My firstborn

My firstborn

This one will be another long one I’m afraid, because it seems once I start, the words just keep on coming!
But this one is mostly, about my daughter.

She was conceived accidentally. While we were on one of those ‘save the relationship’ holidays people do. Get out of town and do fun stuff that takes you away from real life’s problems and really, just puts off the inevitable and makes life harder.
I came back and I walked away from him with no idea where this road of my life was going next.

I’d been working hard. Long hours and keeping myself busy. So busy I thought I was getting really run down. I was constantly tired, my mother pointed out I was looking thin. Thinner than usual for even me, and I averaged about 42kg at 5’1″ so I was never big. But she said I needed a checkup.
So I dutifully went, as I though maybe my iron was down, or I don’t know, maybe I was struggling with the break up.
And my GP checked me over and did bloods. Asked me the usual ‘could you be pregnant’ which I gave a resounding hell no! I’ve been single for 7 weeks. Nope, no chance in hell.
And later that afternoon he came back and said oddly, my iron counts were normal, which was unusual for me even on a good day. And he asked me again to come in and do a pregnancy test. I disagreed, and I was a broke apprentice so I had no more money spare. I told him I couldn’t afford the $10 when it was negative and there was just no way it would be positive. But he was pushy…. so he convinced me to go in and see the midwives 3 doors down from my parents house, as he told me they were free, fully funded. At that point I gave it, I mean sheesh. If it stopped him nagging me I’d prove he was losing his mind.

It took me a couple of days, but my next early finish I wandered down to this midwife office, and I walked into the waiting room somewhat awkwardly. I’d been warned, so I’d had a big drink half an hour before and I was dying to pee.
I rung the bell as expected and this bubbly blonde came out and I explained my GP wanted me to do a pregnancy test, so she pushed a cup into my hands and sent me to the bathroom and said pee in this. I did and handed it to her, and she told me to take a seat and she would see me in a few mins after she saw another lady who had arrived.
So I sat and read trashy magazines and waited, a few minutes later she popped out and did something at the desk then said she would be right with me.
Her lady left and she took me through to her room and we sat down.
She was thorough. Did a full medical history and then she asked me what my next steps were going to be.
I’m completely oblivious at this point. So I’m looking at here, with an obviously puzzled expression on my face, and I said, “well. I’m going to probably get an early night as I’m working tomorrow, you?”
I think at that point she must have twigged that I wasn’t there for the same reasons she thought I was there. Because she kind of sat there for a minute, thinking. And the next question she asked had me thinking she was mad.
She asked me why I was there.
So I told her of my pushy mother and pushier GP and how they were both losing their marbles and I was really just there to prove them wrong.
She then got a strange look on her face, and she said “oh. Well, then I need to ask you, how would you feel if I told you, that you were in fact pregnant”
*cue stunned mullet reaction here*
I remember thinking oh my gosh. Nope, can’t be. And I said out loud, no. No way. I can’t be. We’ve been apart for too long! I’m sure I’ve had my period… at least I think I have.
And she showed me the test.
I was still in shock and I asked if it could be a false positive, because that’s a thing right? Happens all the time yeah?
Yeah nah. She offered for me to get a blood test and come back the next day to see whether that was possible – but I have to say. I don’t think she was convinced.
I was still muttering to myself as I left. And I didn’t sleep. Not a wink as I wondered what if it was true? What was I going to do?

The next day, she confirmed the bloods agreed with the previous days test. And while I was with her she did a proper physical and a check over. And as she felt my stomach she asked me again about my ex. I told her it had been nearly 8 weeks since I’d seen him so I was really baffled by all this, and she said to me she had a hunch from my bloods and exam. But could she just check something. I agreed, and she took out her doppler.
I heard my babies heartbeat that day.
And the midwife confirmed her suspicions that I was 9-10 weeks pregnant.

I went home in an utter daze. I told no one. I pretended everything was okay. And three days later, on the Monday I finally told my mother. Who was elated by the way. Elated enough to jump up and down shrieking “I’m getting another one!”
I was still a little numb and freaking out just quietly. But it seemed, that this babe might have been meant to be here.
On my way to work the next day, I made myself go into Baby Factory. It was odd, I was drawn to the most beautiful, tiny pink jumpsuit and I bought it. I didn’t yet know I was having a girl

I then had to tell Mr Serious.
Which was the absolute disaster you would expect. And stupidly I gave him an ultimatum which in hindsight was ridiculous. I told him, that he could either be there for us, or he could stay the hell away and never have anything to do with either of us again. No responsibility financially or physically, but he had one chance to decide.
And 3 days later he decided he wanted to be part of this babies life.
More stupidly, I agreed to give him yet another chance.

I should have seen what was coming when at 12 weeks, I had a bleed. Big enough to go to hospital, and spend an entire day being monitored. And stuck in overnight on bedrest.
He stayed at work, and got annoyed when I wasn’t going to be out in time for dinner. But never once asked how the baby or I were. And I was so worried, that I didn’t even notice until a few days later. And when I asked him why he hadn’t asked, he told me that we were both fine so what did it matter.
That should have been Strike 1.

We weren’t living together while I was pregnant. He didn’t come to the gender scan as he was working, so I went alone and found out I was having a girl.
I was flatting with 10 South African male strippers and a beautiful girl who was their manager. It was a beautiful house and they were such lovely guys. Even if they did like to parade around naked and practice their stage shows on the lawn….
And my female flatmate would invite me in for a chat while she bathed naked. And that was normal….
They knew I was pregnant and they were so thoughtful. When I started to develop hyperemesis I would wake up every morning to a banana smoothie and vitamin and iron tablets waiting on my bedside table for me.
Because they had learned it was about all that I could keep down. And on my days when I couldn’t get out of bed, there would be constant refills of water, and prompting to drink and try something to eat from them.
I could never get over how lucky I was, and how lovely they all were. It was such a blessing because Mr Serious wouldn’t even visit and didn’t really seem all that bothered if I ate or not.
Eventually though, I got too sick to stay there and around that time my pregnancy went from drama to drama.

I’d thought the bleed was bad, but then I went to an appt with my midwife who had a bit of trouble (I thought) hearing baby on the doppler. Now I could hear the heartbeat, so I thought she was being fussy. But she said to me, why didn’t we go for a drive up to the hospital. She would show me through delivery suite, and we could check out the tracer machines. Meet the Dr’s etc. She had talked about it months before and she offered to drive me in her car, so I thought why not. I was up and about now…. so off we went.
We arrived and she walked me through quite fast, and she didn’t really give me a very good look before popping me into one of the rooms and showing me the monitor.
I had no idea why this was so important, but she was a sweet lady so I went along with it and she put the monitor on. I lay back and dozed a little, because she said she was going to get a Dr to come and meet me and she would be right back.
I don’t know how long I dozed, maybe an hour. And she must have been in and out without me realising as when I woke, I could hear her whispering, and there were four Dr’s and a nurse quietly discussing a trail of paper in their hands.
She came and sat down next to me and she asked me if I had plans that afternoon. I said no, not really. And she told me that if it was okay with me, she needed for me to go to a specialist womens hospital in another city, because there was something very wrong with my babies heart and they needed to know what it was.
I sobbed. And I called Mr Serious. And he told me he would be home when he was home and he hung up on me and refused my calls.
I was taken from there, directly to a much better equipped hospital as what my midwife had heard, was an abnormal beat on the doppler, confirmed by fetal heart monitor.
Once up there, they did an echocardiogram of my babies heart, while she was still in utero. They did scans, and blood tests. And they gave me a diagnosis.
All while I was alone.
My daughter, had an Atrial Septal Defect.
And I had no one with me as I had to hear the diagnosis, listen to the prognosis and treatment options and I had to sit and wait alone until Mr Serious deemed himself ready to collect me to take me home. As I was stranded up there, almost 2 hours from home.
And not once did he even ask how either of us were, yet again.
Of course I told him, he grunted.
That should have been Strike 2.

He dropped me home and I didn’t speak to anyone for days. I grieved for my baby and myself. And I was terrified of whether this was my fault. Was she going to die? Would the surgeries they spoke of save her? What was her life going to be like?
And I had to tell my family and friends, because I was so distressed.
My flatmates bought me chocolate and flowers every day for two weeks.
And I struggled more and more, as baby got more active and more visible. The guys loved feeling her kick and putting their ears on my belly to listen to her moving. They were so sweet, and so good to us.
So when I told them I had to move out, they understood, even if they were really upset I was moving. But they moved my stuff so I didn’t have to do anything, and there were more than a few tears as I said goodbye to them! I had loved living there.

I only moved, because I got offered a house. Just a tiny one bedroom with study, that would be perfect for the baby, was in my budget and had a bath and a fireplace.
I needed to have somewhere to raise my baby. It was close to the hospital and it was not too far from my Dad.
It was adorable! And I spent a lot of time painting it and readying it for baby.

My pregnancy had been awful really, but by the time the little house was ready, I was due any day and I had accepted that what would be, would be. That Mr Serious was useless and I may as well figure this out on my own. I’d given up nagging him.
But close to my due date, he started staying over. And in my head I told myself it was because he wanted to be with me.
Then right on my due date, i woke up in the middle of the night, and I thought I needed to go to the bathroom. My belly was twingy. I had no idea what was going on, but stumbled to the toilet, and as I went to sit down, I felt this sudden massive gush of liquid. Warm liquid. I was mortified as i thought I’d pee’d myself. And my next thought was, but I’ve not even sat down yet!!!! What on earth!
And I grabbed some toilet paper and gave the seat a quick wipe, because I still needed to pee, and suddenly it hit me, I hadn’t pee’d at all, my waters had broken! Whoa!
It was 2am, and I finished in the toilet, grabbed a towel and went to get the phone to call my Mum. Because she was 6 hours drive away and I knew she needed time to get here.
By the time I got to the phone, contractions had started, and so she got out of bed, packed a few things and started driving.
I spent the next 4 hours pacing, sipping water, mopping up wet patches with every contraction and swearing under my breath at sleeping male in the other room.
6am rolled around, and I knew his alarm was going off any second so I went and sat on the bed. When he rolled over to turn it off, through gritted teeth I told him he about 3 minutes to get in the shower, or I was and there would be no hot water left when I was done – and he rolled back over and went to go back to sleep! I remember elbowing him in the back and telling him my waters had broken and to get in the shower now or miss out, and he finally got out of bed.
I stood at the door, and waited till he got out and as I got in I asked him to call the midwife at 7am. I hadn’t wanted to wake her earlier, but 7am was much more appropriate.
She told him he was not to leave me in water alone under any circumstances, which annoyed him greatly as he wanted to go into work to sort his run for the day. So he called his mother to come and sit with me until the midwife arrived at 8am.
She was there 5 minutes after he called and I didn’t even realise he’d left until the midwife arrived and she decided that we might need to head to the hospital now.
I called him. And you guessed it, he hung up on me and turned off his phone.
But a labouring woman is not one to be messed with, and I was fuming. So I phoned his boss on his cellphone and asked what he was up to right now. He was a very old friend of mine, and we were really close. He told me that he was getting ready to head out on his run. And at that point I very nearly lost my cool. Through gritted teeth I asked if he had mentioned that my waters had broken at 2am, and this baby was coming? And i got an “oh shit no!!! Are you serious?” As I was rather, I said I needed him home and fast, we needed to go to the hospital now.
His boss dropped the phone, I heard him yell to D, one of the other staff to go take the keys out of van 3 (Mr Serious’s van) and throw them in the safe, and then I heard him tell Mr Serious that if he wasn’t walking out the door 5 minutes ago to go home, then he’d not have a job to come back to.
His boss was all about family, and all of his workmates were stunned he’d not said a word!!!! He called me a few minutes later apologising, telling me he’d sent him packing and he should be home soon, and he gave him three days off work.
Now, all that rushing might have given you the impression birth was imminent. And at that point, I thought it was. But actually, I was really crap at labouring it seems.
I had developed toxemia. And I had zero idea how to push. So I was at the hospital all day. I had him, his mother, my mother, my sister, my grandmother, a few cousins, a nephew, my father, his sister and his niece and nephew at one point…. it was a circus!
I swear, if I’d have sold tickets I would have been quite well off!
But no matter what my poor midwife did, this posterior, stubborn babe was not budging. And her obs were not going well.
After pushing from 10am through to 6pm, with a short breather of about an hour with gas so I could rest a little, she was finally born. Completely manually assisted right on the dot of 6pm and she wasn’t breathing.
My midwife literally had both hands all up in there and she pulled her out, and as she did, my mother said she called flat baby, and they’ve never seen so many people moving so fast.
There were three nurses with me, to deliver the placenta.
There were 6 Dr’s and my midwife and a handful of nurses that came in one door, swooped on the baby and went out the other door leaving the room in a kind of stunned silence.
One of the nurses turned up the gas, while they stitched up a couple of abrasions from my midwife, and I remember wavering in and out of exhausted consciousness thinking I was floating on a boat in the ocean.
All day, my ex had been sullen, disinterested, and he didn’t even seem worried about either me or the baby.
I had no idea of the room around me in those moments after delivery either.
My mother explained that to me much later. About two months later. And only because when the photos my sister had taken were developed, she tried to hide some of the photos and I wanted to know why. It was because everyone was crying…. I didn’t understand, so she filled me in.
They took the baby cutting the cord as they were leaving the room already with a limp, blue, lifeless, doll like body. She was so tiny.
And when they peeked out the door, they would get glimpses before the door was pushed shut. She was intubated. She was given CPR. She was worked on for hours before she took breaths on her own. Was stable.
And that whole time, my family sat there thinking that we had lost the baby. Because no one would tell them anything.
And the moment the midwife came through the door, holding that little girl in her arms, I don’t think my mother could get across the room fast enough. She was the first to hold my baby, and then my  grandmother and my cousin, and then his mother.
They woke me back up and turned off the gas, so that I could see her.
And in my world it had only been minutes.
I had no idea of the stress and drama that everyone else had been through.
We were transferred to a room that night, and I remember that he left. He was tired he said.
My family stayed. They helped me shower. And dress. And get into bed. They dressed my baby and cuddled her and held her close. The loved on her, and me. And I didn’t notice his lack of.
That should have been strike 3.

It all seems so horrendous looking back. And I wish in hindsight, that I could have made different decisions but I did what I did.
I can’t change that now.

But we had so may issues with my daughter and her health that I don’t know I had the room for noticing.
There were so many things I just did on my own for her.

I had to learn CPR because she would stop breathing.
I learned to work an apnoea monitor to keep her alive at night, or alert me if I needed to breathe for her.
Paediatrician appointments. Doctor Appointments. Cardiologist appointments. Sleep specialists. Feeding specialists. Plunket. Parenting Support. Carers. Home Help.
I did it all.

He wouldn’t even hold her without being made to, until she was about 12 months old and could walk.
In fact, I have photos from every time he did hold her before she was 12 months old. And there are not very many. Four.

He boycotted her christening.
Even though his father (who incidentally hated me anyway for ruining his sons life by getting pregnant) gave my daughter, the handmade gown that he, his father and his grandfather were christened in to wear. And his mother, sister, brother and nieces and nephews attended. His best friend is my daughters godfather.
And yet he refused to have any part in it.

He missed so much of her early life.
Which was why him getting full custody, was even more heartbreaking than it even seems possible to be.
He never wanted her, and was not interested in her, until he thought that she would get me to come back to him.
Sometimes I wish it had worked, and I hadn’t been forced out of her life. Because to this day I love her more than life itself.
But I firmly believe that you cannot make you children happy, if you are not happy.
And I stand by my choice to keep myself physically, emotionally and mentally safe.

I am just grateful he didn’t take my choosing to live without him out on her – although he did deprive her of her mother.
But I cannot say whether that’s something that hurts her. As I just don’t know.
It hurts like hell to admit that too. I should know, I deserve to know. And I don’t.
I am the worst mother in the world.
I kept her alive so long, yet I failed in bringing her up.
Punishment for that happens internally, every day. I wish it didn’t. But if I had any other choice, I would have taken it in a heartbeat to have been able to keep her close to me.