I haven’t spoken much about my babies. So I’m going to tell you about them. Individually.
Beginning with my middle child’s story. Start to now…. in brief of course.
And I don’t want you to get me wrong. All this happened ten years into us. We’d had an amazing, fanciful relationship. Which I’ll talk more about later. But all relationships have one rocky moment. And in twenty years this was our big hurdle.
This boy was conceived when his father and I were in absolute crisis mode.
We had been through so much, and everything was falling apart. I was losing him, and he was losing himself into a world of depression and devastation which (in hindsight) was because of him retiring from competitive sports, and not wanting to admit that Peter Pan was indeed growing up.
We had split up. I had moved out, it had gotten that bad in a very short time.
But there was still a connection, borne of a 10 year adoring love, that even though I was at the limits of what I could cope with at the time, I couldn’t completely let go.
So we would still talk. And I was still trying to get him to see what was going on and how he could keep himself not only alive, but keep his head above water.
But it got hard. So hard.
And I met someone a long way away who made me feel completely free and alive.
So I threw in the towel. As much as I hated to admit it and not only to me but to him, I knew that I had to leave to cut the tie we had.
He took me to the airport. He offered, because I had no ride.
And as much as I was out of ‘our’ relationship, I was still cut so deeply about us being over, that I made the mistake of allowing us one last moment.
I think we both assumed I wouldn’t be back.
This was goodbye.
And for most people that would have been.
Except, as usual with my luck, it wasn’t.
And I’m going to gloss over the whole ‘moving away’ part for now – we will revisit that later of course, because that’s one hell of a story!
But for now, we are going to fast forward to the part where I come home, with my tail between my legs.
Originally, I came back because I had to.
I had a few last loose ends to tidy up, and to sort out my Visa.
I’d bought a return ticket, from there, to home, and back.
And when I got home and found the absolute hot mess I’d left behind, with a trail of destruction and self-abuse he’d undergone, I was shocked as hell.
I was glad at that moment, that I’d a ticket out of there as I couldn’t see at all how me staying to watch him implode would be a good thing.
But there was one small problem.
I was pregnant.
And when I confirmed it here, I went for bloods and a scan, and then I sat alone and worked out the date of conception.
And I cried.
For several days.
You see, in what suddenly felt like another lifetime, I had a beautiful man, who would have given me the world.
And now I was hit with the earth shattering realisation, that I was pregnant. And this baby wasn’t his.
Not. A. Chance.
So I was sitting in a cold waiting room alone, feeling my world implode as I thought about the man this babies father had been. The man he was now. And the mess I was in.
And I wondered whether there was any possibility that this was deliberate.
An act of fate that was telling me that he needed one more chance to wake up and see what he was throwing away.
Against my better judgement, I decided to have a last day out with my bestie. And I told her first. We were supposed to be drinking, and she knew immediately when I didn’t that something was up. She guessed as I started to tell her, and she held me while I cried.
We were at a big outdoor event, and he was there with his friends, I with my girls.
I was (stupid I know) keeping half an eye on him, as a few things he had said to me in the days before had worried me. He was supposed to be working that evening. And I knew he had promised to stop drinking at 12. So he would be sober by 6.
Yet I saw him consume epic amounts of alcohol with no signs of slowing down at all, even when I quietly mentioned was he still working tonight…. I was told off and yelled at.
And he didn’t stop.
In fact, he got so intoxicated, that come closing time he was ditched by his boys as he was too messy. They left him there.
And from a distance I watched as everyone was herded towards the gates. My bestie and I stuck a way back and just made sure he got to the gate. And so I wasn’t far away when he had a full blown drunken panic attack. Somehow he thought the exit gate was an entry and he was convinced he wasn’t going to be allowed through. I remember taking him by the hand and talking him down, calming him. Telling him it was okay, that was the exit and everyone was leaving now, it was home time. That I would help him through the gate and we would get out of there okay. And he let me lead him out.
He was such a mess, he had no idea who I was, or my bestie. And he to this day doesn’t remember the walk to my car. The drive home. Or in fact getting him home and putting him to bed. He also only remembers the mess he made of the bathroom because I left him to clean it up himself……
I sat there while he passed out. Checking on him every hour and watching tv.
His workmate came in because he hadn’t been answering his phone and we sat and talked for a few hours, about the state he was in. How he had been declining and how he was destroying himself and everything around him with his self-deprecation and alcohol abuse.
He was sadly unsurprised that he had to keep working and do his shift that night.
As soon as he was coherent enough to drink water and knew who I was, I left.
The next morning he came to find me.
Sheepish and apologetic. Embarrassed I saw him like that. And mortified when I told him how the day had gone from an outside perspective.
I told him he was going to be a father.
And if he wanted to have anything to do with this baby, or me, ever again. That he needed to take a few days, and he was to decide if he was going to grow up and be the man I knew he could be, or if he wanted to keep playing like an 18 year old drunkard, and never see either of us again. As I wasn’t going to stick around to watch it.
I was out of here. I told him he had a few days, and that he needed to go now.
I didn’t want to look at him today.
He spent a day thinking about what he wanted to do. I have no idea where he went or what he did, but he came back that night and he told me that he wanted to be in both of our lives and that if giving up alcohol was what he had to do to keep us here, then that is what he would do.
I can’t explain how I felt, because I was torn completely in two.
Torn between two lives, and two people. With this tiny human in the mix.
And it took me weeks to even admit to myself what I had to do.
Which was stay.
I sold my business. I cashed in my return ticket.
I made my bed, and now I had to lie in it.
Every week that passed, still hurt. But the pregnancy was easy. I was so fit beforehand that I was strong. I worked until 8 months and then had to stop.
I had a few complications, Polyhydramnios. This baby was a big boy. I was all belly.
I was high risk. Because of risk of loss and the complications of pregnancy and I went into labour on my due date. July 4th. However with my local hospitals policy of intervention only if necessary, I endured three weeks of hell at the end of a smooth and way too easy pregnancy. I’d been active and social and so happy. I went into labour at a party. Because we partied pregnant. We were at a house party as usual for the weekends and I realised that these braxton hicks were oddly rhythmic. Almost synchronised. And I started timing them at 7 minutes. So long and low. Only 20 or so seconds each. But enough for me to give the boy a heads up that this child would be earth side soon. And my daughter was born on her due date so I had no idea this kid would drag things out so. He kept checking on me and we stayed our evening as I kept telling him I’d warn him if things changed but it was slow for now. We went home and I got little sleep as they were annoying enough I couldn’t get comfy.
In the end, we had three hospital admissions, scans and internals. Nights where they would give me pethidine so my body could rest from the contractions and I could sleep monitored. So baby was safe. But he still wasn’t coming.
So they eventually gave in and scheduled a c section for exactly 43w. And I was part relieved and part devastated. So for the last few days I mourned the water birth I’d wanted and prepped myself as best as one can. I had also been warned that should my waters break with a gush I needed to immediately drop to the floor and put my head down, keeping my bum up. Because if my waters broke accidentally now, my baby was at risk of a cord prolapse or the cord tangling round his neck as his cord was very long. Which I’ll admit panicked me. But I had only days to go and after all the false starts I figured he wasnt going come alone.
As in the weeks prior I’d had my cousins visit. No baby.
I’d panicked at one point with 5 minutely contractions at a minute long and called my sister to drive 8 hours to be with me for the birth. Oops no baby.
She stayed a week and gave up and said she was going home. And she had gotten only a few hours away when I called her back and said I’d had a show so come back. My cranky father had turned the car around and brought her back. After ten more days she gave up and went boarding…..
And then the unthinkable happened. I woke up about 7am. I needed to pee, as usual. But when I got up I felt a little gush of fluid and I stopped dead still. My tummy was tightening. And then another little gush. And the ‘just in case’ liner I had in was suddenly very very damp. I thought oh no…. my section was the next day. He couldn’t come yet! I went into panic mode. Called the midwife and awoke him as I knew we needed to move fast while I was only leaking. If my waters fully broke I’d need an ambulance and I’d have only minutes to get the baby out safely. So we did the gauntlet through morning traffic. Luckily it’s a 3 minute drive. And I called my sister back from her snow trip. She was four hours away and she made it in three.
It seemed the little monkey had thankfully for me, broken my hind waters. So the hospital were relieved. But nervous. I was able to soak in the spa bath and walk. Bounce on the Swiss ball. Whatever I wanted. As long as I didn’t go to far as I wasn’t really dilating. Which becomes a recurrent theme for me. All day I laboured and at 7pm they decided to do s controlled break as he still hadn’t broken my membranes fully. In fact I’d even stopped leaking…. so they broke them. And it was pretty epic. I couldn’t see but my sister and he could. He was dumbfounded and she was a part horrified and part impressed. I got a blow by blow as for me, it ramped things up in the most horrendous way.
I hit transition with the first gush and while they mopped up as they slowly released the fluid, they filled an entire laundry bag of towels and I was in pain. I had rolling waves of contractions back to back and I could barely breathe. Focusing was difficult and it was incredibly intense. I remember being snappy and struggling to speak… and I asked if I could push because I couldn’t hold it anymore and the midwife said of course. To let my body tell me what to do. She thought I was dilated so I started to let myself push. But nothing was happening and it took a while before they realised how hard I was working and how he wasn’t moving. So she asked if she could do an internal after we had tried a multitude of positions and none helped. Which was when she realised I’d pushed too early. I wasn’t 10cm and I’d pushed his head down and it was stuck on my cervix. She begged me to stop pushing. They all did. But there was no way I could and I remember growling at her because I couldn’t stop!!! I had no idea how to. And at that point I was on my knees, my bed in a chair position. I was holding the back of the bed and kneeling on it with my feet hanging off. They asked me to lay down so they could move my bed to a theatre room….. and I growled again and I remember yelling no at them. I couldn’t move! Next thing we were on the move with me kneeling on the bed hanging on for dear life as we whizzed past all the rooms and I felt so cold and I was in so much pain……
The new room was warm. And it turned out they had an anaesthetist waiting for me and it took nitrous to get me to sit on the bed I was in so much pain. I was nauseous and starving and starting to freak out as it was now nearing midnight. My baby was stuck…. so I used the nos and held onto him for dear life as they put in an epidural. Which they had tried to tell me was to stop my labour. They needed me to stop pushing. It was a tiny bit funny when all of a sudden he let me go and my sister was suddenly holding me…. while the epidural was going in. As I was breathing out so much nos, that he nearly passed out as he is tall and his head was above mine. He was breathing it in as I was breathing it out and luckily the nurse noticed as she had a chair under him and my sister lined up to take his place before he hit the floor!!! I had to giggle when the pain subsided and I was able to suddenly feel lucid again. And not overwhelmed by contractions.
Finally somewhat sane again I was allowed a hot chocolate while they explained they had to do the epi to stop the contractions and stop me pushing as he was too stuck. But hopefully in and hour or so, those intense contractions would work for me and dilate me properly. I got a breather and to rest.
A few hours later I could feel the contractions more and I commented on them. And suddenly it was all on again. A new midwife now was here. Shifts had changed. And she was commanding and tall. Anne. She looked like a farmers wife. German and quite a presence.
I was instructed to push and I was on my back now as I was too numb for anything else. But I pushed. And I thought I was doing great until she commanded me to stop. Then I got a wave of terror when I heard her tell he and my sister they needed to step back right now and I heard her press the emergency button three times.
My soul dropped. I know what that means and I know that means nothing good. An sos for medical professionals. And as expected all hell broke loose at that point as he was ashen faced and pushed aside. My sister with him as the room was inundated. Paediatric Dr’s and nurses. Midwifes. Obstetricians. So many people.
Then without warning there were suddenly so many people around me and none I knew or recognised. My bed was flipped nearly upside down. And I was told to get ready to push like my babies life depended on it on the count of three. She told me he was stuck and we had to get him out now…. and I told her to please don’t hurt my baby… hurt me. I felt the tears come as I pushed on command and stopped when she yelled at me to stop. Then the two men either side of me apologised to me as suddenly I saw a part of my legs I hadn’t seen in a year… while they separated my pelvis and dislocated my hips…. and she yelled push now and do not stop until I tell you to…. and I pushed with all my might and she pulled with all of hers and I felt him move….. I knew she had him but I had no idea if he was ok.
I saw her ask for him to come and cut the cord. And the room was dead silent and I felt hot tears running down my face. I heard he command him….he needed to take the baby to the paeds right now. And I was panicking. So much that I can’t even remember delivering the placenta. I just remember going into shock…. my whole body was shaking and my tears felt icy. I was so cold and the room was spinning. And then there was a sudden warmth as I was covered with warm blankets and hot towels. He was holding me and trying to warm me and I can still hear him telling me “it’s going to be okay…. you did good bub….” he was kissing my forehead and I didn’t care. I just needed to know if my baby was okay. And I had no words. And no way of asking. I was getting more panicked when I heard the tiniest noise. He looked over and I looked up at him as I could only look up from where I was and I could see relief on his face.
It was then the midwife was suddenly sitting my bed up and telling me I’d done a good job. And she asked me if I wanted to meet my son.
I finally got to hold him then. He was born at 4.45am and it was now 6am. For over an hour I clung desperately to the hope he was alive and now he was finally in my arms. And I felt like I could breathe again. For the first time since he was pulled from me, breathing stopped hurting. And he latched like a champ! Fed his way through a room change and all!
We got back to our room and while I showered, he and my sister dressed the baby. He got to be the first one to put a diaper on. And put clothes on his son. He was so incredibly proud of him he would barely part with him until he finally had to go. He’d been up all night and I wasn’t allowed to leave yet as this baby had a low temp so we needed to be monitored till it came up. So he and I snuggled and did skin to skin in bed and fed on and off. And I sent his Daddy home to sleep and go to work for a couple of hours until we could go home.
They let us go at 6pm and we got to go home. A family.
We stopped off to introduce the baby to his Dad and his partner. Who were every bit the spring grandparents right from day 1. That tiny dot of a boy wrapped them around his little finger at the first cuddle and he was less than 12 hours old!
We loved being home though. Even if I had to fight my sister and him to cuddle the baby. It was so lovely how adored he was. He was so sweet and snuggly. He loved cuddles and boobing. And I couldn’t get enough of watching this giant man, so utterly infatuated with this tiny baby. He was just smitten.
He was a true 50-50 parent.
For someone who never wanted kids, it was incredible how he took to fatherhood. He was the first to offer, or just do a nappy. Dirty or wet. Clothes on and off. Laundry for the baby. Bath time. Nap time. He did it all. And in the early days he was so desperate to help where he could. Even to the point of night feeds….. I will never forget waking one night, boobs hurting. The baby was 4 weeks old so my milk was still out of control. I woke and panicked as I couldn’t hear the baby. I sat bolt upright and turned on the lamp. And the room was empty. So I hurtled our the door thinking something was terribly wrong…. to find that he was in the lounge, cradling his tiny son in his arms and singing to him. While feeding him a bottle of reheated frozen expressed milk.
“Because you were exhausted bub. I thought you needed to sleep. I got this, look he’s almost asleep again”
He had woken when he woke. Changed him. Fed him. And he put him back to sleep.
He did that every second night. And it was the most precious gift to me. Seeing him be the man I saw in him through all the bad stuff. Through all the shitty behaviour. I had somehow given him the thing he needed to get himself into a better place. To man up and find his happy again.
I gave him a family.
And while the event was traumatic for both of us, we talk about it a lot, we both feel so blessed that this precious boy gave us both a new lease on life and a new perspective on ourselves and who we wanted and needed to be. He gave us life. Unconditional love. And he showed us how much we love each other.
Our special little soldier.