In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

Pretty in Pink

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From:       Kirstie
Subject:   Pretty in Pink
  Date:         19th September 2005
     Home, Cumbria, England


Well, a lot can happen in a year. Only last October we were packing our bikes, covering them in cling film, subjecting the boys to a scary selection of jabs and teaching them basic Samoan. Now our family adventure is complete with the arrival of Hannah Louise, a baby girl, born in the water, not on a bike.

It was both the hardest and the most beautiful part of the 2005 Wickes family adventure. Hannah entered our world at eleven o'clock, floating calmly and peacefully up out of the water while the full moon shone brightly outside. When I'd jokingly said 'she'll probably come out pedalling,' the midwife must have thought I said "she'll probably come out paddling" and put me down for a water birth.

Welcome to our world baby Hannah

After the trauma and speed of Cameron's arrival three years ago, the midwifery team had been on standby all day with the birthing pool ready. Everyone who came in to the labour suite, including the auxiliary nurse in charge of refreshments, seemed to have read my notes from last time, and were expecting to have to catch the baby as it shot out. But while last time it was a trolley dash and a wheelchair, this birth was chilled out and happy, much like the temperament of our new daughter.

Stuart managed to read the entire instructions of the tens machine while we lounged around in the hospital labour suite waiting for the process to speed up. "It says here 'Do not put electrical pads over your eyes.' Who the hell did that? Someone must have done it or it wouldn't be on the leaflet. Oh my God, look at this one. 'Do not put pads on the heads of children under twelve.' So children over twelve are fine then? Perhaps we can use this on the boys when they're teenagers." I was only half listening, as I was too busy wrenching the arm off the hospital rocking chair as contractions finally got underway.

"You have a high threshold for pain," said the midwife as she held her hand against my stomach to assess the strength of the contractions. "You have no idea," I answered, remembering some of the tougher moments of the last year; the windy gravel nightmare of Jack's Pass, the dull incessant grind of the Lindis Pass, the mental challenge of learning to sail in two days, and the merciless attacks by sandflies and mosquitos. "This baby was conceived on a bike," I informed the midwife between contractions. "I guess you must have a tandem then," she said helping me over to the pool.

"Hey Stuart, it's a girl," I commented as the baby floated up and past me in the water. A second later I was splashing around trying to get a second look at her. "Did someone just say it was a girl?" asked Stuart, white with shock. "Are you sure? Can you fish her out for a look?" The news was confirmed and the baby continued to relax in the water, her little blue body floating happily around and gradually turning pink as if to confirm the diagnosis.

"What shall we call her then?" Stuart sat on the rocking chair with the baby, trying to balance himself and the newborn with only one wooden armrest. We racked our brains to try and remember our shortlist for girls' names. We were so sure it would be a boy that we hadn't chosen one this time. While I got high on gas to avoid the pain of the midwife's embroidery needle we brainstormed some new and old favourites. "Well Cameron wanted Pig Maisy, and Matthew was keen on calling it Bubble. Although we could still go with Snooko, the original favourite." I squealed with laughter and greedily sucked in more gas and air.

Dad, why is this baby so pink?

We settled on Hannah, who came home with us to a joyful welcome from the boys, delighted they have a 'brother who's a girl.' As I lie her down in her crib to sleep, I think back to the last action-filled twelve months of biking, sand duning, sailing, swimming, camping, lugeing, and campervanning. Nothing (not even bungy jumping) could match the high of holding this soft, burping, milk guzzling bundle. When we started out last November, we never dreamed our family adventure would both end and begin again this way. Yes, a lot can happen in a year.


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