In this new series we celebrate pregnancy and birth by inviting readers to share the story of their baby's arrival.
Marlee's birth experience with twins Murphy and Finnley was anything but textbook.
The Adelaide based mum-of-four, who has two older kids aged three and two, had a plan for how she wanted to labour. The challenge was finding a way to birth as she wished.
Her pregnancy went from high risk - as with her first two, due to a medical condition that requires her to take blood thinners while pregnant - to 'high, high risk' when she found out she was carrying twins, so it was never going to be a standard birth experience.
Told she would have to be induced and have an epidural in case she or her babies experienced distress during labour, she was determined to find a way to birth how she had with her first two: unrestricted, able to move around and pain med free.
Picture: Marlee said she was determined to birth how she wanted - pain med free. Credit: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography
"Straight away they put you in this category: you're not allowed to go past this many weeks, you have to be induced, have to have epidural...," Marlee, who wanted to keep her surname private, told Essential Baby.
"But I'd had two kids not that long ago and I'd birthed naturally, with no pain relief, but was told I couldn't do it this time around, there were all these conditions around it.
"I thought 'no, this can't be right'. My body has done this twice before, why is everyone so scared for me to do it now? I went into this birth very stubborn and strong willed.
It took a meeting with the hospital's head obstetrician before she was able to argue her case for holding off on the epidural.
Picture: Marlee said there is a 22 minute gap between her daughter's births. Credit: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography
"We got to 35-36 weeks and they were saying - every appointment the same conversation - 'you don't want an epidural, but let tell you the risks'. The biggest risk is if it goes pear-shaped you have to undergo a general anaesthetic. It took me finally sitting down with head OB where I asked if it were a single pregnancy and something went wrong and it was a real emergency, would I be put under GA?," she explained.
"He said yes, I said 'why is this any different. If not a true emergency there's always time to put a spinal in, and if it is they're going to knock you out'. I put my foot down said 'I know how my body births, I need to move around."
Marlee was induced at 37 weeks and arrived at the hospital hesitant about how it would play out. But with a supportive husband by her side and an obstetrician willing to let her try, her fears were allayed.
"At 11am they broke the water for twin A (Murphy), who was head down and from my previous births after my water was broken it took about seven hours to get to active labour, so we ate lunch and walked around the hospital to help things along," Marlee said.
Picture: Marlee and her daughters bond following the birth. Credit: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography
"By the time we got back I was in active labour, it took 2.5/3 hours to kick in, and within an hour twin A was coming out. It was all really quick!
"I looked at my husband and said 'I need to take my pants off'. I was standing up when I gave birth and I think two contractions later twin A came out head first, no problems.
"It's a bit of a blur but then I remember it so clearly. They couldn't put her on my chest because the cord was too short, they got me a stool and I cuddled her for a minute then within minutes the contractions started up for twin two to come down."
Explaining that she'd been told twin B may need to be 'manually extracted', she was determined not to have a 'hand shoved up me' and knew she could do it on her own.
Marlee celebrates after both girls successfully latch. Credit: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography
"Thankfully the doctor we had was so willing for me to do it. The gap between the births is 22 minutes. Twin B came down, I was standing up, and when they were coming down I heard the OB say to Jacob 'You need to look at this! OMG wow!'.
"I'm thinking what the hell is going on? They were completely breech, like a canon ball in the membrane, they call it a mermaid birth. This tiny little thing tucked up in its sac and it wasn't until right at the end when the whole body was out, then the bag exploded all over the floor and went everywhere."
Both babies were born at very healthy weights, Murphy at 7 pound 10 (3.2 kg) and Finnley at 6 pound (2.7kg). And although a positive experience in the end, Marlee says should she ever have another, she'd likely opt for a homebirth.
Do you want to share your baby's birth story? Send details to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject: birth stories.