The Press

Dad fi­nally meets six-month-old

- Jody O’Cal­laghan jody.ocallaghan@stuff.co.nz Travel · Christchurch · Indonesia · New Zealand · Christchurch International Airport · Bali · Immigration New Zealand

Baby Sul­tan’s bond with his fa­ther was sealed with a kiss when they met prop­erly for the first time out­side a Christchur­ch man­aged iso­la­tion fa­cil­ity.

The an­tic­i­pa­tion was high as Jas­min Bris­towe and 6-month-old Sul­tan waited for Mochamad ‘‘Revo’’ Rah­man out­side the Sudima Christchur­ch Air­port yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

But the stress of eight months try­ing to re­unite melted away as soon as Rah­man re­moved his mask and planted a kiss on his baby’s beam­ing face.

‘‘It’s like he knows him,’’ Bris­towe said.

She’d had to de­liver and raise their baby alone for the past six months while Covid-19 and visa com­pli­ca­tions kept her hus­band stuck in Bali, In­done­sia.

The ‘‘ab­so­lute worst part’’ was not know­ing how long they would be apart. But the night­mare was now over, she said.

Rah­man said he was ‘‘grate­ful and happy’’ to hold his baby – who quickly be­came mes­merised by his beard.

Bris­towe said she felt for other fam­i­lies still sep­a­rated around the world. ‘‘I thought I would never be able to have a child and not have the sup­port of my hus­band, but when push comes to shove, you re­ally can do any­thing.’’

Christchur­ch-born Bris­towe met well-known, award-win­ning tat­tooist Rah­man a month af­ter she moved to Bali in 2018.

The cou­ple mar­ried in June 2019 af­ter she con­verted to Is­lam.

Rah­man, who is Ja­vanese, was in New Zealand on a three-month tourist visa early this year to re­ceive tat­too awards.

The cou­ple had not yet gained his part­ner­ship visa in Jan­uary when ‘‘Covid-19 hap­pened’’.

With Bris­towe five months preg­nant, Rah­man had to re­turn to Bali to work and sup­port the grow­ing fam­ily.

The part­ner­ship visa cri­te­ria re­quire cou­ples to be liv­ing to­gether, so de­spite the grow­ing pan­demic, Bris­towe left her mid­wife and fam­ily sup­port to go back to Rah­man’s home coun­try. She ‘‘made the tough de­ci­sion’’ to re­turn to New Zealand to give birth, ar­riv­ing a day be­fore the lock­down be­gan.

Sul­tan was born on May 27, with Rah­man watch­ing the dif­fi­cult birth over Face­Time, pray­ing for his wife’s safety.

Bris­towe ap­plied to Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand for ex­emp­tion un­suc­cess­fully four times, and lob­bied politi­cians, but no-one could do any­thing to help.

It had been rough – not only emo­tion­ally, but also fi­nan­cially, she said. Tourism dried up in Bali, along with busi­ness to Rah­man’s pre­vi­ously thriv­ing tat­too stu­dio, and he had no fam­ily there.

They went from be­ing fi­nan­cially sta­ble to liv­ing off her part­time ma­ter­nity leave pay­ments.

They sub­mit­ted hun­dreds of doc­u­ments prov­ing their re­la­tion­ship his­tory, hired a lawyer, and spent months bounc­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

‘‘Mean­while I’m try­ing to raise a baby,’’ Bris­towe said.

She had been ‘‘re­ally scared’’ for her hus­band in Bali, where Covid-19 was out of con­trol.

His re­la­tion­ship visa was fi­nally ap­proved on Novem­ber 1, and they racked up debt to get him to New Zealand.

When the fam­ily fi­nally man­aged to see each other through two fences while Rah­man was in man­aged iso­la­tion, no-one spoke for about 15 min­utes.

‘‘All [Rah­man] did was stare at [Sul­tan] and cry.’’

Bris­towe wor­ried what the lack of early bond­ing time would do for Sul­tan and his fa­ther, but said it was ‘‘beau­ti­ful to have a fam­ily to­gether’’ and their con­nec­tion seemed in­stant.

The cou­ple will open their new tat­too stu­dio, Over Ink, on New Re­gent St next month.

 ?? ALDEN WIL­LIAMS/STUFF ?? Mochamad Rah­man meets his 6-month-old baby boy, Sul­tan Bris­towe, for the first time.
ALDEN WIL­LIAMS/STUFF Mochamad Rah­man meets his 6-month-old baby boy, Sul­tan Bris­towe, for the first time.
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