Monday, November 8, 2010

Births, Deaths and Notices

Hubby missed the birth of our first baby. I'm not kidding. Obviously I didn't give him enough notice of the due date. 

I'm being sarcastic of course. Nine months is more than enough time, but when you live on a farm, things like shearing and harvest tend to take precedence over everything else. How incredibly foolish of me not to better organise something like a BABY to fit in with the farm schedule!

When hubby and I found out we were expecting baby number one, we couldn't wait to share the news. We promptly headed over to the in laws (Hubby's parents) to share the good news with them. The conversation went something like this.

Me: "So... CP and I are expecting a baby!"
Them: "That's wonderful! How exciting... and congratulations! When is it due?"
Me: "Ummm... I think the first week of May."
Them:"Hmmm. That's during shearing. Busiest week of the year." 

Of course, I'm paraphrasing.

And YES - and we definitely did this deliberately. We wanted to put everyone out as much as we possibly could! (At least, that's what I wanted to say. But of course I didn't.) So we made a few jokes about it all and went on our merry way. But the seed had been planted. Clearly we should have thought about this a little better. Maybe this was going to be a huge inconvenience to everyone? Maybe we should have had a family meeting about this and identified a better time of year to have a baby? And given Hubby's depth of devotion to the farm, what would this really mean for us? (All from the point of view of a hormonal pregnant woman).

Two weeks before baby was due, I was already in Brisbane, getting settled with family in preparation for the imminent arrival of the baby. I was relaxed and calm. And I mean REALLY relaxed and calm.

The night before baby was born (2 weeks early) I had spoken to CP, who was busy preparing for shearing. In fact the whole farm was abuzz with pre-shearing excitement. I had asked him to pack his bag in case he got a phone call, so that all he had to do was walk out the door... He assured me that he would. Hmmmm. Surely 7 hours of travel time would be ok given how long labour could continue for?

As soon as I knew I was in labour I had called home to let CP know. I caught his mother, and in between contractions I got the following information across.
"Ann! I've gone into labour. My water has broken. Can you tell CP he needs to get here QUICKLY."
"Oh hello, Jessie. How are you? CP has just headed up to the shearing shed. I'll try to reach him there."
"OK, just tell him to HURRY!"

I made it to the hospital with only an hour or so to spare! Olivia arrived safely (and quickly) in the presence of  my mother and I. Sadly, CP was the last one to know about the birth of his first daughter. And he even managed to score a speeding ticket in the process. An ordinary day all round, by anyone's standards. Ever the farmer, CP had received the message from his mother stating "the water has broken" and gone to check all the dam pipes, thinking something was wrong on the farm - not with his wife. I can laugh now. The whole thing was just so absurd!!!

But there really is something to the whole "births, deaths and notices" thing out here in the bush. Perhaps there is actually something about the dual meaning of 'notice'. Maybe that's why Charlie missed Olivia's birth!!!!

A country friend recently shared with me that her in laws regularly reflect on how the death of a family member (and the subsequent funeral) could not have come at a more inconvenient time. Harvest waits for no man. Even a man on his death bed. 

I don't mean to make farmers sound harsh and uncaring. In fact it is the exact opposite. Look at bush kids. They grow up understanding the natural cycle of things. We are born, we live, we die. Hopefully we have served a purpose, and then life goes on. That's not a negative thing either. When I was a kid, Mum and Dad used to indulge us with keeping pets, because it helps you understand 'life' better. This is the case on farms too. It's just funny how often the farm comes first. 

I have struggled with this over the years. I can be selfish. Actually, I am the Queen of Selfish sometimes. So when CP has tried to explain to me that without the farm, we don't have a whole lot, I get it. Farming relies heavily on uncontrollable forces, like the climate. You do what you can, when you can. Even if someone is having a baby, or dying. You sort of just try to pick up the pieces and keep going as quickly as you can. 

When you live in the bush, it's important to remember that your personal business is often the personal business of everyone in the district too. Mostly thanks to the local paper and of course, the bush telegraph (which is often faster). When I got engaged, there was a notice in the paper. When our children were born, there were notices in the paper. That's the way it goes. 

Everyone likes to 'know things'. Even country people. Even if it means they can't accommodate the new information because of work commitments. When you live on a farm, it's not just a job, it's your life. And I'm learning that more with every passing year. 

1 comment:

  1. Another brilliant post, Jessie. Really made me laugh. Farmers must be the same everywhere! Justine was born on 1 June, the day we took over a sharemilking contract, the most inconvenient day of that year. Her father made it to the birth (just) but had to leave soon after as our herd was in transit at the time. But he sent a mate in to visit me which caused a bit of confusion on the ward about which man was the baby's father.


Please leave a message! I love hearing from you!