Welcome to the latest pregnancy post from Jenn, our second time mother – now 29 weeks and happy to share her journey with us!
Follow Jenn and her family week to week as she reports on how things are going with No.2 and all the happy times, cravings, cramps, lack of sleep and joy that pregnancy brings.
Enjoy the ride and feel free keep Jenn company with your encouraging comments at the end of this post…
As many of you know Jenn and her family live in Christchurch and were involved in the devastating earthquake a couple of weeks ago. This week, Jenn shares her Quake story with us.
It’s now been a week since the February 22 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck my hometown of Christchurch. Long enough to process a little of what happened on the day, and short enough that I remember it well.
It had been a good Tuesday morning. I had a week of great activities planned, as it was my first week off work, and I was looking forward to spending time with Daisy, and going to various playgroups, catching up with friends. That morning we’d been out to the countryside to visit a friend from antenatal class. Daisy had fallen asleep in the car and I had miscalculated how long it would take to get back. I had a midwife appointment at midday and was very embarrassed to pull up in our driveway at 12.20pm. A quick, apologetic call to the midwife to reschedule, and Daisy was awake on my lap. She was a bit out-of-sorts and didn’t want any lunch so I asked her if she’d like to go to bed – fully expecting the answer to be “no” as she’d already had a 45min nap in the car. Surprisingly, she said “yes” and started trotting off down the hallway towards the bedroom. I tucked her up in bed at around 12.30 and went back into the lounge to sit on the couch with the laptop. Funnily enough we were both probably in the safest places in the house – thank goodness Daisy had strangely decided she wasn’t hungry otherwise we probably would’ve both been in the kitchen about to be pelted with glass jars.
At 12.51 the quake hit. I can’t remember much of how the earthquake actually felt – other than there seemed to be no warning – it was as if the force of 1000’s of bulldozers slammed into the house. At that first slam I leapt up and tried to run down the hallway to Daisy. I remember lots of very violent side-side shaking, and being focussed on trying to at least get another leap forwards every time I was thrown sideways. Forwards projection towards Daisy was all that mattered. I must’ve been thrown against something on my right side fairly heavily as the next day I discovered a several large bruises on my right side, including one on my large protruding belly. I reached Daisy fairly quickly I think, as the shaking was still going on, and apparently it was quite a short earthquake. She was lying on her back in her side-carred crib screaming hysterically. I think I was possibly screaming too. We know from the September quake that our bed is a safe place to be so I clung to Daisy and we rode out the rest of the quake. Daisy was sobbing and calling “Daddy, daddy”, and “fan, fan” – as the fan (along with all the other bedroom furniture) had fallen over. I was trying to calm her down but it was a bit pointless as I was so worked up myself.
After probably a minute or two I calmed down and told Daisy we should go and have a look at see what else fell down, and she could help me take some photos. At this point I don’t think I’d really registered what happened, some part of my brain thought it was an incident relating only to our house, perhaps a bomb or alien ship landed in the backyard or something. I hadn’t yet thought outside the 4 walls of our house. Having a task seemed to make us both feel better so I carried her down the hallway and we looked at the carnage in the lounge and kitchen. Daisy kept saying “pick it all up mummy, put it away”. At this point a large aftershock hit and we collapsed in a heap in the hallway door frame. It was now that I began to realise we had just experienced a very large earthquake – to my mind much, much bigger than the September one –as we only had a few things fall over then. As my mind make the connections – Phil at work in the CBD, daytime, people about, etc etc – I began to get hysterical. Poor Daisy still had her dummy in her hand from her nap, and tried to give it to me in an effort to calm me down. I calmed down enough to realise my cell phone was in my handbag – within arm’s reach so I grabbed it and started trying to get through to Phil. I was unable to, and started imagining the worst. Another aftershock hit and I realised that perhaps we weren’t in a safe place after all…the broken glass in the kitchen was in close proximity and was jumping all over the place during aftershocks. I also didn’t know if the house was ok, and was sure each shock would send it sliding off its piles. I decided we needed to shift to the lounge couch as there’s nothing there to fall on us, and it’s away from the glass. At this point the initial adrenaline had obviously worn off, as when I tried to stand a crippling pain shot through my pelvis. I tried several times but was unable to move. Being trapped during aftershocks and unsure if we were safe was very scary. I kept calling Phil and my parents. Finally Phil answered (it was the sweetest thing in the world to hear his voice) and said he was on his way home and would be there soon. We live within walking distance of the CBD. I was terrified of aftershocks while he was walking home. I called my parents again and this time made it through – asking them to talk to me to keep me calm for Daisy’s sake, until Phil got home. At some point I decided we really needed to shift position – and somehow – I’m not really sure how, but it involved a lot of pain, managed to get Daisy and I a few metres across the lounge. We sat cuddled up on the couch, strangely calm now, until Phil got home.
It was so fantastic to see Phil walk in the door. We had a big family hug and a bit of a cry together. It was only then as Phil started telling me some of the things he saw in the city, that I began to realise the true impact of the last hour. We were all were feeling really thirsty – shock perhaps, and I was worried about how much water we had. There was still a trickle of water coming out of the taps so Phil filled saucepans until it ran out. We did have some bottled water stored, but probably only enough for a few days, and we were beginning to realise that it could be much longer than that before we had water again. The afternoon seemed to go really quickly – it’s a bit of a blur now actually. Obviously I was unable to move, so I was stuck on the couch. Daisy spent most of the afternoon cuddled up with me. She would just work up the courage to get off the couch and start playing with her toys (she was very excited to have free run on of the games and puzzles I keep out of reach on top of the bookshelf – now scattered the lounge floor), when an aftershock would hit, and a look of pure terror would come across her face as she dashed for me. Phil spent the afternoon clearing up broken glass, talking to the neighbours and running for cover in the aftershocks. We re-convened every hour on the hour to listen to the news. As the afternoon wore on I wondered how I was going to manage going to the toilet – as even attempts to shift position on the couch were painful. In the end I took 2 panadol, waited 15min for them to kick in, and used a broomstick and the backs of chairs to make my way to the bathroom. It was incredibly painful, but quite necessary.
As evening approached we made the decision to leave the city to head up to Blenheim, as soon as we could the next morning. We went to bed once the sun went down. Daisy had been too afraid to go back into our bedroom earlier, but as it was later than our usual bedtime, she was sleepy and it was dark, and she didn’t notice so much. We kept her in between us, and surprisingly she had a fairly good sleep. Phil and I didn’t so much, the aftershocks were brutal, there were a lot of low flying aircraft and sirens, and I was in quite a lot of pain from my pelvis. I’m not sure I slept at all, although I probably did manage an hour or so. As soon as it was light Phil hurriedly packed up the car, cleaned the smashed food off the floor to avoid coming home to flies, and we left. Trying to find our way out of the city, and seeing for the first time for myself all the flattened buildings was overwhelming. I had a bit of a meltdown in the car but rapidly pulled myself together, as it was distressing for Daisy. I told myself to just get to Blenheim, and then I could break down once we got there. Luckily we had over half a tank of petrol left and easily made it to Kaikoura. The further away from the city we got, the more tension eased for me. I was beginning for feel safe. In Kaikoura we had a hearty cooked breakfast and a coffee, both of which went down extremely well – we hadn’t really eaten in nearly 24hrs, besides some fruit and some bread, as we were in shock, and didn’t think to. Kaikoura had run out of petrol and we needed more, but we decided to keep going and hope we made it to Ward to top up. Thankfully we did. It was so nice to arrive at my parents place in Blenheim. I spent the afternoon at the hospital being checked over due after my injuries, and was given the all clear by the evening.
Overall I feel amazingly lucky and somewhat guilty that we escaped so unscathed. Our loved ones are safe, our house seems ok. All we have lost is stuff, and confidence. As I approach the time that Daisy and I need to head to back I’m realising how daunting it will be. After the Sept 4 quake the aftershocks, while a nuisance, weren’t overly scary for me, as I kept telling myself “its ok, we’ve had the big one, everything else from now on is just going to be small shakes, which you can handle”. Unfortunately this no longer rings true. We no longer can console ourselves that the worst is over…it may not be.
As I finish writing this it’s been 12 days since the quake. My pelvis has healed well and I can now walk short distances. Daisy is beginning to get back to her normal self and is no longer exhibiting the nervous and out of character behaviour that she was last week. Phil has been back at work last week, and it seems life is slowly returning to a new kind of normal. Christchurch has lost so much, but it has also found a lot, in the form of united communities and human spirit. Life will be different, but for most of us, it will continue.
View outside our lounge window after the quake.
View outside Phil’s office window minutes after the quake.
To see more of Jenn’s pregnancy diary entries, click here.