"Jacquie!" says the voice in the night. "I'm in pain."
It was 1:38am and I had a feeling this wasn't going to be her time. "How often do you feel what you're feeling?" I asked. "About every 10 or 20 minutes. But it really hurts!"
These night-time prelabour calls come often and, just like a baby needs to be calmed before going back to sleep, I just need to offer calming words to each woman, then sleep will come to her soon (after a good long bath). I remind her that the process of having a baby takes weeks, and this is just part of the body's way of preparing. The hormones work even better if she's soft and warm and sleepy...so into a bath, then back to bed. Sleep.
Days later, the real labour call came at 11:27pm - from her husband. "She was having a bath again, like the other night. But this time, she leapt out of the bath and started crying out!" When I hear a man's voice, I know I have to fly over. It's time.
Midnight - Contractions are 3 minutes apart and strong. She's moving, standing, sitting, breathing, swaying. She feels hot and cold. She loves when I shake her hips and the power slides down to the ground through her feet. "Jacquie! These aren't contractions! They're expansions!"
"I need to walk!" and she climbs the stairs as each expansion comes, marching back and forth through the house, hands on hips. She's amazing. "Hoo Hoo Hoo..." She runs.
In a Slow Birth, we trust the labour to tell us what to do. We're not looking at the clock (I don't even own a watch), we sense the increasing rhythm of the labour. The signs are always there - the blood (that's good, as long as your boots aren't filling up), the clothes being stripped off (oh, so good), the nausea (it will go as soon as the stomach empties - quickly!), the shine on the tummy, the glowing face, the knees, and then...
"Pressure in my bum!"
We arrive at the hospital at 2am, after a short drive through the empty streets, cool air fresh on her face. Almost 8cm, melting to 10cm. She's ready to push within half an hour.
Birth is sacred, and this birth is fresh and new, so the rest of the birth story belongs to this couple, crazy and hard and slow...and proud.
"Bonjour, bonjour!" I leave them three hours after the birth, curled around each other, baby at the breast. "That was harder than Mt Kilimanjaro!"