Summer in Perth. Some would argue it’s the best place in Australia to spend Summer and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.
This year was possibly the best summer I’ve spent in Perth…for one very special reason, plus I was on holidays/unemployed so I had plenty of time to enjoy my days and didn’t have to worry about getting great weather only on weekends.
Most mornings started with a walk along the river and finishing up at my new favourite cafe for breakfast or a salted caramel frappe. I am continually surprised and impressed at the quality of breakfasts in Australia these days….or maybe I am comparing it to Jakarta?? :/ I had to slow these walks down and cut the distance in the first few weeks I was back as I didn’t want the baby to arrive early. My husband was only flying in a few days before the due date and I didn’t want any early surprises.
In the first few weeks back I got to help my sister-in-law prepare for her wedding which was in early November. I was lucky enough to be asked to be one of her bridesmaids. It was a glorious day down in Fremantle and we had an exceptional time. I managed to wobble along, 36 weeks pregnant, in my high heels for the photos before switching into something a little more dance friendly and my mother-in-law was clever enough to alter the bridesmaid dress so it fit my rapidly growing tummy which was a bonus!
I also got to spend an incredible amount of time with my in-laws which was really special. My nieces and nephew were absolutely thrilled about the idea of a new baby cousin, their first. Many hours were spent talking to ‘baby’ and giving my tummy an endless amount of kisses. We spent lots of time in the pool and it was really amazing to watch their confidence grow each time they got in.
The baby was due December 5th. My Husband was booked to fly in on December 1st. To say I was nervous about him missing the action was an understatement. There are only 3 direct flights from Jakarta each week. If he couldn’t get one if those he would have to go via Bali or Singapore making the shortest route about 12 hours. :/ I considered a few times asking him to come home early…lucky I didn’t..
Before he flew in I cut down my morning walks from 5 or 6 kilometres to only 2 or 3. I abstained from spicy food and resisted the urge to ‘nest’, all in the hope that the baby would hold on.
December 1st rolled around and I half expected my waters to break at the airport once I finally relaxed. They didn’t. My husband and I spent the weekend eating out and generally enjoying our time together before it was no longer just the two of us.
December 5th – due date! We had an obstetrician appointment this day. He booked us in for an induction at the end of the week but expected to see us before that. Excitement was through the roof. Pete went out each morning cray fishing (trying to get that last bit of freedom in?) and I upped the kilometres of my walks again. I walked roughly 35 kilometres in the 3 days before the baby arrived hoping it would get things moving. It wasn’t budging. Each night I would go to bed hoping that I’d be woken by a gush of water…just like in the movies… 🙂
December 9th arrived. D-day. It’s such a strange feeling waking up knowing you’ll have a baby that day. There aren’t many pleasant surprises in life these days but in a lot of cases, your baby’s birthday is one. I was awake before my early alarm. I had everything set out ready to go. I jumped in the shower and took a last glimpse of my big belly. I wasn’t scared or nervous, just extremely excited. I had some breakfast, we took some last minute photos and we were in the car.
At the hospital, we were shown to our room. The most daunting part of the hospital is the birthing ward. Sitting behind big automatic doors that have bright lights and big caution signs, its a part of the hospital you only generally see when the action starts. I put my bag down and a young girl walked in and introduced herself as our nurse. She was lovely, however, she was younger than me and had only been on the ward a short time. This is when the nerves started to creep in. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much. She did everything right and I was totally comfortable with her. I guess I just expected an older nurse with a little more experience? It suddenly daunted on me that the next chapter was completely on me. I had to get this baby out safely.
The doctor came in around 7.45am and broke my waters. An interesting experience in itself. For those of you wondering, yes it happened just like in the movies! And now the waiting game. I was lucky enough that there was a cricket game on that day. I happily sat and watched the T.V. for the next few hours while I experienced what I thought were contractions. They were mild but increasing slowly. I smugly thought to myself “This is easy”, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about”. The nurse could see the ‘contractions’ on the monitor and kept telling me I was doing a good job. Pftt. I’ll have 10 babies at this rate I thought.
A few hours later the head nurse came in to check how far along I was. I laid back in the bed still happy as Larry…. 1cm. WHAT?! 3 hours and only 1 cm? You mean things haven’t even started yet?! I spent the next hour madly pacing the halls of the birth ward. Still nothing.
My nurse finished up her shift and a new nurse and student came on to look after me. This nurse was older than me and had been working as a midwife for about 20 years. The student that was with her was also older than me and a mum to 5. I felt much more confident now. I felt like they could talk me through the next stage with their knowledge and experience.
At 2.30pm my obstetrician came back to see me. He took a look and decided that I needed Oxytocin to get things moving. I was hoping things would get moving by themselves but considering it had been 6 hours, I probably needed some help. In went the drip (still one of the worst parts of labour if you ask me!) and again sat back and waited. It was a good game of cricket so I was distracted.
The birth ward is surprisingly quiet. I expected there to be screaming women and crying babies. It was mid-afternoon that we heard the first baby. It was really special to know there had been a healthy baby born and gave me goosebumps to think I would have my own little bundle in my arms soon.
About an hour or so later and I got my first ‘ooh’ moment. I wouldn’t say it was painful, but it was definitely intense. I was still chatting away to the nurses and Pete at this stage, and was still quietly confident that I would breeze through this.
Fast forward another hour or so… wowee!! How quickly things can change. My contractions were close together and getting more and more painful. I could no longer hold a conversation during a contraction and the rests in between weren’t very long. I hadn’t had any pain relief at this stage and was determined to go as far as I could without any. Not too long after that however, I was cursing my husband and telling him if there was a next time, book me in and cut it out. This was horrific. How and why do women have more than one baby? I needed something to get me through. Cue the gas. I’m not convinced that there was much pain relief in the gas but it was a welcome distraction during contractions. Surely we were almost ready to go right??
There was still an element of excitement as we didn’t know our baby’s gender. At the very start I had a feeling it was a girl. I had many people stop me in the street in Jakarta and tell me I was having a boy though.
I asked the nurses 100 times to check if I was ready and they kept telling me, “you’ll know when it’s time”. Because I had the drip in, I was hooked up to a monitor to check the baby wasn’t distressed. This made it extremely annoying going to the toilet…and I of course needed to go a lot…a problem I have in life – pregnant or not.
At about 6.30pm I kept telling the nurse that I really needed to go to the toilet during contractions. She kept saying it was just the baby pressing down and I was ok. I begged her to check me again. Well hello…9cms! We were ready to go. Off the nurse went to call the doctor.
What felt like a lifetime went by. Where was the doctor? This baby was coming! The doctor arrived and took a look as I was getting another contraction. Surprised by my progress and still putting his gloves on, “push!” he said. After a couple of pushes and a great deal of encouragement from my ‘team’, the nurse told me she could see the baby’s head. I’m not sure why but I was desperate to know if it had hair or not. Her lack of response indicated that there wasn’t a full head of luscious hair on my baby. Hardly surprising as I didn’t have hair until I was almost 2!
A few more minutes of pushing and before I knew it my baby was on my chest. My little miracle was here. Pete was so amazed by the whole experience that he had to be prompted twice by the doctor to check the gender. It’s a boy! Plenty of happy tears followed and I was oblivious to the rest of the business that was taking place at the other end of the bed. After a minute or so holding my new baby boy, my obstetrician calmly advised the nurses to call the pediatrician. Something wasn’t right with the baby. I heard his request and my heart sank. The baby was a bit grey for the doctors liking. Within a flash my piece of perfection was taken back from me. Pete had been busy snapping photos and it was at this stage he realised there was a problem. I asked him to go over and be with the baby and stay with him no matter what.
The pediatrician was there within seconds and after taking a look at the baby, told us he needed to be taken to the nursery. The nurse, student nurse, my husband and the pediatrician all hurried with the baby down to the nursery. The room suddenly went from being filled with people to just my obstetrician and me. It was deafeningly silent. I struck up general conversation while he cleaned me up, trying to suppress the dread that had filled my body. I couldn’t reach my phone so I had no idea what was going on. What was wrong with my baby? Was he ok?
A few minutes later the nurse came back and said he is doing ok but he was on a ventilator as he was having some difficulty breathing. I got up to shower and had something to eat but still had no word on how he was doing half an hour later. My father-in-law and sister-in-law came into my room to keep me company until I could go to the nursery. They didn’t know anything either. Pete had called his mum to join him in the nursery. The family had gathered in anticipation for the new arrival as Pete had been giving a running commentary during the day on our family group chat. I can only imagine what entered their heads when the phone call came that the baby had been taken straight to the nursery.
About an hour after he’d been born, I made my way down to the nursery. I wasn’t prepared for how I would see my new, perfect bundle. There were cords everywhere. In his hand, up his nose, on his feet and a cap on his head which had more cords attached. I wasn’t allowed to hold him. I wasn’t allowed to feed him. All I could do was gently touch him. He looked so scared and vulnerable. He was crying and there was nothing I could do to comfort him. A feeling I’d have no idea would be so powerful and distressing until it was my own baby. I couldn’t bare it. As it turns out he had a Pneumothorax – an air sac on his lung which can lead to a collapsed lung. He would need to be monitored to see if he could clear it himself or whether they would need to drain it.
After spending some time with him, we left him in very capable hands in the SJOG nursery and headed up to the ward via our family who were still in the waiting room. I had imagined this a lot differently. I didn’t expect to be going to the ward without my baby.
The following morning we headed down to the nursery. He looked a lot better than the night before. The nurses said he had a good night and was feeding well. We saw the pediatrician later in the day who gave us an update. He was on antibiotics and would need to stay in the nursery for at least 48hrs, depending on the outcome of the airsac.
I got my first cuddle and feed on the Sunday afternoon. 2 days after he was first put on my chest. I felt lucky because my husband still hadn’t had a cuddle. He took to breastfeeding straight away which was a relief. He had managed to clear the air sac himself which was great news. As soon as he finished his antibiotics he could join us in our room. That would turn out to be the Tuesday afternoon. Finally, we got to have our baby with us and embark on our journey of firsts. First cuddles, first nappy changes, first introductions. Finally, we had the baby we were expecting. We are very lucky though. After spending a few days in the nursery and seeing other babies that were in a much more precarious position than ours, we are blessed to have a healthy baby to take home.
We spent the next few days introducing him to the world. My parents flew in from QLD to meet their first grandchild and friends and family came to visit. Finally, 5 days after our baby made his entrance into the world, we were going home. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as we drove out of the hospital driveway.
Lachlan Peter Kingston Mellor – 7pd 9oz. 7.20pm Friday 9th December 2016