It was one of the best, but also one of the worst years of my life in 2003 when Master Z made his way into our world.
I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant and had suffered lower back pain all day. Thinking I needed to lie down, I went into the bedroom to attempt to sleep. Afternoon siestas were my friend most days during this time; I was up so frequently during the night. The pressure of the baby on my bladder was constant.
Having vacuumed and washed all the wooden floors in the house that day, I decided I must have overdone it, but I felt satisfied as the entire place was sparkling. The nagging lower back pain was annoying me, so after tossing and turning for a bit, I decided to run a bath. My father was coming for dinner and I wanted to be good company for when he arrived in another hour or so.
It had been a torrid year in my family – my parents’ 29 year marriage had come to an abrupt end only six months before, and the shockwaves were still very much being felt. I hoped this little one would provide some solace for our fractured family. On top of this, it had taken month after month of fertility treatment, then IVF, to finally succeed with achieving a viable pregnancy.
It had been a long, arduous road to get to this point with Master Z. Not only did reservations exist around us for our choice in having this child, but the tenuous nature of the pregnancy itself brought with it a lingering cloud from what felt like some kind of higher power telling us ‘This isn’t meant to be’.
Every fibre of my being knew he WAS meant to be, and that people would see that once he arrived. The start of this pregnancy was rocky, with several threatened miscarriages. Our little man hung in there though and here we were, eight months down the track.
We were desperate for him to arrive safely and soundly.
I was 24 years old and it was late November. Our due date was December 23, and we were excited at prospect of a Christmas baby. For his sake, I hoped he was born either before or after Christmas Day rather than on it. We had made tentative plans that if he did happen to be born on Christmas day, we would do as friends had done, and nominate another day mid-year to celebrate his birthday, so he didn’t miss out on having his own special day.
My partner at the time, T, had been saying we should probably pack a bag, just in case. I hadn’t gotten around to that bit yet.
The nagging in my lower back wasn’t dissipating.
I waddled my way into the bathroom. Reaching over to turn the taps on, I felt something ‘down there’. All of a sudden I thought I had wet my pants. There had been no warning, no show, no nothing. My waters had broken. Hobbling down the hallway to the phone (yes one of the old fashioned variety on the wall), I rang the hospital. A trail of liquid followed me along my sparkling floors.
The midwife from Admissions answered. The conversation went something like this:
‘Hi, um, I think my waters have just broken’
‘Ok then, how far long are you?’
‘I’m 36 weeks and 4 days. So what happens now, do I come in and you just patch me up?’
‘Ah, no dear, you are going to have your baby tonight.’
‘Oh no, I can’t – he isn’t due for another 4 weeks. It’s too early.’
Quiet on the other end of the phone for a second.
‘Just come in here and we will be waiting for you.’
Needless to say they assumed I was a first time Mum. A naïve one at that…
Five hours and 46 minutes later, he arrived. It was a dramatic entry to the world: he came out not breathing. My mother and T paced back and forth as the paediatrician worked behind a screen to get him breathing. It was the most frightening moment of my life, dulled only by a shot of pethidine administered too late to be of any use other than to calm me.
Master Z was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to spend the night – I didn’t even get to hold him.
But it didn’t matter as he was safe, and breathing and ours.