When planning for the arrival of baby number two, Nadia Lim had dreamed of welcoming her new bundle in the comfort of her own home.
But the Kiwi foodie's hopes for a water birth at the Auckland abode she shares with husband Carlos Bagrie and toddler Bodhi were dashed when the couple discovered their pad simply wasn't fit for purpose.
"It all got a bit hard – we have no curtains in the living room, so privacy was an issue and filling up a birthing pool would have been impossible because no hose could stretch far enough!" laughs Nadia, who decided to give birth at maternity hospital Birthcare instead.
But the expectant parents needn't have bothered with a plan B because their little guy had his own ideas – making his grand entrance on their bedroom floor ("in the exact spot he was made") a week before his due date.
"I remember thinking, 'Oh, well, looks like he's being born at home after all!' and being secretly happy about it," says the MasterChef star as she shares her extraordinary story with Woman's Day.
With her new baby fast asleep in his Moses basket on the sofa next to her and two-year-old Bodhi down for his daytime nap, Nadia, 32, tells us it all happened so fast, she didn't have time to panic. "It wasn't what we'd planned, but it turned out beautifully. It was an awesome birth."
Nadia's second pregnancy was a straightforward one, but as she neared her due date of October 1, she was increasingly uncomfortable and felt very ready to meet her new baby.
She'd even been talking to her bump, telling him that once he got to 39 weeks, he was more than welcome to make his arrival. And he must have listened because on the night of September 23, after sharing a spicy Malaysian dinner with her extended family, Nadia's waters broke.
"I felt a little trickle at around 10pm, but I didn't think too much about it and went to bed. Half an hour later, I woke up totally drenched!"
By 4am, with contractions ramping up, Nadia called her mum to collect Bodhi before she and Carlos, 33, headed to Birthcare, where they expected to meet their new baby soon after.
"We were feeling so excited!" she says.
But to their surprise, the labour slowed down dramatically, and despite several long walks around the park and many hours of waiting patiently, it seemed their little man wasn't in such a hurry after all.
The couple, who are co-founders of meal-delivery business My Food Bag, decided to head home for the afternoon.
"We were feeling really relaxed. I lay on the couch and Carlos watched comedy shows," she recalls.
But at around 4pm, Nadia's contractions became more intense. By the time they spoke to the midwife, Nadia realised there was no way she could get in the car to make the 15-minute journey back to Birthcare.
"My intuition told me to stay at home," she explains.
"I just knew I didn't want to go anywhere at that point, so the midwives headed to our place instead. I was in the shower and Carlos was giving me acupressure massage to help with the pain, and then all of a sudden I had the feeling that I needed to push."
Nadia and Carlos were unprepared when the midwives asked if they had plastic bags or a tarpaulin to protect the bedroom carpet! Fortunately, Carlos remembered his plastic backpack liner.
"He just threw it down on the floor and chucked a pile of towels on top, and before we knew it, the baby popped out! Our student midwife caught him and passed him straight to me. It was the most amazing moment. I looked at him and had that overwhelming rush of love. Carlos was crying and I was just so happy and overjoyed."
Nadia and Carlos, who'd opted not to find out their baby's gender, were delighted to see it was a little brother for Bodhi. But they couldn't believe how different he looked to their firstborn, who arrived with a head full of dark, thick hair.
"I'd presumed he would be exactly like Bodhi, but they're completely different. River has hardly any hair and much more delicate features. I think he looks more like Carlos, rather than me this time."
The name River was chosen simply because they love the way it sounds.
"It's a beautiful word, with beautiful connotations," says Nadia. "And I think it goes well with Bodhi."
She admits it's taken some family members a while to get used to it, though!
"When we told Carlos' mum we'd called him River, she said, 'Gosh, I thought Bodhi was interesting, but this is even more interesting!'"
While River's arrival on the bedroom floor certainly wasn't how Nadia envisaged her second birth, she's thrilled that it ended up that way.
She spent the first hour after the delivery tucked up in bed breastfeeding her boy, before celebrating with Carlos and their midwives over a glass of red wine and a bowl of soup.
"It felt so relaxed and natural to be at home. It was lovely to wake up the next morning in our own bed and with our little boy next to us – I feel so grateful for that. It's definitely given me the confidence to have a home birth next time."
While Nadia and Carlos are clearly smitten, the former dietitian admits that so far, Bodhi seems somewhat unfazed by his little brother. They've made a big effort to maintain their adorable toddler's routines, still all cuddling up together for his bedtime stories and giving him plenty of attention.
"Bodhi says 'hi baby' and gives him a pat on the head, but other than that, he's not super-interested," tells Nadia, who's just relieved there have been no signs of jealousy yet.
Despite getting just a few broken hours of sleep the night before, Nadia looks as fit and fresh as ever at our photo shoot. And while she plans to work mainly from home for the rest of the year, she's already busy promoting her latest cookbook, Fresh Start, Feel Good.
Her ninth book, which is on shelves this week, is packed full of delicious, low-calorie recipes designed for anyone keen to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle.
"The first Fresh Start cookbook has been so, so popular and every week, I get messages and emails from people saying how amazing it's been to finally find a sustainable way to lose weight," tells Nadia.
"Recently, I was walking near home when a woman out jogging stopped me to say that she'd lost about 30kg by using Fresh Start recipes. It's an indescribable feeling to know you've helped people like that."
While Nadia and Carlos settle into life as a family of four, they're hoping to make the move from Auckland to Central Otago in the next couple of years to start a new chapter on their farm near Arrowtown.
Nadia plans to continue her My Food Bag role and commute between the two places but is excited about the prospect of raising their boys away from the rat race. And despite River being just a couple of weeks old, there's no doubt that more babies are on the cards in their grand future plan.
"Ever since we met 15 years ago, I've imagined us ending up on a farm down south with three or four children," Nadia explains. "I love the idea of living off the land and being surrounded by family."
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The Australian Women's WeeklyFeb 17, 2019