The Press

Dad finally meets six-month-old

- Jody O’Callaghan jody.ocallaghan@stuff.co.nz

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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