I'm going to tell you a story about an experience I had that affected me deeply. I'm not sure what the moral is or if there even is one, but I know it is time to share.
Twenty years ago, I was in the thick of the party scene. For a few weeks, a gang of us lived out bush on a party site, setting up for a gig – we had an international DJ on the line-up, plus our usual in-house DJs and artists, and we were frothing in anticipation.
The night before the big night we had a few drinks, cooked some food on the campfire and told stories. Desperate to get an early night I phantomed away to the old Bedford bus I was living in at the time (totally boho, right). Naturally, I needed to pee in the middle of the night and half asleep noticed a friend in distress. She was seven-months pregnant and had apparently peed the bed. "Don't worry about it love, just tell Andy to turn the mattress over and get some yourself some sleep. We'll deal with it in the morning... it's normal, it's the baby pressing on your bladder,” was my advice. I sounded as though I really knew what I was talking about.
A few hours later, we were already up and about because we had so.much.to.do. I started giving orders and running around like a mad woman. And then everything either slowed down or went really fast – I can't remember, I just know the energy changed around me, violently almost. Louise, who should have been blooming at this stage of her pregnancy, was breathing really fast and looking at me with wide eyes and a look of ‘what the actual fuck is happening to me?’ on her face. With what little experience I had re. childbirth I realised with sudden clarity that she hadn’t wet the bed those few hours before. Her waters had broken.
The fact that Louise was seven months pregnant and not nine was clanging loudly in my ears as I screamed at them to get in the fucking car. I drove fast – as fast as I safely could, hazards on – through tight winding roads. There were no mobile phones in those days. We had no connection to the outside world, and I was in unfamiliar territory. The fight or flight reflex must have kicked in because I found myself craning for road signs to the closest town and skidding to a halt in a cloud of tyre smoke outside the hospital.
As we helped Louise into the emergency department her legs were wobbly and her breathing scarily fast. The hospital staff whisked her away, and I was brusquely asked to leave. I can honestly tell you I was shitting myself. With no working knowledge of childbirth I had told a young pregnant woman to go back to bed… after her waters had broken!
Winding forward about 12 years, I was back in Melbourne, after being OS for years. Randomly, I bumped into Andy and his daughter, Freyja – no longer a baby. Yes, she survived coming into the world, she must have been keen to arrive!
"Hey Freyja, do remember Colette? She saved your life. If it wasn't for her you wouldn't be alive…" Andy blurted out to this beautiful child who was looking up at me. Never one to miss an opportunity to shock, he is known for his way with words in a kind of blunt blokey way, you're feeling me?!
You see the thing is, I always thought of myself as the woman who almost killed a baby. The.woman.so.close.to.being.responsible.for.a.baby.dying.
I lived with that thought and it was a heavy weight on my shoulders for a decade. Louise and Andy had seen the part of where I actually got them to hospital just in time, but all I remembered was my bad advice in the middle of the night.
Perhaps I should get a psychologist to analyse that? Maybe not...
Freyja came back into my life again courtesy of COVID-19. The new Sass + Co. Body facial range had just arrived, but the product photographer and models weren’t able to work.
Cue Freyja, and her wicked step-mum (see what I did there?!), who turned up to my house in that time Melbourne had a COVID-19 get-out-of-jail moment with a case of beer and a camera. Unsurprisingly, Freyja was an absolute natural and with no makeup, experience or stylist she worked the make-shift shoot like a professional. I truly couldn’t have asked for a more perfect “face” for the Sass + Co. Body facial range.
So, I guess there is a moral to this story, one that I have been toying with recently, and that is that no matter how hard you are on yourself, there are always two sides to a story. I’m open to your comments – give me your best.
Oh, and Freyja, who has grown up to be quite the outspoken feminist (online and off) and a roller derby queen, has her own sustainable biz going on, up-cycling leather into intimate, versatile, rapture-ready body pieces + accessories.
Check her out: www.skanksinatradesign.com