So this is my 4th room in 2 days. Since I was wheeled out of the sonographer’s room and into delivery we’ve been down to maternity and back up again twice. Your Dad is home catching a few moments sleep and seeing Lachie. The poor kid lost his parents to this hospital in the blink of an eye and after last night’s midnight drama I think a bit of time together would be good for both their broken souls.
About last night’s goings on. Your Aunty Shell was with me when the doctor came in to examine me at about ten and for the third time in two days, a third medico looked at me aghast and said “It’s going to happen any minute. At 23 weeks she won’t survive,” or words to that effect. I felt completely pummelled and exhausted, and finally broke down. I finally grabbed hold of the thoughts that had been floating through my mind since Friday and I couldn’t stay calm and stoic anymore. My positivity was all dried up.
The doctor kept reassuring me “Please don’t be upset. It’s not your fault.” As he wheeled me up in the lift I begged him once again for the odds of your survival while your Aunt rang Dad and Ma. He had no better news and his delivery was far less optimistic than the previous two doctors, (which were pretty dire anyway). “Her odds of survival are one in a hundred. Her odds of being in tact if she survives are 1 in 100. And even then it would be likely she’d have some ongoing issues that need physio therapy.”
Dad turned up and I was glad to see him, but felt a pang of guilt at the same time. He so desperately wanted you. When we found out your sex he was so thrilled to be having a little girl. There’s just something about having a daughter that makes men soften. He implored the doctor to do something, but the doctor told us there was no solution. Babies just don’t survive out of the womb the same way at this gestation. If you make it to Tuesday, you have a chance, he said. But I don’t think you’ll make it through the hour. And even if we held out till Tuesday the challenges will be enormous.
Grandad and Ma arrived – they have a little experience – and by now I was pretty inconsolable. I kept telling them you are healthy and strong right now as you are. You are safe inside me. I couldn’t let that feeling go. Again, Dad asked what can we do? The doctor said nothing. We can’t resussitate babies until they are 24 weeks. The dye was cast, or so it seemed.
And yet the hours past and you didn’t come. We slept for a while – I was desperate to go to the bathroom but terrified that if I did I would go into labour and all would be lost.
As I napped, your brother lay in bed with Aunty Shell at Ma’s house, hopefully sleeping much more peacefully than me. Your Dad lay next to me on a tiny hospital bed but he wasn’t snoring so I know he was awake. And I dreamed a dozy, dazy dream. The guns and roses song sweet child of mine was drifting in the air as a white lilly floated on a pink cloud. It was a hallucinogenic, sleep deprived, hysteria induced vision and now it’s all I can think about. Its taking my mind off what will likely happen to you sometime today, (although to be fair you have utterly defied the doctor’s predictions so far and lasted a full 2 days beyond what was predicted.)
This afternoon my own OB came back from his holiday to see how I was doing. On a Sunday, a precious day off, he cut short his getaway to check in on me. His manner is always calm and consistent and today that is comforting. (Of course on Friday when he told me you wouldn’t survive his manner unnerved me greatly).
He has spent his weekend away on the phone to anyone who will listen to try and get us a place at a level 3 hospital to give you a chance should you make it to Tuesday. He has phoned every state in Australia and two in New Zealand, calling in favours from university buddies from decades ago. Finally an old friend from his residency answered a message a few minutes ago. We are off to the Royal North Shore Hospital, not far from here at all, and now, he says, there is hope. I am sceptical because it seems for the last 48 hours I have had a parade of doctors tell me there is none, but he assures me they wouldn’t take up a valuable bed in the NICU if they didn’t think our chances weren’t worth fighting for. I have little time to think about the poor mother who will miss out on a bed for her baby because we got in first. For you, for your chances in this life, I will do anything.
We are in the ambulance and every bump is terrifying. Every jolt feels like it could spur you into action and out of the safety of my body. My canular is stinging as I grip tightly to the rails of my bed and the ambo sitting next to your dad in the cab is humming a familiar tune. Sweet Child of Mine. I will not let you go.
I turn to your Dad, and inexplicably I say “It’s time for some positivity.” And right then in that moment I knew it would be okay.
You woke up early this morning after a nightmare. A New Guinean tribal doll you found in my cupboard, (Grandad had bought it back for me from Port Moresby on a business trip when I was 8), has terrified you and the last few nights you have crawled into bed with us for a cosy warm cuddle. Even at this hour you are too full of life, wriggling around so your Dad and I get no sleep. But I remind myself that you are growing up so quickly and each moment with you is one I won’t get back. You are fond of telling us all how big you are now – big girl bed, no nappies anymore, going to kindy and ballet. You’re not a baby you keep telling me. And silently I tell you, as I tell Lachie all the time that you will always be my baby. Every day of every year forever more.
You are really going through some big changes with your third birthday around the corner. You want a tea party and a little pony rainbow cake. You are so very civilised and feminine at the tender age of almost 3. Except that lately you have been a little more stubborn. You’ve always, always, been determined. Even assertive. And though I thought we had escaped the terrible twos it appears I have well and truly got a threenager in my midst. We have been butting heads far more than usual and I’m hoping it will pass and we will figure each other out again. Of course, you have such a charm and charisma about you that we all forgive your tantrums and foot stomping. Yesterday you bit me, hit me, threw and epic tantrum as we left the gym, (your brother rolled his eyes at that one), refused to wear a pull up for your much needed nap and in the process smeared poo all over your room when you tried to clean up an accident yourself. But really, I would say it was a pretty wonderful day. Your brother calmly explained to you that tantrums don’t help to get your way, and if you are frustrated you should just talk to Mummy and tell her what is bothering you. (He does love to protect you). And by the end of the day as we sat in your new big girl bed and read stories your brother and I were completely mesmerised by your shining light once again.