NRL superstar Benji Marshall experienced his toughest challenge yet when his wife Zoe gave birth to their beautiful son Fox three weeks ago in what can only be described as an unforgettable labour.
After 10 long gruelling hours of painful contractions and finally an epidural, terrified Benji did everything he could to motivate Zoe to deliver their baby boy.
"The doctor said the cord was wrapped about the baby's neck, so I told Zoe she had to push. It was as if I was giving a talk to the boys on the field," he laughs.
"Everyone in the room was making pushing noises to motivate her. Then the doctor said I'd have to grab the baby really tightly, because he'd feel like a wet footy. I squeezed him so hard, he was going nowhere!"
Cooing over their adorable little boy at Woman's Day's exclusive photoshoot, the Wests Tigers star reveals the magical moment he met his son for the first time.
"I held him up like on The Lion King and put him on Zoe's chest straight away, and we were both crying. I was hysterical," admits Benji, before describing the moment he cut the umbilical cord as "the best feeling ever".
"I know everyone says it, but it changes your world".
Rewind to this time last year, and things were very different for the couple. After a lengthy battle with severe endometriosis, Zoe struggled to get pregnant, and the pair – who married in 2013 – were on the verge of seeking IVF treatment.
In a last-ditch attempt to conceive naturally, 33-year-old Zoe turned to Chinese medical practitioner Dr Shuquan Liu, who put her on his extreme 101 Wellbeing Program. She then went on his fertility program, which saw Zoe pregnant within six months of seeing Dr Liu.
"I can't give him enough gratitude or praise," gushes the TV and radio presenter. "This is our miracle baby. I just didn't know if it was going to happen… I was open to having IVF but I wanted to try everything else first. I'm so grateful".
Given Zoe's strength and determination, it's little wonder Benji, 33, feels more admiration for her than ever.
"My respect for what females have to go through to give birth is on another level. I've never been so proud in my whole life," he says, looking at Zoe fondly.
"She is such a good mother."
And Zoe is just as smitten with her husband in his new role as dad. "I've been so emotional. I was watching Ben play the guitar to the baby the other day and I was just crying for no reason," she says.
It's the couple's unbreakable bond that played a part in Benji and Zoe's decision to call their son Benjamin Fox.
Throughout their relationship they've referred to each other as their Arctic fox (which have only one mating partner for life), while Benjamin is a nod to the league star's Uncle Benji, who guided him through his early years, along with his foster father, the late Michael Doherty.
It's an equally poignant name for Zoe, as it pays tribute to her beloved mum Jan, who passed away from breast cancer when Zoe was just 22. "Mum had a list of baby names and she was going to call me Benjamin if I was a boy. So it's special for both of us," she explains.
"With Benji not having his dad, me losing my mum, and then him losing his adopted dad, it's a nice feeling to have our own family. This is our only priority in the whole world. Nothing else matters."
Benji and Zoe – who's a presenter on Seven's The House Of Wellness – can't wait to settle into their new life as parents with little Fox and their two pet pooches, Lucky and Mila.
And if luck is on their side, they hope to one day have a sibling for their gorgeous boy.
"I would definitely have another one," Zoe says without hesitation. "It's the most delicious thing in the world!"