08 August 1984

Letter: Baby number 3

Letter from Darwin 8 / 8 / 84

Just a quick letter - time is pretty short these days. I tried to write from hospital ... but all the little things become so big and important when you're lying in a hospital bed. Its the strangest thing: this time in hospital, and when I had Alison, and when I was recently in the antenatal ward, I found myself to be the only married woman in the ward. Babies are 'in', families, apparently, are 'out'.

Anyway, Jo Anna is a beautiful little girl. She has dark hair, and that typical 'Wickham' look - just like James and Alison really. But she is so placid - a real "sleepy Jo". When she does wake up, she grunts and rummages - takes ages before she cries. In hospital she had trouble with low blood sugar, then she went yellow (the other two never did) and she still has "sticky eyes", but otherwise she fared pretty well despite a difficult birth.

I guess Peter didn't have time to tell much on the phone. I suddenly felt very unwell on the Thursday (26th) with fever, headache, and pains all over, and I had a sneaking suspicion I could be in labour. I'd been warned not to go into labour. So we rang the hospital and they rustled up an anaesthetist who could do epidurals. We went in about 2pm Friday expecting just a check-up, only to find ourselves ushered hurriedly into labour ward. We passed a miserable 2 hours or so while they put the epidural in ... then waited (in the operating theatre) as my back went numb but my tummy stayed very sensitive! It was quite a relief when they finally insisted on a general anaesthetic. They let Peter be in the room to see Jo born - not that he had really wanted to, he simply wanted to sit with me (with his back to proceedings) during the planned birth by epidural. As it turned out, they had great difficulty getting Jo out - had to do a lot of pounding, pushing, and using forceps - but she was born face first and gave a good yell right from the start. And then after they turfed Peter out they had a hard time stopping me bleeding. Apparently the doctor very nearly had to do a hysterectomy ... I'm so glad I slept through it all!!

Despite all the drama, I got over it all much quicker than I did with Ali. I didn't even need a blood transfusion, and by lunch time Saturday I was walking around with surprisingly little pain. And this Saturday I came home, after 8 days.

Jo's been asleep a long time, I'll have to wake her up soon or she won't sleep tonight ... yes, I know it never works that way for babies. But if I don't feed her soon I'll burst.

The other two really love little Jo - but my time away caused some upset. James has developed a stutter. "I can't talk very well ..." he explains after struggling with a word for several minutes. And he blinks a lot. "My eyes won't work ..." he complains. Alison has been quite sick - fevers, diarrhea etc - poor Peter had to carry her around all day while I was away. But we are all improving now we are back together. Peter's parents are due here on Sunday to help for a while.