"This was no Anne Geddes baby." A very honest birth story.

Birth: there's nothing quite like it, and it's clear no two birth stories are the same. Which is why we're asking everyday women and some of our favourite celebrity mums to share theirs, in Mamamia's My Birth Story series. To share your Birth Story, email with 'My Birth Story' in the subject line.  

This week we hear from Clare Fernando who writes about the day her 'dream of olympic trampolining died'... which is also known as the day she birthed her son Joshua.

I never dreamed of being a mother. 

I did imagine myself with seven minions of my creation (a sufficiently-sized prime number, three is too few, 11 is too many – did I tell you I’m a mathematician by day?). These minion children would do my bidding, conveying my disappointment to all who got in the way of my hopes and dreams. 

Yet here I was, a 9.25 months pregnant singleton, living with my parents and sister, harbouring cynicism way beyond my 24 years. The only colourful spark in a currently beige existence was the fact that I was just about to indulge in the best vintage Star Trek movie of them all – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (Did I tell you I’m a Trekkie?).

This is the best out of all the Star Trek movies featuring William Shatner as Captain Kirk. And to make sure you properly earned the right to watch it, you had to suffer through the turgid ennui that is two hours and 16 minutes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to get the full effect of its sequel. 

My Saturday night was further punctuated by a myriad of snacks at my water-retaining fingertips – salt and vinegar chips, cheese and bacon balls, nacho cheese Doritos, and a whole chocolate Bavarian cheesecake to myself. 


This was as close to bliss as my now-rhombus frame would allow.

Watch: Meet Mamamia's 'The Delivery Room' podcast. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

And just when the dulcet tones of the theremin sounded, signalling the start of the movie, my water broke. Now, given that the alien cooking in my tummy was a week past the predicted date of birth, I had been packing gigantic sanitary pads in preparation for this event. But it clearly couldn’t have come at a worse time. 

Even then, the little bugger was making it known he was the boss. I examined myself for any additional signs of impending birth – no further water breaking, no sharp stabbing pains in my tummy akin to contractions (I think I’m golden). So I decided to stay put and watch the movie. But what if I get in trouble by not telling anyone? 

My parents were having dinner with friends nearby. My sister was home in her room doing artsy things (did I tell you she is one of those obsessed artist types?). So I decided to inform my sister. When I approached her closed door, the sound of grunge rock got louder. Upon knocking, she opened the door looking very bothered at this intrusion into her artistic flow.


"It’s not a big deal but I thought I should let someone know. I think my water broke. I don’t feel any contractions so I think we can wait until Mum and Dad return to go to the hospital."

"But what if I get in trouble for not letting them know when your water broke? Isn’t water breaking important in the whole birthing thing?" asked my sister, clearly not fooled by my attempt to play it down.

"How do I know? I’ve never had a baby before and I refuse to look at the birthing books," I said. "The pictures on the cover are worse than a horror movie."

"I think we should at least call Mum and let her decide," she said.

While my sister called Mum, I sighed as I looked miserably at the continuing play of the movie I had so longed to watch, knowing my parents would hotfoot it home to take me to the hospital, thereby shattering my best-laid Saturday night plans. 

My night was ruined.

Clare Fernando. Image: Supplied.


When I arrived at the hospital, the contractions had already commenced. What started as a barely-there twinge in my lower stomach avalanched steadily into an internal game of tenpin with only the heavy bowling ball in play. In the future, any tummy ache I experienced would often by referenced by my saying, "Oh god, I feel like I’m about to give birth!"

I had been in the hospital for 15 hours and the little bugger was still gripping my uterine wall, refusing to vacate. There was a lovely nurse who frequently visited me, breezing into my room with her unwanted lightness and melodic greeting of, "Hi, pet. How are you feeling?" To which I would answer with increasing impatience, "When is this baby coming out of me?" But after 15 hours of this, what she did next changed my life.

"Pet, have I been filling your water jug? I don’t remember doing it but it’s full."

"It’s full because I haven’t been drinking it." I hated the taste of water. It tasted so bland. I preferred drinks that satisfied the gullet and tickled my taste buds, like Pepsi. "Oh my!" exclaimed the nurse, aghast. "You have to drink water, lovely. The oxygen in the water will make your cervix dilate faster."


"Why didn’t you tell me earlier?" Armed with this new information, I consumed all the water in the jug in seconds, followed by another jug, and then another. In less than an hour, I was ready to push.

The baby’s head was gigantic. Any amount of pushing could not get his enormous head out.

In the end, a surgeon replaced my midwife and cut me. It felt like hot fire. Seconds later the baby tumbled out of me, turning like a screw and sounding like the end of a water slide. I felt immediate relief. Then the surgeon placed the baby on my chest. But this was no Anne Geddes baby. This creature was covered in a sticky pinkish goop. But the most alarming thing was his eyes. They were on the sides of his face!

So, the first words my son ever heard from his mother were, "Get him off me." (Not my finest moment.) 

My mother, who was beside me the whole time, quickly whisked him into her arms, cooing and aahing, and repeatedly asserting, "What a beautiful boy." (Liar!)

Joshua as a baby. Image: Supplied.


I need not have worried. Within the next 24 hours, my son’s eyes gradually moved closer together so he looked like a member of the human species. He also grew up to be a towering, compassionate, honest, smart and handsome man who still spontaneously gives me hugs and rolls his eyes when I disturb his modern sensibilities. 

Although frequently I remind him of how I forfeited any future trampolining career when I utter, "Roll your eyes back in the forward position, Joshua! Remember, I can never go on a trampoline again after they had to cut me to get your big, bulbous head out!"

Clare Fernando is a published author, novelist, staged playwright, short story writer, poet and lyricist. She works as a mathematician by day, but try as she might, can never get numbers to truly decompose the depth of human behaviour in all its glory - passion, compassion, self-interest, love, anger, and sacrifice.

Feature Image: Supplied.

It can be tricky raising little humans and that’s why we want to hear from all Parents in this short survey. Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!