Meeting Evie Nin
My second pregnancy was fairly straight forward. Aside from first trimester morning sickness and the general fatigue of also wrangling the tiny typhoon which was our now two-year-old daughter, I mostly felt quite good. Baby number two wasn't something we'd planned. I'd had three previous miscarriages, and as a result, we had decided to stop after Ruby was born. Obviously, the universe had other plans for us, though.
Unlike our first, we decided to find out the sex of our baby. I was convinced we were having a boy as I had much worse morning sickness this time around. The results came back, and we were, in fact, having a girl! Dad was one of the first people we told. He was generally the first person I told most things too. A look of shock came across his face ", but you told me you weren't having any more babies. I've told my friends you're a family of three. But that's fantastic news!'
Dad had been diagnosed with cancer around nine months beforehand. He'd had an operation to remove it, but halfway through my pregnancy, it reared its head again. He commenced chemo, which he wasn't adversely affected by because the chemo wasn't working. We remained positive that the next round might. Throughout my pregnancy, I was so busy with work, Ruby and making sure we spent as much time as possible with Dad that I often struggled to remember where I was in my pregnancy. I regularly had to check my app as to how many weeks I was, and unlike our first, I had no idea what fruit our baby was the size of.
All of my check-ups were thankfully non-eventful. The OB did say at my 30 weeks scan our little girl was measuring small, but there was no need for concern.
Our daughter was due on the 6th of February, and just after Christmas, Dad took a serious turn. He'd attempted another round of chemo, once again it didn't work, but this time he was physically ruined and so ill. He went into the hospital on New Year's Day. Every day Marty and I would drive the hour to visit him. He was struggling, but his mind and sense of humour were still intact. Every day we laughed, we cried, we reminisced. Nothing was left unsaid. Throughout my first pregnancy, Dad had badgered us for the name we'd chosen. We didn't tell him, but he was forever trying. "Come on, give me a clue! How many letters? So there's just one vowel is there?" He did the same during this pregnancy, always on the hunt for hints and trying to guess. When we realised Dad didn't have long, we told him the name we'd chosen for our daughter. He loved it and promised he wouldn't tell a soul.
He told us he wouldn't be able to hold on to meet her, we willed him to try but understood if he had to go. That conversation still makes my heartache. At one point, the doctors had given him 48 hours to live. 48 hours came and went, then another few days passed, and Dad had picked right up. The colour was back in his face, and his pain levels were good. So he was sent home.
The cancer hadn't gone. He was riddled, but he had a reprieve and could spend some precious days at home, in comfort, surrounded by his loved ones. On the 14th of January, 2019, Dad was rushed back to the hospital, and we rushed to be by his side. His last moment of consciousness was greeting Marty and I and saying "hello baby; I'm not very good."
My darling Dad, my best mate, passed away that afternoon. I turned 38 on the 15th of January.
After Dad passed, we set about organising his service and other things. I thought I was handling matters, but I was utterly heartbroken. My brothers and I joked that me having our baby early would really top things off. At 1 am on the 18th of January, I woke and my underwear was wet, not saturated, so I changed them and went back to bed. A few hours later, the same thing happened. I said to Marty, "you're not going to believe this, but I think my waters are breaking.' I also started to have very mild contractions. We rang the hospital around 7 am, and they said to come in. Our friends arrived and collected Ruby, and we then headed in. I was checked and confirmed my waters had broken. I was told to go home and come back when things were moving. Being baby number two, I actually understood this now, whereas with Ruby we rushed in when I was one centimetre dilated.
It all felt very surreal, I couldn't quite comprehend that this was happening just after Dad had died, but I was calm and focussed on what lay ahead.
Meanwhile, Marty got a bout of gastro, so for most of the day, he was held up in bed! At about 2 pm, the contractions started to increase. It was also here that I realised with everything going on; we hadn't got the capsule installed in the car! So, I rang a lovely man, who came around and fitted it for us, while I was leaning over the car contracting and Marty was in bed!
Marty was starting to come good, and by 4 pm, I knew we needed to start thinking about getting back to the hospital.
We arrived back there at 5 pm, my contractions were coming very regularly now, but I was still calm and focusing on my breathing. Something in me was allowing me to believe that everything would be fine. I would be fine; we would all be fine.
I had to be checked as the nurse said: "you're very calm. We need to check how far dilated you actually are." 6cm and upstairs I went. The whole time I was thinking about Dad and just the craziness that our little girl had decided to come so close to after he'd passed. I remember thinking "I bloody wish you were here, Dad, I need to tell you what's happening!" I got into the birthing suite around 7 pm. One of the midwives was a student, and she was just lovely. We talked about Dad and how we'd told him the name for our baby.
I literally went from calm to 100 in around half an hour, the contractions now were full-on, and after trying a range of positions, including all fours while the midwife shone a torch (ahhh the gift of life), I was starting to struggle with the pain as well feeling exhausted and very overwhelmed. I asked for an epidural, but then the senior midwife said "Katherine, your baby is so close, having an epidural will slow things down. It's up to you, but I think you can do this." I remember saying to Marty "I'm scared" and he said, "you're doing so well, and Richie is with you." I don't really know what happened next, but our little girl came into the world at 8:28 pm. When the nurses opened the curtains of the window, there was the most incredible red sky, it really looked like it was on fire and the lovely student nurse commented that my Dad lit up the sky. I held our new daughter, so close and Marty and I broke down. He told me how proud Dad would've been.
We called our little love bug Evie Nin. Nin was my Dad's Mum and my beautiful grandma. They now rest together side-by-side.
The nurses did all their checks with Evie and asked if I'd previously had a small baby or if my ultrasounds had indicated she might be on the small side as she weighed just under 2.3 kilograms. It turns out my placenta had calcified, and Evie wasn't getting the nutrients she needed. We're not sure why this occurred. I'm sure all the stress had something to do with it. But our little girl knew what she had to do. As a result of her size, I was told I'd have to stay in hospital a while longer.
The first few nights were a blur, I was exhausted, I was worried about Evie, and I couldn't believe my Dad was no longer here.
It is still something I struggle with, that I can no longer pick up the phone and speak to him, hear his voice. It's a feeling I don't know I'll ever get used to. Marty was with us as much as he could be, but he also had to care for Ruby. I would literally sit in bed those first few nights cradling Evie and saturating her head in my tears. I kept asking Dad to give me a sign, show me he hadn't really gone, tell me you're with us, Richie. You can't actually have left us.
The nurses were amazing and so caring. They worked on devising a plan for me to attend Dad's service if Evie still needed to be in the hospital. Evie was a trooper, after losing a bit of weight to start with she started to make the gains she needed each day. She fed like a demon and was very placid. She had a mild case of jaundice so was put on a heated bed, thankfully she could stay in my room. I think I would've crumbled had she been moved out for extra care.
Dad's service was at 1 pm on the 23rd of January. He wanted a private burial after he passed, not even his family were allowed to attend as he didn't want us to remember him like that. At 8 am on the 23rd of January, the OB visited and informed me we were able to leave, and both Evie and I could attend his service. I was overwhelmed as I really thought Evie would've been staying in the hospital and I'd have to go without her. It was a fitting and beautiful service for Dad, over 500 people celebrating his life. I held onto Marty and nursed our little girl while we laughed and cried for a genuinely wonderful man.
Seven months on and the pain of not having him here is still immense, but we celebrate him every day, we talk about him all the time, and Ruby believes 'Papa' lives in her heart.
I look back at that time, and it still seems like a bit of an out-of-body experience. In a time of such sadness, we were given a beautiful gift of our daughter arriving early. I like to think Evie's timing was so the two of them could connect, obviously not on earthside, but that they passed on their way through, maybe gave each other a kiss and a high five. She let him go, and he helped her arrive. Despite being small, he gave her some of his strength.