I waddled into 1988 in a blur of hospital admissions, Doctors appointments and the frustration of a pregnant Mum just waiting for the delivery to hurry up. The confusion over my dates added to this frustration as no-one was really sure when I was actually due. My thyroid medications were still being closely monitored and adjusted almost daily with the best interests of Mother and Baby being finely balanced by a team of highly skilled professionals. There were a few false starts and visits to the delivery suite…. but no baby. Allyson delivered her twins, Jason & Megan, on the 28 January and I lost my companion for the hospital stays…. I never really thought I would see her again as is the nature of those friendships made in forced circumstances.
Finally on the 9th of February I knew that it was time. I took Riki to morning kindy, picked him up at lunch time, took a quick trip around the supermarket (with many rest stops) and then decided to make my way to the hospital at about 2pm. The staff already knew me and were not really expecting this visit to produce much more than the previous ones so I was processed in a fairly relaxed manner. By 2.45 it was apparent that I was actually going to have this baby very soon and an ad hoc team was hastily put together. Because of the nature of the thyroid medication and its unknown effects on a developing baby I was attended by a team including paediatric and medical specialists as well as the regular obstetrics team – quite a crowd. Mum was there to witness the birth of her third grandchild having missed the first two due to living in PNG at the time.
Just after 3pm on 9th February 1988 Dianne Marie Kyle arrived calmly into our lives. After a quick check over by the paediatrician, and some sampling of cord blood, she was declared to be in perfect condition although slightly over-cooked. We were sent up to the ward and 4 days later, after further tests, we were sent home. Home at this time was a farm cottage up on the ranges about 30 minutes drive from Rotorua.
The thyroid medication and hormones quickly blended with the post pregnancy hormones and lack of decent sleep to create total panic. Here I was with no transport, unstable power and phone connections due to the weather along the ranges, a pre-schooler, a toddler and a newborn baby who may or may not develop complications from my thyroid medication.
I freaked out.
We moved back into town and while outwardly I was calm, in control, participating in Kindergarten activities, assisting at the family business…. really normal…. inside I was a ball of panic.
Allyson invited us to the twins Baptism, not expecting us to attend. We did, we went back to their place for lunch and the afternoon…and our friendship re-started on a more normal footing. Jason, Megan and Dianne spent many hours growing up and playing under the watchful eyes of Riki and Alisha at our place and theirs with Ally and I sharing the tasks of preparing bulk quantities of baby meals for the freezer and biscuits for our husbands.
During this time we also developed a friendship with the kindy teacher, Janice Berkers, and her husband Martin who lived quite near to us.
My thyroid continued to dominate my life as the pregnancy hormones subsided and the balancing of medications continued. By midway through the year it was decided that the medical interventions were not keeping me stable and the decision was made for a surgical intervention to remove most of my thyroid. The sub-total thyroidectomy was performed on 16 September 1988. While I was expected to be in intensive care initially post op the stay was extended due to complications. In the early hours the morning after my operation I couldn’t breathe and my whole body started to cramp up. The staff were making frantic calls and looking in medical books while getting me to breath through a paper bag. That had to rank as a top 5 scary moment in my life – probably number 1. Eventually they realised I was having a tetany attack due to low calcium levels caused by damage to my parathyroid glands during the surgery. WHAT????
Thankfully the children were in shared care between my parents and ma & pa Phipps. My hospital stay lasted over two weeks with much of the time spent in Intensive care as I received large doses of intravenous calcium. I was essentially well and able to get up for personal care but had to be hooked up and monitored closely while on the meds. Intensive care is an awful place to be when you are conscious. It is a hard place to sleep due to the critical nature of patients, there is little privacy and no filter from the life and death situations occurring just through the curtains. It is a place to really reflect on life and death…..
I freaked out some more – lots more.
Alisha turned three and Riki turned five. 1988 ended and so did my marriage. I was lucky to have the support of Mum & Dad, Garth & Ruth Phipps, Allyson and Janice as I transitioned into the life of a single parent with financial support from the government. WHAT?? I had become one of “them” – the people from down the hill. This was never the plan and aaaaatgghh – more freaking out.
I think I stayed freaked out for about 18 months or longer…perhaps even the next 18 years… while still carrying on a normal looking life with my three beautiful children.