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Crushed

Grief can be as defining as joy. As raw and intense as that gut wrenching belly laughter you share with a close friend. The kind that goes on long after the funny is extinguished and you’re left laughing at the sound of your laugh and the taste of the involuntary tears streaming down your face. 

When I bought the test, it wasn’t because I needed to find out, it was because I knew I was carrying my baby. The test was so that I could tell my husband and close family that we were expanding. Growing in joy. 
The look on our little boy’s face was one of absolute uncensored delight when we told him. He knew before I did, though. Talking to my jelly belly any chance he got. He’s been ready to be a big brother for a while now. And what an awesome big brother he would be!! 
So off I trot to the first gynea appointment. Our first Skype date with number two, excited for the sound of a galloping heart beat and delighting in the anticipation of puzzling out the black and white grayness of our first scan. So I weigh in, wee in a bottle, tick off boxes with the awesome Sister who instils instant confidence, skip into the doc’s room and flesh out my history all the while eager to put the stupid gown on and get the show on the road. And then it’s time… Up I jump, my front row seat to this new chapter of ours and then…….
Nothing
Nada
Panic
‘It may be too early to see the heart beat, don’t panic yet’ says the lovely Doc. The guy who put me at such ease from the get go.
Measure this, draw a line through that and ‘okay, get dressed and let’s chat back in my office’
So, not panicking (doctors orders) I throw my clothes back on and rush to my seat across from his. ‘The embryo’ he says ‘is far too little for where we’ve calculated you to be. So maybe we’ve missed a cycle and miscalculated. It happens. Let’s do some tests’. 
Fear
Sets
In
I gather my bravery and make for the lab. The sweet sister draws blood. And as the blood starts flowing, so do my tears. All I want is for this blood to bring me peace. Good news. Nothing to be panicked over. 
Everything 
A
Blur
I somehow manage to drive us home. My mom, a gentle pillar of strength by my side. Quiet. Offering strength. Holding me without touching me. 
When Sister Marlene calls, my heart sinks. 
I know
I’m broken
Death inside me
Everything stops. Except my tears. Except the gut wrenching sobs finding release. The tears and pain my only living connection to this little seed inside that will never grow. Because I’m heading back to Mr Doctor so that he can ‘remove the dead tissue’. 
My
Head
Hurts
I retreat. Withdraw. I cry. 
My folks fetch Emilio from school. Unbridled joy leaps through the house as they drop him off after treating him to a milkshake. Bouncing with constant babbling about his day and his sneaky milkshake with nonno and nonna. And, of course, about what toys the baby can have. And how he wants his baby to stay small. And how being a big brother means having ‘stwong’ bones and sharing. 
How
Do
Tell
Him
?
Carlos turns to me and says ‘is it just me or is he more fixated on baby tonight than ever?’ 
I nod.  It feels like it.  
But maybe it’s because we usually engage about baby with excitement and joy. Collectively. And now, his ignorance in this is the only joy surrounding this baby that we have left. And it only belongs to him. Because ours is crushed. 
How!
Do!
I!
Crush!
His!
Joy!
?
?
?
 
Tomorrow. 
I figure this out 
Tomorrow. 
I crush his joy
Tomorrow. 

A heartfelt apology to my son

My dearest little boy

 

You’re almost two and a half years old. I thank God every single day for blessing me with your presence in my life. But I need to apologise.

When I was growing up, we learned about the Big Five of the animal kingdom. And we got to actually see these awesome beasts. Because they were thriving, real and permanent. My sweet boy,  I’m teaching you about what sounds a lion makes and you ROOOOAAAAAARRRRRR back at me with such vigour that it makes me giggle. But inside I’m sad. Because I just don’t know if you’ll ever get to see a real one. And I’m even less sure that you’ll be able to show your children one day. They’re in danger, baby. Because not all people have the same love and respect for them as we do. The respect and love I’m trying to raise you in. I can’t answer why. I can’t tell you what motivates some peoples disrespect and ego. But I can tell you that it’s wrong, and I am sorry.

The planet is so sick darling boy. And I wish I could tell you that it’s nobody’s fault… but I can’t. It is OUR fault angel. As innocent and beautiful and ignorant to the evils as you are… even you have a part to play. The bottled water you drink (more my fault than yours), the nappies we’re trying to get you out of,  the fun little cups you play with after eating your not so natural yogurt, even some of the toys you play with have hurt our planet. The clothes you wear are sometimes made of synthetic materials that are not meant to be worn. The food you eat is pumped full of stuff that’s not so good for us… or the planet. The list just goes on and on. And I’m so very sorry big guy. I really am… because this is not how we are made. We are born to love and respect. Something has gone terribly wrong.  It started so slowly – nobody seemed to notice. It became so convenient, that nobody wanted to complain… and it is now so far gone that there are too many politics in the way of it actually getting fixed. It would take too much of our precious time to explain those politics to you, and I don’t want to fill your head with the horror stories involved… but I can tell you that it’s wrong, and I am so sorry.

Our country is such a sad place at the moment, baby boy. Our leaders are mean. They don’t love us or respect us. They don’t care about us or the planet. They care about money, and power. They say a whole bunch of stuff and make all kinds of promises, but they never keep them. Breaking a promise is a big deal, my son. A very big deal. I need you to know that! I need you to live that! Because it’s the mark of any good man. It’s what sets you apart from the bad guys. Doing what you say you’re going to do is a matter of honour. I would love to give you a living example of that honour in our current leadership baby, but I can’t. I was 12 when the greatest man to be born into this beautiful country walked free and did great things for the beautiful people living here. His name was Nelson Mandela. It is a name you will hear a lot. A name you will come to revere and love and honour. He went to heaven last year just in time for a big Christmas party with the angels. We need to remember him, baby. We can’t ever forget him. Because he is the biggest and greatest example of love and respect we have. And we hold on to love. We hold on to respect… because we must. I won’t get in to why we’ve strayed so far from his ideals, my boy. It makes me too sad. But I can tell you that it’s wrong, and I am so very sorry.

I grew up listening to music. Great music with great lyrics (lyrics are words, angel – words that you sing). Even while I was growing up there were some silly songs… but I was lucky enough to have your nonno around to play all kinds of wonderful songs to me. Songs with words that made me happy, some made me sad, some made me think, others made me mad. But all these songs were powerful because they were about something. People sang about love, they sang about struggle and pain, they sang about silliness… but they wrote songs because they had something to say. Something they wanted to share with all of us. And I’m so glad they did! Today, it seems, people are writing songs because they have something to prove. My guess is that music videos are the motivation behind a song. Today people sing about nothing. They find a melody and they fill it with nothing – with words that just don’t make any sense. Then they add repetitive beats to it that are designed to kill brain cells, and they make a mini movie where they run around naked and see how many tweets they get from their fans. I can’t explain why they do this my boy… I wish I could… but I can tell you that it’s wrong…. And I am so desperately sorry.

I’m going to end this letter to you now. Because I’d hate for you to read it in 12 years’ time and roll your eyes at me and tell me to get with the program because I’m just old fashioned and what do I know about all this stuff anyway? I’m hoping that won’t be the case, son. I really am. Because my only pre-requisites for you in this life are to operate out of love and respect. What ever you choose as your path… whether you want to be a bus driver, a golfer, a ballet dancer or a president – always let love and respect guide you. Because if you do, you can’t go wrong… and you won’t ever have to be sorry.

I love you so very much.

Mom 

Wake Up And Smell The Kah-Kah

Wake Up And Smell The Kah-Kah.

Wake Up And Smell The Kah-Kah

I’m a bit of a news junkie.

I don’t know why I keep going back for more… it just ends up depressing me!

A Facebook friend of mine posted an article she had read on a news site I happen not to follow online. It immediately drew my attention and I clicked on the link. I’ve been spinning ever since!

The story covers South African women who are drinking copious amounts of cheaply made alcohol (called KAH – KAH) while pregnant, in order to qualify for a disability grant (which amounts to R1200 a month as opposed to the R250 they’d receive if their baby was healthy). For the record, this has been happening for quite some time. I have no idea why I’ve only learned of this now. As informed as I am, I had no idea that this was such a pandemic in this country. Maybe I just didn’t want to know. Maybe I wanted to hang on to my faith in human kind. Maybe I just couldn’t bring myself to accept that a mother would deliberately harm her baby. Maybe I’m speaking out of turn.

I’m well aware of the diabolical poverty that the majority of South Africans live and suffer through every day. By no means am I disregarding that fact. I know the statistics are unfathomable and that most of these children end up resorting to a life of crime in order to sustain and survive. But this is where I draw the line. SURELY this could be eradicated? If government were to open their eyes and acknowledge what is happening, surely they could take Foetal Alcohol Syndrome off of their disability grant ‘list’? I know that the other side to this is that the child would end up suffering even more, but surely a mother who is binge drinking for the sake of a monthly income isn’t thinking about spending that money on her baby to begin with? I can’t see the logic behind wanting a better financial future for your child while you’re ensuring that he/she will live with the consequences of your selfishness for the rest of his/her life anyway? Someone please explain this to me, because I do not understand.

A disability grant is something someone should apply for because their child is in need of assistance. Not because they have inflicted that disability upon their own children. I cannot – for the life of me – understand how a mother could pre-meditate a life of suffering for her child. Isn’t there a book somewhere that classifies this as a crime? Someone? Anyone? Help me understand! Because in my hypothetical perfect world, if action were taken and grants denied for inflicting pain, suffering and neglect onto one’s child – would this behaviour not eventually stop? Especially if and when said grant was applied for and denied and the mother was removed from society and stripped of all her rights for being the worst kind of criminal? Isn’t it really as simple as testing a mother for alcohol abuse, ascertaining that the child suffers from Foetal ALCOHOL syndrome and not granting that mother a ‘reward’ for her despicable behaviour? I realise that this would result in an initial influx of orphaned children for the state to take care of, but surely the long term effects would stamp this particular form of abuse out?

I’m not naïve. I know that people will go to any lengths in order to survive. But surely it is the duty of the Powers That Be to take action against a known ploy to access funds that could be better utilised by deserving families? I know how callous and cold that sounds. It’s not the fault of the innocent child who was born into this world under cruel and deliberate measures for their mother’s self-gain.

But as I reasoned before: What is the likelihood of an alcoholic mother using that money for the benefit of her child? I know that where there is a benefit system, there will be people who abuse it. But at who’s expense? Surely not that of your unborn child. Abuse the system if you must, but your child? 

After reading about this situation, I immediately contacted one of my best friends. I was outraged! She’s one of my ‘rant’ buddies and she always has a way of making sense of the world. After chatting to her, I always feel better. She’s a Hindu woman who has been my spiritual go-to girl for many years. I asked her why. I demanded to know how someone could be so evil. I out right declared my hatred for human beings. And, true to her beautiful nature, she gave me an explanation that had me in awe of these innocent lives that were being destroyed by their very own mothers. She said: ‘Rose, this is Kali Yug! I know it’s hard to swallow, but those souls did choose their lives before they were conceived. The suffering is awful… those mothers – their karma!! But they did choose it and after this lifetime they would have diminished many a lifetime of accumulated Karma! In India, people maim and blind their children so they can beg… you and I would cringe in pain at the thought of it! Where is hell truly?”. WHERE INDEED?

It got me thinking. I’ve always believed that we choose our parents. I just never gave much thought as to why – by virtue of my belief in this choice – a soul would choose to be born into abject poverty and suffering. Karma is something that, whether you subscribe to it or not, subscribes to you. Unequivocally. Karma, I understand. Karma, I take comfort in. So, before I start sounding like Yoda I’d like to offer up my greatest respect to those souls who have been brave enough to step into hell and endure its beatings. I sincerely hope and pray that the end of your road is shrouded in peaceful bliss and that happiness surrounds you for as long as you roam!

To those wretched mothers, may your Karma bitch-slap you for an eternity. That is all.

And to the South African Government: WAKE UP AND SMELL THE KAH – KAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SOURCE: http://news.sky.com/story/1033939/south-africa-women-drinking-to-harm-babies

A Tribute To A Lady

A few weeks ago, my aunt passed away. She was an amazing lady who was full of life. She turned 70 last year and I remember thinking wow, you really are the youngest 70 year old I know. She loved to chat – about absolutely anything. She was always on top of life, keeping in touch with every member of our family and always willing to share stories of her and her siblings growing up (because my dad never talks about his childhood – not because it was a bad one, just because getting him to talk is such hard work that we just always relied on good old aunty Shirls to fill in the gaps). She loved to laugh and share memories. Always going into minuscule detail about everything she remembered. I’d sit glued to her, hanging on to every word. I’m going to miss that. Just the luxury of being able to pick up the phone and hear her vibrant voice on the other end, which was always a giggle away from making me smile. I wish I had called her more often. She moved away – down to the coast – and seeing her as often as we once did became a question of 600kms. Distance. That ever present separator.

Tumours. 6 of them. In her brain. Her lucid memory bank and wealth of knowledge riddled with malignant time bombs tick tick ticking away.  It was really difficult to digest the fact that it was happening. So hard to accept that my vibrant aunt’s beautiful brain had been hi-jacked by cancer. The doctors had ruled out treatment, it was too far gone. The drugs would make her ill and uncomfortable – and what would be the point? The cancer would win anyway. Why prolong the inevitable if it would only make her more ill?

 My cousins – her three kids – are scattered between Australia, Johannesburg and Durban. Their coming together to make decisions on the end of their mother’s life is a task I both admire and dread with my whole heart. Their heart-breaking strength and courage. Their undeniable love of this woman – their mother. Their whole-hearted support of one another. They had decided on a beautiful facility where she would wait it all out.  The tumours, you see, wasted no time. 6 weeks from the date of diagnosis, and she was gone. Peacefully released from the confines of her body – that had let her down the last few years with broken bones hindering her energetic life.

My sister and I made the trip down to say goodbye to her. Seeing her reduced to the dependence on nursing staff for her daily living was beyond heart-breaking. I remember standing at her side thinking how cruel! Of all the things to take away from her – why her voice? Her memories all clearly still alive! The look of recognition in her eyes. The tears streaming down her cheeks. The ever-reliable greeting smile I’ve loved my whole life. She knows what’s happening to her and isn’t even able to say her goodbyes. It made me angry. It made me sad. It was hard enough seeing her lying on that bed unable to move – but unable to speak!!?? It broke my heart. I don’t know if it was my imagination or if I really did see a burning desire buried behind her tears to just get out of that bed and hug us. My son made the trip with us, the last time she had seen him was at her 70th birthday party last year. A very different version to the current busy body with his booming little voice taking charge of everyone within ear shot. She saw him, she heard him, she smiled, she cried. I desperately wanted to put him in her arms and say “here, aunty Shirl! My little boy! Can you believe how much he’s grown?”  I couldn’t bring myself to reconcile the shadow of her former – self with my memory and knowledge of what my aunt was! When the news arrived, that she had breathed her last breath – there was a sense of unwelcome relief that her fight was over. That her dignity had been restored. That she hadn’t suffered any pain or dealt with this new bed-ridden existence for too long. Still, a desperate sadness flooded my heart.

We made the journey down to the coast to say our final goodbyes and pay our ultimate respects. Her memorial service was held in the morning and that evening, the family was getting together for dinner at a great restaurant on the beach that would be her final earthly destination.

I poured myself a glass of white wine (my aunt’s most favourite thing) and quietly clinked it against my sister’s glass saying “To Aunty Shirls”. Smiling back at me, like only my sister can – with her big blue eyes on the verge of tears, she clinked back in reply “To Aunty Shirls”.

When dinner was done, we walked down to the beach where we were going to say our last goodbyes to my incredible aunt. It was a beautiful walk. From the restaurant, there was a garden leading onto a wooden bridge-like pathway that carried us over a lagoon. The wind was blowing a chilly bite but the stars were blinking brightly and the sea was crashing loudly. We hit the beach sand and there was a marquis set up to our left. Great music was playing and the disco lights were bouncing off the waves. Aunty Shirls would’ve loved that. Her youngest son, held the tiny box containing her remains. It looked so heavy in his arms. The weight of his loss and pain heavy in his eyes and heart. He turned to us and said “does anyone want to say anything?” We each said our goodbyes and he turned towards the sea with his mom in his arms. At the very moment that he threw her ashes, I swear the wind stopped dead. Took a breath. It was incredible to watch the empty space above the waves welcome her ashes and as they fell to the ground, a massive wave came and took her away! It was perfect. It was magical. It was over.

With time doing its thing and taking the sting out of the pain of her passing as the weeks have gone on, there’s a distinct gap reserved just for her that will never be filled. A colourful gap, that speaks of her enormous presence in my life. A presence, I am coming to understand, that will always be there.

I miss her every day. And, every day, she bounces around my thoughts and always leaves a smile on my face. Even if that smile is accompanied by tears. How do you say goodbye to a woman whose examples of courage and honour walk with you every day? It’s simple, you don’t. So I won’t.

What I will say, is: happy trails to my aunty Shirley, whose laughter, joie de vivre and beauty will always be in my heart. To my Aunty Shirley, who can finally walk on wonky surfaces without ever having to break another bone. To my Aunty Shirley, who lived her life with a class and grace that I’ll always aspire to. To my Aunty Shirley, who was always ready with a smile on her face and love in her heart no matter what life threw at her.

Thank you, Aunty Shirley, for being a constant light in my life.

Rest In Peace

A hop, skip and bounce to meeting my son.

A hop, skip and bounce to meeting my son..

A hop, skip and bounce to meeting my son.

 I could write a whole book on my pregnancy and delivery – I suppose a blog will have to do!

I spent my entire pregnancy reading article after article on pregnancy and child birthing options. I often joke with my family and friends saying “I got my PHD in pregnancy”. It was decided. I was going to have a natural delivery with as few drugs as humanly possible and I was going to walk out of hospital with my healthy new born baby, a wide smile and a pocket full of labour pain stories to pull out at my friends’ baby showers. Alas, as are most of life’s little surprises, this was not to be.

Like most women shop for shoes, I shopped for a gynea. Truth be told, I fell in love with the first doctor I saw. He was an old man (I’m thinking – this dude’s caught millions of babies), who was soft spoken and patient. As a first timer he answered all my questions with a knowing nod and gentle smile and never made me feel like he was in a hurry (which was almost always the case with the amount of women in the waiting room by the time my name got called). With his gentle reassurance, I walked out of his rooms after our first consultation with the first picture of my baby and a quiet confidence that I was with the right doctor.

He died! Before our next scan I received a phone call from his rooms advising me to look for another doctor because the old man had delivered his final baby and had moved on to greener pastures. Well, as any reasonable pregnant woman would, I took it personally. Nothing quite like a cocktail of change and uncertainty to get the hormones raging their ever-rational tantrums about. And so the shop began.

I was directed to a woman by the late doctor’s offices who was very…what’s the word? Aloof!! She seemed quite happy to jelly up my belly, scan it, print pictures and shepherd me to the door… all my questions were met with short one word answers and an impatience that didn’t sit well with me. Disgruntled, I walked out of that consultation thinking “what the hell was that??” luckily, my partner didn’t like her either (as at this point I couldn’t trust my feelings because they were shrouded in hormonal doubt), so off we went… on a mission to find the perfect person to bring my baby into the world. And then…. We found her…. A midwife that would grant us the water-birth we wanted and the peace of mind that a HUMAN BEING was on the other end of our proverbial tunnel. She was perfect! Cheerful, encouraging, supportive, patient and kind. Yes! She was the one! She managed to get my baby’s face on the scan with chubby little cheeks forming and printed it out… it was awesome. A week before my next scan with her, she called me in tears saying that she was no longer able to take on deliveries and that she was very sorry but I’d have to find someone else! D E V A S T A T E D, I asked her who she could recommend and who she trusted, and she gave me a gynea’s number saying “I hope he can take you, he’s very busy since (my first gynea) died”.

Just great! I was 5 months along and didn’t have a clue as to who was going to deliver my child. This wasn’t the plan. The plan was to walk the 40 week road with ONE person who I could develop a relationship and feel secure with. So, I picked up the phone to make an appointment with Dr. Busy and managed to get an appointment. WHEW. This was it; I was NOT changing gyneas again!!! So off we go, to meet the man who would see us through to delivery and I started ALL over again giving him my history and birthing wish list to which he replies “I don’t do water births. We’ll see closer to the time if you’re able to push, but I prefer C – Sections”. I NEARLY SCREAMED! But by this stage, I wasn’t prepared to find someone else… emotionally it was just too taxing. I made sure he knew how I felt about having a C section. I wanted this done the natural way! If I couldn’t do it in water, I’d accept that, but PUSH I WILL!! I wasn’t comfortable with this man… When I asked him if he’d wait 5 minutes before clamping the umbilical cord he barked at me! “Even animals bite the thing off! No! It comes off immediately!!” I was so upset! It’s not like I asked him to leave the after-birth attached until it naturally fell off! All I wanted was an extra 5 minutes of his precious time so that my baby could get the benefits of the stem cells still actively transferring from cord to body! AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH ok FINE! Let’s do it YOUR way, it’s not like this is MY choice, or MY first experience giving birth! Breathing deeply, I let that go… telling myself it’s too late in the game to be jumping ship again. So I stayed. And he agreed that he’d do his very best to help me through a natural delivery. Two thumbs up, I waved goodbye. At our next month’s scan, I climbed on the scan bed and saw my file lying next to me. Waiting for him I asked my wonder-man to pass it to me and opened it up – only to find that Dr. I-don’t-do-water-births-or-wait-to-clamp-the-umbilical-cord had me down on file as being 31 weeks, when in fact I was 34. I queried this when he walked in and he said it was difficult to say because the most accurate scan would have been my 12 week scan and since he didn’t do it, he was going according to what HIS scans were telling him. (Even though I had given him my first gynea’s due date). So, he’d see me in a month he said. To which I replied “but I’ll be 36 weeks in two weeks, aren’t we supposed to see each other at least every 2 weeks for the last 4 weeks?” to which HE replied “I’m the doctor, see you in a month”. Yes, yes, you ARE the doctor. But I AM THE PATIENT and without ME and people LIKE me you wouldn’t be driving that fancy-too-big-for-your-boots-car now would you?? In any event, who was I to argue? Again AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH! I had settled – yes – settled for this man… and I was going to see it through… WITH this man!

My water broke one very cold, very early morning. From the education I had tenaciously given myself, I knew that this was NOT how it should start! I was only 37 weeks!!! It wasn’t time! I’m supposed to go into labour first!!!! And where’s all the water? What’s this annoying constant trickle down my thigh supposed to achieve? Still, an excitement rose up in me and I could hardly contain myself with the thought that I would be meeting my ninja-boy-child in a few hours time!! I was beaming!!! Despite the fact that I was about to, for all intents and purposes, go through a painful labour – the hectic contractions I read and read about, I was supercharged with the idea that I was about to become someone’s mommy. So off we went, bags packed (in advance – of course), pilates ball in the back seat and a belly full of butterflies (no contractions). I arrived at the hospital and was informed that my gynea was on leave – fishing he was – somewhere far away from here. Of course he is! Why wouldn’t he be? A short, vibrant nurse came in and checked how far I’d dilated. 2cms. Good… it’s a start. “should I get the induction drip set up?” she asks. Huh? What do you mean? Induce me? But I’ve only just walked in!! And who’s going to deliver my baby?? “we’re trying to get a hold of Dr Not-Here’s stand in, she’s not answering her phone but you have lots of time. Just relax and let us worry about reaching her.” confused, I looked to my wonder-man and we decided that we’d walk around and bounce on the ball to get the contractions going… and so the marathon began… we took a long, brisk walk (more like waddle waddle, trickle trickle) around the outside of the hospital. Up past the school next door, round the dodgy block, and back to the entrance of the hospital… we did this a few times until I just couldn’t anymore…. Besides…it’s a big block, wonder-man was hungry and I needed to change my pants! So back to the hospital we went, no contractions yet…and in walks the larger than life tiny little nurse to see our progress…. STILL 2cms!! “I’m getting the drip ready” she says. “your water’s broken dearie, this baby has to come within 24 hours or he’ll go into distress” – BUZZ WORDS!!! Yes!! Bring the drip… let’s do this. So, in comes the drip and, with it, a wash of anxiety. This isn’t how this should be going!!! After the drip was set up, I felt really sleepy…. I’d been up forever already and it wasn’t even lunch time… I decided to lie down and nap knowing full well I’d need all the energy I could muster to push later on. As I set my head down on the lumpy hospital pillow, I felt it – WHAM – a contraction! Energy restored… I got onto the ball and started bouncing. Keep ‘em coming  I thought  let’s get this show on the road. Bounce bounce bounce…. Another contraction…. More intense… but manageable. Bounce bounce…. Another…. The same…. An hour later the nurse arrived with her dreaded gloved hand to check, once again, how far we had come – 2cm!!! WHAT? You have GOT to be kidding me.  Frantic bounce commences! It’s 5pm. My water broke 12 hours ago. And I’ve dilated a whole 2cms all day. Super-nurse comes in and says she’s run me a bath. A hot one. It’ll help with the dilating. So, towel and toiletries in hand, I waddle to the bathroom and inch into the tub. A contraction hits and I hum through it ignoring the strange looks my wonder-man is giving me. Whatever works for me, right? He washes my back and helps me out of the bath – another contraction hummmmmmmmmmm. And so the bath worked! My contractions were coming in and I just knew that it was almost time. Back on the bed and the gloved hand approaches. I smile at her with a hopeful gleam. Why’s she so serious? Why no returning smile? 2cms. “I’m sorry lovey, there’s no change. We’re going to have to cut.” WHAT??????? HOW????????????? WHY?????????????? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My heart broke. Shattered into a zillion pieces. By this stage my mom had arrived and I remember her holding me and telling me that everything was going to be ok. Amazing how those words coming out of anyone else’s mouth would have sent me into a raging tantrum about how NOT ok this was! I managed to pull myself together as the paperwork rolled in. signing away, I remember thinking at least the trickle trickle is almost over with! Dry pants! How exciting!! Dumbass!

7pm and the doctor walks in to introduce herself. She’s been briefed by the staff – she knows I’ve had a rough day and that this wasn’t part of the plan. “it’s ok” she says “I’m gonna take care of you”. My wonder-man leaves to go and put on his sexy scrubs leaving me with my mom and the nurse who’s getting me ready to head for the labour ward. I get rolled into the elevator and out into the place where it was all going down. I wave to my mom, standing nervously just outside the door. Next time I see you, I’ll be a mama too!!

 The anaesthesiologist walks up behind me and is about to insert the spinal block. “sit very still and slouch your back” he says. I look at the gynea in front of me “is it going to hurt?” I ask “it’ll feel like you’re having blood drawn” she replies. I can handle that. I ask him to give me a minute because I feel a contraction coming. He does. Huuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It’s over. “ok” I say “I’m ready”. In goes the needle and an involuntary scream of elemental primal origins erupts from my body.  The entire left hand side of my body goes up in flames. I have NEVER felt anything like that in my life. My left leg was on fire! Something’s gone wrong. This isn’t right! The pain was so intense that my vision turned orange by association of the fire taking place in my leg. “TAKE IT OUT!!! MY LEG!!!!!! MY LEFT LEG!!!!!! BURNING!!!!!!!!!!” He removes the needle and I feel instant relief. I look at the gynea and ask “what the fuck was that?” “it’s ok, the needle must have gone in skew. Let’s try again” she says. Again? Frikking hell!!! And that took the expression ‘hitting a nerve’ to a whole new level! Another contraction hits and I glare at the anaesthesiologist. Humming through the contraction, I’m quite sure that the look on my face tells him everything he needs to know about how much faith I have in his so-called abilities. Once the contraction’s over, I say “you know what? I’ve had a rough day! Why don’t you just put me out and wake me when it’s all over. I don’t think I can handle much more today”. “Let’s just try one more time” he says and before I can say “NO” the needle’s in… no mess no fuss.  And that was the last time anyone in that room said a word to me. My wonder-man was allowed into the room and was reassured by one of the theatre sisters that the first needle went in skew but everything was ok. He heard my scream and tried to get to me, but was stopped and told that he wasn’t allowed in just yet. Lying there, unable to feel my legs, I closed my eyes and the tears started streaming. I was so tired. And it had been such an emotional day. A lesson I thought in how making hard and fast plans only makes the disappointment of them not going your way that much harder to bare.  And now here I was, in a bright, cold room, lying on a table, numb from the waist down and about to become a mother. It was all so surreal. I shared a few intimate looks with my wonder-man. But that’s the only contact I had with anyone in that room. All the while, being cut open, no one said a word to me. Not “we’re going through this layer”, not “how are you feeling?”, not even a “are you excited to meet your little boy?”… nothing. Just the constant inane chatter between this stranger-gynea and the fascinated-by-having-a-woman-to-talk-to anaesthesiologist buzzing around the already loudly buzzing sterile room. The only indication I had that my son was about to come out was the gynea saying in Afrikaans “hier kom die gogga” (“here comes the bug”). And that’s how I was to learn that the time was close.

 Next thing I heard was the sweet symphony of my son’s crying little voice. I’ll never forget that sound. The minute I heard it the whole world suddenly made sense.  They whisked my baby out of me and took him to the paediatrician who did his first APGAR test. 10 out of 10 (of course). My wonder-man was frantically filming my baby’s first moments out of my belly in this room with the very bright lights. I turned to him and said “please bring him to me. Bring me my baby!!”. The paed brought him to me and placed him on my chest and the flood gates opened. Here he was. My life! I stared into his eyes with the hazy tearful vision that was more crystal clear than any other moment in my life. My son. He looks just like my dad!!! And then they took him away. My wonder-man followed him out of the theatre and it was just me. Empty. Alone in this room with these people I didn’t want to be with. These people who still hadn’t spoken to me. And I realised no one’s called the time of birth!!!  I turned my head and found the clock on the wall. It was 19h50. Ten to eight. And that’s the time that stuck in my head. Not the actual time he was born. Because no one had bothered to record that! I don’t know what time it was that I finally asked “are we nearly done? When can I see my son?” interrupting the ever important conversation that Dr. i’m-gonna-take-care-of-you and the nerve hitting anaesthesiologist were having. “We’re just stitching up your skin. You’re almost done” and back to their conversation they went. It was God they were talking about. About how the Christian God was the only god, and that it would be really funny to witness Muslims getting to their ultimate destination and not finding what they were expecting to find. I was appalled. I remember lying there thinking this is the most inappropriate conversation I have ever had the misfortune of being subjected to. Having to listen to their incessant chatter the entire time I was on that table left me feeling robbed. Wasn’t this supposed to be a sacred space shared by people who were there solely to bring a new life into the world? Isn’t that supposed to be special? I don’t care how many babies you’ve delivered. When you’ve lost the magic and ceased to feel the miracle of the moment, you should trade in your gloves for golf clubs. SERIOUSLY!! And if you don’t, then the least you can do is pretend to be caught up in the spirit of the moment.

Finally I get moved over to the bed that would wheel me back to my room. To my family. To my new-born-life. As the nurses were about to get me into the elevator I heard the anaesthesiologist say “sjoe lady, you gave me a fright!” WHAT?? I gave YOU a fright? Your little ‘mistake’ caused me the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced in my life and I gave YOU the fright? UGH! I glared at him. I wasn’t about to get into it with him. I was tired and emotional and all I wanted to do was get to my baby so that I could hold him and put him on my breast for the first time. The look on my face was all it took for him to back the hell off and let the nurses take me to my new-born-family.

Now, those of you who know me, know that I have a flare for the dramatic. But let me assure you that no dramatic license has been taken in this account. I don’t remember the elevator ride back to my room. I just remember seeing my mom in the hall way. She was on her way back to my room after having seen her grand-son for the first time. No sight of my wonder-man, who didn’t leave his son’s side for a second! Feeling a little jealous, I was about to ask my mom to call him for me and then there he was! Our son in his arms. The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. In that moment I saw my wonder-man make the beautiful transition from my man to daddy. I fell in love with him all over again. He handed me our son – who still didn’t have a name – and I held him in my arms, kissed him all over his little face and stared at the wonder of genetics. My dad’s bald head staring back up at me. His eyes, nose and lips. Maybe it was because my dad was away at the time, and I missed having him there so much. But all I saw was the uncanny resemblance to my father. I inspected this little body with a reverence that was bordering on the obsessive. He has my wonder-man’s hands and feet.

 I’m a mom.

 With the door securely shutting out the rest of the world, I lay with my naked son on my chest and watched the miracle of survival play out before my eyes. My new-born baby boy shuffled down my chest and found my breast. His life-force. He latched! There aren’t enough words to describe how complete I felt in that moment. How absolutely aware of his dependence on me I was. The perfection that was my son washed the day away as if none of it had happened. As if the only moment that mattered in my whole life was this one.

This,

 was the best day of my life.