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Gerard’s Story

Gerard’s daughter Grace Eva Sanxi was born by torchlight.

Grace Eva Sanxi was born by torchlight. After a twenty-six-hour labour, the lights went out twelve minutes before her birth.


Gerard & Grace Eva Sanxi


At first I was in shock. Then it was, “yeah, I’m going to have a baby”. I wanted kids last year but my partner Cat wasn’t ready at the time. She was 26. The difficulty was that Cat and I had been together for six years before we broke up. Then I found out she was pregnant. From the beginning I maintained that I was going to be there for her and the baby. We are working things out.


First stages were surreal. You can’t see anything, can’t feel anything. It’s a complete female journey. At first Cat was saying she didn’t want me at the birth. But there was no way that I was going to miss the birth of my child. How could I not be there? I think Cat’s initial response was an emotional, protective mechanism. It is such an intimate space for a female. Neither of us wanted to know the sex of our baby until it was born. We had booked into a suite at the Mercy Women’s Hospital where the rooms were set up so it was more like a home birth than a hospital.


Cat is very active. The day before, she had swum 40 laps of a 50m pool and cycled to and from work. When she got into bed the following night, the contractions began. It was winter. We set up an area in front of the fire where she continued having contractions throughout the night. By 5am the contractions were three minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds each. They were the most amazing convulsions. At this stage I had no idea how intense it was going to be. It was so very primal. Everything took over. I was absorbed, taking polaroids. Our birthplan was that Cat and I would do the labour with no drugs. We had packed Bush Flower Emergency Essence, Bach Flower Remedies, candles, crystals, fresh juice, a homemade vegetable lentil soup with chick peas, fresh breads, home made muffins, organic apples, liquorice, dates – it was all very lush. We first rang the hospital 4am but it was a little early to leave. When we got there a few hours later, we unpacked. We were there until 4pm then we went home for a change of atmosphere. The next five hours were really intense and at 10pm we went back to the hospital. I went through an entire bottle of Emergency Essence. Cat was completely focussed allowing her instincts to completely take over. Because the baby was resting on her back this amplified the pain. We used pressure points on her back, reflex points on her feet and lots of hot towels and showers. At midnight the lights in our room went out. Twelve minutes later Grace was born by torchlight.


Cat was in front of me squatting with her hands on my knees. As Grace was born, we could hardly see anything. Suddenly Grace slid across the mat like an iceskater. My first words were: “F**k Cat, it’s a baby!” I was blindly taking photos, the most extraordinary photos. The placenta was still inside and I was saying: “What type, what type is it?” I was so euphoric. Cat had the baby in her arms and we worked out that we had a little girl. The bizarre thing was that the lights were on everywhere else in the hospital.


We named her Grace Eva Sanxi after a character from a 16th Century love story. Grace was 6.930 grams and 49cm in length. Born at 12.12am on 20th July 2001, the Chinese Year of the Snake with her Sun and Moon in Cancer. Grace was born in her membrane sac or “cowl” as they refer to it. Apparently if you are born in your cowl you will never drown at sea. I had never heard of this. Just doing the first nappy was freaky. I was so cautious and boy, it was a shocking nappy. The first week I did all the nappies and food so I quickly got better at it. Grace is amazing. Her eyes were open from day one. Cat and Grace have increased the intensity of my honesty and purpose on this earth.

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