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My family name Jotic is pronounced YOtitch (like YACHT-itch)

On 22 May 1994 about 6pm I saw Rescue 911 on TV. At first I was going to put it into a descriptive video but soon I got sidetracked.

This is the only bit I wrote for the video. It's only loosely based on the TV show (so I don't think I'm breaking copyright). I did lots of research (and watched a birth myself!) before I wrote it, or any of the other stuff below.

Key visual element

Smash. Vehicle, late model Subaru. Two police officers. Front of car. Help injured man.

ZOOM IN: Woman. Lies on back seat. Knees up, wide apart. Glimpse woman's face. Anguish. Sweat. Police officer, paramedic, female, back of head. Black curly hair. Blue shirt. Gun in holster. Blue trousers. Police officer, male, brings first aid kit.

Woman

Aaargh!

Paramedic

It's crowned.

Male police officer

God.

Paramedic

I can't get...

Woman

Aah! Aah!

Music/FX

grunts, struggle

Key visual element

Jerky camera, ZOOM IN: on abdomen, legs, pubic hair, top of baby's head, streaks, dark hair.

Paramedic

Push! Push!

Woman

Aaaah!

...

Aaah!

Paramedic

Here we go. It's all right. You're doing well.

Woman

Aaauurgh!

Music/FX

grunts, struggle, schlop

[10 seconds]

Paramedic

A girl!

Music/FX

radio: crackle

shhhhh

Voice on radio

We've got you now, Shirley.

Key visual element

Police officer, male, computer, clicks on screen.

Paramedic (into radio mike)

Just been born.

Voice on radio

Is the mother conscious?

Paramedic

Affirmative. She's not injured. Her husband is.

Key visual element

Paramedic, right hand, lifts baby.

Baby

Waaah!

Paramedic

Hear that?

Voice on radio

I sure did. Affirmative.

Paramedic

There's something wrong.

Key visual element

Paramedic turns. Blood on face.

Paramedic (to male police officer)

More swabs. And thermal blanket.

Voice on radio

I don't hear the baby any more.

Paramedic

It doesn't look good.

Police officer

Vital signs?

Nurse

Eyes closed. Pallor.

...

Fetal heart rate.

...

About 200.

...

Pulse is feeble.

...

Voice on radio

It's important for the mother to touch and hold the baby in the event that the baby dies.

Woman

(moan)

Paramedic

No. No pulse. Breathing has stopped.

Paramedic

CPR on baby.

Key visual element

ANGLE: through rear window.

Glimpse baby. Tiny face. Paramedic, mouth over baby's nose, mouth.

Voice on radio

Be careful. Let me talk you through this.

Paramedic (whispers)

1, 2, 3, 4...

Voice on radio

Just depress the baby's chest with two fingers.

...

Then gentle puffs.

Paramedic

Roger.

Baby

(cries)

Paramedic

Do you hear that?

Voice on radio

I sure do! Affirmative.

Paramedic

Let's make sure.

...

Vital signs OK.

Voice on radio

Give her to the mother.

Woman

Oh.

Paramedic

We'll just put this space blanket over you.

Male police officer

The driver has regained consciousness. Injuries...only superficial.

Paramedic

Your husband's OK. The baby's OK. You'll be able to feed her soon.

...

Now I'm just going to give you a little injection. To help the placenta come out.

Voice on radio

Controlled cord traction. Press your left hand on the lower abdomen.

Key visual element

DISSOLVE TO SCENE: Female paramedic, pink lipstick, curly hair. Male police officer, smiles.

Paramedic (to cam)

How fragile life is.

...

You breathe this child back to life.

...

It's an experience I wouldn't miss for the world.

And that's all I did before I got sidetracked on my fantasy interactive descriptive video which later I called Daylight Express. The rescue video needs a lot more writing and editing and I haven't put the times in it or anything. But I thought I'd put it here as an example of how interested I am in birth and babies.

This project grew out of Dr Claire's answer to one of my questions. I started to think how important it was to me that my mum and my dad loved each other when I was conceived.

There was one question I didn't ask Dr Claire.

Did I begin when my dad's sperm fertilised the ovum in one of my mother's fallopian tubes?

Or did I begin further back than that, when my parents first met and were attracted to one another?

Or did I begin before that? Maybe I go all the way back to before there were any humans on earth at all, or perhaps to the beginning of life billions of years ago. Or perhaps, in a way, we all began with the Big Bang.

Dad sometimes said I came into being with quite a bang. I've never been sure what he meant by that.

Of course, Dad's gone now and I'll never see him again.

But part of him lives on in me (and in Parvo and Helen, of course). I suppose when we have kids, a bit of their grandpa Darko Jotic will be in them, too.

Actually, Mum reckons that I'm more like Dad than my brother and sister. Dad was always a high flyer. Whatever he set his mind on he would do. Perhaps it was because he always wanted to prove himself. Perhaps it was because he loved a challenge. Mostly, I think, it was because he craved excitement.

He rode motorbikes too often. He drove cars too fast. He flew planes too low. Mum said it would have to stop or he'd kill himself, and probably take someone else with him.

That's when he took up power boat racing.

Which proved her right.

Back to my unasked question...Maybe I began gradually , quite along time after I was conceived. Maybe I began a few months later, or when I was a baby, or later, even--about the time of my earliest memory.

Maybe I haven't even properly begun yet. I still have to invent the real me.

Who knows. Perhaps it's not a very good question.

Anyway, at 9.38am on Tuesday 24 June 1986 I popped out of my mother at high velocity.

Of course, during that minute 180 other babies were born, in other places in the world. But that's their story, not mine.

I came out so fast that if the midwife hadn't caught me I would have gone right onto the floor. Mum said later that I was slippery as an eel. Parvo took nearly two days to be born. But because I was the second child Mum must have benefited from the practice. That's the way she operates. Once she's got something under her belt she never forgets it. She just keeps on getting better and better. She didn't even have time to get to the hospital when Helen was born. Helen first saw the light in the back of Dad's big ute, right outside the Gillian Bay Shopping Centre.

So Parvo was the only difficult one. Once, when I asked Mum what it felt like, she said--like shitting a watermelon.

Mmmm.

Anyway, returning to me... Dad said he couldn't believe how fast I came out. He thought, This girl's going to be a racing car driver or a test pilot.

I hope that turns out to be true. I can't actually run that fast, but I can do everything else pretty quickly, whether it's thinking, or getting ready for school in the morning. I usually don't wake up till 8 o'clock but I'm always at school by half past. With a bit of help from my taxi-driver mum.

Eight Years later I'm 126cm tall and weigh 28kg

I'm really much the same as I was then, only expanded, sort of, and I've learnt heaps. I'm still small and round and friendly...though sometimes I get in tricky moods --like I did as a baby.

So about my parents. How did they meet?

It was a family disgrace when my mother's mother married an aboriginal man. There were some members of the family who never mentioned her name again.

And other people, like Sally Hertz, for instance, would never stop talking about it.

What happened was that.

It's through the aboriginal link that Tara becomes interested in Jenner's family history and eventually interviews Jenner's dad, Darko.

Don't forget to link Satyagraha with Jenner's memory in the attic. (Grandpa in India flies plane for Pandit Nehru...or whatever...)

Some muscles in my mum's body were designed specially for when she was pregnant and giving birth. The most important one was the womb or uterus. The uterus is the most powerful muscle in a woman's body. But the woman can't control it herself. Well, not much, anyway. It works automatically when her baby is being born.

Of course, I've got the same muscles, too, just like every female.

Before a woman is pregnant the uterus is shaped like a pear. It's hollow and has three layers of muscles. The middle layer is the strongest. When I was ready to be born a hormone called oxytocin made this muscle contract so it would squeeze hard and push me out of the uterus.

Probably I released a hormone, too. It would reach my mother's brain and trigger the oxytocin. (This part is really complicated and that's just about all I understand. What I do know is that I was ready to come out and nothing was going to stop me. Although Mum would have to do most of the work.)

Another useful lot of muscles are the pelvic floor muscles which help to hold all the woman's organs in place while the baby takes up more and more room as it grows bigger. You can control the pelvic floor muscles yourself. As you get older it is good to practice making them strong by contracting them many times each day. Mum read about this in a magazine. She doesn't want a hysterectomy like her mother had. That's where the womb has to be removed because there are problems with it--it might be bleeding or have a growth in it.

The first half of what eventually became me was produced inside my mother when she was inside her mother! While Gran was still a fetus all the eggs that she was going to carry all her life were already formed inside her--before she was even born. Of course at that stage the half million eggs-to-be weren't fully formed. They were just little cells without all the extra nutrition they would need if they were going to turn into a baby.

My mum eventually grew up and fell in love with this handsome guy who came from what was then called Yugoslavia. He escaped by himself when he was 9 years old. But that's another story. If you want to read it for yourself, have a look at Tara's project.

By now Mum had about 5000 eggs that were ready to ripen!

But back to the ovum (egg), that was labelled J.J. because it would turn out to be me. Talk about tiny. You would have to line up 650 of these eggs to fit in a centimetre. Even so, the eggs are still the biggest of all human cells. They have to be big because they contain enough energy for more cells to grow if the egg becomes fertilised.

If you could have looked with a microscope at the half of me that was an egg in my mother--as I was cruising along a fallopian tube--you would have seen a sphere like a tiny drop of water, a microscopic blue grey planet with even tinier droplets clinging to its surface like bubbles that didn't want to leave.

How do the eggs know when to start developing and growing their food supply?

Somewhere in the brain a hormone is released. It's the 'female' hormone, oestrogen. This starts a batch of eggs growing fast in each ovary--seeing which egg will become the biggest and will be sent down its fallopian tube to meet any sperm that might be out on their marathon swim.

In mum's ovaries dozens of tiny eggs grow bigger. Which one of them will turn out to be me?

13 days later, the egg that has grown the biggest is released and travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. It's started on its way by feathery things that sort of flick into the tube to get it going. Then the tube ripples a bit to push the egg along a bit like a ball bobbing on the sea.

As the egg travels down to the uterus a second hormone, called progesterone, is made. Progesterone makes the lining of the uterus thicker, in case the egg cell is fertilised and grows into a baby. It will need a good place to attach to while it starts to grow.

If the egg cell is not ready to grow into a baby , it goes straight through the uterus and leaves the body through the vagina. Along with it goes the lining of the uterus and a bit of blood. When this blood and uterus lining dribbles out through the vagina it is called a period. It goes on for about five days.

Meanwhile, another bunch of egg cells begins to grown again in each of the ovaries.

This whole process takes about 28 days all together. It is called the menstrual cycle.

But sometimes the cycle is interrupted because an egg becomes fertile and starts to grow.

If the winning egg cell joins with a man's sperm cell in the fallopian tube, a new life begins. Although the baby's mother or father don't even know about the baby yet, lots of changes begin to gradually take place in the mother's body.

So how does this fertilisation take place?

If you could have seen the half of me that was in my father and was on the way from one of his testes (where I was made), through the vas deferens (a long tube) and eventually squirted through his penis into Mum's vagina (another rocket takes off!)...you would have seen something 20 thousand times smaller than the ovum it was searching for. It would be made up of a tiny round head (packed full with half of the information needed to make a human) and a thin, wiggly tail about six times longer than the head.

It would be hard to work out which spermatazoan was going to be me though, because there would be millions of them ejaculated into Mum all at the same time. Only the strongest of the ones that had the best start would eventually get a chance to reach the ovum. That would only be after an exciting race through the cervix and the uterus and up whichever of the fallopian tubes the egg-me was in. (Half of the sperms would go the wrong way , I suppose...or is there an egg ready in each fallopian tube? I'll have to do some more research!)

Anyway, that's a long way for a sperm to travel. It's like the real me (now) having to swim round the world a couple of times without stopping once!

To swim a few millimetres every minute, the sperm get their energy from the sugar fructose in the man's semen--the liquid the sperm is in when it is spurted out of the man into the woman.

And to make sure that some sperm arrive in the right place, the sperm is helped by Mum's uterus rhythmically contracting--especially if she has had an orgasm while she and Dad are making love.

But finally (after maybe half an hour) the sperm-me meets the egg-me. Compared with the sperm, the surface of the egg looks like an enormous asteroid with spongey-looking little craters and mini-mountains all over it. These spongey looking things are nurse cells that protect and nourish the egg. But on the outside front of the sperm are enzyme chemicals that quickly disintegrate the nurse cells in one spot. (Often lots of sperm do this job but usually only one ends up getting inside the egg.) Then the sperm squirms and worms and burrows into and through the surface of the egg. The egg can help, too, by sort of sucking the sperm in. If there are a few sperm around then the egg might even select one of them and help it in!

The sperm is in.

Then the two halves of information join. 23 chromosomes from Dad join with 23 chromosomes from Mum to make 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Da-daaa! I am conceived!

As soon as that happens chemicals are released in the egg that make its surface tougher so no more sperm can get in. Otherwise things would be complicated.

(If another sperm does get in then twins are usually formed. Each twin will be started by a different sperm so they won't be identical twins.)

By the way...am I a girl yet?

Yep! The 23 packages of information from each parent called chromosomes include a sex chromosome. The mother's is always an X chromosome and the father's can be an X or a Y chromosome. So when they join they make a pair that is either XX or XY.

If it's XX then a girl grows. If it's XY then it's a boy.

So my number plate is XX -JJ.

At this stage it's still pretty risky for a fertilised egg. If it's not made properly or if it's not very strong and healthy then usually it doesn't attach to the lining of the uterus and just gets flushed away out through the vagina like in a normal period. No one would ever know that there had been a conception at all.

But I am a tough little nut. I survive.

After a few days I reach my mother's womb, where I will be cosy and safe and keep growing for 40 weeks.

During that time the skin over Mum's abdomen (tummy area) stretches to several times its normal size. The ligaments that held her bones together become softer so that her hips and backbones can move a little further apart to make space for the growing baby me.

Also during that time, another hormone called prolactin goes to the 20 milk glands in each of Mum's breasts. The breasts gradually grow bigger to get ready to make the milk I'm going to need after I'm born. The brownish circles round the nipples (the areolae) go darker and the little bumps on them stick up more than usual. My mum has pale skin so the blue veins in her breasts are more obvious than usual, like rivers on a map, someone said.

But the main changes happen for me. In my project, Jenner's Journey, I tell what happens week-by-week, approximately.

...

So when I was born, the first thing I could see were all these bright lights and things. And the air felt cold. In fact I could feel all sorts of things all over me but I couldn't work out what they were.

My puny little hands opened and closed, opened and closed. I grabbed hold of a pair of forceps (special tongs for holding things). No one noticed. They were all too busy telling Dad to shut up and not make so much noise, you'll frighten the baby.

I was now 40 seconds old (in the outside world). My skin was pink but my brain was running out of oxygen. I wasn't getting enough through the umbilical cord that connected me to the placenta that was still inside my mum.

I yelled.

Everyone seemed pleased with that.

Then someone was passing me to my mum who was saying, 'Oh, oh, oh, oh...

When I first nuzzled at my mother's breast I sucked out a colourless liquid called colostrum. The colostrum contained protein and antibodies. Protein for growth and antibodies so I couldn't be affected by any germs now that I was out of the protection of my mother's womb.

After a few days the colostrum became milk--a perfect mixture of the protein, carbohydrate and fat (plus vitamins, minerals and antibodies) which I needed for growth, energy and protection from disease.

As I sucked away, the hormone oxytocin was produced. Mum could feel it working, making her uterus contract back to its normal size. This twinged and hurt a bit--but it felt nice for her as well...in a sexy sort of way.

For a while, Mum produced too much milk, more than I needed. Sometimes it would just drip out like anything and she would have to keep little pads in her bra to soak it up. After a while though she settled down and produced exactly what I needed. We got into a good routine. When I was hungry (just about every hour at first) my meal was ready and waiting for me.

Just perfect.

Mum loved breast feeding me. She would hold this tiny little defenceless thing close to her. My midget fingers would tickle her breasts. My strong little lips would fix around her nipple and draw it into my mouth.

When I sucked she would get a warm, twingey, sugary feeling inside. She said the feeling went through her like ripples of warm icecream, making her feel excited and relaxed at the same time. She would get a bit dreamy but feel clear as a bell.

And she would yack and yack to me. Talk about anything.

--Aren't you a pretty little thing then.

--We're hungry today.

--Little grizzle guts changes her mind and flips and flirps merrily enough.

--[Include here local, national and international news material from June 1986 onwards for a few months...]

--Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?

--Now time to change breasts. We want to develop that left&endash;right tracking, don't we?

Mum had learnt this stuff at Nursing Mothers. Kids who are breast fed get their feeding position changed regularly. This helps them organise their brains well so later they can learn to read easily. Well, that's the theory. Kevin told me he drank goat's milk from a bottle after he was three weeks old. Yet he could read before he learnt to walk

--Do you think it will reach 17 today? I don't like the look of those gloomy clouds coming up over the mountain.

We would be rocking in a hammock or sitting relaxed on the nursing chair while gentle music played on the stereo.

--Dum de dum, she would sing along. Hum, hum. Mmmmm...

Dad got jealous of all the attention I am receiving. Sometimes he had a drink from Mum, too. She didn't seem to mind.

--There, there, my little bubba!

Then Dad would walk me round for a while and gives me a burp over his shoulder.

When I was nine weeks old I had my first ride on a motorbike. Dad had made a sidecar specially for Mum and me to fit into (he never did this for Parvo) and they rugged me up and took me for a ride. It was the only thing that would shut me up when I got the cholic badly. Not that that was very often. I think it was really an excuse for Dad to go and show off me and Mum to all his bikie friends.

And then there were the nappies. All the colours of the rainbow, Dad said. He's the one who had to wash them out.

When finished...!!!!!!!!

 


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