It is our second last Sunday before Lewis’ birth.
We have come back from church, Rick has given the boys lunch, and they are all down for quiet time.
I spend most of the afternoon in my studio – organising, culling, and rating photos. Bear comes out of his room a couple of times, and each time, I encourage him to go back to bed.
“Alright mummy,” he replies. His golden hair and his big eyes get me every time.
Around three o’clock, Nan and Pa arrive, signalling the end of quiet time for the boys.
Rick leaves to do our grocery shop.
I head downstairs briefly to say hello, then return upstairs to keep sorting through our photos.
In between deleting and tagging photos, a sense of unease begins to descend upon me.
I begin to wonder… when was the last time Lewis moved?
Time passes, and my anxiety grows.
At five o’clock, I send Rick a message.
“Suddenly worried about baby.”
“Ah? No movement?”
“Just this weird feeling of not being conscious of many kicks and jabs like usual.”
“I’ll be home soon.”
“…and not responding to coffee…”
“Want to go to NSPH?”
“A little bit. Decide when you get home…”
“Let’s just go. No point hanging around, waiting.”
“I’m going to pack a bag then…”
I leap into action.
I locate my ‘2013 Hospital Packing List’ in Evernote and open it up on my iPad. In the bedroom, I pull out my two canvas bags and place them side by side on the floor.
One by one, I check the items off my packing list. I move around the room like a machine, throwing things onto the bed with great gusto. I have one thought and one thought only: to finish packing and to get to the hospital.
As I start to pack things into the two bags, several scenarios play out in my head. Perhaps everything is absolutely fine, and Lewis has just been asleep all this time. Perhaps something is wrong, and they need to induce me tonight. Perhaps something is very wrong, and I need to have an emergency caesar. Or perhaps something has already gone wrong, and it is too late.
Despite my anxiety, I can’t help but feel excited at the possibility of meeting Lewis earlier than anticipated. Now and again, I feel a small twinge in my belly, but nothing enough to assuage my fears.
I push this horrible last thought to the very back of my mind.
Rick arrives home and comes straight upstairs. I rush up to him, and we hug.
“I’m almost done,” I tell him. I also tell him about the tiny twinges that I’ve been feeling, but we both decide to get the CTG anyway, so that we can be sure that Lewis is okay.
I return to packing. Meanwhile, Rick makes the phone call to the hospital’s maternity ward, then heads downstairs to brief mum and dad.
By six o’clock, I am ready to go.
Rick brings my bags to the car, whilst I check myself in the mirror. I’m wearing my black sweater over my black maxi dress. Yes, I should be warm enough.
Before leaving, mum and I share quick embrace, and I give each of the boys a hug and kiss, telling them that we’ll be back soon.
“Love you boys. Make sure you listen to Pa and Nan, okay?”
In the garage, Rick helps me into the Disco, and we share a quick kiss before pulling up the driveway.
The roads are quiet, and the night lights have a calming effect on my nerves. I think of our trip out to Westmead Private Hospital that fateful night back in September 2007 and, quietly, I pray that Lewis will be okay.
We park outside the front entrance of the hospital. Whilst Rick pays for the parking, I slowly lower myself out of the car.
“Do you want me to bring your bags in now?” Rick asks.
“No, you can get them if we end up needing them,” I answer.
I hold onto Rick’s arm as we walk inside together.
We head straight to the lift, and up to the second floor. Rick presses the buzzer.
“Can I help you?”
“Ah yes, this is Rick Mason. I rang up earlier. My wife, Rhonda, is here for a CTG.”
“Okay, come in. We’ll be with you in a minute.”
There are three chairs in the waiting area, and we sit down in two of them.
As always, it is intensely quiet in that waiting area.
I look around me. The artwork on the walls, the wallpaper, the carpet, and the dim lighting—it is all very familiar to me.
As we sit and wait, Lewis finally begins to stir. A twinge here. A squirm there. And then a definite small kick.
Relief floods through me. Rick and I embrace in silence.
We thank God for his kindness.
We decide to get the CGT done anyway, just to make sure all is okay with Lewis’ heart.
We wait there for a long time. At one point, Rick pops his head around the door (at my request), and he is told that someone will be with us soon.
Finally, a mid-wife comes out to see us. She brings us into the small room off the waiting area. I lie down on the bed, and she hooks me up to the CTG machine. Rick sits down on the chair, and we smile at each other, safe in the knowledge that I have felt Lewis move.
We share our story with the mid-wife, and she responds with warmth, kindness, and sympathy.
Afterwards, she leaves us to ourselves. We chat happily, excited for the impending arrival of our last little boy. We reflect on the journey that we’ve been on, and we wonder what Lewis’ birth will be like. We wonder what Lewis himself will be like. We also joke about my upcoming “hotel stay” and Rick suggests that perhaps I only need to stay a couple of nights. Funny man.
The mid-wife returns and checks the CTG. Everything looks fine, so we leave.
Outside the hospital, I hold onto Rick as I walk down the steps. I look back briefly and note how beautiful Royal North Shore looks like all lit up at night.
We drive home, holding hands.
“Well, at least my hospital bag is packed now…”