Photographs by our doula Rachel, Birth in Harmony

Dearest Baby Mermaid

Where do I begin the story of how you came into the world?

Do I begin when I was sixteen, and saw you as I stood in the shower: a beautiful, wide blue eyed angel with golden curls? I bent down in that shower that day, I bent down before that strong, shimmering vision of you, and I cried, and I laughed, and I knew that one day you would be my daughter.

Do I begin when I was twenty-five, sitting next to your daddy at a spiritual church, and the teacher’s amber eyes fixed on us? You have a girl spirit waiting to come through, she said. A daughter. Yes, yes, I know, I smiled back.

Do I begin the story the teary-eyed moment your daddy and I knew you were waiting to come into this world, and we decided it was time? Or the moment I saw those two blue lines on the pregnancy stick, and tears sprung to my eyes? I had only one thought then: She has come for me. My daughter is here.

And now, sitting here in the month of April, I write this with you, my daughter, sleeping in my lap. You are three weeks and one day old, and I have been studying your face. You are changing so much already, my beautiful heart. Your round cheeks are lengthening out into your mama’s chin. Your eyes are growing a lighter blue. Your hair is becoming lighter and longer.

Each moment, only once.

So my daughter, how do I tell the story of how it is you made the journey from my womb into the world?

It seems too big and too large to write about – there are a thousand threads that weave this story, each string shining, each layer its own song, with flecks of miracles interwoven.

I can only say for sure that I know that you were born exactly how you were supposed to be.

And I couldn’t even glimpse what that may have been until it all happened.



Once upon a time, your Daddy and I were at the Birth Centre at one of their “Preparing for Birth” classes. As soon as I knew I was pregnant with you, I had booked into the Birth Centre.

Years before I had read Spiritual Midwifery, and it had changed my world about birth. I decided then that I wanted a birth assisted only by midwives – and as natural as possible. The Birth Centre felt like the right fit.

Anyway, at this class, we were given a set of cards – each had a birth option on either side. For example “Epidural” on one side and “No Epidural” on the other. And during this exercise, we had to go through, and systematically choose the three birth options that were most important to us.

I immediately knew the object of the game. I said crankily to the midwife: You are going to tell us we are not going to get what we want, aren’t you?

She shushed me, and told me to play along anyway.

I grumpily did. Ours were: To not be induced, To have a Birth Centre birth {instead of being transferred to the attached hospital} and To have no pain medication. I was so concerned about being induced as I knew my own mama had a 42 week gestation period and was induced three times out of five. It was not what I wanted for me.

And after we chose our cards, the midwife then went around the class, and read out everyone’s cards. And then she described to each couple how they would get one or two of their three choices, and asked them if they would be happy.

As Chris said “Woah… it’s like she’s reading our oracles!”

When she came to ours, she read out my choices and said:

“You, Leonie – you are going to be induced, and will give birth in the hospital delivery suite. But it will be a pain medication-free birth. How will you feel about that?”

And I got so cranky about the whole “You won’t get your ideal birth” exercise that I snapped at the midwife that I didn’t care.

That night as we drove home, I was in tears. I was angry about the idea of not getting the birth I wanted. I was afraid that the midwives didn’t understand. I felt so worried that the Birth Centre wouldn’t end up being the right support during birth, and spent a week feeling lost and unsure.

Me & your Daddy went back to do another weekend of Calm Birth workshop together, and I spent a lot of it in tears. During one exercise, the lovely Tracey asked us to write out our feelings about birth, and share them with our partners. So we did, and as I shared my fears with your Daddy, he looked at me with his ocean blue eyes and said “Oh honey, if those are all the feelings you are having, no wonder you are so worried. Let’s do what you need to do to feel like we’ve chosen the right carers.”

I shared with Tracey, and she said to us such profound words:


Leonie, where you are right now is taking you on a journey. The journey may end up with you staying with the Birth Centre, or choosing home birth. But no matter which of these two happen, the outcome will be the same: You will feel stronger, more courageous, and more in your power when it comes to birthing your child.

In all the time I had been pregnant, I had a longing for a homebirth, but settled with the Birth Centre option. Now felt like the time I needed to fully explore the option of homebirth so I could know our choice – whichever it was – was the right one.

We met with our lovely doula, and she shared sage words of kindness and understanding. She gave us the names of homebirth midwives she knew, and your Daddy and I decided we would find out what would be the very best birth for you… the one we felt you were guiding us towards for you.



That weekend of CalmBirth, and in the middle of this time of transformation, your Daddy’s grandmother passed away. It felt like she was leaving the planet as the older generation so that you could come through.

The day before her funeral, we met with a homebirth midwife, and talked long into the afternoon about spirituality and birthing.

The next day, driving west into the country, to return to your Daddy’s birthlands, we sat quietly, letting it all sink in: life, death, birth, choices.

I asked your Daddy:

My love, I think about homebirth, and I think I can do it… but I wonder: do you think Little Mermaid will need more assistance than that? I just have a feeling that she might.

And a soft look passed over his face, and he said:

You know, I’m just not sure hon. She might.

One thing I know for sure: When I have a feeling about something, I’m usually right. And when your Daddy has a feeling? It is always right.

So, woven into this story is this little feeling we shared that we may need more help to bring you into this world.


As we drove further along, and the flat plains turned into soft round hills, your Daddy said to me:

All you need to know, honey, is what you need. And then we can get that for you.

I agreed, and quietly turned within.

An hour later, as we drove by a scrubby bunch of trees hewn with red earth that I will always remember the sight of, I said to him:

I know now. It’s not a homebirth midwife that I need. I really want a spiritual elder to be there with us, to hold the space for us, to make it sacred for our little mermaid to enter. I really just want the birth to be safe, joyful and holy.

Okay, he said. Who would you like there?

I don’t know how it will happen, or who it could be. I only just know that I want an elder there for us.

So we let it sit. We had been shown the next turn of the path, and just needed to trust it would take us where we needed to go.


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We arrive in the town your Daddy was born, and settle into a hotel just down the road from the hospital he was born. Only a moon away from your birth, and here we were reliving your Daddy’s own.

We walk the streets your great-grandmother walked, the places your daddy visited as a child.

That night, we dial in from the hotel’s internet, and I receive an email. My spiritual mentor, the woman who led the first womens circle I attended when I was 21, is coming back to Canberra. Just in time for you to be born. I read out the email to your Daddy.

There, I say. There is what I need. I will ask Ellanita to be there with us.

And as simple as that, the threads wove together, and I knew it was the right thing.

I would have a trifecta of strength, love, wisdom and courage around me: your daddy, our doula and my mentor.


In the morning, we washed in Mama Murray river, your Daddy’s birth river. At the ceremony to return Daddy’s grandmother back to the earth, I took a white flower for you, and offered to grandmother in thanks. A white flower felt just like you.

When we arrived home, I emailed Ellanita. The synchronicities lined up: You were due on her son’s birthday. Ellanita and you were both Aries girls. The timing and the place was perfect.

Somehow, I knew that with my trifecta, all will be well. That even if I ended up needing a caesarean, I would have the right people around me to feel your birth would be safe, joyful and holy.


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Soon after that, we had dinner one night at a restaurant with your daddy’s family.

We decided to take bets on your arrival. Your due date was between 28 March and 2 April.

I guessed 3 April, as did your Nanny Tare-Bear.

Your Daddy thought for a moment, then said in that way of his:

24 March.

Quietly, assuredly.

I laughed at him heartily.

There is no waaaay this baby is coming early hon. It’s not in my genes, we are always late.

That may be so, but she does have half my genes, and I am impatient.

I shook my head, still laughing, and wrote it down by the other guesses.

That same week, your Daddy was pestering me about when I thought you would come, so he could planit with his work and put it in his calendar.

I refused to give him a date – I’m a free flown’ hippy like that.

So he ignored me, and put into his calendar:

7am, Wednesday March 24: Baby comes.


In the month leading up to your birth, we had a long list of things that needed doing. We made space for you, and got rid of half our possessions. Carpets cleaned, trees cut back, business things to prepare.

Just hold on baby, until we do this one last thing.

The last thing on our list was a pregnancy photoshoot when I was 39 weeks pregnant.

Just hold on baby, until we take these last photos of you inside my belly…

That weekend, the energy was intense.

It was equinox. A tropical cyclone hit our homelands and the farm.

It felt like everything was being cleansed in preparation.

On the Saturday, your daddy & I went to a fairy festival, and saw the lovely Lucy Cavendish who I had photographed the year before. We talked about spirit and Crystalbrook Retreat and big dreams and Avalon and children and soulful parenthood. And we smiled knowing smiles and said “Not long now…”

The time was becoming riper.

We sat down to hear Lucy’s talk, but I started to feel off and wanted to go home.

We went up to our sacred rock with our doula. Photographs of my full moon belly, your daddy’s arms around me and you, the moss covered granite.

I felt like an earth empress mermaid up there, aglow with two lights, walking through the doorway from maiden to mama.

Driving back through the national park, we joke about when you’ll arrive.

Well, our list of things to do is complete, so maybe she’ll come tonight.

Rachel, our doula, laughs.

Suddenly, a group of rabbits cross the road in front of us, and me and your daddy burst into laughter.

It started with rabbits, it ends with rabbits, we say. She’s coming soon.

Rachel laughs even more, knowing the story of the rabbit who magically came to live in our front yard when we conceived you.

Later, she told us she was thinking:

Surely not. Surely these two can’t be THAT in tune. Knowing due dates because of rabbits?



We hugged Rachel goodbye, and bought fish and salad on the way home.

We sat down at our little wooden table, eating, laughing, talking quietly.

And as I ate the last piece of food from my plate,

there was the sound of ocean and new beginnings

as my waters broke.

The journey of bringing you into the world had begun.


Read Part Two of Baby Mermaid’s Birth Story here.

Read Part Three of Baby Mermaid’s Birth Story here.