I have a theory… first children are born out of ignorance… y’know, I’ll be glorious and beautiful when pregnant, labor will be five or ten painless minutes and then I’ll be sweeping down the streets wearing something fabulous carrying a gorgeous bub, graciously acknowledging the barrage of oohs and ahhs that accompany our every step. Well it was sorta like that. Cept that labor was thirty six hours and painful enough that when it was over, the first thing I did was look over to my mum and say “I’m never doing that again…”
Second babies, I reckon you have to get knocked up when you are pissed or something. It took me six years to belly up to the baby bar again. Joe, I said, Joe, I’ve been to this place before so I’m easy, I’ve had my drink, but look, if you’re thirsty, I’ll pull out the cork. But it’s now or never Joe, cos I’m ready to hang up the party frock. Well, you know, who could resist an offer like that? Besides, True had convinced us saying that we weren’t a real family until we had a baby… and a cat and a dog… well, he’s got the baby and recently a Digimon for a birthday pressie from a friend, so close enough…
I had only three requests. A tub, a boob job after breastfeeding and a nanny. Right.
We decide to give it a go.
Soon enough, I’m up the duff. I’ve fallen pregnant. Yep, tripped and landed flat in that puddle of sperm. Bun in the oven. We’re having a baby.
Okay, well, now it’s time for the part where I get beautiful. Last time, I had thick blonde hair, gorgeous velour dresses made by my girlfriend Zoe, the most perfect bump in the world, and not even a belch of morning sickness.
Well, this time I didn’t have morning sickness.
But I did have cravings. But not for food. Cravings. Desires. Salivating drooling fetishes. For rubber. For dettol. For vapo rub. For the smell of the garden shed. I’d see a bit of tire blow out from a semi on the side of the road and wish we could stop so I could grab a piece. I found a bit of rubber matt in a store and kept it in my purse to furtively sniff when I thought no one was looking. I’d have long luxurious baths in our piddly little tub under the shower, not with drops of lavender or jasmine, but with a cap or two of dettol. Sometimes I’d just take the lid off and inhale. Vick’s vapo rub in a thick smear under my nose ever night. And I’d volunteer to get anything out of a shed, a cellar or any other musty man room. Mmmm.
Just at that in between bit where you aren’t sure if you are preggers or just kinda getting fat in the can, I decided to take my brilliant red hair and return it to my “natural” blonde as I was sure the baby was going to be blonde and wanted it to look like me. So I booked myself in for a hair appointment in Lismore with a hair “stylist”. I realized too late that … well should I have been more specific about what I wanted? Should I have made sure he wouldn’t use my head as a canvass for creative expression? Should I have made sure he hadn’t spent the night doof doof doofing? Should I have booked with someone else? Should I have emphasized rock groupie not rock chick?
What was supposed to be a blonde gamine look resulted in something that was a shrill platinum blonde at the roots bleeding into an angry orangey red at the ends. Hair came in every length on my head – literally – like the left side was four inches long and the right side was about four centimeters….it was like Linda Eastman McCartney meets David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust years… I had my hat on before I left the salon. Luckily for Joe, my pregnancy seemed to have filled me with a zen like calm so I wasn’t hysterical. Unluckily for Joe, he wasn’t blind. It’s not often the love of your life describes your hair as horrific. To your face. And you can’t say anything, because it’s true.
Well, I thought, oozing with a Buddha like calm, it can’t get worse.
I decided I should pamper myself and wax the old legs, spring had sprung. So off to another girlfriend’s who shall remain nameless cos as a beautician she has a rep to protect. So we are waxing away and I ask her to do my eyebrows. Now that’s a funny one cos I basically only have a dozen or so pale little hairlettes per brow anyway… who would miss em if they disappeared? Well, when a big blob of wax goes astray and accidentally rips off half of the right brow, you would be surprised…
So now I’m a chubby looking, tangerine colored mullet headed, one and a half browed pregnant woman. And Joe’s band has been nominated for an Aria and the awards are in a few weeks. And I’m his red carpet date. I don’t know who is more excited.
The brow appears to grow back in time and the hair, well, after two more rounds of coloring, and a chemical haircut, it looks like I’m wearing a slightly yellow helmet but compared to the previous do, I feel like Marilyn Monroe. Or Marilyn Monaro. The blimp has turned into a bump and I feel cute enough to let Joe stick a photo of me in his comic of his aria adventures on the grinspoon website – www.grinspoon.com if you are interested. I’m the one with the hair sticking up all over and the face mask on.
And my velour wardrobe…? well that works well if the majority of your pregnancy is in winter but basically I was happy with a wet sarong this time. Lucky for Joe, he spent a lot of time touring.
Anyway, after visiting a doctor in Coffs who was lovely but spent the majority of the consultation visit chatting with Joe about music, I decided that I wanted to look into birth alternatives. When I had to get all the blood tests and stuff, I noticed Joe suddenly had to leave the building and do “stuff” so I thought that he might not be that useful in a hospital environment.
Phone phone phone frustration. Hmmm. We went to check out the hospital. Hmmm. It wasn’t looking much like the Byron Bay homebirth I had with True. No candles this time...
Then another visit with the doctor. Again, lovely chap. I enjoyed waiting forty minutes to go in and watch him eat a pharmecudical sponsored bagel and bit of cake during our visit. I also enjoyed how he couldn’t figure out my due date and had me at 17 weeks instead of 12. and how when it came time to do the only thing that I couldn’t do myself (like I know how much I weigh thanks…) which is hear the baby’s heart beat on the Doppler, he left Joe in a different room. Uhh, I think the dad to be might enjoy this moment too, dude.
We were stoked to meet up with Joie, although I’m sure she would have been more excited if we turned up on time, even once. I know she was suss on our excuses. Seriously, there was roa works, a car accident and once my special girlfriend, Sophie, called me while we were en route to tell me she was on her way to her mother’s funeral. Sophie’s mother’s death had been sudden and unexpected and the news hadn’t yet reached me. Sophie said she was feeling down and wanted to take her mind off the impending funeral and thought she would call me… Then she said I should make her laugh. There is no coverage near Bundagen so sometimes you just stop the car.
Once we decide to have a homebirth, I decide I have a list of rules. They include no bongo playing, no harp playing, no whale songs– all fine with joe, he promptly burned a cd with our fave music from Blondie to Loretta Lynn; no wearing purple – he promptly burnt his favorite purple caftan to appease me; no one gets naked except me – Joe just padlocked his belt buckle incase he got the urge; no getting in the tub – I couldn’t get Joe into a tub if it was filled with bubbles, champers and a nude and horny me so I’m pretty sure he won’t be craving a dip in water filled with mucous plug and a moaning pregnant woman; no looking at my pink bits unless there is a baby’s head coming out and in that case you have to have a very narrow focus – again he’s agreeable; no cradling of the placenta, no dressing it in a nappy for me to drag around with the kid for a week until it rots and falls off, no baking it in bread, meatloaf or ingesting it in any way – we both agree the placenta has no place in our food or our child’s clothing: oh the list went on.
Joe decides he has a list of requests too which I have no idea what they were because, as his pink bits were not going to be stretching to accommodate a watermelon, well, they just seemed unimportant and I promptly forgot them.
But that got me worrying. My mental state was as foggy as a bong smoking uni student so I realized I was getting low on iron. I went and had it checked and when the sirens started going off and the nurse checked if I was flatlining, my suspicions were confirmed. I started getting regular pokes in the arse with a long needle which is about as sexy as it sounds. I’m a bit upset that my career as a thong model is over now due to the big huge purpley brown injection stains on each cheek but again, my Buddha like demeanor carried me through this scarification with a completely Zen serenity. Ohmmmm…
We organize our birth team. We decide to have Rebecca be our main support as she is an old friend, a mother of two, has had a homebirth, studies homeopathics and wafts around in such a cloud of lavender and calmness that you get stoned on her presence so we know she will be a gentle and grounding force for us. She is a gorgeous person and was the perfect choice.
Near the end of the pregnancy, I decided that we should ask Joe’s mum, Nancye to come too. At the beginning I wasn’t too sure because, y’know, there’s a lot of crotch shots involved in this birthing process and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to share that with my mother in law nor her with me… but near the end I realized that it was a wonderful thing to have my mum there for True’s birth and how great it was for the baby to have a couple generations there to welcome it to the world. Mum couldn’t come over from Canada this time though, which was a downer but what can you do? I also thought it would be great for Nancye and Joe to have this moment to share as I found the whole birth thing really brought my mum and I to a new level of closeness and friendship. She loved seeing True being born, although she was less stoked with pouring hundreds of buckets of water on my back. With this and my modesty in mind, we decided Nancye should come but shouldn’t have to be responsible for anything heavy. Like buckets of water. She could hang upstairs with True and potter around until the fun bit (the actual birth) started and then come down to enjoy the view.
The due date nears and I, as a patient Aries, am sure that I am going to go early on this one. I’m already well past the size I was when I had True and so I’m really excited around the end of January. With the February 5 due date approaching, I call up various friends to get them to enter a contest to see who can guess the correct date. We did this with True and Joe guessed the right date. Everyone responds enthusiastically. Zoe guesses February 11th and I cross her name off my Christmas card list. Days pass. I ring Zoe laughing that she might be right and will she forgive me for calling her “Bitch” a few weeks before. The eleventh passes. My Buddhist calm exterior is showing hairline fractures, particularly at night when I heave myself onto the bed with huge tragic sighs. Joe’s Buddhist calm exterior starts to show cracks too as he stares hopelessly at the wallowing, sobbing mass of self pity in the bed next to him. I ask him nightly if he thinks the baby is going to come that night, a question as loaded as “does my ass look fat in this dress?’ I contemplate ways to get the baby to come out, slapping my inner thigh with a coat hanger as I think aloud…
I get bigger. The nights get hotter. I gaze enviously at Joe, twitching like a puppy in his sleep. I want to wake him and make him as miserable as I feel. I realize I probably am doing this already with my incessant nightly whinges. He takes to drink. I take to castor oil. Neither of us feel good in the morning.
I read about rubbing the cervix and how it might start labor. Joe, get your glove. Joe’s got his hand up my clacker and we both decide this is not at all romantic or sexy. And it doesn’t really do anything. Except now Joe knows what my cervix feels like. I’m sure if you ask him, he will tell you he feels better knowing it.
I read about nesting and do useful things like wash the shower curtain. Then I think about washing the dishes. I think abut washing clothes. I realize I hate housework and decide this whole nesting thing must be some story made up to coerce impatient women to clean the bloody house before they become too incapacitated to do it.
I start to get stressed out worrying that the baby is getting too big to come out. We decide that we can’t handle “it” anymore –“it” being me and my bitching – so we book a visit with the doctor.
We speak to Joie on the 19th to confirm that we have made an appointment with the doctor. Well actually Joe talks to Joie, as I have now entered the cave on the mountain and have become a hermit and a recluse. I speak to no one. I go nowhere. I can’t handle anymore kind hearted people asking me if I’m still “here” or wise old ladies telling me they’ve seen thousands of pregnant women and they can tell one hundred percent by my shape that I’m having a girl. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact but I’m scared of having a girl as I’ve been one myself. I don’t think I can handle the teen years. I buy a gorgeous little white dress. I see the upside.
Joe’s mum has arrived and we decide to go to the pub. Joe’s not had a drink for weeks thinking that any night could be the night but now we reckon bugger it – drink for godsakes, drink. I leave after a short time to get True ready for bed and leave Joe to enjoy a few quiet beers with his mum. Of course, he comes home fairly tipsy and in good spirits after three or four schooners on an empty stomach and two weeks of abstinence. Nancye minds True as Joe and I go for a walk. He reveals to me that Joie suggested going to the headland to pay tribute to the slaughtered Aboriginals. Well, I think that’s what he said cos he was slurring a bit. It was a lovely thought but probably would have been a bit more feasible if there had been a moon or he had brought a torch. In the end, we blindly feel our way to the beach and try to make out the headland from a distance. I feel little twinges and am keen to keep moving to encourage them. Joe’s happy to head home as the beer is making him sleepy. We laugh all the way to bed and then Joe passes out.
He is thrilled when I wake him a couple of hours later. Of course labor is starting. Why would it have started in the past two weeks when he was sober? It’s much more fun when he’s cloudy and tired and feeling a bit seedy. I’m happily ordering him around, getting the tub filled, calling Rebecca, doing my hair and makeup (seriously) and posing for photos. Obviously labor is mild.
Things start to get fairly uncomfortable around dawn. Not just for Joe, who is probably feeling burnt out and wishing he had some hair of the dog. Rebecca arrives. I forget to tell her my rules. She’s in the tub. With me. At least she’s wearing clothes and none of them are purple. The girl is a freak. She’s so busy multi tasking I’m sure she’s cloned herself. She looks after True, makes Miso soup for everyone, massages me, assures Joe, discusses things with Nancye and Joie and photographs the entire event with three different cameras (color, black and white and digital, of course!)
I spent hours fussing away in the birthing rooms making it gorgeous – pink furniture, green blow up pool, candle altar, paintings, photographs, perfect music, fluffy pink towels, a rack of every kind of supply you could possibly want, a big bed…everything except something to lean on. I end up spending most of my labor bent over the washing machine in the grey room next door. I’ll tell ya, those domestic machines look like torture racks to me at the best of times…
I’m panting like a husky in the tropics, so Joie suggests doing some sounding. Did I forget to mention one of my rules? No singing? I’m almost passing out hyperventilating so I decide to give it a whirl. Ugh. I hate my voice, but it seems to help. The only problem is I can hear Joie singing along. She has a great voice but it drives me nuts when people sing to me. For some reason I just find it embarrassing. The second contraction comes and Rebecca has softly joined in. I’m pissing myself laughing inside – it’s to weird and I feel like a freak. I don’t want to be rude but in the next break I have to tell them that it’s too distracting. Every now and then I can hear one start up but then they quickly realize and stop. Now I’m distracted by the sound of my own voice. I sound like a really shitty Japanese Rice Rocket (motorbike). I sound like I’m changing gears as the contraction gets stronger. It has nothing to do with hitting notes, let me tell ya. There is a reason I was asked to mouth the words in choir.
Rebecca is massaging away for hours on my back. It feels great. She needs a break. Joe takes over, bless his cotton socks. He’s really enthusiastic and has really strong thumbs. That bore into my back. In two circles. The size of fifty cent pieces. After a while, when the pain of his massage starts to compete with the pain of the contractions, I suggest that perhaps he might want to widen his circle just a bit. He suggests maybe Rebecca is better at it and should take over. I agree. We are both relieved.
Eventually I’m back in the tub. Joe brings me frozen lavender cloths for my head. Unfortunately I’d stuck them in the freezer about a month ago and they are rock solid. I bang them gently on my forehead until they melt. They smell nice anyway.
We have run out of hot water. Ever one is humming and hawing what to do. Between contractions I put on my generals cap and make joe scale the fence, break into the neighbour’s laundry and steal his hot water. That runs out too. We go the old fashioned route and the women start boiling water. I feel like a lobster when I am accidentally scalded.
The pain is now much more intense than I remember with True’s birth. I feel quite panicky. I secretly contemplate my chances of getting the keys to the car and driving myself into Coffs to the hospital to ask for drugs and a cesarean. I wonder if anyone here will try to stop me.
Joie has taken a nap knowing that she will need her energy for later. I tell Joe and Rebecca that I want yet another dilation check. Just like with True, I stayed at three cms for hours and hours and found this discouraging. I was sure that not much would happen until my water broke, like the first time. With True, this meant another seven to nine hours and I needed to pace myself. That’s what I kept telling myself anyway. Joe and Rebecca played good cop/bad cop trying to bargain Joie another half hour of sleep, until I think they could see I was getting really crabby and about to get hysterical again, so she was woken up and quickly came down to do a check. 3cms. I feel like I’m going to lose it. She sees bulging forewaters or something. I can’t remember exactly if I was saying break em, don’t worry about interfering or what, but if Joie hadn’t popped them, I’d have ripped out my teeth and bit them open myself. So it was good she did. Then I did flip out cos there was gunk in the water and it was everywhere and I thought the baby was dying cos there was meconium in the water so it was really intense in the room for a few minutes while Joie tried to calm the panic. Nothing snaps you out of a bout of hysteria like some major contractions. I’m back in the tub. Joie tells Joe to get in. He’s torn between doing as she tells him and adhering to my no tub rule. I give the nod and he’s in. I think I did it to be cruel. At least he had the presence of mind to keep his clothes on.
I remember yelling “nine nine nine ten ten ten!!!” cos that’s the centimeters I wanted my crotch to be at. Well, it worked a treat cos in no time I was there.
Okay push push push time. No, wait. Out of the tub onto dry land for a more scenic view. Okay push push push. NO wait. I’m yelling get Nancye and True! Nancye and True! They come rushing down as excited as two kids going to the Harry Potter movie. I’m pushing away and nothing is happening. Bugger. True’s been checking it all out. He’s sitting on the chair copying the sounds I’m making. It’s funny. He hangs out on the bed for a while. I’m still pushing away and still nothing is happening so Joie checks again and there is some cervix that has to be breathed open. Bugger.
Around this time I get stuck on my back for a contraction and all I have to say is whoever makes a woman labor on her back should burn in hell. Gratefully, I’m soon back in my fave reclining position. Pushing away. True sees a bit of the head. I think it gets referred to as a walnut. True has no idea what they are talking about as he doesn’t really know what a walnut is and I doubt what he saw looked much like a baby either. He soon gets bored and is off to play outside. I wish I could go too.
More pushing. The head starts to squeeze out. So does poo. Rebecca thoughtfully arranges the mirror so Joe and I can see. Is that good? Joe nods, yeah, it’s great. He later tells me that all he could see was my ankle and he was glad of that. Probably didn’t want to break anymore of my rules. I see the head come out. Whoa…it’s kinda big.. My face is all hot and sweaty. I see it in the mirror and think, bugger, me makeups run…oh well one more push if I remember correctly from True’s birth, and the baby should be out and I can go for a powder! So I push. And push. And push. I hang between Joe and Rebecca. Not working. I’m slippery with sweat. Joie tells me to get on my hands and knees. My hair is a mess and I quickly re twist it into a French roll. For some reason this becomes a topic of hushed and amused chatter. Okay let’s push. I push and push. Nothing. Joie’s got her hands or fingers up there. I don’t know what’s going on but I feel a bit bovine. I know it’s not right but I feel fairly calm at this point and just keep following Joie’s instructions. At some point I’m facing the curtained windows and I don’t know how it happens but the baby slides out. I kinda twist over the cord and lay back on the bed in a big pile of relief and I see big huge red balls and I’m so surprised and happy and I cry out “it’s a boy!!!!” which should be the high point.
But then he’s not breathing and it’s all fucked.
The world is standing still and the only thing moving is Joie, Joe and I. But I’m in slow motion. Joie is suctioning and massaging. Joe is rubbing the baby and saying “breathe little man, breathe” and talking to him and just so there. I feel like my brain is going to lose it. All I want to do is pick him up by the legs and smack him on the bottom like they do on TV but I also don’t want to do it so I keep lifting his legs up and down. I don’t even know how to talk but I think I was saying stuff like c’mon c’mon breathe little man! Echoing Joe. I don’t know. I don’t think the baby will die but then he starts to turn blue to me around the face and I can feel terror coming on. It feels like hours. Breathe baby breathe. He’s like a little car that can’t start. There is a little gasping noise. Then nothing. Then again. Then nothing. Three times. The next bit I think I’ve blanked out. Nothing was happening fast enough for me. Joie is a blur. I can hear Joe. I look at the baby and I want him to cry and breathe and live. With all my heart.
Then I think Joie must have taken him.
Then he’s in my arms and he’s crying and crying and crying and crying and I’m crying and Joe’s crying and Nancye’s crying and we’re all crying and the world is fucking great!
True picks this moment to come back in. What is it? It’s a boy! True’s smile lights up the world. He really wanted a brother more than anything. Except maybe a new bionicle. Ahhhh lucky boy! We got you one of those tooooo! He heads over to the club across the road in the next while to tell everyone that he has a new baby brother and he’s got really big red balls.
I am lying there in the bed and it’s all so surreal. I then have a tragic moment where I think that the next hiccup will be that I will die of blood loss delivering the placenta but that doesn’t happen and I’m relieved. I have a huge burst of energy and they ask what I would like to do. I definitely want a shower as I have blood, mucous plug, meconium, amniotic fluid and human feces (now where did that come from??? Blush…) all over me. Joe and True are cuddling the baby, Rêve (which means dream in French but Vroom Vroom in Australian…)
So I go upstairs and clean off. Then I jump into bed and start gobbling down Brie, salami, crackers, champers and baileys – my requested post birth foodstuffs. (Which was great at first but then I ended up with severe constipation. Oh lordy. Let me tell ya, birthing a couple of those puppies made Rêve seem like a walk in the park… drink your fluids, girls, and stay regular, that’s all I have to say…)
After a while I start to feel lonely and holler. Hello? Hello? Can someone bring me the baby? They all laugh when they realize that I’ve been in there alone for a while. Rêve is crying his brains out and does this for ages but we are all so stoked that he’s alive that the crying sounds better than music. Joie comes in to check the condition of my crotch and for some reason is showing it all to Rebecca, something that seems normal at the time, I guess, but we find highly amusing in the days to come. Especially when I have to ask Rebecca where my tears are and she’s graphically describing my pink bits with lovely hand gestures. Too weird.
I undress the baby as it’s stinking hot and he’s rugged up like a little baker in his white pants, jacket and hat. Joie comes in to show us the placenta. After everything we went through, the placenta seems so unimportant and all I can think of is how I hope none of it gets on my beautiful white cotton sheets. Then Joie weighs Rêve. I nearly pass out when she says he’s nine pounds. He’s got a monster melon like his big brother too. He has massive hands and feet. His balls are so huge they make his doodle look small. My dad reassures me on the phone that the handle always matches the suitcase. We’re not really sure exactly what time he was born because Nancye accidentally dropped the watch into some of the massage oil during the live or die moments. But it doesn’t really matter cos you know, when do you check the time? When he’s out? When he breathes? And how important is it in the big scheme of things?
Nancye is excited a few hours later when she thinks he smiled. I’m inwardly rolling my eyes, as grandma’s always want to claim the first smile. But she is right. He smiled again. And again. And again. And then a day later he started to laugh. It sounded just like my dad. He hasn’t stopped yet. He is really the smiliest kid I’ve ever met. I think it’s cos he is happy with his decision to stay here.
Remember the three requests I had?
The tub? It didn’t happen. I squeezed myself into this little raised square of a thing at the bottom of the shower right up until the end trying to tell myself it was comfortable and almost like a real bathtub. And I still am.
The boob job? Well, I’m still breastfeeding but it doesn’t look likely. I’m trying to be pragmatic about it. I mean really, it is a lot easier when they are saggy and stretched out of shape. If they were pert and perky would I be able to shove a nipple in the baby’s mouth and then head into the kitchen to do the washing up? I doubt it. Sure, sometimes they get accidentally sucked up by the vacuum or twisted up in the phone cord, but whose gonna complain? They just make life easier, like when you are driving and the baby starts crying and you just whip a titty over your shoulder into the backseat and save yourself from getting dirty looks for using a pacifier?!? Not me! And with the new nipple tassles I bought, I’ll never have to sweep the floor again…
And a nanny?!? What was I thinking!!!!????!!!! He’s gorgeous! We love him! He’s our dream come true!…ok we can’t afford one.