You meet a friend at a cafe a few weeks after they've given birth.
You've seen the photos on Instagram. Maybe there was a black and white filter. They were looking adoringly at their little baby, all wrapped up, lying on their chest.
Perhaps a partner was resting their hand on your exhausted friend's shoulder. Everyone smiling. A bunch of flowers in the background.
The caption was something short.
When two became three. Welcome to the family Olivia Ava Smith. Our hearts are full.
Your friend sits down at the cafe.
You exchange a look.
Your heart might be full but are you gonna tell me how many stitches you got and share explicit details about the first post-birth poo???
She nods. It's time.
A heart can be full and a nipple can be bleeding. She takes a deep breath.
"It all started with a contraction..."
There was the woman who called an ambulance in the midst of an IBS flare up. She'd never felt pain that acute. A few tests were done, and a doctor kindly told her that this wasn't IBS. She was birthing a baby. And it would be here in a few hours.
Then there was the woman (my own mother) who birthed two sets of twins in two and a half years. Another who rejoiced at the sight of her baby's head, only to be corrected. It wasn't a head. It was a... poo. Floating in a bathtub.
There were stitches and contractions and a C-section that was likened to checking into a fancy hotel. There was hypnobirthing and birth on country and two babies born en caul, which made them look like they were gift wrapped.
And over my conversations with these women who didn't spare any of the details, I learned more about birth than I ever expected to.
I went into my first interview terrified of what I'd learn. I've always loved babies and am very keen to have one one day, but I'm not such a fan of how they get here. Strangely, the more I heard about birth, the more empowered I felt. My fear turned to curiosity and then to I suppose a sense of... peace.