Former Home and Away favourite, Christie Hayes, 28, and her partner, Daniel White, became new parents last October. When bub Hendrix was just six weeks old, Christie fell pregnant with their second child. She tells Mother & Baby about the ups and downs of being a mum and the scare she had during labour.
The responsibility of being a mum can be overwhelming but I don’t want to run from it. You love your child so much that you just force yourself to get it together. Now, as a mum, my emotions are more extreme. When I feel sad it’s heightened and when I feel joy I cry.
The first time Hendrix smiled at me and I saw love back in his eyes, I realised all my time and effort was for a relationship as opposed to a responsibility. The day he turned nine months, I was giving him a shower and he just kissed me about 20 times and I thought, wow this isn’t going to last forever! To have affection with someone you genuinely love more and more every day is a rewarding experience and that’s when you know that your child actually loves you back.
The protectiveness I feel and the emotional investment have been quite unexpected. I recently felt let down by somebody in terms of their relationship with Hendrix and I just thought no-one loves him as much as me.
To fall pregnant again so quickly was surprising. People were shocked at how intimate Daniel and I were while we had a newborn. Many couples have difficulty conceiving, so I know how lucky I am.
An easy pregnancy
With my first pregnancy, I hardly got sick at all. There was a week when I was six months’ pregnant where I was a little bit ill, but I was never turned off food. I walked a lot and was in good shape before I gave birth to Hendrix. But I was a bit gluttonous towards the end.
My second pregnancy has been harder because, with a baby, I haven’t had the luxury of resting whenever I’ve needed to. There are times where I kind of forget I’m pregnant, but my growing belly and the baby’s kicking have become a constant reminder. But, again, no morning sickness, thankfully. If it was a difficult pregnancy I don’t know how I’d cope having a nine-month-old as well.
I was in labour for 27 hours. For a lot of that, I was at home with Daniel and the contractions were bearable. I read Birth Skills by Juju Sundin and Sarah Murdoch, which is about distracting yourself when you’re in pain. So I was stamping my legs and jumping on the spot to distract myself, and I think that really helped me.
After 16 hours, the contractions really kicked in and it was time for hospital. I was getting contraction pains but not making progress. At one point, the midwives thought I’d be at 10cm and almost ready to deliver, but I wasn’t.
So, 25 hours in, I had an epidural. It was the best thing I did for my body because, 90 minutes later, I was dilated and relaxed. I felt present and began to like my labour, whereas before I was vomiting and yelling at Daniel. However, my baby’s heart rate was dropping by the second and an emergency caesarean was mentioned, but then the doctor said, “Let’s get him out right now” and ended up using forceps. It turned out the cord was so wrapped around Hendrix’s head that there was a slipknot within a knot.
When Hendrix came out, he was completely beautiful. They gave him his first needle and he didn’t cry, he just did what I did and dropped his bottom lip and I could tell he was in pain.
Everyone is different and there are women who are proud of giving birth naturally. I prefer the word ‘traditionally’, because I think any labour is natural as long as the baby comes out. This time, I’m aiming for a traditional labour without pain relief. However, if it becomes necessary, I’m fine with an epidural, as I didn’t have complications with it.
I wanted to find an unusual and creative name. Daniel is very into music – he was a DJ in London for many years – so I was looking for something with a bit of musicality, and one day ‘Hendrix’ came to me. Jimi Hendrix was history’s greatest guitarist and I love his music, so I thought it was a cool name with a bit of a legacy. I was also considering ‘Zeppelin’, after the band Led Zeppelin, but my mother said, “Don’t you dare!”
His middle name is Walter and his surname is White. Walter White is the main character of Breaking Bad, which is my favourite TV series of all time. Walter is also a family name on Daniel’s side.
Like mum, like son
Hendrix loves looking at himself in the mirror. If he’s crying and you put him in front of the mirror he will crack up laughing and then kiss himself. Talk about an ego! He loves the camera, too. I don’t know where he gets that from…
It sounds clichéd, but Hendrix is a really good baby. He’s a smiler, easygoing, very adaptable, and never freaks out meeting new people, so I can take him anywhere. But, obviously, he’s not perfect – like all babies, he can crack it!
Teething is a huge nightmare. Dealing with it, with sanity, is about not feeling too stressed when he’s crying, understanding pain, and being loving and affectionate. It brings out a lot of affection in him – it’s quite a bonding experience. Now Hendrix is a little bit older, he understands Mummy and Daddy are here to help with the pain.
Trying to differentiate between his cries and what he needs has been hard, and I didn’t expect to feel guilty when he hurts himself. Even when he’s moved on, I feel like it’s up to me to protect this little baby and make sure everything’s okay.
My big sister is a born mother and she knows it inside-out, so I rely on her for advice. I also rely on a lot of apps that say, “Hi Christie, today your baby is this many days old, here’s what to expect…”
I think it’s important to make time for your relationship, so Daniel and I have a date night every Wednesday. It can get tricky, but we try to maintain it, even if we’re just at home having a meal or watching a film – and not checking our phones. It can be simple, as long as it’s quality time together.
When you have a baby you really get to know your partner in a different way. You’re on a journey together where you have no idea what you’re doing and you need to find your way as parents. Daniel and I are very much in love, but we went through times when we thought, “How are we going to do this?” If you can survive the first four months, you can survive it all.
My advice to new mums is to not feel pressured by what people say you should do. You generally know best. It can be hard when your baby is crying and you feel isolated, but it’s a beautiful time when your baby is in love with you. And I know there’ll be times later on when my kid is going to hate me! Surround yourself with positivity and just enjoy it, try and sleep when you can, and ask for help when you need it because that can be hard to do.
I love being a mum but I’m also very much a career person and always have been. I have some films lined up for next year plus I’d like to go to LA for more acting. If another baby comes along in five or six years, great, but it’s not in my immediate plans. I want to make my kids proud – and I’m happiest when I’m acting and being a mum.
Originally published in Mother & Baby magazine on sale now via iTunes or in stores.