pregnancy

Home And Away star Christie Hayes' two experiences of childbirth couldn't be more different.

Due date. It’s a big deal. It’s such a biggie that Robert Downey Junior (LOVE HIM) and Zach Galifianakis (LOVE HIM A LITTLE MORE) starred together in the hilarious film, aptly titled – you guessed it: Due Date.

The doctor (never uncomfortably) asks you when you had your last period. Some people (not me) can answer off the top of their head. Then others (this one is me) do a mental dance and finally put two and two together. Literally two and two. If you want to know, I believe my answer was “the 22nd.”

And there we have it. We start the countdown to labour… the big day… the DUE DATE. The day we will become mummy or daddy for the first, or second, or eleventh time.

Christie with her son Harley. Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_

I remember calling my best friend in tears and telling her the good news, and the thousands of calls and text messages we received from friends congratulating us on our expectant baby. I can't keep a secret. I promise I’ll try, but I just get too damn excited about things. I'm not really one of those "let's tell close friends and family only, until 12 weeks" people.

Well, I kind of am, I mean - I wanted to be - just 'til we were all safe.

But then, I was at my local favourite cafe in Bondi and this happened:

Waiter: "Hey lovely, what you want?"

Me: *grinning like an idiot* "CAN I PLEASE GET A LARGE LONG BLACK ALSO GUESS WHAT I'M PREGNANT!"

*Crickets*

Waiter: "Oh great! Congrats! How far along?"

Me: "Thanks! Only six weeks or so, so I'm not telling anyone just yet. Only close friends and family."

I realised the irony of what I had just said, given he was a perfect stranger. *Again, crickets*

"Oh, and you it seems!" He laughed. Phew. I like that I am funny and can make people laugh. Although that actually wasn't funny, and he gave me more of a polite chuckle, but hey, I had somebody to share my good news with in person.

Watch the Mamamia team investigate what it's really like to be pregnant. Post continues after video...

After the realisation that I couldn't actually drink coffee anymore, I paid the $4.80 and went down the beach to consider my exciting future. My scalding coffee went cold. I couldn't even give it to Daniel as he doesn't drink coffee. Yeah, he's really weird.

As I sat to reflect, I thought of a very important question: Who did I want there at the birth?

Women have babies, every second, all over the world. We have done so for millions of years.

Women have passed away many times in child birth, past and present. It's a very natural, but scary experience. It's one that you need to have support with - it's a big deal. Especially your first labour, as you have no idea what to expect. So what did I decide?

I decided to keep it simple. You know, like invite my entire family. That kind of simple. Not all my family - just obviously my very excited fiance, my mum and my big sister. They have rules about the delivery room so I decided that less was more.

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But, with their trip to Sydney from Queensland, along came my step dad. And my sister's children. So yeah, a holiday for five to come down around DUE DATE. Oh, I also have two other sisters who live in Sydney. And Dan's parents. And his brother and sister-in-law. And their kids. The bigger the better!

"I decided to keep it simple. You know, like invite my entire family." Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_

However, lets talk about the lead up to DUE DATE first.

If you're anything like me, you made mistakes with your first pregnancy. Did you, like me, forget to take your referral to your ultrasound appointment on the day you're booked in to FIND OUT THE SEX OF YOUR CHILD, and as a result, not be able to do your appointment? Well, probably not. I doubt anybody apart from me does that. I remember crying and feeling like a total idiot. My mum, sisters and mother in law were texting me incessantly asking me what we were having, because obviously I was planning on telling them straight away - remember I said I couldn't keep a secret?

However, my determined (and sometimes feisty) self wasn't taking no for an answer, so I called my lovely doctor, begging him to stop whatever he was doing and to fax my referral over to the very unimpressed and hostile receptionist where I was getting my ultrasound. Nothing, and I mean nothing, I did made her laugh or even smile. This added to my stress, because without sounding like a total w**ker, I'm funny and likeable. I get along with everybody.

So, in the end I gave up.

I stopped smiling and pointed out to her it was a good job she was being so rude and not laughing with me, because she was right - it was no laughing matter. I hadn't at that point even felt my baby kick, I said, and now she had the referral I needed to get the ultrasound done ASAP please. (That’s true by the way, I wasn't being ‘actressy’ and dramatic. I hadn't felt a first kick, and thats terrifying at 20 weeks with your first.)

Thankfully, the lovely Karen introduced herself to me, and kindly tolerated my barrage of a life story, whilst we walked to the x-ray room and I was explaining to her what went wrong:

"Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry, I stupidly changed handbags this morning because I wanted something lighter to walk around with so I could go shopping afterwards and I left my referral in the other bag and it was all crunched up so I didn't really even notice and..."

“That’s fine Christie. Can you take your undies down a bit?"

*Insert my lame joke about how that’s what got me into this mess in the first place*

After jiggling around the stick in the cold gel, and putting up with my squirming because I so desperately needed to pee, she informed me, to my delight;

"I think its a boy!"

"About 2 seconds later Daniel made a Facebook status informing the world we were having a boy." Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_

Daniel and I were emotional, thankful, and left with immense pride. About two seconds later he made a Facebook status informing the world we were having a boy and he would be called Zachary... (He's worse with secrets than I am.)

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The months rolled on, as did my weight gain and my new found sweet tooth. We spent winter reading every book on the market about babies, furnishing our home and decorating the nursery. We spent Friday nights watching Breaking Bad marathons, eating Thai food along with too many cakes from Black Star Pastry. We talked endlessly about labour and what we thought it would be like.

Two weeks out from DUE DATE- my family hit the east side. (I'm not trying to sound all Jay Z on you- we lived in the eastern suburbs.)

BANG! I knew they were contractions. Ouch, it kinda felt like an electrical current in your stomach. A slight buzz. First time mothers don’t worry, you can keep reading. One day out from the due day, he was coming. Not Zachary. Hendy. Hendrix Walter White.

You don’t watch every episode of Breaking Bad in a very short space of time and come out of it unscathed.

Trouble was, my family were leaving that day. At this stage, I had no signs. No pains yet, no energy spurt. No nothing. Just that looming DUE DATE.

Women go weeks over with their first pregnancy, and so after dinner the night before, we said bon voyage and they made their way up the North Coast, on the way back to the sunshine state. We all know Murphy's Law is different to ours though, and so my poor family got the call at about 9am.

Baby was coming. Bang on time. They weren't far from Bondi, just you know, past Tamworth. Seven hours away and two little boys in the car.

What did they do? A U-turn of course. Straight away. I felt immense guilt for not calling sooner, but I stupidly assumed I'd get them before the next leg, maybe they'd have a sleep in, breakfast etc? No. I didn’t have kids then, so I didn't realise that 2 year olds DO NOT SLEEP TILL 9AM. Neither do parents, I learnt in time.

With the support of my husband to be, my mum and my older sister, and after 10 hours of labouring at home, I went to the hospital. It came on quickly, strongly and it was difficult. However, the presence of my loved ones gave me strength and I pushed (literally) my baby boy into the world.

Christie with her eldest son, Hendrix. Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_

My two darling younger sisters had waited in the waiting room for nine hours. Nine hours armed with cupcakes and Thai food for me (which was a welcome token given I couldn't eat prior to my epidural or whilst I was in labour.)

Whilst our baby was passed around to be adored, I scoffed cupcakes, ate a Pad Kee Mao and told Daniel I loved him. He told me back. I looked around at all the people I truly loved in the room, and the one I now loved in person, and took a mental photo: I do that often.

I told myself I would remember this moment for the rest of my life. And I will. But what about the second?

Well, I didn't even know I was in labour. It was two weeks out from due date, and the only reason I decided to go into the hospital at 8pm (which meant we had to drag our sleeping 11 month out of bed and give him to our nanny as we didn't know what was going on) was because the midwife insisted, since I was sick.

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"You're 6cms, let's get you changed and into the next room!"

WHAT. NO. IT CANT BE. HUH? ARE YOU SURE? HOW?

Also, why are the damn doctors who always 'check' you good looking, I thought to myself.

Daniel got a shock after parking the car. "We're having the baby honey! We’re having it right now."

One hour later, with just the two of us, Harley was born. It was lovely, easier, and an intimate affair. Just us. No family, no calls or texts. It was private, it was beautiful. It was teamwork. It too, was very special.

So what’s better? How should we experience child birth? Just us and our partner, along with the women in our lives, or our trusted support person by our side? You do what’s right for you. And, I mean that. I wouldn't change either of mine. The first time was a big family affair, and the second time around it was just for daddy and I. By this I mean the baby’s daddy, not mine, but if that’s what you want you go for it, girl.

All that matters, is that at the end of our labour we are handed a healthy baby. I have friends of mine that would do anything to have had this chance. I’ll forever cherish the lead up to my due date. The times telling total strangers I was expecting when they hadn't even asked, the times I spent with my fiancee before we were a family, the baby shower I had one week out from my labour which was also the last time I saw one of my best friends, because she passed away from cancer three months later.

I know pregnancy can be difficult, and that labour is terrifying. But, with the support of those who love you, you can do everything. You can do anything. You can give birth with an epidural. You can give birth without one. You can have your mum there, you can have your gay best friend. You can do it. You're a woman!

Christie's baby boys Hendrix and Harley. Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_

Just don’t forget to do what I did. Take that first picture with the iPhone. Take that selfie, by all means. But whatever else you do, take that photograph in your mind. The perfect one you will always remember. The one that never fades. The one you will close your eyes and count your blessings with. The one you will share with your children before they have their own. The one you will remember when times are tough, when times are happy, when you reflect on your labours like I am now. When you tell your babies about their due date. I hope it’s the one I will see many years from now, as that baby, his brother and their children gather around me as I draw my last breath.

It’s not going to last long. I know that in my heart. They will only want to play with me for a few years. Maybe a measly ten years, before mummy waits downstairs or parks outside dropping them off. So, for as long as possible, I want to play with them. I take mental images of my babies. Wherever they want me to walk with them, I will. I would walk to the end of the earth for my boys. We walk them to the park, to the beach, and we take our time and stop to smell the roses or anything else Hendy can stuff into his mouth.

We walk holding hands, we walk in the pram, we walk having tantrums, we walk together for as long as possible.

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