Motherhood Is Double The Wonderful Trouble When You're Expecting Twins
Australia needs to make childcare work for families and make work more family friendly for all of us.
My husband is 6000 kilometres away in Jakarta and I am waiting for a doctor to tell me why I'm bleeding. A friend is with me and is much-needed company, but otherwise I am traveling solo through stress, pain and general uncertainty.
It is just a little blood, but it could mean a lot or nothing at all.
No one said having twins in my, gasp, 40s would be easy. I have made it to 36 weeks with all sorts of health issues. My ribs are being painfully pushed out, I am pricking my finger four times a day and struggling to count carbs correctly, plus our bright toddler demands and should have me. Without my husband I have depended on family and friends stepping up and helping out, every day and every night, even from other cities. I just cannot do this alone.
To give me privacy, my friend ducks out of the hospital room before the doctor arrives. I notice someone else’s blood on the divider curtains.
I vainly search for some semblance of comfort on an impersonal hospital bed as kind midwives and doctors look for answers.
This time, no real drama eventuates and eventually I can go home to just labour through life, but it is another of the countless reminders of having to hold on as I prepare to expand our family by giving birth to two precious boys.
My husband has started a job overseas and the soon-to-be tribe will follow in July if all goes to plan, but I want my high-risk pregnancy and birth to be cared for within the Australian health system.
After five years in Canberra, the Indonesian capital awaits after we somehow pack up the house and our lives. We just have to get there. It’s been a wonderful, heavy, torturous ride. I want it to end, but not too soon.
It is bang on two weeks to go, but who's counting?
I want a giant banoffee pie at the end, damn it, but who's judging?
Now housebound, I feel like my world has closed in, as my focus narrows to delivery day in two weeks -- before it dramatically opens to having two new kids to love and care for.
For someone who loves to fly, drive and ride, walking up stairs has become a heaving chore. For a journalist who has travelled from Antarctica to Jerusalem -- and from Sarajevo to the advancing glaciers of Argentina -- leaving the house is impossible without considerable assistance.
My baby-ish daughter has started 'mothering' me. She insists on trying to feed me from my plate and she caught me in hormonal tears recently and stated, with a hand on my arm, 'Don’t cry mama. Babies cry.'"
But I will only describe. I will not complain.
This is how it is; wasted muscles, overly dramatic breathing, the intense need for sleep, inhuman food cravings and life-affirming kicks and punches in my ever-expanding belly. This is not permanent.
Neither is the family separation. It has been tough on all of us. It is has been three months, but not years.
It is just two weeks. We are so close now.
I’ve watched the family decisions of rising federal Labor stars Tim Hammond and Kate Ellis. I can understand that Hammond and Ellis could not do it to their young families anymore. Hammond’s recent announcement that he was leaving politics may have surprised some, but the Perth-Canberra-Perth-Canberra-Perth run is far from family friendly. The cities are 3,600 kms apart and Adelaide is hardly much better for people like Ellis.
Some politicians bring their young families with them for sitting weeks, but that it isn’t always possible. Federal politicians are in the national capital for at least a third of the year. Sometimes more. Barnaby Joyce virtually lived in Canberra. What a disaster that turned out to be.
I can understand the initial thought that such a burden of separation would be hard but doable, only to find in reality something else entirely. Australia needs to make childcare work for families and make work more family friendly for all of us.
But we should remember the stances taken by Hammond, Ellis and the Australian first of Larissa Waters standing in the senate chamber feeding her baby as she stood to address a motion. We often underestimate ourselves, but we can overestimate too. Where our families are concerned it is a question of priority and it should be number one. Always.
Politics, and careers in general, demand so much from us. After a 25-plus-year career in journalism, there is no way I could work at the moment, but I will again.
In the meantime, I have some sure-to-be-rambunctious darling babies to deliver.