It was a Wednesday night I was ‘nearly’ eight months pregnant. I was done. Actually, I had been done and had explicitly told Hussy and the world on a loud speaker 500 billion times that I was done for the past six weeks. I am fairly confident looking back I had been having contractions at work, I’d jolt, squirm and make strange sounds to pass by strange pains and pulling to my bosses horror. Most likely why they pushed so hard for me to finish up early. The high risk pregnant lady is squirming get her out. I’m by no means, a glowing pregnant lady, I’m exhausted, puffy, I cringe, moan through fear and deposit 20kg of fat. I had an obstetrician appointment only the day before. I had told my incredible obstetrician that I was done. A man I respect dearly, but who will ultimately call me on my bullshit, politely as always. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘We are scheduling your cesarean for 38 weeks. You are fine. The baby is doing great.’
‘But how will I know if it comes early and what do I do?’
You’ll know, and you’ll call me now right, Miss? You won’t head to the public hospital. You’ll come here, won’t you?’ Clarification: because in the past I’ve been a thoughtful patient and have not called him at all during the night for mishaps along the way, okay so 4 subchorionic hemorrhages over 2 pregnancies. Nope never learnt, it was the middle of the night. I can’t call a sleeping man in the middle of the night.
‘But what if my waters break? How will I know? Will I know?’ (Insert Obstetrician’s look) ‘Are you sure? But, I’m stitched closed? The stitch is hanging? How does that work? And this pulling pain, that’s normal? It feels like I’m having contractions. Hmm, not that I know what that feels like (he has to laugh at that one). Another cruel pregnancy party trick to keep my beloved obstetrician on his toes; cervical incompetence. First pregnancy, no idea to this day how I made 36 weeks with bulging membranes and a heroic emergent cerclage at 21 weeks. This time round we got in a bit earlier at 16weeks you know once the hematoma ‘never’ cleared up. So I’ll always be the pregnant lady destined for elective cesarean on clear medical grounds. To wrecked to push I call it. One last sigh are you sure?’
A sigh from my ob, ‘You’ll know. Alrighty Miss, I’ll see you in two weeks. Not before. Call me if anything happens.’
So back to Wednesday night. I have a list a mile long, ‘Ok, so in two weeks I can achieve so much! I’m the high achieving dreamer my expectations of what I can do in a day, fool me every night before I go to bed of all the things I’ll achieve the following day, so imagine what I’ve dreamed up for just over a fortnight.
1. Shop for a hospital bag
2. Pack hospital bag
3. Set up a nursery. Hmm yeah.. you know the meme floating around on Facebook with the first child’s bedroom vs the second? Completely true here. For my first I searched the globe; collecting vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces, to create a vintage inspired Peter Pan nursery. Second? Umm, what nursery? Maybe I’ll think of a theme once I know what you are or maybe you can share.
4. Cook meals to freeze for the next five months.
5. Spring-clean. I mean in as much detail so the house looks like a display home and there’s no clutter anywhere.
6. Enrol back in uni to finish my masters. Or maybe a complete career change. Midwifery, perhaps? This makes me laugh now. I’m such a high achieving dreamer.
7. Prepare thank you cards so they are ready to go.
8. Order fresh breast pump parts.
9. Get car serviced.
10. Get capsule installed in said car.
11. Get the future big brothers gifts from the new baby. You know, to help ease any jealousy.
12. Spend some quality time with the boys and prep me, talking about the baby and how things might be a little different. And how they can help.
13. Start a blog (was October before I arrived here)
14. Complete VIT, or the very least find out how.
15. Research Placenta Encapsulation. If you know me, you’ll know I have a long and complicated blood history. I’m much more than just the bourgeois bohemian I portray obsessing with a alternative lifestyle. Pregnancy sucks everything from you, and I have nothing great to begin with. Then there’s the feeding.
16. More Maternity photos (Tadhg wasn’t around for the first)
17. Change all our bank accounts, in accordance with barefoot investors, find a house on the back beaches that’s not 2million dollars. possibly move.
Yeah, sure Tink. Slow-living on the back beaches is the goal. You’ll need more than two weeks. You’re not even working.
Ok, so I start at number One on this particular fateful night, I didn’t want to jinx myself so I hadn’t packed a hospital bag this time round. After dinner, I tell Hussy I’m going to the Discount Chemist to do the first thing on my list. I don’t really know how much of what I have on my list that I actually need. But I like to take the kitchen sink to hospital with me. Last week we went shopping and got the weeks supply of high-waisted nana black undies. So it wasn’t like I hadn’t done any shopping. $300 later I have three types of nappy cream, nipple cream, Infants Friend/s, gripe water, baby panadol, nurefon (cause your not even allowed to use these until the baby is three months old) but hey, who’s to say our baby won’t have a headache. More nappies, wipes, breast pads, pads, anti-aging face cream, shampoo & conditioner, multivitamins because my hair falls out postpatrum, mascara (just because a tired panda is more glamourous then a regular old grizzly bear), a years supply of baby creams ‘Mustela’. How amazing is this stuff? Give me all the babies that use Mustela daily, the clear skin, the smell? Ahhh. And no, I wasn’t paid a cent. Its amazing: the Estee Lauder of baby products.
I come home and I feel like I’ve achieved something. But not enough to sort and pack it in my actual hospital bag. I’m exhausted. I put the bag of chemist shopping on the counter and have a shower, PJs, then bed. I can’t really sleep and to add to the situation, Hussy gets up ridiculously early to do paperwork. There’s nothing more annoying then laying in a cold bed alone sleepless and with the glow of his laptop screen coming up the passage. I toss and turn, it’s roughly 1 am, Thursday morning. That’s it. You’re messing with a pregnant woman. I get up, storm down the passage and yell, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Why are you working? I can’t sleep when your not in the bed, OHH SSSHIT!!! I think I just wee’d myself’. (Talk about messing with still waters)
Hussy looks up, “I woke up just before, wide awake honey and knew I couldn’t sleep… What do you mean you wet yourself?’
I wobble to the toilet. ‘Umm, err, I’m not sure it’s wee.’ Ohh, I try to convince myself; of course it’s wee, pregnancy does all these truly glamorous things to you, you’ve already got a hemmroid, and a hernia in your belly button why not incontinence too? Sigh.
Hussy very timidly calls out, ‘Honey are you okay?’
I sob, ‘Yeah, I think my bladder has gone to god. I’ll just go back to bed.’ I head back to bed to lay down only to yell out, ‘Honey, I need to wee again. I can’t hold on.’ This time it’s a lot more.
Hussy asks, ‘Are you sure it’s wee?’ I run to bathroom.
‘I think so? I don’t know, can you come smell it?’
Hussy disgusted, ‘No I can not smell it!’
I sob, ‘You have to smell it, if it smells like your junk, it’s my waters!’
Hussy half annoyed, ‘My junk? What’s my junk? No, I’m not smelling it. You smell it.’
‘Does it smell like cum?’ (Ohh gosh, how not to be Audrey Hepburn, I’m turning into Courtney Love I think to myself). I quickly correct myself, ‘Semen’. ‘Does it smell like semen?- Or urine. Come on, smell it!’
‘I can’t smell anything’
‘Well neither can I. I’m going back to bed.’
Hussy is now anxious, deranged in fact. ‘I think you should call the hospital, Honey.’ He’s pacing the house like the mad woman who was moments ago screaming. On a scale of 1 to 10 his anxiety is about a 17. He’s usually the calm in my storm.
I think it’s fine, I’m actually really tired. I can’t feel anything else. He suggests I call the hospital. ‘Why do I have to do everything.’ I begin to wind up, “YOU call the hospital.’
‘But who do I call?’ he asks.
I fly back, ‘How am I meant to know?! The maternity ward might be a good start.’
Whilst Hussy is calling the maternity ward, I somehow manage to believe a panty liner is going to protect me and my third set of pjamas for the night. Umm wrong; another gush just as he timidly asks how much water. ‘Well my pads just soaked through and I have no pjama pants left.’
‘No contractions?’ He squirms.
‘Not that I’m aware of.’
More talking. He gets off the phone. He’s a mess. He explains that they want me to come in, it sounds like a leak.
‘A leak? This is some leak. (Now I’m questioning myself letting him call. He may be the proclaimed actor but I’m much more dramatic in getting my point across) He basically gets dressed in 2 minutes and paces anxiously telling me to HURRY.
I race around packing my hospital bag. Thinking, ‘How did I become this person?’ He’s actually flipped, he’s on the edge. He’s bouncing like a baby dog, breathing rapidly and has the car running. I’ve gone from crazy screaming pregnant lady to Mother Theresa in 2.5 seconds. Well, not Mother Theresa, but you know what I mean. He is worrying for the two of us (or three of us). I still have no idea what has come over me as I approach him calmly and reassure him, ‘It’s okay honey, we have time. Just chill out.’
Half an hour later, I’m dressed and the bags are packed. ‘Okay let’s do this.’
My Dad has Tadhg & Dante. We didn’t forget them. But I have often wondered what would have happened if he wasn’t around.
We get in the car, we begin talking about names. We’ve reached a consensus on first names. Now, we are quickly sorting out the middle names, like we’re quickly cramming for a test. I’m so at peace, I actually offer, ‘Okay Honey, have your names. They have to be incredibly important and mean something, to one of us. Rather than one half arse name we both just kinda like. Fine, you win. Then just at that moment Fleetwood Mac’s Gypsy comes on the radio.
Hussy turns to me, ‘How ’bout ‘Stevie’? Or ‘Fleetwood’ for a middle name. There’s not much discussion. A nod, and his warm hand on top of mine.
Fleetwood Mac followed me through the IVF battle and the entire pregnancy. A beautiful connection.
So we arrive at the hospital. The nurses are delightful, even at 2.30 in the morning. Excited they have something to do prehaps? Or delirious. One nurse in particular mothers me in a way I’ve never been mothered before. So much love. Another’s a comedian. They calmly explain: sounds like you’ve got a leak. You should be home soon. Are you still working?’
‘Hubby can get the kids ready for school while you have a nap, Darling.’
I’m thinking, ‘Leak? Are they kidding me? I’m done.’
They must see my thinking, ‘Worst case scenario, you might have to stay here until your booked caesarean section. They get me a room, and place the band from the heart monitor, around my abdomen the pressure of the band sets of another so called leak. I’m saturated, the beds saturated, the nurses stumble. Apologies, my favourite Spell cardigan soaked, then reassuring me, it’s just a leak, a tad of water. ‘Umm, ok,’ I think, ‘Personally I’d be more inclined to go with burst main water pipe’ I question why everyone around me is being untheatrical. They go to put a large pad under me. Then they share a look. A massive gush follows. The mood suddenly changes. They are out of the room, mumbling quickly. ‘Don’t worry. Be right back, Darling.’ We are near the nurses station. We can hear them making phone calls and sending for back up. A lovely Scottish nurse comes in to sort out the bed and monitor me.
‘Hello.’ She takes one look at the bed. ‘Been for a swim, have we?’
More banter. More jokes.
‘Do you know what’s happening. Are we still going home? I’m confused.’
The nurse not only rolls her eyes but gives an actual double take in her Scottish accent. ‘Yoor not goin’ home without a baby in your arms, I can tell you. The little one is in the tunnel. Your baby is coming.’
‘I’ve got a cervical stitch? How does that work?’
Someone has called the obstetrian. He’s like a superhero; showered and dressed at the door in no time. Still half asleep though, bless him. I use all my strength to refrain from telling him, ‘See I told you, I was done’
‘We need to get you ready for surgery. How many weeks are you?’ (Please be more than 35. Any less, then there’s a chance I’d be bundled into an ambulance and off to the public hospital. I’m 35. Something weeks.) That’s something. He looks at me, ‘Ok, tell them she’s 36 weeks. We don’t have time. She needs to go now.’
I’m wheeled away getting changed into a gown, my usually calm obestrecian is now pacing. Great, I think, first Hussy now you. We have a quick friendly argument over my due date. I offer prehaps my original due date was correct. He snaps, ‘I know what your IVF papers said. Your scans don’t connect to that date. This baby is definitely premature either way.’
Okay, doctor I get it, I’ll shut my pie hole your clearly stressed. Me, still not fazed, perhaps it was Iggy’s vibe taking a hold because usually it would be me in complete disarray, not my support. My ob continues to pace, the anaesthesiologist is still on his way. Ob says, ‘We probably need to get a line in.’
‘Okay, good luck to that guy. Finding a vein is always a nightmare.’ I have a long history, my file usually gets wheeled in on a trolley, there’s never enough paper on a hospital admission form to list all the illnesses, disorders and procedures I’ve had in the past 10 years.
My Ob, with probably over thirty years expertise saw this as a red rag to a bull. Exhausted, he proceeded to turn me into a pin cushion until finally giving up. Frustrated and defeated, he handballed me to the Scottish nurse in no uncertain terms.
When the anaesthesiologist arrives and interviews me. Looks at my veins, ‘Jaysus, what happened to you?’ He’s somewhat calmer but not by much, he does however have a strong Welsh accent which keeps us amused for sometime while, my ob paces getting frustrated wondering where the paediatrician is. They can’t start without their presence. I hear my Ob in the background, ‘Call another one, I need to get her in now.’
She finally arrives, she’s the only calm one in the room besides myself.
The spinal block can begin. This is the worst part for me, the idea makes me feel weak. Hussy leaves the room, white every time. Actually I think he’s kicked out because they don’t want 2 patients. I’m transferred to the operating table, the sheets are put up around me. Where is he? Hussy. ohh for fuck sakes I think to myself please tell me you haven’t driven home for the Camera, it’s here. At this stage the only person calm enough to hold my hand whilst they start is the Pediatrician. Finally hussy enters trips over his own feet in a panic to not see anything. Im not sure if Hussy is a hopeless romantic or just scared shitless, he does not break eye contact from my eyes, he did the exact same thing when Dante was born. I’m part curious, part in the moment, part lost and distracted thinking this is the weirdest feeling and sensations in the whole entire world, it’s kinda cool. I’m one of the few mothers in the world who enjoys her cesarean, it’s weird, there’s magical drugs, pulling, no pain and ta-da the pregnancy is over. Told you I hated being pregnant.
Next moment we hear;
‘Its a boy.’
‘Oh my gosh have you seen anything like it?
‘No I haven’t.’
I’m left thinking, What the hell are they talking about? Whats wrong with my baby?
‘It’s so juicy and thick I’ve never seen one so thick, so juicy.’
Are they talking about hamburgers? okay this is getting weird.
Hussy jumps up to cut the cord. A sigh of relief, Hussy struggles to cut through the cord finally I work out they are talking about the umbilical cord.
He’s 6 pound. The Nurses quickly question if he’s actually premature. Asking what did you say the original due date was? Tho ob isn’t amused. I’ve told you the scan dates don’t lie. okay we’ve all learnt to let it go. I at this point assume I’m no longer his favourite patient.
I get a quick kiss, he’s tiny and creased to perfection. He’s wrapped in a pink blanket. I have a quick laugh to myself. My mum will think he’s a girl. Mum and I are the only girls. She was batting on a girl, to the point of no return.
Hussy and our little love are taken away, whilst project clean up, put mumma back together takes place.
The chaos is over, I’m freezing cold and shivering side effects of the spinal blockers. It feels like a life time. The drs and nurses all continue to joke and buzz me on my husbands acting career. Anyone would have thought he had a star on Hollywood boulavard. Excuse me people, I’m centre stage here. This is my story. Not a scene on how talented my husband is.
Reunited with Hussy and our little love. I enter to find Hussy besotted singing to him. That’s the Iggy vibe. He has daddy on board now. Ahhhh peace I get a skin hug, I push to put him on the boob. I quickly learn prems are bottle feed.
One last name conversation, Inigo – our little love. Fleetwood or Geordie? Ok babe these drugs are pretty rocking yeah sure, wanna name our future dogs too, I’m feeling pretty good. I can’t actually pronounce Inigo, can I just call him Iggy?
This is how you entered the world. We’re a little crazy, You were a little early, you caught us off guard, your calmness completes us.
And Iggy, one last thing that thick juicy umbilical Cord that nobody could comprehend. It was tied in a true tight knot. It was your time to shine. You’ve literally pooped rainbows from the dish to womb to earth side and that smile.
Magic. No horror birth. Just love and laughs.