When Mel fell in love with NRL player Ryan ‘Hoff’ Hoffman, she had no idea what she was getting into. In this edited extract from her new memoir Full Credit to the Boys, Mel reflects on how the rules of the game extend into every part of her life – including giving birth.
‘I think I really would like to try and give birth naturally.’
I was thirty-seven weeks pregnant and our obstetrician had advised me that all indications were pointing to a mega baby. She’d offered an elective caesarean, but I had declined. The alternative was to wait and hope that I went into labour early, before the kid’s head had a chance to get any bigger. The next step would be to schedule an induction.
‘You’re the boss,’ she said, and as we left her office, I wondered why there was no parade in honour of my brave and virtuous start to parenting.
Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues below.
Later over dinner, Hoff and I discussed the decision. Something was bugging me.
‘Do you think I made the right call? Not to have a caesarean?’ I asked him.
‘I think you’re the one who has to be comfortable and I’ll support you whatever you decide.’
I rolled my eyes. ‘How is that helpful?’
‘I thought I was saying the right thing!’
‘I don’t want you to say the right thing. I want you to tell me what you really think. It’s your kid too. Probably more so, judging by its massive head.’
Hoff ignored my sledge and paused to consider his position. ‘I don’t see a problem with giving it a go the old-fashioned way. As the doc said, if the baby becomes distressed, you can have an emergency caesarean.’
Hoff was using the exact turn of phrase that our obstetrician had used earlier that day – if the baby becomes distressed. I suddenly realised what had been bothering me. I didn’t want my child to become distressed. Preferably ever, but especially not in the final minutes before it had to become a person in the world. I was desperate to be a good mum, but in that moment, I realised that being a good mum might mean doing something that I didn’t want to do, that scared the pants off me. I had never had an operation before – I had never even broken a bone before (a perk of being risk-averse from a very young age). So a caesarean was not something I approached lightly. I knew that women who have caesareans often have their subsequent babies via ceasarean, so in making the decision for this baby, I was possibly making it for all future babies as well.