The next morning we awoke and had a cuddle and, well, whaddayaknow, my waters broke! "You have peed yourself!" exclaimed Mr Satchel, as I've always been on the weak-of-bladder side. "Oh, ha, pregnancy is all glamour!" I retorted. But, really, there was so much water! Niagra Falls. And so he called my sister-in-law who suggested it might be an idea to call the hospital and then sent a text message to my father: "Erica won't be at church today; I think she's going into labour".
But here's the rub - it was still seven weeks before we were expecting to see our bub. Thinking it was all a bit on the funny side - like as if we are about to have a baby right now this Sunday morning! - we took our sweet time getting to Pindara Private Hospital, a 40-minute drive away. I packed my copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting in the car, thinking I ought to cram-read the section on Premature Babies (just in case), and Mr Satchel stopped to buy an Ice-Break and piece of fruit cake.
We arrived at the hospital, my obstetrician was called and he mozied on into the birthing suite in his Sunday best (shorts and a tee-shirt; so cool and casual is Dr Michael Flynn). An ambulance was called to usher me to Brisbane where I would wait out the rest of my pregnancy... but that was not to be! Our busy little Izzy B was going to make her debut early.
And then she was there, all of 20 minutes later. I think the entirety of my labour was 40 minutes or so. I feel terribly bad, like I cheated or something, because out slipped my little girl after a bit of push and shove (yes, there was pain!). But my darling Isabel was then whisked away; put into a humidicrib with talk of "abnormalities", all the while I was near fainting. Did that just happen? And where are you taking my baby?
Mr Satchel was a champion of Olympic proportions, staying in control the whole time, rallying by my side, despite his dying of fright at the sight of his wife nearly passing out and then our wee girl being taken away from us and transported via ambulance to Gold Coast Hospital. I had a shower, sat for five minutes and checked myself out of Pindara. We were at Gold Coast Hospital 30 minutes later, by the side of our Isabel.
The doctors and nurses assured us that she would be AOK despite her being a mere 32+4 weeks in production (in Special Care Nurseries, where the majority of the babies are "premmie", we talk in terms such as "32+4" - as in, "My baby was 32+4; what was yours?").
The next month was a challenging, testing, exhilarating time, full of emotion, long daily drives to and from the hospital, flicking through pictures of our baby in bed at night and jovial chats with the other mums in our room and the angelic nurses, too (Mr Satchel kept things light while I expressed breast milk for town and country - "Queen Cow", they called me!).
It was a full 10 days before we received news that our baby's chromosomes had, in fact, no abnormalities at all - that she was a normal, healthy little girl who simply had a squished nose because she was crammed in so tightly (poor little blighter). I cried BIG tears for the first time since her birth. I didn't realise I could be such a stoic; but there you go...
We took Isabel Louise home a month and one day after her birth. We were fists full of anxiety and excitement. But we had received the very best caring-for-a-baby education under excellent supervision. Nappy changing, breast feeding and bathing all nailed, we were ready to set sail!
Needless to say, as all parents do, nothing prepares you for the stupendous heights of joy, nor the stupendous lows of fatigue, but you do it, because this precious little thing? Well, you are the world to her. And she is my world, though I might be so bold as to point out that here I am, writing a blog post, sitting in a cafe while her grandfather watches over her.
The most contentious thing I have faced three months into motherhood is this idea of self-sacrifice. I had imagined I would be 100% MUM. The sort of mother who is All About Their Child. But while I am absolutely intent on making her feel safe, secure, cherished - so she might one day grow wings and do wonderful things in the world - and have done my very best to minimise myself (at least in a physical sense, getting rid of a lifetime of clutter), I am still here.
I am me. And she is she. And I think right now that that is how things will be. Enjoying my Little Izzy B is just as much about her being her as it is me being me. In fact, a better me is what she makes me. So perhaps I will post something here sporadically; when the Spirit takes hold, so to speak. Or perhaps I will rekindle GWAS, somehow. And, hey, maybe I'll start a mummy blog (original idea! Go for it! It's a winner! No one has thought of that before!).
In the meantime, it's nice that you have visited! And thank you for listening to my story. Signing off giving God all the glory for our little miracle baby, Isabel Louise Bartle (bee).
Girl With a Satchel