Sorry y’all, this isn’t a post about religion or the recognition of any Christian holiday. It’s about the day, or more like, really early morning that changed this little world of mine forever.
I haven’t shared Charlie’s birth story in writing, just verbal recounts of the massive event. It seems fitting to write it all down now that it’s nearly a year later and Good Friday will forever be an extra, extra special day in my book.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to share any disgusting details, or take you on a journey of incense and chanting. I’m an all American girl who gave birth in a foreign country, buckle your seat belts.
Let me start with the visit to the hospital a couple of months before D-Day. We had no choice but to go to the private hospital here as I am not an Australian citizen, nor do I have permanent residency. Yet. And we also had no choice, as I refused to share a room in the public hospital. I mean, who SHARES rooms anymore? This is something that baffles me with Australian healthcare. All in all, I had pretty standard expectations of this hospital as my nephew spent a night in the surgical wing after having his tonsils removed. I found his accommodation to be pleasant and up to date. Boy was I in for a surprise when we walked into the maternity ward.
Lucas and I waddled into the reception area, well Lucas didn’t really waddle so much, and we were greeted by plastic covered sofas and chairs in the waiting area that looked like they were from the 1980s. I wasn’t put off by this immediately as I was distracted by the competition. The other preggos. Who was going to deliver first in this group? I’m positive this morbid curiosity is only present in the warped minds of first time moms who have yet to embark on the highly anticipated journey of child birth.
As we collectively waddled and shuffled around the maternity ward, and shoved women who were much bigger than their real size and their husbands into little hospital rooms and delivery suites it became apparent to me this whole ward was out of date. When we were told that the husbands, “are only allowed to stay one night during your stay.” I realized the mentality was also a little out of date. Perhaps it just wasn’t what I expected but, I’ll be damned if I will be left alone with a new baby, in a hospital that has furniture older than the American Constitution while my husband chews his fingernails at home. In one room that we crammed our sweaty, pregnant selves into, I saw a television that I kid you not, was on a metal arm that pulled away from the wall. Where the hell is the plasma screen tv and double bed?! I kept pent up my concerns as I didn’t want to seem like the arrogant, loud American, who nothing was good enough for. Thankfully a little distraction came when a woman who brought her husband and toddler on a leash asked if she could stay longer than the maximum of six nights. Six nights?! And she wants to stay longer in this time capsule? I nearly laughed out loud. At the end of the tour, I couldn’t exit that building fast enough. The fear of the general unknown and difference of my expectations and what we were met with nearly proved too much for me. I soothed myself with the knowledge that aforementioned nephew had been born there and I was absolutely checking out after one or two nights. No exceptions.
It also didn’t hurt that my mother came to Australia the week before Charlie was born. We spent the next six days touring Canberra a little bit, as much as my hippo self could get around. On the Wednesday before Charlie was born I took mom and Dave to the Botanic Gardens. We walked through the rainforest exhibit as it was shady and cool, really nice for my giant swollen feet, and well, everything else.
This is what pre-labor looks like. If I had only known!
Perhaps it was all the walking, or maybe just the fact that I had been cooking that little turkey long enough that the timer went off. We picked up Lucas from work that evening for dinner and a movie. He will tell you that I was a whole new shade of white and very quiet. At dinner, I started having the biggest Braxton Hicks contractions, and my stomach was like a rock. I felt a bit off but not like I was in labor certainly. After dinner we headed up to the movie theater to catch a showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Luckily for me it was sold out. All I wanted to do was go home and eat a Popsicle. All that evening the fun times started to roll. I couldn’t get comfortable to save my life and at 4:30am I shot upright in bed with a real, big girl, call your momma, the big show is a startin’ contraction. Game on.
13 hours, one breakfast burrito, one deli sandwich, a dozen soaks in the tub, and one of Dave’s (my soon to be stepdad- yay!) spicy burritos, I felt it was time to go time traveling. Now, at the ante-natal classes (Aussie speak for pre-natal) they told us to call the hospital before we came so they could gauge by the sound of my voice the gravity of the situation. Apparently, nurse midwives have a sixth sense and it is the ability to hear a woman’s voice and determine how soon a baby will come out of said woman. Apparently. I did as I was told, called the hospital and in normal OHM fashion, I made light of the situation.
“Hello, labor and delivery, how can I help you?” super nurse asks,
“Yes, hello. My name is CJ, my doctor is blah blah and I am in labor.” I tell the nurse.
“Oh ok, how are you feeling?”
“Well, haha. I feel like my baby is trying to escape my body.”
“Ok then, you can come in anytime but you might want to wait a few more hours.”
We left five minutes later. Just because a girl can joke about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening!
When we arrived we were escorted to a delivery suite and discovered that there was ONE nurse on staff. Another woman was already in heavy labor and going to deliver soon. The nurse called me “Petal” about 89 times and I was in too much pain to tell her that I didn’t know why she insisted on calling me part of a flower, or a car accelerator as I suppose it could’ve been either, but that she could stop. I donned my ever so flash hospital gown and proceeded to labor away. Every Ingrid Michaelson song ever recorded played in shuffle mode on my iPod and i couldn’t have pre-planned a better playlist for the time. About an hour later the nurse came back and asked if she could check the baby’s heart rate, and told me I’d have to get on the bed. I obeyed and she said she was concerned about the heart rate and wanted to continue to monitor it. Then she left.
Holy back labor.
Can I get an epidural now? Can we turn on the gas? Can I have ANY drugs?
My dear husband was such a trooper, he kept hunting down the lone nurse and begging her to call the anaesthesiologist for us. My in-laws arrived from Singapore before the anaesthesiologist showed up.
While waiting for the $1000 doctor to arrive and relieve my agony, I did use the F word. I am proud to say it only happened once the whole time and it was mid-contraction when I thought the flood gates had opened and both my mother and Lucas decided it would be a great time to let go of my death grip hands and take a little look. “What the F are you doing!?!?” I growled. They both promptly dropped the covers and resumed their posts.
After the drugs, and two and a half hours of pushing, some suction cup action, and some full on dragging my baby out the doctor proudly proclaimed, “Oh look! They’re shaking my hand! Look! look!” To which I replied, “I don’t have time to look! Just Get It Out!” Turns out, little Charlie was pushing back every time I pushed and she needed some extra assistance to make her debut. When her little face was visible my third birth partner and sister-in-law, let us all know, “It’s a girl!” Even though the “girl bits” weren’t even showing yet. Apparently my child was born with a very feminine face. Awwwwww.
At 3:58 on Good Friday morning, as “The Chain” played in the background, our sweet baby Charlotte Josephine was born. It was unlike I expected, and a little as I thought it might be. 24 hours of actual labor was quite enough for me and I am so grateful we had a perfect little girl. It was a flood of relief and joy like I had never known. Each day has been a steep learning curve but we are getting the hang of this thing. I venture to say we might have parenthood figured out in about 18 years. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, being this little girl’s mom. Happy sort of birthday my darling girl. Good Friday indeed.
She’s named after my grandmother, Estella Josephine, aka Granny Jo.