Part the fourth: 21st of June: Going over the top
One of the major causes of stress in WWI soldiers (apart from having bombs explode right next to you and living in your own frozen filth for months at a time) was in the waiting; specifically, the waiting to go over the top of the trenches and rush the enemy; history notes that these were almost invariably futile rushes that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
The last few weeks have felt somewhat like that regarding this pregnancy; we’ve been living for the past three months with the expectation that we might be rushing into hospital (and then into neonatal care) at literally any second. It’s a highly stressful existence, and it’s been taking its toll on everyone’s patience and good humour — and I’m not always known for my patience.
Anyway, last night, we seemingly started climbing the trench ladders…
Being a Tuesday, Di had another appointment at the Hospital for her weekly checkup; while she did that I ran around the sports field opposite the hospital with the kids. She was a bit sore and feeling under the weather (which hasn’t been spectacular), so we headed home afterwards so she could rest. She continued to be pained in the afternoon, and after we’d dropped in a meal for some friends of our who just had a baby (hello Darcy Rose!), she decided that she’d go and lie down for a while in our bed. I got the house tidied, fed the kids and got them off to bed, then went to check on her; by now it was around 7ish. She was now having very minor contractions every five to fifteen minutes, but wanted to wait and see if they intensified. By 7:30 they had, so we had to work out how to get her into hospital, considering that the kids were asleep already. A quick call to my brother had him en route, but we needed someone to look after the children in the hour or so it would take him to arrive, so it was time once more to play church phone bingo. Our lucky “winner” was Ian, who got to (essentially) sit in our living room for an hour doing some work until Gus turned up. Many thanks Ian, and double likewise to Gus, who gave up his evening to watch over the kids. In the meanwhile, we headed into hospital.
I was getting increasingly worried on the way, as Di’s contractions had reached the point where she was audibly gasping for each one. By now, we’re all too familiar with the Maternity ward at Hornsby Hospital; we’ve been in about half a dozen times already, just for this pregnancy. Time for monitors, contraction meters and invasive personal exams. A quick point here; we’re 33 weeks pregnant, with the flip week date falling on Friday. 34 weeks is significant, as it’s the time at which we wouldn’t have to be transferred out of Hornsby Hospital if we progressed to full labour. On that basis, it’s time once again for Di to go back onto nifedipine to stop the contractions… which eventually works. Phew. Time to dismantle the trench ladders… sort of.
Given the way that the staff were talking (and the discussions Di had with them yesterday) it seems most likely that they’ll try to delay birth for as long as possible (and is healthy, given that nifedipine is, after all, blood pressure medication), but perhaps that’ll only go until Friday, presuming nothing else happens. So for now, Di’s in hospital, I’m at home with the kids — James naturally had a poor night’s sleep, meaning that I did too — and we’re back in the waiting game, but with the expectation that things could happen rather quickly from here on in. Or, in other words, watch this space.
Part the third: 6th of May 2006: Updates? What updates?
OK, so it has been a while since the last third time round update. That’s been primarily because we’ve been busy, as a family, getting ready for the arrival of bub #3.
How exactly do you prepare for a birth? By spending lots of time in hospitals, that’s how! If you’ve regularly been reading my blog updates up to now, you probably need to get out more, but leaving that aside, you’ll be aware of how hectic a month April actually was. To put it in perspective for the latecomers, the last week has been unusual. Unusual in the sense of “We didn’t actually have to rush anyone in the family into a hospital this week” kind of unusual. Is that a good thing?
Anyway, at this point of the process, we’re on week 27. Apparently, given the topsy turvy nature of Di’s pregnancy, the doctors will be happy if we make it to 30 weeks; I’m still betting on as close to 35 weeks as is possible, just to maintain the average. We shall, in time, see.
A thought struck me the other day, and I lay motionless on the floor, dripping blood. That’ll teach me to have sharp thoughts. Once the Ambulance orderlies had left and I’d mopped up, I remembered the thought — and here’s the important part — I ducked. The thought was not that sharp as it turns out — perhaps the initial impact dulled it. Your first child is a revelation, as you’re never entirely prepared for it. Your second is also a revelation, if not only for the fact that the experience is different from the first time round. When I’ve informed some people that we’re having a third child, I do get a lot of queries why, as if it’s suddenly unnatural for the machinery “down there” to still be working, or as though we’ve presumably perfected the process by the time we’ve had two kids and that three is being greedy, or showing some kind of a lack of control. The simple fact of the matter is that, yes, I do love my kids individually, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t love a third child equally, or revel in its uniqueness.
The name game
We don’t know the gender of #3. We don’t want to know, and, outside of some very specific medical conditions, I don’t really see the pressing need to find out. We still get asked by lots of people what we’re having; I have three responses:
A) A Pepperoni pizza, thanks, and an bottle of Coke. Oh, you didn’t mean that?
B) A human being. Two arms, two legs and a head is considered normal, but we’re flexible.
C) Not sure. Wanna stick your head up there and look?
Now, one of the things that you can do as a parent if you do know the gender is select the name from one side of the gender pool or the other. Do parents of Hemaphrodites have a bet either way? This then leads to name-type questions, and, just as we did with Zoe and James, we’ve got a shortlist of names that suit both boys and girls — with “Zoe” and “James” crossed out, naturally enough — and I’m always asked what I’m thinking, name-wise. Well, at the moment I’m strongly favouring Quetzalcoatl. It’d both fit the modern trendy idea of giving your children stupid names, and, well, because the other kids could perform sacrifices to him/her in the playground at recess.
The other name I’m rather enamoured of at the time of writing is Wile. E. Y’know, as in “Wile E Coyote”. Not only does it have the suitable level of deviousness, but it just sounds good with any surname, not just ours. Consider:
Wile E Kidman
Wile E Wong
Wile E Smith
Wile E Bin Laden
Wile E Nahasapeemapetilon
See? It’s a winner of a name, I tell you.
Part the second: 23rd March 2006: Be careful what you wish for.
The last line of my previous entry, joking about delivery dates came back to bite me, late last friday. My normal schedule for Friday afternoons involves picking up Zoe from preschool, then Di from the train, and then heading either out for dinner (if I’m knackered/lazy/need the grease) or home for something that can be quickly prepared. Di looked a little shaky when I picked her up, and explained that her train on the way home had been a really old rattler, and as a result she wasn’t feeling too crash hot. This extended to not really wanting to eat, and then, at about 7:30pm:
“I think I’m having contractions”
Having gone through this before, I knew exactly what to do.
Panic some more
Panic, just to see if it changes anything
Of course, it didn’t, and she was still having contractions. And we’ve got two kids at home who won’t really work well in a hospital maternity department, even if it *is* the hospital maternity department they were both born in. So we call Di’s mum, who starts driving up from Gosford, and then I drop Di in at the maternity department and head home with the kids.
A brief diversionary moment here: I have nothing but praise and admiration for my mother-in-law right now. Yes, there are times when we undeniably get on each other’s nerves, and at those times it’d be a bad idea to give one of us, say, a chainsaw, but she’s still an incredible woman on all sorts of levels, the very least of which is the fact that she (in effect) gave up her Friday night and most of her Saturday morning sleep so that I could head back to the hospital to find out what was happening. Or in other words, Thanks Pam. I owe you more than I could ever repay.
When I get back to the hospital, I found that they’d pumped Di full of Nifedipine to stop the contractions, and thankfully, it’s worked. She gets admitted to a ward, and over the next two days is slowly weaned off the drugs. And the contractions don’t come back.
Which means I can breathe out again.
It has, however, changed the gameplan somewhat. Di’s going to be at home, off work and “resting” (as much as one can with two kids at home) until the birth actually happens. Hopefully that’s still some twenty weeks off (give or take). It also meant that we had to tell Zoe what was going on — something we’d resisted doing, as the concept of time scales and waiting 20 weeks when you’re 4 years old is a tad nebulous, at best. She’s taken it pretty well, all things considered, and has asked pretty much every day how the baby in Mummy’s tummy is doing. And she’s concerned with how it’s going to get out. Now there’s a discussion I was hoping to hold off on for a few more years…
More scans have been done, this time down at Royal North Shore Hospital (which has very slick equipment for doing so, plus specialists) although there’s no pretty scans to post up right now, because they didn’t give us any.
Part the first: 12th March 2006
Thoughts on triple parenthood, with suitable pictures.
There’s a well-known phenomenon that pretty much all new parents go through with their children. The first child’s “precious” moments are recorded and studied in great detail — depending on the technology available to you, this can include scrapbooks, photos (physical or digital) or even that thing I’ve never quite understood where you get your child’s feet cast in expensive (but cheap-looking) bronze.
Your first child’s also where you make some fundamental mistakes — different ones for every parent, but ones you correct for your second child “with the benefit of hindsight”. This of course ignores the fact that the second child is a completely different individual — but at the very least, the house is normally set up to be nominally child-safe by then.
What happens, then, to the third child if you have one? It’s this exact thought that struck me the other day, just before we were due to have yet another ultrasound scan — 19 weeks, for those keeping score. I can keenly remember Zoe’s first scan (the nuchal translucency one), but then I have an easy reminder to hand, as we’ve got the whole thing on videotape. That’s more a freak circumstance than anything, as the SAN where it was done offered it as a service, and we figured we may as well. All of our later scans have been done at the radiology place opposite Hornsby Hospital, where we get the odd snap here or there.
James (our second’s) scans are more of a blur in my mind, although some of the circumstances — especially the week that Di spent in Liverpool hospital — are forever etched in my consciousness. We’ve still got the actual shots and have digital scans of them, but these things quickly lose currency.
Anyway, it struck me that the third child almost seems ordinary; we’ve been through the ups and downs of pregnancy before and have something of an idea of what to suspect. And no child is truly ordinary, and I don’t want it to be. Hence this scribing; it’s my attempt to permanently note down my thoughts and observations leading up to the birth of my third child, and hopefully beyond.
It’s at this point that I should pay homage to where I’ve nabbed the idea from: Jeff Vogel’s Toddler Diary, which I’ve happily followed on and off over the past couple of years. Go on, read it — it’ll do you good, for the most part.
No idea how often I’ll update this — possibly as much as once per week, maybe only once per month. The idea is more to write when there’s something significant to say about #3.
And now, the bit that all my relatives have been waiting for: The pictures!
We have a skull. Repeat: We have a skull. This is a somewhat creepy view of my as yet-unborn-girlboyelephant.
Yep, we don’t know what gender it is. Don’t really care, either; we’ll find that out when it’s born. Well, actually, I’ll be somewhat shocked if it is an elephant. Is infidelity with a pachyderm grounds for divorce?
And this is our profile view. Note the completely typical large Kidman skull. Sure, it looks a little odd, but experience has taught me (often painfully) that there’s nothing that beats having a crash helmet on the inside of your skin.
All things being equal, this child will be born sometime between mid-June and very early August. Very early August would be full term and ideal — indeed, I’ve already suggested to Di that she should make sure she gives birth on the 31st of July, simply because my stepmother’s staying with us that night, and we’d have inbuilt babysitting. What seems more likely is that #3 will arrive around 35 weeks, just like its other two siblings.