She’s the Australian woman who reached inside herself and delivered her own twins during a caesarean section.
Three days before Christmas, Gerri Wolfe, 41, gave birth to her 10th and 11th children, Matilda and Violet, in a very unusual procedure at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales.
It was to be Mrs Wolfe’s fifth experience having a caesarean – but she didn’t want a traditional one.
She was ‘devastated’ when she learned she had a complication in her 36th week and would have to have a caesarean.
‘My other caesareans were very sterile, very surgical, very impersonal,’ she told Daily Mail Australia from her home on the Central Coast.
‘People were talking about what they did on the weekend without even thinking about me laying on the table, going through this momentous experience of having a baby.’
But then she recalled a procedure she had read about online – a maternal assisted caesarean.
It is a typical caesarean, performed by doctors, with the only difference being the mother reaches into her belly and lifts the infant out at the end.
Her OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynaecologist) was not convinced. ‘No, no, no’, he said. Her husband, Robert, joked that she was causing trouble.
But Mrs Wolfe is used to getting what she wants. ‘It’s my body, it’s my birth, it’s my baby,’ she said.
And that was the way it was. The OB-GYN changed tack after doing some research and considering her special circumstances.
‘(The doctor) was quite willing once he realised the risk of infection wasn’t as high as he perhaps first thought,’ Mrs Wolffe said.
‘I came to him and said: “This is what I need to reclaim my birth – to make it more personal for me, so I can be a good mother.’
‘It was more about making it that much more personal, and for me to have a connection to the birth of my children
So on December 22, Mrs Wolfe walked into an operating theatre and ‘scrubbed in’ over a sink with her obstetrician.
She had two pairs of elbow-length gloves placed on her arms and sat on the bed, where she had an epidural.
She laid down. The first set of gloves were taken off – leaving a second pair on – and she was under strict instructions not to move her arms from her chest.
‘I wasn’t allowed to touch anything. I wasn’t allowed to move. Wasn’t allowed to do anything until they had told me to.
‘That way, I was completely sterile – I wasn’t supposed to touch anything.
‘Then (after a while) he leaned over to me and went, “are you ready to meet these babies?”
‘I went “oh my god!… Okay, really!”‘
‘It was just like a normal Caesarean from then until he said, “reach down and grab your babies”.
‘I just brought her (Matilda) up to my chest and I held her in my left arm.
‘And then a minute later he said, “come and get the other one”.
‘(Violet) was breached, so it was a little bit awkward picking her up.
‘But I reached out with my right hand and someone helped me turn her around the right way and put her on my chest as well.
‘And then I had both of them!’
Mrs Wolfe said it was a wonderfully personal moment – just as if she had a natural birth. ‘This was much more personal,’ she said.
Matilda was born at 3.04kg, while Violet was 2.54kg. Gerri stayed in hospital a week afterwards to recover.
They are now the youngest of a ‘noisy and chaotic’ batch of siblings – the eldest, Mitchell, is 19 – who are far from spoilt and ‘very involved in the community’, she said.
As for the two latest additions to the Umina Beach family, they are both happy and healthy. They will be the Wolfe couple’s last children.
‘(They’re) precious timewasters,’ Mrs Wolfe said. ‘I could stare at them all day long.’