the best Dad for him. I want to help him become a great person – someone who brings so much goodness into this world.
I love Kesh. She is everything to me. When I’m not with her, I want to be. My life is better because of her, in ways that I can’t explain in words.
I realised, quickly, that I wouldn’t be able to document the birth in the way I had intended. Kesh needed my strength and the camera became less significant as the labour progressed. I put it down without the intention of picking it up. My Mum, thankfully, did pick it up and most of the shots from when Roo is born are taken by her. Thank you, Mum.
To me, birth is amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s the most special thing we as humans can do; to create life.
Thank you for following our story. Thank you for your love and support.
Kesh, Tim and Roo.