Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kimberley time

Kimberley time is the phrase used up in this part of Australia to describe the laid back and slow paced way in which things tend to happen around here. But for me the time seems to be raging past at warp speed. In the last week and a bit, mum has come for a visit and then gone again, I've had my first foray down the Gibb River Road to Windjana Gorge to see a play performed, the kids have gone back to school, I attended a mass protest against the planned gas processing plant at James Price Point, have caught up a couple of times with a colleague from the old Tandem days, Kim has raced to the end of his fourth week in the outside world, work has continued on its relentless way and all this while operating at around forty percent efficiency thanks to sleep deprivation brought on by the aforementioned young human insisting on screaming through large sections of night. On the Friday morning I snapped and took out out the screen of my laptop with a right cross that had me channeling Mike Tyson. It had been a day of such frustration that I even considered biting the ear off it as well if only I could have found one. The laptop had been provoking me for some time. Randomly changing the window I was on. Moving the cursor to different and unexpected parts of the screen. And my all time favorite, just hanging there, unresponsive to the press of any key. No matter how hard the key was pressed. Or pounded. Now if I was in another part of the country, I could have taken the laptop back to where I bought it. It was after all only three months old and still under warranty. But this is Broome and the closest branch of the shop I purchased the computer from is more than 2,000 kilometres away. Fueled on a night of only several hours broken sleep, when the machine froze for the third time in ten minutes I could take it no more and my fist crashed into the 15.6" screen driven by a NVIDIA NVS 5100 graphics card with 1 GB GDDR3 dedicated video memory with all the might that I could muster. It didn't have a chance and was laid out flat in a portrait mode that I didn't even realise this model laptop was capable of. It resembled more a tablet model really. As I stared at the mangled HP display, which now displayed a permanent but attractive blue abstract pattern in a 3D mode that other manufacturers would be jealous of, I realised that my working week was over. And so with that my weekend was ushered in slightly early and my spirits immediately began to lift.

The Gibb River Road holds a kind of mystical quality for travellers. It is an unsealed road that travels more than 750km through the heart of the Kimberley, one of the last great wildernesses of Australia. During the wet season, which recently was from November through May, the road is more or less closed. The rivers run high and flow fast, creeks flood to become lakes and waterways spring up where previously was dry land. The road becomes impassable and takes a battering from the elements. It needs to be graded to become traversible again even for the sturdiest four wheel drive vehicle. Even in the dry the road has its challenges. Potholes disguised with bulldust, pointy stones and rocks waiting to puncture a tyre, violent dips in the road that appear without warning. We've been planning to take the van down the Gibb River Road for some time and have been met with the full gamut of stories ranging from those saying we'd have no trouble to those who believe we should seek psychiatric help for even thinking of taking a van down there. Let alone with a relatively new born baby. So to have reason to drive at least a section of the road prior to taking the van down was an excellent opportunity to see for myself. Our initial destination was Windjana Gorge to see a production of the play Jandamarra.This is based on the true story of an aboriginal boy who came to lead a somewhat successful revolt against the white settlers and who is held in spiritual regard within the indigenous communities. The events in this historical account all took part in the Kimberley around Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. So to see the play set against the backdrop of the gorge was a spectacular and unique experience. Being a couple of hundred kilometres from the nearest town made the staging of the play here even more impressive. It also meant that we would all spend a night camping in the gorge. Tori had felt that crowding six of us (including mum) into a small tent was not an ideal way to spend a weekend and so she had decided that her and Kim would stay back in Broome. Bridget likewise stayed home due to the continuous staffing issues that they are facing in their shop. So mum, Jaz, Finn and I made the journey with Marty, Oskar, Rav and Amy (who is up from southern WA and is now also staying in the house). The play was followed by a campfire drinking session with Shane (who organised the tickets) and a group of his friends. People retiring to their tents for the night as tiredness or the alcohol finally set in. At 72 years old, it was the first time mum had been camping and spent a night in a tent. The next day we had a proper exploration of the gorge and the Lennard River with its multitude of fresh water crocodiles. The kids swam through the water to a giant boulder, which they proceeded to climb and ultimately decided to use as a diving platform in which to launch themselves into the crocodiled water some 20 feet below. Finn conquered any fear of the crocs (they may be generally passive, but if you swam into one a freshie would still give you a nasty bite) but came undone on my old favourite. The fear of heights. He did better than I would have and made it to the top of the boulder, but when it came time to jump, he just froze. I recognised the situation well. I remember freezing myself halfway up a steep cliff when I was about his age. All of my friends clambered up as easy as anything. But I was stuck. I couldn't see how to go either up or down and was certain that my jelly legs wouldn't support me and I'd fall. Eventually a good friend managed to talk me down by showing me exactly where to put my feet. And in the end, that is exactly the course that Finn took. Rav showed him the path down step by step and he slowly made his way back to the water below. It's bad enough having a serious phobia of your own but seeing it replicated in your son is equally bad. I felt for him. Jazzy had spent a few anguished moments peering over the edge before she could bring herself to leap off. But having conquered the fear and receiving the inevitable adrenaline rush that follows, she was back up the top to go again in no time. After the ordeal on the rock we left Windjana and continued on down the particularly dodgy road for a wander through Tunnel Creek and ultimately on to Fitzroy Crossing, where we stayed the night at The Crossing Inn which Shane manages. This "road" made the section of Gibb River Road we'd driven down seem like a regular highway. The road alternated between serious corrugations, deep sand and a number of water crossings. It was the first time that I've really put the car through anything major. With the newly acquired off road suspension, the Landcruiser did it easy. And I believe that if I take it slow and adjust my tyre pressure accordingly that the van would also have no problems. It seems in essence that it's a concentration thing really and the ability to not panic if you happen to meet a road train coming the other way on a section of narrow road. One slip of the mind and you could be lying in a ditch. And in a location far from mobile phone reception and not traversed by a lot of vehicles. That is where the danger lies. Nevertheless, this foray has given me confidence and an excitement to explore some of this amazing countryside in the far north of Western Australia. I'm looking forward now to when we depart Broome and kick back more fully in Kimberley time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Outstaying the welcome?

The first six weeks with a brand new baby are the most difficult. Living in someone else's house without really having your own space adds to the degree of difficulty. We've been at Bridget and Marty's house for just over six weeks now and the dynamic has changed. Unavoidable really when you inject a new born baby into the equation, but there are other forces equally at work. I feel now caught between a feeling of total appreciation for being provided a place to live, relieved to have a permanent base for a while and a feeling of being trapped somewhere that I don't really want to be. It is no doubt difficult for Bridget and Marty's family too having people staying in their space for such an extended period of time. And now to add to the mix, my mum is also here. Oskar and Rav have given up their bedroom to her for the week long duration of her stay. They don't mind too much as they get to sleep in the room with the 50" TV but I'm sure that they would rather that there was nobody else living in their house now. Even though I have got her bribing them by cooking up batches of cake and vanilla slices.

The plan had never been for us to live in the same house as these guys while we were in Broome. The situation just sort of evolved to this. I contacted Marty back in November of last year to see if he knew a local real estate agent that could help us rent a house for three to six months, telling him also that Tori was pregnant and that we were planning for the baby to be born in Broome. That way we could set up our own base for the initial period after the baby was born and have those guys just down the road to catch up with on a regular basis. It seemed like an ideal solution. But all of a sudden we got wrapped into their plans which included the building of a new house and a six month stay in France in which case they would need a housesitter anyway. I was assured that we would have our own place to live in Broome without need for an estate agent, maybe we'd even have two places. And so it continued throughout the last six months of our journey. Are you sure it's all still ok for us to come and stay in the new house, I would ask. "Absolutely, of course", was the answer. Is everything on track with the building? Will it be ready for us? "There will definitely be a completed bathroom and a number of other rooms", was the response as recently as May. "Though it's not looking like we'll be in France now". Do you mind if my mother comes over for a couple of weeks after the baby is born, I inquired. "Well you'll have the house to yourselves, so you can have anybody you want come to stay", was the answer. I don't blame Marty and Bridget for the situation. Their intentions were certainly for the new house to be completed and also for them to be in France. But a combination of a long wet season, problems finding a manager for their store and other assorted family issues made it all a bit too much. By the same token, I refuse to feel now that I am imposing in any way whatsoever, as the situation is also not of my making and we now don't have any viable alternative. But it is far from ideal. Regardless of all else, it would seem that we have another six weeks thrust together. Two families including four children and a baby. And for the moment a grandmother.

We've had many people stay with us over the years, but the longest I've had visitors lob into my house for an extended period was when the two young cousins came to stay with us in England. They were straight out of home, two young girls of nineteen and twenty who were used to being looked after in all ways by their mother. Our apartment was barely big enough for two people, let alone four. Apart from Tori's and my bedroom, we had a tiny spare room that could only fit a single bed if it was oriented in one particular way and a small lounge room that fit barely more than the fold out couch and the TV. I forget how long they stayed. It was at least six weeks. Perhaps it was a couple of months. I was often working nights and when I would come home from the office, I'd find somebody asleep in every room so had nowhere to go to wind down. In the end it was completely driving me crazy. The girls had never done anything domestic in their lives and so expected that Tori and I would just do everything for them like their parents always did. Both had hair that hung halfway down their backs, so long strands of hair filled the house in every possible corner.The sink and shower were regularly clogged. It never dawned on them to actually clean up after themselves. Tori would cook every meal for them . They never offered to do the dishes even once during their stay. They didn't buy one thing for the household. To make it worse, one of them was particularly rude, especially to Tori. Selfish and rude. Not my favorite combination. We couldn't believe that they took everything so easily for granted. In the end, Tori and I decided that when the toilet paper ran out in their bathroom (we had our own separate ensuite) that we would not replace it and we would just see how long it took them to get it together to replace it themselves. We had hidden all of the spare rolls that were located in our ensuite as well as the tissues and monitored the situation with eager anticipation and amusement. When the roll was finally spent, it took them two days before they replaced it. I'm not sure what they had done in the meantime. Nor did I really care. When they finally moved out, we were relieved. I haven't spoken to the rude cousin since, nor do I care if I ever do again.

I've always been conscious of pulling my weight when I've stayed with somebody else. I always contribute financially and try to do my bit around the place. I don't think there's been any issue with that during our stay here. But living in people's pockets for an extended period will often cause some angst. The smallest things can start to irritate. Tori would like now to be somewhere else. She is feeling battered and bruised from child birth and breastfeeding and is often up all night with Kim. It has left her feeling fragile. And she feels that she is receiving mixed signals about how welcome we really are here now. The main issue of contention has been more to do with the kids than any issues between the adults. It is now school holidays and while Oskar and Rav have loads of friends that they can go off and visit as well as all of their stuff around them, Jaz and Finn have no such luxury. They have a mother who is exhausted from lack of sleep and preoocupied by a new born baby and a father who has to work during the day. And all of their friends are thousands of kilometres away in Warrandyte. So they are mostly bored sitting around somebody else's house. On the days that Bridget has taken her boys fishing or surfing or crabbing or off to the block, our kids have not been invited. Their total exclusion from these activities seems a real and blatant snub. The kids all seem to play well enough when they are together, but the boys bitch and moan about Jaz and Finn behind their backs. And clearly not very far behind their backs because I know about it. It's all left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Even though I understand that the boys are young and are missing their own space, I find the situation and the way that it's been handled somewhat disappointing. I am looking forward to being back on the road, just the five of us, with the scenery once again changing with regularity. But with Kim on board now the whole thing will be a completely new situation. I expect in reality that wherever we were living during this time things wouldn't be ideal. They never are with a newborn baby. Not for the first six weeks. And I'm not sure that a caravan park with shared bathroom facilities or camping ground with no facilities at all will be a step up. At least here in Broome we are settled in the one spot and we are in a town with facilities such as the hospital and midwives. And we are with friends. That much hasn't changed. And Bridget still is cooking most nights which is as delicious as ever. The kids will go back to school next week and the dynamic in the house will change once again as everybody settles back into normal routine. Then it will only be a few weeks before we are off to Cape Leveque for a week's holiday. By then Tori will be physically healed and Kim will be around seven weeks old and hopefully more settled. I'm hoping that the trip to the cape will whet all our appetites once more for continuing our exploration of Australia and we will then be coming back to Broome to pack things up and once more take to the road.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The final cut

As the years have rolled on by, my religion has simply fallen away. Not that mum and dad were particularly religious. We were a jewish household but only really upheld some of the traditions. A day in the shule and some fasting for Yom Kippur. The first night passover seder with the soundtrack to Fiddler On The Roof playing and the hunt for the afikomen. After the mandatory four glasses of wine, mum would be up and dancing and trying to coax the rest of us up for a dance. It was always a fun night. And there would be honey cake and a plate of apple and honey to bring in a sweet jewish new year at Rosh Hashanah. But that was pretty much it. And to a degree a lot of the festive rituals became more a tradition of our family than anything that was necessarily common to any other jewish household. Dad always said that he liked the traditions and customs of judaism but was pretty much agnostic when it came to the religion part. I did my barmitzah when I was 13 and probably knew more about the religion than either of my parents. And I guess the only thing that ever really made me feel strongly jewish was any showing of anti-semitism. My grandmother had both of her parents and six siblings murdered by the Nazis in Riga during the holocaust. It was a very sobering thought as a child to know that if I had have grown up in that place and time that I too would have been crammed into one of those trains and sent off to a camp to be gassed. Nothing to do with what I said or did or felt, but just because of the religion I was born into. And the more I learned about religion, the more it seemed to be the root cause of so many of the world's troubles. The "we are right and they are wrong" mentality. So many wars. So many persecutions. And everybody so adamant that they knew the answer when it seemed more and more unfeasible to me that any of them really knew any definitive answers at all. "The jews are the chosen people" I was told when I was young and I was happy to believe it. It seems to me to be an attitude that should be adopted by all religions, just not in a way that excludes all others. "We're the chosen people, and so are they" seems a much better approach. I think "being chosen" gives a feeling of confidence to undertake almost anything. I have taken that feeling with me but have let everything else to do with the religion pretty much slip away. I haven't been inside a synagogue for years. The only reminder of the religion I grew up with is now really at passover time when we go over to Mum's place and I read the abridged version of the seder with my own interpretation of events. Questioning how the plague of blood actually manifested itself, what exactly a mixture of noxious beasts actually means and what kind of god would be so vengeful as to slay the first born of the egyptians regardless of what they had done to the jews. It seems such a fanciful story to me that I can't reconcile it remotely with reality, even though I have stood on Mount Nebo in Jordan with Bedouin goat herders and looked down on to Jerusalem, just as Moses was purported to have done some three thousand years ago in the story of exodus. My cousin, who grew up in a more religious jewish environment than I, told me that recently when he was reorganising his bookshelves, he had moved the religious texts down to the fiction section of his library. This is how I have also come to feel. So through my now secular non-religious life, the indoctrination of my youth raised its head for the first time in years with the birth of Finn. My first son. The question then came, should he be circumcised or shouldn't he? The saying goes that the jews are the most optimistic people on earth because they cut a bit of the penis off before they even know how long it's going to be. And so it is, that according to jewish law, a male child shall have the foreskin of his penis removed when he is eight days old. My parents, well my mother anyway, provided the expectation that "of course he will be circumcised won't he"? Not so much a question as a statement of desire. I wasn't so sure and began looking into reasons for and against. I hoped that I would find some good reasons "for" so that I could reconcile my logical feelings of what was right with cultural expectation that I seemed to have not shaken off as much as I'd thought. On the one hand I had the recollection of meeting a crusty bloke years ago at the pub in Mullumbimby who, on finding out that I was jewish, put to me "you're not going to butcher your sons are you"? He said that he had been circumcised at birth, even though not from a jewish family and felt in some way that it had mentally scarred him. He was looking into an uncircumcision operation where the remnants of the foreskin are stretched and coaxed into growing back to their original form. I suspect that he had a whole lot of other issues that had nothing to do with his penis, but the conversation stuck in my mind. Was I going to butcher my son because of some ancient custom? Was it really butchery? Were there any reasons that made it a good thing rather than bad? "It helps with resistance to the HIV virus", somebody told me. Finn's midwife Trish told us the tale of her brothers who had not been circumcised at birth, who had all had troubles later in life with their foreskins being too tight and so had to be circumcised as young adults. Ouch! That's got to be worse. But the most compelling evidence for circumcision came to me from a friend of Tori's. She had written a book on sex in which she interviewed a wide range of people on their sexual practices. She had found overwhelming evidence that women were more likely to give a blowjob to a man with a circumcised penis than to a man who was uncircumcised. How could I deny my new son the increased chance of being given head? Tori, from a very anglican non-jewish upbringing, had been very supportive through the whole process. She had let it be my call and I guess I found enough evidence that allowed me to justify my deep cultural historical reasons for having Finn circumcised. Even though he would never be recognised as being jewish anyway because his mother is not. And so with Finn only days old, living in the south of England, we went looking for somebody who could remove his foreskin. But no doctors seemed willing to perform this form of elective surgery. In the end we were directed by the hospital to a muslim man who performed circumcisions. Rather than the traditional jewish method of a drop of wine and a sharp knife, he used a glorified elastic band. "It will cut off circulation to the foreskin and it will drop off of it's own accord in a few days", he told us. Well this seemed a relatively painless alternative and so we gave him the ok. Tori felt bad about her new perfect boy having part of his body removed, but that night when we got him home things took a turn for the worse. While on the change table having a new nappy put on, things didn't look quite right. He seemed distressed and when he started to wee, liquid was squirting out as if from a multidirectional faucet. And he was clearly in pain. It was already around 10pm when we raced him up to the hospital. The guy who had performed the procedure in the morning met us and after examining Finn told us that one of the bands had broken and it had caused things to go wrong. He would now have to resort back to the knife and slice the foreskin off. Tori couldn't watch. I went in with Finn and pleaded to the doctor to ensure that he left my boy with a beautiful penis that the girls would love. He assured me that everything would be ok, but it was a horrible time. Finn screamed his lungs out in pain through the whole event, just as all boys do when circumcised. I mean, it's gotta hurt. My father had told me years before that he had cried while watching me scream as I was being circumcised and had threatened the doctor with physical violence. It's not a pleasant thing. This time everything worked fine, the offending piece of skin was successfully removed and I have no doubt that Finn's penis is as beautiful as anyone's. Hopefully it will attract much female attention and give him great pleasure throughout his life. But the other result of this horrible ordeal was that the last vestiges of religion in me were sliced cleanly away. I hated the fact that a custom created thousands of years ago had led me to this particular decision point that was contrary to modern medical opinion. I had found some reasons to justify my decision so that it felt more palatable, but when all was said and done I felt disappointed in the thought that perhaps I'd let down my son. Would he view me the way that feral bloke from Mullumbimby had and feel that I'd had him butchered? I certainly hope not. I've since reconciled this feeling to some extent by talking to Finn about it. And after all, I'm happy enough with my own penis and it has had the same treatment as Finn's. And so now, almost ten years later, here we are again. I have a new little boy and the same question needs to be answered. But now I'm a decade on from having had religion circumcised from my life like an unrequired piece of extra skin. And the answer is no. This time there will be no circumcision. I do have some reservations though. Nobody in my family has ever had a foreskin, so I have no idea of family history as to whether Kim's will fit properly or not. I guess we just have to hope that nature works properly. And will he have some kind of complex develop because he is in some way "different" from his father and his older brother? I guess that will be balanced by the fact that he will be the same as most of his friends. As for the blowjobs, I'm hoping that he'll be blessed with enough charisma and charm to have his fair share. It would be disappointing to think that he'll miss out in any way on that score.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A brand new person

Amid a flurry of liquid and goo a brand new little boy slithered his way out into the world. He had a tinge of blue at first and seemed to be having slight trouble clearing his airways. After nine months of waiting for him to arrive, it all happened very quickly in the end and seemed to even take him by surprise. Two hours earlier, Tori and I had been in bed in the van. Tori was trying to sleep after another uncomfortable day of carrying around a large watermelon under her top. She'd been having back pains and was struggling to walk less than 100 metres to the car from the Dragonfly cafe. As it was three days past the due date, we'd been in to the hospital in the afternoon to discuss a possible date for inducement. The midwife said that typically babies heard the discussion and decided to come out that night. And so was the case. I saw Tori grimacing in the bed and holding her back and so enquired as to whether she was ok. "I've just got this full on pressure pain in my pelvis", she told me through a couple of gasps. "But it seems to be going now". Hmmm... pressure pain in the pelvis that comes and goes. Do you think you're in labour, I asked her. "No, I don't think so", was her reply and then grimaced again as another wave of pain took her. OK, well I do. And with a quick round of "ooh the baby, ooh the baby", I assisted the waddling Tori to the car. Already she was struggling to speak due to the intensity of the contractions which seemed to be coming less than four minutes apart. Everything in Broome is close by so we arrived at the hospital in a jiff and pulled into the emergency entrance. With the aid of a wheel chair, we made our way to maternity only to discover that the birthing suite wasn't ready yet for a new occupant. When we had been in earlier that day, three women were currently in labour. As the hospital only has two birthing suites, I was happy that the baby had been able to hold on at least for a few hours. We sat and waited for the room to be cleaned while Tori's contractions built in intensity. The midwife was to tell us later that she thought that the baby was going to be born in the waiting room. Finally all was ready and we were ushered in to the birthing suite.

There are several things I remember about Jazzy's birth. I'd been at work that day down in Brighton while Tori had been home in Fulking drinking raspberry tea and walking up on the Sussex downs with her mum. The baby waited until just after I was home from work before injecting Tori with the "get me out of here" hormones that trigger labour. And so we raced up the M23 to the hospital in Haywards Heath. The first few hours were spent in a private kind of a waiting room. The wait being for Tori's cervix to dilate to 10cm. We'd done all the antenatal classes and so had some idea of what to expect. We went through the breathing exercises together between Tori's contractions and discussed the birthing plan. After contracting for a couple of hours, Tori was particularly horrified to hear that she was only at 4cm. All that pain and still no real result. With it being a first child, I don't think she realised she wasn't really in pain just yet. That was all to come. The whole labour for Jazzy took six hours with the last two a significant step up in intensity. While Tori screamed loudly, I remember the top of a little head with hair appearing from between her legs, only just distinguishable from her own body. With the next contraction and a good push, out she came accompanied by emotions in me that were unlike anything I'd felt before. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or laugh, so I did neither really. Just stared and let the emotion wash through me. It was quite overwhelming. The intense agony that Tori had been in only seconds before seemed to vanish without trace and be replaced by a sense of relief and happiness as the rush of endorphins kicked in. While no birth is easy, Jazzy was quite small and so it was likely not as difficult as it could have been. Or as difficult as Finn's was to be. I could tell that Finn's birth was more difficult because the level of pain seemed to have been ratcheted up at least a couple of notches. Whereas Jaz had been 6lbs9 when she came out, Finn was to be 9lbs3. The final stages of his birth were excruciating enough to watch, let alone to have to go through. We had a jokey kind of midwife who was full of cheer and laughter, but I got the feeling that Tori wasn't finding too many of the jokes very funny. At the business end of proceedings, Tori was in agony screaming "cut me open and scoop him out of me". The midwife chuckled. She then told Tori that at the next contraction she should push as hard as she could to push that baby out. The midwife said she would be behind the kneeling Tori and would catch the baby. She would then pass the baby up through Tori's legs for her to hold to her breast and the baby would do his part by immediately latching on to her nipple. The plan sounded solid and quite achievable. Tori fulfilled her part by squeezing Finn out with a bloodcurdling howl. The midwife, perhaps representative of the poor state of English cricket at the time fumbled the baby and dropped him on to the bed. She recovered him and passed him to Tori who seeing him covered in goo made comment that he looked slightly other worldly before recovering herself and holding him to her breast. Finn performed his part of the plan to perfection and latched on to the nipple for all he was worth. The execution had been a bit sloppy but the desired result was somehow achieved. Having finally made it through the ordeal, Tori again seemed in blissful relief. It became clear that as soon as the baby is out, all that pain just completely disappears.

Many people seem to believe that because a labour goes for only two hours that it means that it was relatively easy. Perhaps it is compared to the horror 24 hour labours that you hear about, but it didn't look so easy from where I was standing. It seemed that Tori had just bypassed the initial stages of labour this time and fast forwarded straight to the end game. The contractions seemed continuous and intense. I was armed with some acupressure techniques thanks to my acupuncturist friend Matt and was digging my thumbs and my knuckles into Tori's back as hard as I could. I could see the red indentations in her back from where my thumb nail had dug and so bit it off to try and ensure that I didn't draw blood. Not that she would have noticed. The midwife wanted to examine her early on to see how dilated her cervix was. Tori was in so much pain that she couldn't lie down in to the required position on her back. Instead she was moving around the room like a wounded animal, not sure where to go to make the pain go away. She'd lean over the bed or get down on her knees, and demand I dig my knuckles in to her back harder. I told her that her fitness clients who moaned after she had run them into the ground would probably like to tell her to "suck it up princess" and I was happy that I survived the remark. Most of my other comments were on the more encouraging side, but when presented with a good line to deliver, I find it difficult to hold back regardless of the circumstance.
Perhaps some of my teachers could have foreseen that several years earlier as they scrawled "makes inappropriate comments in class" on my report card. I told her that I'd been disappointed with the lack of abusive language during her previous labours and so was happy to hear a more liberal usage of the word "fuck" this time around. I knew that the baby was almost there when I heard her scream at the midwife to "get him out of me". It's very common at the final stage for a bit extra to be discharged before the baby emerges and I'm sure this won't be the last time that this child gives Tori the shits. But with one more push out he came, his shoulders and body slipping through easily in one movement once the head had emerged. It's quite an act of contortion the way a baby revolves its body around as it slides out. It seems unfeasible that it could fit through that relatively narrow opening. As the relief flooded through Tori, the midwife clamped him up and offered me the surgical scissors to cut the umbilical chord and set him adrift from his mother. She then placed him under the heater on an examining table and blew oxygen into his face through a tube to assist his breathing. After a few moments his little lungs kicked into gear and he let out a wail that I'm sure will not be as joyful to hear in the future as it was then. Tori beamed as her new little boy was passed back to her and she assisted him in working out how to get to the food now that he was outside her body. I kissed Tori and told her what an amazing job she had done. And then looked at my new son. What will he become I pondered. Will he be an artist, a sportsman, a musician, an accountant, a plumber, the president of Australia, a 30 year old guy on the dole?  He is still a blank sheet. Anything seems possible at this stage. The only things for certain are that he was born in the Kimberley and he will start out his life in the Good Ship Utopia. Our voyage around Australia enters the next stage. We have been joined by Kimberley Utopia Swedosh. And now there are five of us.