BABY LOVE / WELCOMING BAKER
He kept us waiting, for a little while. Courtney's obstetrician had expected an early arrival, her body showing all the signs that her due date would never be met.
On the morning of 7 January 2014, I met my sister and brother-in-law for coffee, being sure to arrive after they had eaten what was to be their last breakfast together, just the two of them.
We headed up the hill to our hospital. Our hospital. The walls and corridors I know so well. I always loved the smell of the hand wash. Their baby would be born in the same hospital where my three smalls arrived, at the hands of the same doctor. A thin, tall, loud voiced, happy man. He makes it all okay.
Courtney was to be induced after lunch, following another hour of foetal monitoring. The nurses were busy, cubicles were full. We waited. Happily, easily. There was no rush. We chatted and laughed about nothing and everything while we waited for her name to be called.
Her belly was strapped once again, a feeling she had known so well over the past few weeks. While we joked and laughed and reminisced, listening to baby's swooshing heart, he was ready. Perhaps not quite as ready as we had hoped, but ready just the same.
Babies were being born and her induction was pushed back a few hours. By mid arvo they were pushed into the waiting. Just waiting. Would something happen?
Apparently not. An early night and long stretch of sleep was presented to me like a sweetly wrapped gift. I showered and readied myself for a good night's sleep before an early morning, back to the hospital when they would try a second induction.
Of course, pyjama clad, the phone rang.
My house fell into darkness and I kissed my babies tucked tight under their covers. I grabbed my bag and keys, kissed my love and my mum goodbye. Now, it was 8 January.
The picture I left - two laughing, happy, relaxed souls - was a far cry from the picture I walked in to. Labour had escalated quickly and baby boy was posterior. Courtney was in excruciating pain. I had been rubbing her back for ten minutes before she realised it was me.
Her obstetrician had called the anaesthetist. It was the only way. He arrived swiftly and chatted easily, his South African accent strong. Carl asked questions and he answered them. Courtney was asked to sit completely still while the most powerful pain she had ever felt shot through her body. The risks, if she moved, were high. Courtney didn't open her eyes until the very end. It was as if she was meditating. When she finally opened her eyes, she saw the face of the South African accent for the first time and jumped. He was the spit of a guy she went right through school with. The similarity was uncanny.
The pain dissolved quickly and the room fell dark. She could rest. But never sleep.
The relief felt on her body was felt too, by baby. He had turned. He was doing everything he should be.
The clock ticked, the hours passed.
The sun peeked through the curtains. Morning came, and with it, the promise of a baby. Soon, he would be here.
She was weary to her bones but she knew she was the only one who could bring him here. She was calm and quiet and did everything as if she'd done it before. I pushed my overwhelming feelings of pride down, as far as they would go. An overflow of emotion right now, when they needed me to be the photographer - not the sister - was not an option.
As the clock struck one, he was here.
Welcome, Baker Julius!
The joy that follows the birth of a baby is like nothing else. Words are not enough.