Coronavirus cancels Tatura mum’s plans to spend Mother’s Day with daughter in PeruBy Charmayne Allison
The month of May is wiped clean in Jeanette Moorhouse's mobile phone save for one, lone booking on May 21.
It's the date the Tatura local was set to fly home after visiting her daughter Rachel in Lima, Peru.
They were going to spend Mother's Day together.
Not only that, Jeanette was going to be there to hold her daughter's hand through the biggest milestone of all.
Becoming a mother herself.
After struggling to fall pregnant for nearly eight years, Rachel (who was born and bred in Tatura) and her Peruvian husband, Fernando, had finally received the joyous news — they were going to have a baby.
“As soon as they told us, we said, ‘we're coming over’," Jeanette said.
“I wanted to be there for her during the birth.
“She had been waiting for such a long time to have a baby.”
In November 2019, when coronavirus was not even a whisper, Jeanette and husband Ian booked their flights.
They were going to fly out on April 21 and stay for a month.
On April 28, Rachel and Fernando's first child, a girl named Brunella Camila Gamero Moorhouse, was born.
But due to coronavirus restrictions, Jeanette wasn't there.
“We were worried the baby would come too late or too early for us to be there, but it would have been perfect,” she said.
Every so often, that May 21 flight flashes up on her phone screen.
A painful reminder her daughter is not by her side but on the other side of the world for her first Mother's Day.
“I just leave the notification there,” Jeanette said.
“I've deleted all the other bookings in my calendar. But I keep that one.”
Although she couldn't be there for the birth, Jeanette has still supported her daughter every step of the way.
And dealing with pregnancy and birth during a pandemic, Rachel needed all the support she could get.
“They had no prenatal appointments for the seven weeks in the lead-up to the birth because everything was in complete lockdown,” Jeanette said.
“So Rachel was ringing me regularly for coaching along the way.”
After three days of off-and-on labour, Rachel headed to the hospital.
Sent home the first time, their second visit was the real deal.
Although it took them a while to get there.
“They were stopped by police several times on the way to the hospital,” Jeanette said.
“As their town (Barranco in Lima) is in complete lockdown, they needed permission to leave the house.
“They received permission as Rachel was pregnant, but were still pulled over along the way.”
From the moment she received the news the couple had made it to the hospital, Jeanette had her phone by her bedside.
And from 2am, she answered it as Rachel called repeatedly for her mother's guidance.
“She really wanted a natural birth but in Lima they push for caesarean sections,” Jeanette said.
“She called me about it and I said, ‘Don't let them convince you to do what you don't want to do'.
“After an ultrasound, she rang again and said the doctors suggested she go straight for the caesarean or be induced.
“I felt I couldn't make that decision for them, so I just listened. Eventually they texted and said they'd decided on induction.”
Looking back, it was the right decision.
Rachel's amniotic sac had broken during labour, meaning without a caesarean, it would have been a painful — even dangerous — birth.
“If she'd been able to have prenatal care in the lead-up, she would have known these things and had care,” Jeanette said.
“But it's a tough time — and place — to be pregnant or give birth.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Rachel and Fernando couldn't have any skin-to-skin contact with Brunella after she was born.
But after two days at the hospital, they were sent home — finally able to spend quality time with their newborn daughter.
“All in all, it ended up being a great outcome,” Jeanette said.
“But it was really hard for me as a mother, being so far away. Especially as I had planned to be there.
“It's such a blessing to have so many methods of communication like we do. Without that, it would be so hard.
“And I'm thankful Fernando has been supportive of Rachel calling me to ask questions along the way.”
Jeanette is still supporting Rachel as she gradually comes to terms with motherhood.
“We talk every day,” she said.
“And I'm just encouraging her that whatever she's going through is normal.
“I asked her this morning how she's doing mentally and she said she's had a couple of tough moments.
“She doesn't say too much because she knows it's hard for me, being so far away. She's so courageous.”
As she won't be able to spend Mother's Day with Rachel in Lima as planned, Jeanette said they would have to resort to a video chat this year.
In fact, the mother-of-six will be catching up with most of her children remotely on Sunday.
“The kids sometimes organise a Mother's Day lunch halfway between here and Melbourne, as two of my children live in Melbourne,” she said.
“But this year I'll stay at home and watch church online with my husband and our two youngest girls, Lydia and Esther, who are at home.
“And maybe I'll get some phone calls as well. But it will be different.”
As for when she'll meet her new granddaughter — Jeanette tries not to think about that too much.
“They were planning to fly over to Australia in April next year, but that's not looking likely,” she said.
“So it could be a while.
“It's tough, because family really is the most precious thing to me. Motherhood is such a gift.”
Read more Mother's Day stories in the Shepparton News