My story of Ruth
25 years ago I had a restaurant, a partner and a son.
All of those three things weren’t planned, but my daughter was.
I made a decision when my son was very young that he should have a sibling, and in hindsight, having 2 children made me into a better mother. One child was a handbag, 2 children was a family.
So I planned my second child, and the day I found out I was having her was the day I said good bye to her father, who was heading off to the unknown of fishing life in Bass Strait.
I had a restaurant in East Brisbane from when my son was 4 months old, and I kept it until Ruth was born 2 1/2 years later. I worked right until I was 8 months pregnant when I felt that I might fall over if I worked another day.
I remember the day I went in for my final examination at the hospital. I took my 2 and 1/2 yr old with me, who sat up on the bed while I had an internal examination, wanting to press all of the buttons. Most of these visits were on my own while their father was at Sea.
The doctor told me that I was a week overdue (had been 2.5 weeks over with the first one) he then told me of a long and arduous procedure that he wanted me to undergo to have this baby. My heart fell, I was in real fear of the public health system so told him I would call my Obstetrician. He kind of poo-pooed me then. So I phoned Dr Baer, my wonderful doctor who had saved the life of my son. He said that, knowing me, and my uterus !, that would all be a waste of time , and that I should request a cesarean.
I went back to the public health doctor with this advice ‘ my obstetrician said no, I want to have a Cesarean. He kind of laughed and asked me who had given me that advice. ‘Dr Baer, ‘ I said. At which point he went silent, and agreed with my request. So wonderful to have my super doctor on my side.
So I drove home, on my own, with my son. I phoned my family and said that I had to go to the hospital straight away, and could they pick up Alex and look after him while I went in to have the baby.
I don’t remember much that happened then, I guess people stepped up and helped me. The next thing I remember is that I was in the delivery suite, with my mother, who I had asked to be with me for the birth.
Things went wrong from there.
2 years before, I had a cesarean with Dr Baer, where I was conscious and listening to him talking through his decisions with a young doctor. I had a bit of science background, so had been taking all of this in.
At this delivery, the anaesthetist had checked with me a number of times if I was feeling the ICE on my stomach as a FEATHER. I continually said NO, it feels cold and wet. I knew how it was supposed to feel, so was feeling anxious.
Although I told them a few times that I could still wiggle my toes (not usual) they went ahead, telling me that the anaesthetic would kick in before the procedure started.
In a few moments, the doctor walked in, barely introduced himself , and cut me open. I grabbed the nurses arm , quite aggressively, and said ‘ I felt everything!’
In a panic mum was dragged from the room, the anaesthetist (clearly a junior) was hustled out, and I was made unconscious with a general anaesthetic.
In what felt like a moment, I woke up in the blaring lights of recovery to my sister and friend standing over me telling me that I had a daughter. I can’t tell you how beautiful those words sounded. Although I was very prepared to have a football team of boys, secretly I had wanted a girl.
I remember then that Diana asked me if I wanted to see her. I didn’t realise at the time that she had been taken away. Of course, I replied.
‘The mother wants the baby’ was the announcement across recovery! And my tiny baby was brought to me. Every memory of that moment is burnt into my mind (photos help) but I have such a clear recollection of holding this small beautiful perfect child. She was a little red, but that was a reaction to pethidine, which I demanded I be taken off.
So I had a second baby, and like a know-it-all arrogant parent, I thought I could do it with my eyes shut, just a repeat of number one. I was wrong.
But let’s first revisit how she found her name.
For about 3 days I bandied a few names around my visitors and family. I think that as I was choosing this one on my own, that I needed the input of those close to me , not entirely sure why. I remember my aunt and uncle visiting, about day 2, and Don said that he could happily call her Bubba for a few months yet with no trouble. It didn’t affect me, I wanted her to have her name.
As visitors came in I would say ‘ I am thinking of Nina, what do you think of that?’ And watch their faces kind of curl up.
Then one day, out of the blue, I thought of my middle name. I had considered it way back when I was first pregnant, as it was the name mum wanted me to have. But I dismissed it immediately , not wanting her to have my name. But then I looked at her, such a small face, so dark haired, so serious, so quiet, and I called her Ruth. Not religious, but Ruth was a wonderful person in the Old Testament stories .
Mum kind of got all teary when I told her. Everyone was just fine that I hadn’t gone through with my threats of Doris (after her grandmother) or Krista (after her father).
So Ruth Christiana was finally named.
And all of my mothering skills went out the window.
Ruth was littler than Alex, so fed differently. She loved routine, she loved sleep. I think she still does.
I remember one day Marina came to visit me . I had days of stress trying to get her to sleep late afternoon . I had walked her up and down the road with Alex (remembering that I was alone at home with a 2.5 year old) we didn’t get home cooked meals often as that was the time that it was taking to walk Ruthie off to sleep, sometimes we walked to KFC and back just to find food.
So this day, Marina, my sister with lots of baby experience, came to visit.
Help me, I said. I have walked her, fed her, everything, but she isn’t sleeping.
Marina took Ruth, said ‘is she fed, is she changed?’ I nodded. ‘So let’s put her to bed’ whereby she bundled her and popped her in the cot and shut the door. The little beast went right off to sleep. Over time I realised that Ruth just loved to go to sleep, to bed, without fuss. Thank goodness for sisters.
Ruth was a very shy small child. My experience with infants was limited to that of my son. I had never baby sat, was not interested in small kids until having my own. Alex was a bold friendly child, so of course I started to treat Ruthie the same. It didn’t last long
Ruth depended on her brother for everything. From bathing, to play, to sleep, they were inseparable. She was his delightful sweet shadow that cursed him but entertained him day and night.
There isn’t a photo of them in their infancy where they are without the other. It wasn’t for some years when he would say ‘she’s annoying’ and she would say ‘ he’s mean’ and even those years were few, for once they grew up, they were once again like the twins.
So Ruthie was a very sweet small child, whose favourite place was under my skirt. At least I could take her for cappuccino outings and she would just sit on the stool, and never roam, so unlike her brother, who led me on many a chase.
I didn’t realise for some years that a major part of her shyness was her very poor eyesight. She couldn’t see beyond a couple of metres, so of course she was wary of the big world that she couldn’t see. It would take 7 years before she was properly diagnosed, and didn’t have to sit a meter away from the TV with her eyes all scrunched up trying to focus on the program.
So this is the end of one version of my beautiful daughter Ruth. The baby that I planned, the baby that I fought so hard not to lose , and the baby that still has the most ardent passionate approach to life. I love her and have loved every moment of her since I decided I wanted her to come.
I hope that she finds something in this story that she didn’t know. I have plenty more of these to come.
Ruth at 4- Coolum Beach
Ruths baby Isak, 2 weeks old