It has taken me more than 2 years to write this post. I guess it’s because it was such a crazy time of my life, but before I write anything about what I experience with him on this blog, I’d like to introduce my youngest son Etienne.
After a traumatic experience giving birth to my son Chance (you can read about it here: https://creativemamaau.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/my-birth-story/ ) I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the whole process again. Especially not any time soon. But fate had decided that Chance would have a little brother. Just under a year after Chance was born I fell pregnant.
I have to say being pregnant the second time was easier, just because you knew what to expect and you aren’t freaking out at every body change, movement, cramp etc.. I was much more lax about it. Being pregnant and having a 1 year old proved to be a challenge however. My first child is and has always been active. He also is very affectionate and likes to climb all over me. Once I started to get bigger, I struggled to keep up with him and hold him in my arms. I continued to work normal hours (I’m a singer and vocal coach) and had this amazing plan that I would take all the work I could get till the end of March then I would take time off in April – when bubba was due. It was a great self organised maternity leave plan I had for myself.
Etienne came on the 22 February 2015. A whole 8 weeks premature. Right in the middle of my busiest work month. The night before, I had contractions, which I brushed off as the ‘fake’ ones cause it was way too early. But they intensified and at 5am I asked David to take me to the hospital. Yep my baby was coming. He was ready to be out it one easy go. It would have been a real short labour, had we not had to prolong it. You see, when a baby is born 8 weeks early, the lungs have not yet fully developed and so there was a massive risk that he would not be able to breathe on his own. To help move his development along, I was given steroids and told I would need to wait 12 hours for them to enter bubba’s blood stream. This would give him a boost and give the lungs a chance to further develop. I also was given something to try to stop my labour. 12 fucking hours of him wanting to come out and and me and the doctors holding him in. No pain relief drugs. My uterus hurts just thinking about it.
My mum flew to from Melbourne to Sydney to join me at the hospital. By now we were about 9 hours in and David’s eyes were falling out of his head from fatigue. I sent him home and called my best friend Veena. She was the angel that dropped whatever she was doing to help me through the last few hours and hardest contractions. Each time they came I buried my head on her shoulder and squeezed her hands – I was sure I would break them. At the 13th hour, I finally got my epidural. Gosh, as soon as the pain was gone, I told the doctor — all good, no rush now, we can just chill.
Because I had had a c-section with Chance, under 2 years before, I was originally recommended to have another c-section with baby number 2. The pressure of giving birth naturally after a c-section, having not fully repaired, could lead to the scar tearing open again. But things were progressing quite fast (bar the doctors slowing things down) and Etienne was going to be tiny, so the doctor didn’t think it would be too much of a risk to have him naturally. I took the natural birth route. I gave birth to Etienne just after 11pm that evening with mum, David and Veena present. My Epidural had worn off just in time to feel the push and Etienne was so small he popped out of me relatively easily.
But as soon as he did he was taken away. The prodded and poked him and stuck wires into him and put him on machines and into a box. He was born 1.6 kg. My palm was the size of his whole torso. My heart sunk when they told me he would have to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks.
I stayed in the hospital for 10 days and then every 4 hours I needed to return to the hospital nursery to breast feed my baby. He always fought to stay off the machines. My boy was a fighter. He wanted to breathe on his own and on the 3rd day, they took him off the oxygen machine. He still had to have a tube into his mouth and nose, which went down to his tummy because he had not yet learnt to suck, so he was fed milk through this tube with a syringe. There was a nurse with him 24 hours a day. Thank god for those nurses. It was hard. I had a one year old who was needy and not allowed to see his brother yet, I had a full schedule of work and my partner and I were exhausted. To top it off, we were also moving house. FML!
Choosing the natural birth option was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was literally able to dance the next day. I did however wait a week before my first gig (straight out of hospital and on stage as diana ross and the supremes lol). By the 3rd week the intensive care nurses thought I was superwoman (or had lost my mind). Every 4-6 hours into the hospital, breast feeding or express pumping in between gigs and teaching. I remember feeding, then of to the hair dresser for a massive 60s do and eyelashes, then coming back for 2nd feeding, then off to a “Starlettes gig” and then back to the hospital at midnight for a feed still in my gold sequins maxi dress. Then the next day I was Tina Turner. ‘What a glamorous life I had’ they said, But I was delirious 🙂
Pumping milk out of my breasts in between sets wasn’t fun either but I didn’t want to explode whilst on stage (it happens), so it had to be done. Anyway, my little man was doing well in hospital. We had a lot of skin to skin time and he slowly learned how to breathe and suck. I will never forget holding him in the baby ICU and watching the red light flash on the machine that monitored him with his heart rate counter falling rapidly because he was tired and just momentarily forgot to breathe. It happened twice in my arms. His heart may have not stopped fully, but mine surely did.
It was a hazy 6 weeks and when it was time to leave we moved into our new place. Bringing Etienne home from the hospital felt so awesome, even though he wouldn’t have professional monitoring by nurses 24/7. I was excited to have him home with the rest of the family. My heart was full when in the car on the way home from hospital, Chance held Etienne’s hand. It was the perfect start to our new journey with our 2 boys. Having 2 children under 2 is hard work but I’m glad I had them when I did, because they are close in age and they interact really well with each other now. Also for us parents, we are still familiar with the development stages when the second one goes through them.
Oh and they are not the same, they are like chalk and cheese with regards to personality. Etienne is no where near as social as Chance is much more sensitive (he is his father’s child for sure), he is fairer (like he actually might burn in the sun rather than tan) and he has straight hair. He sure did catch up on his weight too. The little tank is almost the size of his brother now and has been wearing the same size as him for a year.
I wasn’t sure I had enough love in my heart to share between 2 children but the moment I lay my eyes on him, I had found another very special place to hold Etienne forever in my heart. He is 2 now, fussy as hell, loud, sometimes grumpy, but my is he beautiful. I still can’t believe he’s mine. He will forever be my little miracle.
I’m still grateful for the nurses at RPA in Sydney, I’ve never seen a team so caring and hardworking. They literally saved my child’s life and continue to save lives everyday. My best friend Veena, I mean, you watched me pop a baby out of my vagina, we homies for life! I’m so blessed to have you as Etienne’s godmother. To David, I never told you how fucking awesome you handled both births and pregnancies. I love watching you parent and become a better dad each day. To mum, who taught me to be a mum and who left her life to choose us and be a part of our little family. Thank you for always showing up for me. And to uncle Scott, whom we could not have coped without through the early months of both our sons. We can’t wait to have you here with us again soon.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read my story. It has been quite therapeutic to write and remember. Till the next one (blog post, not baby). :p
I’ll leave you with some recent photos of my Etienne.