When I was pregnant with my third child I thought I would go to the luxury end of town for the birth. A new private hospital had opened offering spacious delivery suites with every mod-con including spa baths and heat packs and bean bags and drugs; lots of drugs, but what sealed the deal was I heard you could order a glass of wine with dinner. I was in!
Finally, when I was eight days over, it was time to go to the hospital at the typical time of 4am. I phoned the luxury private hospital and announced my imminent arrival only to have the midwife on the other end sound horribly disappointed and ask me if I could delay my arrival. ‘Are you sure?’ she asked.
‘Sure of what?’
‘Sure you’re in labour’.
‘Well it is my third child and I am more than a week overdue so I’m pretty sure I’m about to have a baby’.
‘Well it’s just we’re really busy and we don’t have any delivery suites available. Do you think you could call back in a few hours because by then we might be able to help you’.
‘Oh, certainly. I’m happy to fit in. I’ll just switch off those contractions. Easily done’, is what I felt like saying to such a bizarre request.
I stayed at home another hour but then decided it was time for Carl to drive me in with Arabella who was by now awake and super-excited. We arrived at the hospital at around 6am to be told, (as luck would have it), that an available delivery suite had miraculously become available. I cheered up instantly and was shown into this super-dooper room with an enormous ensuite with a spa and a little trolley bed under a warming light waiting for my baby. I got myself all unpacked and settled myself down onto the bed when another midwife came in and said, ‘You’ll have to move. We need this room for a more urgent case’.
I was stunned. ‘Where will I go?’
‘We have a Visitor’s Lounge. We can put you in there and as soon as a room becomes available we’ll move you back into the Labour Ward’. So I had to pack my things and move off the ward and into a Visitor’s Lounge that was brimming with people, mostly men making tea and toast and flicking channels on the communal TV looking for sports, sports and more sports.
Then my parents arrived because I had phoned them and asked them to pick up Archie from boarding school so he could be there to see his new baby brother or sister. So we were all in the Visitor’s Lounge together; mum, dad, Carl, Archie, Arabella, the men addicted to sports and me, because I had no where else to go. But no nursing staff. Or doctors.
I didn’t want a public birth and was trying to hide from everyone and wondering why they couldn’t at least put a screen up with a sign on it saying, ‘Woman behind here in labour. Do not stare or disturb’, when into the room came a woman looking to make herself a cup of tea. My mother looked up at her and said, ‘Karin! How good to see you. Is your daughter in labour?’
‘Yes, she is. We’ve been here since yesterday. Is your daughter here? What a coincidence.’
‘Yes, Charlie’s here. We got the call first thing this morning.’ And my mother searched the room for me, ‘Charlie, come over and meet my friend, Karin. You’ll remember me telling you that her daughter is also pregnant’.
No, no, I had no recollection of that at all.
And my mother turned to Karin. ‘But I didn’t think Sarah was due for another three weeks?’
‘She’s not’, said Karin, ‘but her waters broke yesterday so here we are but nothing much is happening, but she’s in a lovely room with a spa bath and she’s getting lots of TLC from a fabulous midwife’. And then she looked at me. ‘What’s Charlie doing in here?’
‘Well they haven’t got a room for her. All the delivery suites are full. So we’re waiting for someone to deliver and then she can be moved’.
And then Karin’s husband came into the room. ‘Charlie! Have you met my husband? Phil, this is Charlie, my friend’s daughter. Both she and Sarah were pregnant at the same time but Charlie was a month ahead so we weren’t expecting to have grandchildren born on the same day. Isn’t this amazing! Amazing we’re all here, waiting to become grandparents. This is so exciting. ‘
And everyone was so excited and thinking this was the best day ever which it was of course except that mine would have been better without a lot of introductions to friends of friends and perhaps with the sharpness of the contractions a little privacy and PAIN RELIEF would have been more what I was expecting from this luxurious private hospital. And when you’re in labour that is not the time to be adding more people to your Christmas card list.
In total I was in that room for two hours. At no time did a nurse enter the room. Actually they forgot about me. Somehow, between the changeover from the night-shift to the day-shift someone forgot to mention they’d put a woman in labor in the Visitor’s Lounge.
Feeling slightly desperate after my two hours of public labor, I barged through the doors of the delivery suites, went up to the nurses station and introduced myself; ‘Is there any room at the Inn?’
And they found me a room and Alfie was born just over an hour later with no drugs because they said it was too late to give them to me. Excellent!
While I didn’t get to try out the hospital’s spa baths, heat packs, bean bags or DRUGS, I did get to try the cakes wheeled in to the post-delivery rooms. And they were very good. I remember particularly liking the sponge cake.
And here’s my version of no-fail sponge that I’ve adapted from a recipe in The Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.
Never-Fail Sponge Cake
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: A sponge cake costs very little to make.
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup castor sugar
- 2/3 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup cornflour
- 1 tspn baking powder
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tspn butter
- 2 tbspns passionfruit pulp (approx 2 passionfruit)
Put eggs in small bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium to high speed until mixture is thick and creamy (about 6-8 mins). Gradually beat in sugar, beat until sugar is dissolved.
Sift dry ingredients several times to that all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Using a spatula, gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Do this lightly and quickly, so that the airy sponge mixture is not broken down, but make sure all flour is mixed in.
Pour mixture evenly into 2 well-greased 20cm round cake tins.
Bake in oven for 20-25 mins; cake is cooked when it shrinks slightly from side to tin or when pressed with fingertips and it springs back lightly leaving no impression. Turn onto a wire rack immediately and invert so that tops of cakes are uppermost. When cakes are completely cold, spread one cake with whipped cream. Put the second cake on top, ice with passionfruit icing.
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