Introducing... Hunter Savage-Darling

I had had a big night, but knew that what I was feeling was not a normal hangover. My girlfriend Kirsty joked that perhaps I was pregnant, and as a hot flush took hold of me I knew she was right. I went to the chemist to buy a pregnancy test, and there in the bathroom we stared at each other wide eyed as it confirmed what I knew in my bones to be true. You were on your way.

I had just started at Arts Queensland, the Government body responsible for the administration of the Arts in our state- luckily my transfer from Mines and Energy was also state government, which meant that I was eligible for maternity leave. My new boss was pretty nice about only having me on board for five months, and my old boss was ecstatic for me- as were all my other friends. As one of the first of my friendship circle to fall pregnant, I had the benefit of starting from nothing, and also the problems of starting from nothing- while they were all super supportive there were times when I felt excluded and that was pretty hard to take, luckily for me my friends are pretty perceptive and also very understanding, and they really went out of their way to show me support.  

The day we first saw you- via the wonder of ultrasound- Lee and I were both in tears. You were really happening- a new adventure. While I was busy growing you, the world around us was busy making rain. Lots and lots of it. So much so that Brisbane had a huge ‘once in a lifetime’ flood event. We were safe, but some of our friends lost many possessions in the rising waters. Your daddy went sandbagging and Kali and I made snacks and huge coolers of drink for the volunteers. Once the waters receded we went to help Dermot and Kirsty clean their house. It was heartbreaking to see how many houses had suffered damage- and heartwarming to see the thousands of people joining together to help out- complete strangers helping one another. For a long time during my pregnancy I had wrestled with the fear that I was bringing you into a cruel and unusual world- this fear subsided the minute I saw the way the people responded to the flood crisis. Never before have I witnessed such a coming together of people, it was an amazing, uplifting moment.

I started to show pretty early, and consequently was pretty blunt to young able bodied people on the bus who refused to give up the disabled/elderly/pregnant seat for me. I threw up into a sick bag that I had accidentally/on purpose rested on the shoulder of one such person- He had looked me up and down as he took the last pregnancy/disabled seat- there was no way he could have failed to see my HUGE belly, and the red flush that crept up his neck, and the fact that he hid his face from me meant he knew he had acted shamefully. I trust that the repulsed shiver that shook his body as the hot wet liquid filled the bag resting near his face acted as brutal reminder to be polite and let those with swollen feet and bellys have the last seat on the bus.

I spent most of pregnancy vomiting into whatever was closest at hand, and, in between hurls, eating as much beetroot, pumpkin and Hot Fudge Sundaes as I could without appearing too crazy. I wouldn’t say I had cravings as such, but they snuck into my diet at far greater frequency than ever before so maybe I did… Whatever the case, one day at work I just couldn’t focus for thoughts of pumpkin, so I got up and walked out of the office to the food court under the Myer Centre. I searched every vendor for pumpkin and found none. I went to Broadway On The Mall, a chorus of ‘pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin’ filling my mind. And, finding none, moved on with an increasing level of distress to Queens Plaza. No luck- nor at McCarthur Central. Stress rising I found myself in the last mall- The Wintergarden. Tears stinging my eyes, I found one last piece of roast pumpkin for sale in a dodgy looking Carvery I would never have chosen to eat at prior to that moment. I pushed to the front of the line, not caring about the muttered comments of “she pushed in front!” and “rude” and asked for that glorious orange vegetable. I held my tray aloft like a prize and sat down to devour it. I ignored the texts from my work colleagues asking where I had run to at 10am in the morning, focusing purely on the devine morsel in front of me. Nothing has ever tasted so good.

Apart from what I can see with the benefit of hindsight was quite clearly a craving, I spent a lot of my pregnancy being super pissed that I had to give up smokes, booze and late nights in favour of growing a healthy bub. Not that that stopped me from going to parties, dressing up (I was particularly proud of my Laura Palmer costume- is it wrong to have gone to a 90's party as a dead girl wrapped in plastic while heavily pregnant? Maybe not wrong as such, but definately poor taste- awwww yeah!) and seeing bands. I wasn’t comfortable, but I wasn’t about to stop enjoying life either. One night at a Fevered gig, Mark Perry gave a hearty dose of kickdrum which made you jump, and after that I slowed down on the concerts. Yet, when it came down to I didn’t really mind as I knew my life had irrevocably changed the minute I saw the ‘positive’ sign on the pregnancy test. I guess it went without saying that you had merely hijacked my body in preparation for hijacking my heart.

Your Daddy and I hosted a huge baby shower, and all of our friends gave us wonderful gifts and wrote beautiful cards to you. I had asked every guest to share with you some words of wisdom, and so when you are old enough to understand, you will get to see that from the minute you came into existence everyone has wanted the best things for you and had love in their hearts for you. 

Everyone that is, apart from the cats. As my original babies, they were highly suspicious of my growing belly. Turpentine particularly took it upon herself to demean me at every opportunity, sitting on my bump as though it were there for her comfort or alternatively, sitting on my back as I kneelt forward to relive my back pain. Omen thought that your cot was a special sleeping area I had put aside just for him. They cared not when I came home disheartened to hear that you were breech and would most certainly have to be born via caesarean. The night before your due date I told them that they better be prepared for a life changing event because I was going to hospital in the morning to have a special procedure (ECV) to turn you from breech into normal position, but they just ignored me, as though I was just talking for the sake of it. I guess they figured out that I wasn’t joking when I got up at 2am, shaking Lee awake to the news that despite the plans for an ECV, my waters had broken and we had better go to hospital…

After a trouble free pregnancy we were disappointed to hear that you were in the breach position just four weeks out from your due date- and not just wrong way around but with one leg up and one leg down which is the only breach position that the Mater hospital will not allow mothers to have a natural birth with. We went in to the Mater to have a procedure (called an ECV) done to ‘turn’ you into the correct ‘head down’ position, prepared for the fact that it may end in a caesarean on the spot if you became distressed inside the womb- luckily for us a pre-procedure ultra sound showed that, cheeky little monkey that you were, you had turned himself and the procedure was not necessary at that time.

Fast forward to one day from the due date (which was estimated to be the 29th of June) when a final ultrasound showed that you had turned yourself back into the breach position! We had a meeting with a doctor who advised us to come in the next day for a last minute ECV and to be prepared to have an emergency caesarean. I wanted a natural birth and was pretty upset to hear the news- You must have known and decided to act- at 3am on the morning of the 29th my waters broke. Lee and I went to the Mater immediately as due to you being breach they advised against waiting at home for the contractions to come regularly. When we arrived the midwives told me that I would have to go in for a caesarean or be induced as my water had broken without you dropping into the correct position in the birth canal there was a high risk that your umbilical cord would come out before you did, and get compressed as you were born which would suffocate you. I chose to be induced, and rang my Mum to tell her to hurry if she wanted to be there with Lee and I for the birth. 

I was taken to a beautifully appointed birth suite and introduced to my midwife, a lovely lady by the name of Jo who bred horses and had the patience of a saint. At 8:30am they administered the drug, and by 2pm you were born. The birth was much less scary then I anticipated, I used only the gas and marshmallows to comfort me, but I was fiercely protective of the marshmallows and wouldn’t let anyone else have any. I reckon mum will never look at a marshmallow again without remembering me telling her off for sneaking one when she thought I wasn’t looking. Lee got to cut the cord and we both instantly fell in love with our wonderful little man. You were born looking as fresh and pretty as can be, and were declared by the midwife to be 100% healthy and perfect in every way. We were transferred to the ward where we expected to stay for two nights, but things didn’t quite go to plan…

On the 2nd of July while you and I were having a midday nap between guests, Lee went for a skateboard along the boardwalk at Southbank. He was rolling along, not doing any wild tricks or travelling at speed, when he fell of his board and landed at the perfect angle to shatter his left leg. He shattered his tibial plateau, and was rushed to the Princess Alexander hospital where x-rays revealed he had literally shattered the top part of his left tibia into pieces, and taken the whole top of the knee joint off… Lee was taken first to the Enoggera Base Hospital, and then to Wesley Private for reconstruction surgery. Lee had a localised bone graft, a titanium plate and ten screws inserted in his leg, and was advised that he would not be able to walk for at least eight weeks, and would need extensive physio.

Lee wasn't the only one having 'dramas'. I had a temporary issue with my bladder- I couldn't feel the need to pee. Too much information? Probably. Suffice to say it was temporary, but it did cause a lot of midwives and myself a lot of stress while it lasted. I also had problems breastfeeding, try as I might it just never clicked. So we stayed in hospital for seven days instead of the usual two, and came home two days before your Daddy did.

Moomoo braved the highway to drive us both home, and Kali and Dan stayed over to help out, as did Kirsty. Moomoo was with us when Omen and Turpentine first made your acquaintance, and Dan and Kali were put to the test as they were tasked with setting up the worlds most belligerent portacot. I still don't know how the managed it, it truly is the world's worst design. Kirsty came over with many delicious meals precooked for us, which, with the ones I had already prepared meant I didn't have to cook for almost three months. Our friends couldn't get enough of you- and neither could your Nannie or your Grannie. Nannie came to stay for a week, and Grannie stayed after that for three weeks. Both of whom did a great job at supporting me as I dealt with newborn you, and your zombie daddy (pain killers left him a bit fuzzy around the edges).

You slept in a portacot at the end of our bed, and right from the beginning were very happy to sleep for long stretches. I loved to lay with my head near yours and listen to you breathe. You would sigh in your sleep and my heart would soar- I loved hearing your voice. It took you a long time to regain your birth weight though, which was concerning. That was probably caused by the difficulties I had in breastfeeding you. I had bought a beautiful chair for the purpose of snuggling up with you for feeds, but instead it spent its first weeks of use as being the screaming throne. I took you to the doctor who advised that you were getting sick from dehydration, and that I should bottle feed you water and formula until I could pump enough breast milk to feed you properly. And so I went from breastfeeding, to expressing. You were happy to drink anything, and so had a rotating menu of water, breastmilk and formula. You regained your birthweight, and by your second month had gone up in size from preemie/0000 to newborn/000 sized clothes.

Every part of you was a wonder to me. I would spend very long periods of time studying your eyelashes, and your fingertips, amazed at how tiny you were. You had the smoothest skin. I love to stroke your belly, and feel the warmth of it on my hand, your heart fluttering like a tiny bird.

Every single day your Daddy and I looked at you with wonder. The joy of finally meeting you filled our days with loads of laughter, even though your Daddy was in a lot of pain. The keyholes from his surgery hadn't healed properly, as a result of a staph infection. Grannie Debbie stayed on to help look after all three of us, and we had a rotating roster of friends come to help out too. Your Nannie rang almost every day to find out how you were doing, and came over for high tea a bit too- any excuse to hug her first grandchild! Pa and Nan Barb were head over heels in love with you too- almost every weekend they came over just to look at you and hold you. They spoiled you rotten with beautiful gifts too- the giant teddy bear was one such gift, as were many of the clothes you wore. One of mummy's girlfriends, a talented photographer by the name of Claire Long, hand made you a beautiful outer-space rug and you spent a lot of time being baby Bowie-in-space. Every time it rained we sat on the back patio and listened to the rain together. I always think of my Daddy when it rains, and together you and I would snuggle in a blanket and chat to Grandpa Mike in heaven. The bottom right photo above is you, listening very hard to him telling you how much he loves you. Having you in my life has helped snap me out of the heartache that I had felt since my Daddy died, but I still miss him very much and know for a fact that he would have been your number one fan.

Everyday bought new adventures, one of my favorite was the day you figured out how to smile! I was holding you and and gently stroking your feet when I noticed your little face beaming up at me. I burped you, thinking perhaps it was just wind, because all cynics say babies have wind when they smile. But you did not have wind. You were just having a great time! I raced in to show Daddy and he was rewarded with a big smile too- this time, I captured it on film!

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful way to remember your journey. Precious x


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