Our little villa was in rough shape when we bought it two years ago. The roofing iron had 1,000 tiny rust holes. The hot water cylinder and electrical wiring had been stolen for the copper. And every room was full of rubbish.
As bad as all that may sound, the lounge was even worse. The windows had been smashed. The studs in the exterior wall were rotten. Someone had broken a large hole in the floor. And that same someone was sleeping in the corner.
Lounge before renovation.
This week, at 3:30 am on Wednesday morning, my wife Dani gave birth in that very lounge.
Home birth is a test of will power, stamina and determination. Dani did an amazing job with the help of our midwives Cyd and Jemma. This particular home birth was also a test of our insulation, hot water and old-time Shacklock 501.
Lounge during renovation.
You may or may not recall that Tuesday was sunny but cold, with a southwesterly blowing just enough to make my afternoon surf choppier than I was hoping for. Nonetheless, when I got home at 3 o’clock it was over 20 degrees inside our kitchen, and we had 240 litres of solar heated water on our roof at 85 degrees. We also had a large cheesy cauliflower and potato casserole on the solar cooker. In other words, everything was normal at the Lebo household…for the moment.
We ate our evening meal, watched a DVD and I went to bed. At 10:30 pm, Dani came in the bedroom and told me, “My water just broke.”
I said, “What do we do?”
She said, “Call the midwife.”
The midwife said, “Get the house warm.”
Although the outdoor temperature had plummeted to 6 degrees at 11 pm, it was still 18.5 inside the lounge at 19 in the kitchen. Nonetheless, stoked the Shacklock with wood and lit a match. Because of its small firebox and brick surround, it usually takes a while for the old coal range to throw enough heat to notice.
Lounge prepared for home birth.
I kept feeding the fire as Cyd coached Dani through the early contractions. At around 2 am, Cyd called Jemma in as a back-up. When she arrived it was about 3 degrees outside, 20.5 in the kitchen and 19.1 in the lounge.
Cyd said, “This is ok for us, but when baby comes I want it 20 in here.”
No matter how I tried, I could not get the lounge – with its 4 metre ceilings – up to 20 in time. Cyd called for reinforcements in terms of an electric heater that provided the little extra warmth to welcome Verti Lebo into our lounge and into the world.
Verti Feliz Lebo.
As much as we’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into renovating this old villa, nothing could compare to the special feeling that came over us early Wednesday morning in our little house that could. We know that generations of families have found joy and love in this villa over the last century, but for us, this house became a home.
What, what! Bubs in da house!
Arohanui to all our friends who have supported us, and offered their well wishes. We will be celebrating the equinox in later September with a garden tour of our eco-thrifty landscape. Stay tuned for details.
Peace, Papa Estwing