READY OR NOT

Colum­nist Greg Bruce on the speedy ar­rival of his third child

Little Treasures - - CON­TENTS -

The first text came from the bed of our three-and-a-half-year old daugh­ter at 7.15pm, and read, “I think my waters might have bro­ken.” The next one, a cou­ple of min­utes later read, “Can you get a towel?” Our daugh­ter, who was on the verge of sleep, was no doubt baf­fled by the fact that she was, for the first time in her life, not re­spon­si­ble for the soak­ing of her bed­sheets. There wasn’t re­ally time to ex­plain. She was her grand­mother’s prob­lem now. It was 7.45pm by the time we left the house. We didn’t know it then – if we had known we would have pan­icked – but in one hour and 20 min­utes we would have a baby. Ahead of us was a half-hour drive, a late change of venue, a frus­trat­ing park­ing in­ci­dent, some vomit, a few mean words from Zanna, and a lot of si­lence from me. I thought back to the birth of Clara, our sec­ond child, 20 months be­fore. Zanna had gone into labour at about 2am and we had driven to Birth­care in the calm, quiet early morn­ing, up through the lovely dark of the Do­main, chat­ting eas­ily and fondly about the won­ders of the fam­ily we al­ready had and that which was still to come. It is one of my favourite mem­o­ries, and I had been look­ing for­ward to much the same thing this time. The drive would take be­tween 20 and 30 min­utes, de­pend­ing on traf­fic, and would al­low us to carry on that con­ver­sa­tion as if it hadn’t been 20 months since it fin­ished. “We’re not go­ing to chit chat,” Zanna said, not long af­ter we left. The rest of the trip was silent ex­cept for one point on the mo­tor­way where she told me to slow down and I replied, say­ing I wasn’t speed­ing, and she told me I was go­ing 95 in an 80 zone, and I started to sug­gest that I wasn’t, then I re­alised I was wrong and that now was not the time any­way. At Birth­care, our mid­wife was wait­ing for us in one of the lovely warm, sooth­ingly lit birthing suites but there had been meco­nium in the waters, so we were redi­rected to Auck­land Hos­pi­tal. Zanna’s con­trac­tions were close and an­gry by this point. She chun­dered in the Birth­care carpark. There was no time to clean it up. At Auck­land Hos­pi­tal, in the park­ing area re­served for peo­ple in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, we had to wait for some­one who was wait­ing for some­one to come out of the one free carpark, then we had to wait while they painstak­ingly learned how to par­al­lel-park, then we had to il­le­gally park some­where else. As we walked to the hos­pi­tal, Zanna had an­other con­trac­tion. I thought about what tasks I might have to ful­fil if she had our baby right there in the hos­pi­tal carpark. I had known be­fore our first child was born that I would be over­whelmed by it. I had not known be­fore our sec­ond daugh­ter was born whether I would feel the same way. If any­thing, though, I had been even more af­fected by it. I have al­ways as­sumed that was at least partly the lack of ex­pec­ta­tion. We knew that this baby, bar­ring some ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic future birth con­trol fail­ure, would be our last baby, and I knew for a fact that the emer­gence of his body from Zanna would fa­cil­i­tate my nearcom­plete emo­tional break­down We got into our room in the hos­pi­tal, Zanna got up on the bed, had a cou­ple of con­trac­tions, then said, “I think he’s com­ing.” A cou­ple of min­utes later, there was his head. I was not ready for it. Of course I wasn’t. It could have hap­pened five weeks from now, or five months, or 20 years, and I would not have been ready for it. He was our third and fi­nal child, but it would have made no dif­fer­ence were he our tenth, and there were 20 still to come. There he was, all of a sud­den, and I fell to pieces as he lay there on Zanna, our first and only son, the fifth and fi­nal mem­ber of our fam­ily, the com­ple­tion and the be­gin­ning of the most im­por­tant and am­bi­tious project I will ever un­der­take. I did not know what to do. Be­cause I al­ready have two chil­dren, I knew that didn’t mat­ter. 

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