Monday, 17 October, 2011.
My alarm sounded at 05:00 … the calm “Harp” alarm tone on my iPhone, to keep things as calm as possible. Thankfully, Luca didn’t stir. I made the decision not to wake him early in he morning of his baby brother’s birth. Firstly, he isn’t used to waking up that early and secondly, it would have sent him into a mild (MASSIVE) panic, to see both Dave and I driving away, me with tears inevitably streaming down my face. So, thankfully, he slept through our getting ready so that we could stick to the “plan”.
I quietly packed my toothbrush and contact lens case into my hospital bag – the last two items on my “What To Pack” list, a list compiled of items suggested by friends, family and work colleagues. It’s amazing how fast you forget what it is that you’ll need in those first few days, but thanks to every one of the people who helped me, I forgot nothing. No one had to bring anything to the hospital for me – I was well and truly prepared!
We walked outside into the brand new October morning and said our goodbyes to Beauty, who brought me to tears when she said she was proud of me and that she wished me luck. Up until that point I had not let my emotions take control. Not like a couple of weeks ago when I started to panic about not being able to have enough love in my heart for two children. But Beaut, in her simple words of luck and love, had brought my emotions to the fore. You see, Beaut is our “Gogo”. She lives with us, packs our lunches and takes care of our home and children (four-legged, fluffy ones included). But she is more than just that. She’s been in our lives for over ten
years and she loves Luca (and now Mika) dearly. And we love her. She has worried about and fussed over me during both of my pregnancies, constantly reminding me to eat (not avo, because it will “make the baby’s bum green”), sleep and even helping me put on shoes and socks when it became impossible for me to do so on my own, without a great deal of huffing, puffing and possibly pulling a hamstring. Anyway, Beaut made me cry. But thanks to my concise “What To Pack” list, I also had six packs of Kleenex tissues, one of which I promptly whipped out to catch the tears rolling down my face.
Anyway, after we climbed into the car and Dave made sure for the last time that I was okay with leaving home without saying goodbye to my little (big) Monkey, we headed off to the Morningside Medi-Clinic. It was a relaxed drive; the roads were quiet at 05:40 so we were able to drive slowly, spending the last couple of minutes together as parents of just one. We both said that we didn’t feel anxious at all; that we just wanted to meet our newest, littlest Dadic. It was a good ten minutes spent alone together …
At the hospital, we walked through the reception area and straight up to Labour Ward, as instructed by Heather, my gynae’s wife/receptionist/surgery assistant. We were welcomed into a very quiet labour ward – I didn’t see any other moms-to-be being wheeled in or out, or pacing the corridors in the throes of natural childbirth. I was led into a room with a “Stage 1” sign on the door and did the usual pee-in-a-cup and answer 100 questions about my health/the pregnancy etc. I was then dripped, strapped to the stress-test machine to monitor the heartbeat and left alone (Dave had gone down to reception to book me in) for a good ten minutes.
For those ten minutes I lay with my hands on my belly, feeling those incredible kicks for the last time, inside of me. Mika was also pretty calm, but with a few elbows to the ribs, he let me know he was there, that he was as ready to meet me as I was to meet him. I savoured those ten minutes, thinking a lot about my late mum and Dave’s late mum, Sally. Its always at times like these that I think about the people who are not here, physically, to experience these incredible moments with Dave and I. I thought about my sister in London, my Dad and Annie in Thames, New Zealand, about Jack and Margie in Switzerland, Brigie, Paul, Anita, Bron – all in New Zealand. I thought about Kath in the States and about my friends overseas who would all be thinking of us that morning, as we welcomed our baby boy into the world. My Kleenex came in handy again, as you can imagine. But they were all happy tears … my biggest achievement in life thus far had been bringing Luca into the world with Dave. And here we were, about to do it all again. I just knew that everyone I was thinking of, was so very proud of me and my little family right at that moment. And it made me feel even more at ease.
Dave then came back into the room, looking a little stressed … he said that he did feel slightly anxious now, after checking me in and everything becoming more “real”. He sat down next to me and held my hand and we sat, talking occasionally but with a comfortable silence in which we both felt the same things. Dr Maraschin, our pediatrician, popped in to check that I was okay and to let us know that we’d see him in theatre. Then the anaethetist came in (cannot, for the life of me, remember his name … although I’m sure I’ll remember when his bill arrives!) – a really sweet, gentle man who spoke calmly to me about what he would do with the spinal block. I gulped audibly and nodded, eyes wider than a deer caught in the headlights. My previous experience with the spinal block, although relatively painless, was quite scary, as it didn’t happen the way my ante-natal instructor had explained it would. Dave was meant to have been present to hold me while I was being injected. Instead, he had been sent to scrub up but had not been told to come into theatre and by the time he was brought in, I was already numb and had done it on my own. Not cool. This time it was different. After the anaethetist, Dr Cameron, our amazing gynae, came in and checked to see that the two of us were okay and he took Dave off to “scrub up”. A few more minutes on my own, but this time my mind was clear. I sat calmly on the bed, breathed deeply and waited for Dave to come back to me. Which he did 🙂
The nurses came in and asked us to walk through to theatre, which was pretty unnerving. I felt like I had the option, at that poinst, to ssay, “Um, no thanks. I think I’ve changed my mind!”
And then we walked into the room where we’d meet our little boy. There was music playing, instrumental music. I couldn’t tell you now what it was, buy it was soothing. The anaethetist asked me to sit up on the bed and then lie on my side, facing Dave. He felt up and down my spine, to determine where to insert the main anesthetic injection and, I assume, made a mark of sorts. He then said that he would be doing a couple of local injections to numb the area. Dave held my hand and I squeezed it tightly as the needles, I think there were 4, pierced my skin. That was all the pain I felt the entire time. He told me that he would then administer the spinal, and I immediately felt as though I was being lowered, feet first, into a deliciously hot bath. Starting at my toes and working its way up to my upper stomach. I like the feeling … some people say that they feel panicked or nauseous. Not me … am I strange? 🙂
The theatre sisters rolled me onto my back and I felt my heavy legs sink into the table. And then they were gone. Heather (Dr Cameron’s wife & surgery assistant) told me that they were going to expose me (I honestly wouldn’t have known any better but her politeness and caring tone made me smile and feel even more at ease) to insert the catheter (MY BIGGEST FEAR) and swab down the incision area. I remember “feeling”
more of this when I had Luca. I don’t know if perhaps the spinal hadn’t taken its full effect before they started, but that had completely freaked me out. The catheter was literally the one thing that scared the bejesus out of me this time. And there was absolutely no need to be afraid. I felt nothing. In fact, if it weren’t for Dave looking a little pale and obviously shaken, I wouldn’t have even known that they had started to cut.
Dave was at my left shoulder, and he was shaking. I told him to look into my eyes, not over at where they were working. I think Dr Cameron or Heather could see that Dave was a bit shell-shocked, so they pulled up some more surgical fabric and Dave was instantly more relaxed. At that moment I noted that an orchestral version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was playing, and that it sounded louder than it had before. I thought about my mom and of Sally … and I told Dave that I almost felt like they were there. His eyes welled up and he simply nodded in agreement, and his hand shaking in mine. The music was incredible, so perfectly timed …and I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face. Almost on cue, at the height of the dramatic chorus of “Hallelujah’s”, Dave whispered, “He’s coming, babe … he’s almost here” into my ear. I heard everyone in the room fall silent. The suction in my baby’s throat. A gurgled cough, and … a cry. A loud, healthy scream.
The tears stopped and my heart pounded.
Heather announced, “He’s going to need a pony-tail with all of that hair!” I smiled a huge, happy, relieved smile and saw Dr Maraschin at my side, surgical blankets in hand, ready to take my baby boy. I saw him briefly, before he turned away to wipe him down. And then, he brought him to me. I remember saying to Dave, as I strained my neck to look up at him, “He looks just like Luca!” and then “Hello Mika” … before I started to cry again. The nurse had to come over and wipe away the tears (um, and snot!) so that I could see clearly … he was gorgeous. His hair, wet and matted down onto his head, was dark and thick. His eyes the same dark grey that Luca’s had been. His gorgeous button nose and grumpy, wrinkled forehead. Just perfect!
Seeing your child for the first time (no matter how many you have) is something you will never forget.
Its from that very instant that they start to change, to grow and to become real people.
We loved him from the second we saw him.
Our Mika Alex.