Looking Back and Laughing – Ten Years Later

We’ve been enjoying a TV show tonight about the Sydney Olympics which were held in 2000.  While remembering the Olympics we’ve also been remembering our own big challenge of the time.  On August 28, 2000 week 24 of my pregnancy with Eric I started bleeding and cramping.  I drove myself into Wickham Tce to see our dr where dh joined me to hear that “work was finished”.  I knew what he meant straight away but it took the dr two more tries to get through to dh.  No, I wasn’t going back to work next week.  No I wasn’t going back to work after the holidays.  I wasn’t going back to work.  Instead it was straight to the Mater Mothers Private for bedrest and medications to keep me from delivering Eric before he was meant to be here.  By the time the Olympics started on September 15 I was installed in my little room, allowed out of bed to use the bathroom and take a shower and only allowed to leave the room in a wheelchair.  The midwives counted the days with me as we all worked on keeping this very precious child exactly where he was for as long as possible.  Dh laughed at my constant trembling due to the liquid ventolin.  I laughed as I tried to choose paint colours for the baby’s room while not actually being in the house.  I saw the opening ceremony from the hospital but a few days later I was allowed out for “good behaviour”.  Unfortunately the Men’s 4 x 100 Freestyle a few nights later put an end to that.  In my defense, I was watching from the sofa bed in the living room but the excitement was too much and I ended up heading back to the hospital with more contractions.

And there I stayed for ten long weeks in all, having contractions every 2-3 days due to an irritable uterus.  Thinking back now, I think we were a bit protected from the enormity of what we were facing because we were first time parents.  Our baby did not arrive at 24 weeks.  He hung in there till 34 weeks and was born at a quite respectable 5lb 3oz.  After 4 weeks in the Special Care Nursery gaining the energy to feed we brought our little man home on December 12 and despite all that could have been he has never had a major health problem in the ten years that have followed.  The day after I arrived in hospital we were both taken on a tour of the Special Care Nursery and Intensive Care Nursery.  Sure we were in awe of what we saw there and knew we didn’t want to have our baby fighting for his life like these little scraps but if I went through those nurseries now I would probably be fighting back the tears knowing exactly what those parents were going through.

When we went down for a scan once a week every week for ten weeks and told the technician we didn’t want to know the sex of the baby just that it was still healthy, we didn’t know the things that could be discovered in such scans.  When he was delivered by c-section at 34 weeks I will always remember asking, “What is it? What is it?’

and the dr saying, “It’s a baby!” before lifting tiny Eric over the curtain, revealing him in all his “boyhood” and plonking him down on my face.

When the cabin fever got too much dh would hijack a wheelchair from somewhere in the hospital and take me out for “coffee”.  I don’t think the midwives knew that meant a trip right through the other adults hospital and across an entire car park then down in a lift to the Mater Private Coffee Shop.  We’d drink a cappuccino and try to pretend for a while that everything was normal.

In the almost ten years that have passed I’ve met a few children born in the same year that were not as fortunate as our boy.  One of my best friend’s went through the ordeal of delivering at 23 weeks.  A little boy in one of the families at school was about the same age as Eric but fell ill at a very early age and became severely disabled.  Whenever I see these kids I think, “that could have been us.” and I remind myself just how blessed we have been with our two bundles.

We laugh about the wheelchair hijackings, the daily Metamucil and the night that a very tiny Eric was so tired in the Special Care Nursery that he slept right through his Thursday night bath.  I laugh and dh grimaces when we recall the famous incident of the “projectile poo” – an evening when dh lifted up the little backside to slide under a fresh nappy and the crib, sheets, his shirt and a fair portion of the nursery floor were, um, splattered with the loudest bowel movement I’ve heard from someone so tiny.  A lady who was across from us actually ran to get out of the way.  But I will always remember how lucky we are to be able to laugh about it all 10 years on.

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