Nothing to do with interior design, décor, furniture refurbishment, construction or anything else really … i just wanted to write the whole story down while it was still fresh & I remembered all the details.
Our little girl (Harper Lee Walsh) was born on Friday 09th December 2016 at 11:49pm and it was the best day of my life so far.
But it was by no means a stroll in the park.
Saying Harper Lee caused us quite a bit of stress over the course of that day, night and all of the first weekend of her life is an understatement.
To start with she was coming up to a week overdue and my partner Cheryl was getting cranky with her unwillingness to vacate the premises.
Now Cheryl's usually a fairly cool, calm and collected character, but she a narky one over those last few weeks.
On Thursday, the 08th December at just before midnight she started getting contractions.
"Fuck me Wayne - these are starting to get sore"
We didn't freak because we'd had a few false starts over the previous weeks and every time the good ship incontinence raised its windy sails and some stomach cramps started we had thought it was go time!
But nope – buby seemed cozy inside and had no intentions of handing in her notice at any stage (which was slowly driving Cheryl crAzY).
Personally I think Cheryl was just over it by then and even though she was in love with having Harper Lee develope and grow inside of her, she very much wanted her out because an eight pounder moving around inside you has to be a tad on the uncomfortable side.
So from Thursday the 08th at around midnight until the following morning Cheryl slept on and off being woken at stages with demonic stomach cramps - the warm up for the main event.
I called my boss Friday morning at 7am and filled him in on the details of the night before and said "we may be on for the big show, but after the last few times we're not getting our hopes up".
Around mid-day Friday we knew for sure it wasn't another trial run and she was soon going to be making her grand entrance.
Until pretty much 5pm that day the contractions were manageable (well I think they were – what do I know?) and Cheryl was suffering through them and even trying to do some housework (no shit).
But after 5pm they got a lot stronger and we decided to call the midwife.
Now Cheryl’s midwife (Suzie Ferris - a lovely lady) wasn't on call from that Thursday to Tuesday (08th - 12th) so we had her stand in Olivia take over.
Cheryl called Olivia around 5.30pm and asked if she could pop round to do a quick once over.
While we were waiting for Olivia to arrive the contractions started coming fast and furious.
When Olivia rang the doorbell Cheryl was bent over in pain in the bathroom moaning away like a wildebeest. She took a while to wobble out to say hi to Olivia.
They went back to our bedroom at the rear of the house (9 Hinemoa Street – Harper Lee’s first home ... not sure if we'll still be here when she read’s this one) and after a quick once over Olivia said Cheryl was at about 4 cm's and in active labor.
Her advice was to just chill at home for another hour or two and let things progress naturally but na ah - Cheryl was having none of it. She wanted to get to the hospital and get into that delivery suite as soon as possible to hit the gas.
So Olivia rang ahead and we followed behind in my car. I learned for the first time since knowing Cheryl just how loud she could scream in the car on the spin across Christchurch from Spreydon to Merivale. Shiiiiiiitttttt was that loud!
So we pulled into St Georges around 6.30pm/6.45pm and after a very slow walk from the multi-story to the lift (stopping along the way for contraction breaks & a few support hugs) we got into the delivery suite for 7pm.
Olivia ran a bath and Cheryl got herself more 'comfortable' shedding all man made garments, literally not giving one flying fuck and opting for the au natural look instead.
She took a quick uncomfortable bath while I got some ice water for her and put on some music. My job for the evening – water fetching DJ.
At that stage (sometime before 8pm), the contractions became unbearable and I knew we were in for a bumpy ride.
Cheryl spent quite a bit of time varying between standing bed side leaning on and lying on the bed with the top elevated (or legs spread eagled in the stirrups) for regular (and what I would consider being a very impartial man - invasive) inspections.
At 9pm after a very l-o-n-g two hours of overly regular and very strong contractions, Olivia asked Cheryl if she'd peed.
Apparently peeing gets the baby's head to sit lower and Cheryl had been drinking a lot of water with nothing coming out.
So with gas bottle in tow we took a slow, steady walk (all of 20 feet) from the bed to the bathroom. There were another two or three contractions along the way just for good measure.
I finally managed to maneuver Cheryl into sitting on the toilet and there was a tiny trickle of blood, but no pee. She tried and tried but no joy.
On her final attempt she upset herself quite a bit when out popped a pretty loud fart.
Now it's worth remembering Cheryl had been sucking on gas for all of two hours+ at this stage and to say she was a bit loopy doesn’t quiet do it justice.
So she got quite upset at the fact she'd just farted in front of me (Cheryl has a thing about not farting in front of me - trust me, it doesn't work both ways).
So she repeatedly and very slowly kept moaning in a very funny drugged up voice: "oh noooooooo - I faaarrrrteed".
She even called the midwife in from the delivery room to tell her about her indiscretion. Fuck me it was a very funny moment in what was up until then a tense stressful situation.
It got even funnier when Olivia left the bathroom, Cheryl took a long draw on the gas sitting naked on the bowl, looked me dead in the eye & said "am I sexy?" in what can only be described as a shocking attempt at a Scottish accent.
I feel in love with her an extra little bit at that precise moment - an absolute tool, but my Lord it was funny.
After that things continued as normal (or what could be considered normal during an evening like that) for another hour or two.
Cheryl had another inspection from Olivia and she was now at 8 cm's, cervix was soft & spongy (perfect apparently ... who'd have known?!?) and we were 2 cm's away from go time.
That's when the pain went from unbearable to downright torture. I was positive that pain was going to murder Cheryl before my very eyes.
Over the next thirty minutes the pain built and built until it reached the point where Cheryl screamed "JUST GIVE ME THE FUCKING DRUGS".
Probably worth mentioning here that Cheryl knowingly opted for natural birth by going to St. Georges, but overlooked the fact that they were a drug free delivery hospital.
The mind doesn't work so well after 3-4 hours of laughing gas inhalation. Silly girl.
After another quick inspection from Olivia it turned out Cheryl had been pushing for the last thirty or so minutes and that textbook soft spongy cervix had changed from 'close to perfection and nearly there' to 'inflamed, swollen and not so good' (again - who'd have known?!?).
So in a pretty shitty bed manner fashion Olivia told Cheryl that she'd been naughty. Naughty? Seriously?
Stupid bitch of a midwife!
She would either have to stop pushing and focus/breathe through the pain to get the swelling to reduce naturally. Or else we could call an ambulance, get driven to Christchurch Women’s for an epidural and deliver Harper Lee there.
Cheryl's response "get that fucking ambulance ... NOW!!!".
So off goes Olivia to call the ambulance and we spend another long forty minutes waiting for them and trying to get through what I reckon would be the worst pain any person could ever experience while we waited.
Around 11.20pm a nurse came in to update us that the ambulance was about twenty-five minutes away. Not such great news for Cheryl at that precise moment.
There had been quite a bit of blood by then (show they call it - again, who'd have known?!?) and I was getting considerably more stressed for Cheryl with each passing second.
I was thinking my ice water service to an alt rock soundtrack would have helped everything along – it didn’t. I failed as the inspirational birthing DJ.
Olivia decided to do another inspection while I was trying to decide Alt J or Portugal The Man and when I looked back I could tell from the look and lack of color on her face, that she wasn't entirely happy with the way the whole situation was progressing.
After a quick internal Olivia looked at me and said "she's at 10 cm's - I'm going to cancel that ambulance ... your baby's going to be born at St. Georges after all".
I didn't really know what to make of that one to be honest - I was numb with everything I was witnessing.
So the cancel call was made, Olivia got an attendant nurse (Claire) into the room and gave Cheryl the news that she could now just push. Push. Push.
So at 11:40pm Cheryl gave her first full on 'all balls out' push and screamed "THIS FEELS SO FUCKING GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD".
Another little comic moment I said lock away Wayne - remember that one.
For the next nine minutes I watched with complete amazement what can only be described as an absolute miracle in action. By 11:47pm her head was out and she were facing the door sideways on.
It was then that Harper Lee turned her head in an exorcists type movement (red slime – not green) and looked at me halfway in and halfway out of Cheryl’s vagina.
I thought "fuck me that's nuts".
What was even more nuts was the fact Cheryl screamed "WHAT’S SHE DOING? TELL HER TO STOP!!!!".
After another 100 seconds and a final push without contractions to get her shoulders out Harper Lee was here, blue faced and covered in ‘whatever’ with the umbilical cord wrapped firmly around her perfect little neck.
Less than thirty seconds later she was taking her first gulps of air and screaming along with Cheryl as she entered the world. And the first thing she did was grip my finger ... she came straight out and gripped my finger - coolest - shit - ever!
I cried like a little bitch - best moment of my life - indescribable feeling ... I won't even attempt words.
The next ten minutes passed in a blur of kisses, congratulations, stitches, placenta passing, umbilical cord gutting (grizzly fuckers those) and everything was good with the world. Everything was perfect. I was so proud of both my girls - a perfect delivery from 10 cm's on.
And at 12:15am on the 10th I was drinking a cup of coffee with unbelievably shaky hands talking to Cheryl about how perfect she was when she said "I feel a bit weird - can't you get me a drink". So I gave her some apple juice.
After she drank her juice, while Harper Lee was latched on having her first feed on the boob, she just looked at me and said "can you get the nurse - I feel funny". I walked to the door, had my back to her and heard her say "I can't breathe".
The next ten minutes I heard things like: "does she have a pulse?", why's her blood pressure so low", "my God she's lost a lot of blood", etc.
All the while I was left sitting in the corner of a hospital suite watching on while I thought my whole world was literally shattering in front of my eyes.
The decision was made to transfer Cheryl to Christchurch Women’s at 12.30am and Karen (a lovely older nurse from the UK) asked me to get the car seat.
The car seat was in Cheryl’s car, I was planning on fitting the one in mine that Saturday while Cheryl recovered at St. Georges.
But nope – it was that night I learned the little known fact that ambulances don't have the facilities to take a baby in NZ and I needed the car seat so I could drive Harper-Lee - a brand new born to hospital by myself.
WHAT THE HOLY FUCK?!?
I'd also forgotten my phone so all the way over and back I was being a huge drama Queen and had convinced myself Cheryl had died and that was it - I was raising Harper Lee & Brooke (and the two dogs ... Lola/Hildee - all my girls) all by myself. Not a fun drive!
So I had to drive back home (fourteen minutes) and back to St. Georges (twelve minutes) - usual trip should take around twenty-five to thirty each way with no traffic.
And when I got back the night time security measures were firmly in place and it took me another twenty-five bloody minutes to get through the front door, get up the security enabled lift and get through the Fort Knox style maternity suite doors.
But on a more positive when I got back into the room (I can't remember the number to save my life ... every other detail of that night is burnt onto my brain, but I can't remember that room number no matter what) I saw Cheryl talking to the ambulance staff.
She’d regained some color and thank fuck - responsiveness.
THANK FUCK was the flood that swallowed me whole!
And in keeping with the rest of the night that made me cry once again like a 6'3" giant bitch!
So Cheryl was rejoining the land of the living and was getting ready for her trip across town without bubs.
Nurse Karen helped me secure a two hour old baby into the back of my car and I drove at less than eighteen kilometers/hour across town with the heater blasting talking to Harper-Lee the whole way.
Scariest thing I'd ever done.
I didn't want to take her by myself and even now when I'm looking back I think it was absolute madness to leave me take a less than two hour old newborn baby in my car when I was in complete shock.
What would I have done if anything had have happened? Not a clue. Not one single fucking clue.
Scariest moment of my life and even though all staff (St. Georges/Ambulance/Christchurch Women’s) involved over the course of that night were in one word - awesome, I still think that was a dumb ass move on the NZ Health Systems part.
But all's well that ends well and I arrived at Christchurch Women’s shortly after 1am and abandoned my car at the front door, told the night porter not to even think about saying anything and brought Harper Lee up to the third floor to reunite her with her mum.
All was well with the world again.
So at that stage Cheryl was after coming around properly and was giving Harper Lee a cuddle.
We tried giving her a feed off the boob after that but she was like - nah, I just want to sleep. So at 2am the nurse (Lara) decided to express milk into a syringe from Cheryl’s boob and once she'd gotten a full 10 mls out - turned to me, showed me the yellow filled syringe and said "look - banana milk".
Another nice reprieve from the seriousness of the situation with a funny as fuck moment.
So we all chilled in the room together, Olivia joined us and ran some tests, gave Cheryl some codeine for the pain and we all spent some nice family time together.
At around 5am I was absolutely shattered. I helped Lara wheel Cheryl/Harper Lee up to the fifth floor and I said I'd go get a few hours kip and come back first thing in the morning.
I left Cheryl lying in bed and Harper Lee wrapped up in the bassinet alongside her mum cooing away.
Cutest noise ever.
Turns out that cooing (while cute) was her struggling to breath because she'd mucus on her lungs. When I rang the next morning before coming back I found out they'd taken her away over night to run tests, etc. and had her on an IV/antibiotics.
Now in comparison to what had passed previously it wasn't really that bad - they were just being safe to make sure all was good.
While everything happened with Cheryl (attention seeker with her no breathing stunt) they kind of took it for granted that Harper Lee was sweet.
Saturday both stayed in Christchurch Women’s and I kept them company. Saturday night I went home to sleep and instead talked to my folks (the Irish grandparents - two coolest people on the planet) for a couple of hours and got pretty well smashed to celebrate the arrival and release some stress that had built up.
On Sunday 11th my girls were discharged at 7.45pm and all came home.
So that was Harper Lee’s grand entrance into this world ... born at 11:49pm on Friday 09th December 2016 weighing a perfect 7 pounds and 11 ounces.
And since then I’ve decided to do more/try more/be more. And that’s the reason why I’m writing this blog, starting this side gig and deciding to be an all round better human being. What’s the point otherwise?
The reason why.