I got back from my trip to Canberra for the homebirth rally yesterday morning. It was quite a hectic adventure! Incredibly, I managed to drive 2200km, (1400mi) spend 24 hours in Canberra, breakdown and get stuck in nowhereseville overnight and still make it home again in less than 4 days!
I had thought I was going to do the drive on my own, but at the last minute one of my clients called up and asked to come with, so I had an 8 months pregnant woman and her 2 year old son with me in the car.
The drive was pretty easy and we took lots of breaks – it’s so nice to have a van with a bed in the back so we could take comfy naps at rest stops.
Canberra was freezing cold – 14C when I’m used to 30! and on the day of the rally it rained (of course). That didn’t stop around 2500 people coming to show support for homebirth.
People gathered in front of the Old Parliament House, by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy where there was a ceremonial fire and some speeches made. Then the crowd marched, banners and placards waving, to the front of the New Parliament House for the demonstration.
The crowd was pretty thick – mostly pregnant mamas, and mamas with babies in slings, or toting children. There were heaps of children and babies toting signs (or with signs pinned to their slings or clothing) saying which room of the house they were born in. This one was particularly cool :)
It was almost impossible to get in near enough to see the stage!
I walked around to the front to snap a photo, but it was still hard to see.
Mostly I was meeting and catching up with friends. It was awesome to meet so many friends from Liberated Learning that I’d never met in real life before! And it was great to catch up with old friends, and see other independent midwives.
I even got to meet Lisa Barrett which was quite an honour
And best of all; Currawong was up on the stage playing her awesome homebirth song.
After the rally, we went for lunch with Artemis of the Eucalypts and her family, and my friend J to the Asian Noodle House in Dickson for the best Laksa ever (yeah, they have weird place names in Canberra – funnier than Dickson, they have a suburb called Downer)!
Then it was back on the road, trying to get home by Tuesday night. However, about an hour out of Canberra, the car broke down. We stopped for petrol and the car wouldn’t start again – totally flat battery.
Thankfully I’m in the NRMA (AAA equivalent), so I called them, and was informed there would be a 90 minute wait for a patrol to come out. I mentioned that I had a pregnant woman and a baby in the car with me, and we were put on priority – someone came within half an hour.
The NRMA guy was very nice, and managed to jump start the car, but he said the battery wasn’t charging at all because the alternator was dead and we’d have to be towed to a mechanic. He called the NRMA tow-truck, and told us there’d be a 2 hour wait.
I called them back and mentioned again the pregnant woman and baby, we were again put on a priority list, and the tow truck came within half an hour. All the time we were waiting, the 2 women working in the petrol station were so nice – gave us hot soup to eat (artificial instant soup, but in the words of the woman who gave it “more nutritious than McDonalds” LOL), old magazines, coffee, and even offered to drive us to town.
Anyway, the tow truck came and took us with the car to a mechanic, and then to a hotel for the night (being that it was after 5pm). Thank goodness I remembered to mention to the NRMA rep who booked us into the hotel that I am travelling with a pregnant woman and baby, so they paid for us to get a bigger room, and to check us in for 2 nights so we wouldn’t have to check out at 10am before the car was ready!
At noon the next day the mechanic said there was nothing at all wrong with the car and we were good to go! Grrrr! Turned out it was a really simple thing – the battery terminals weren’t screwed down tight enough; something the NRMA patrol man should have seen and fixed in 30 seconds.
Oh well – the universe wanted us to stay a night in Mittagong, coincidentally, just up the road from where my friend’s son’s great-grandfather lived, so while we were waiting for the car to be “fixed” she went up to visit him.
Finally, we got on the road again, and made good time; we stopped to sleep at midnight, just 2 hours from home, and got up early in the morning for the last bit of the journey, arriving at 8am.
It was a fun adventure, but it’s good to be home and see Littletree!