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.