ne more gin and tonic? Alright, why not?
This is how my journey to fatherhood started, with a gin and tonic in my hand and a brain fuzzy with the evening haze in my head.
I was in a bar in Melbourne knocking back G and T’s with a mate after a work, deep in conversation fuelled by the alcohol that was loosening our lips.
Talk about our plans for the future was mixed in with our usual existential musings. Little did I know my life was about to change forever, and not in the way you might expect.
Now I’m sure there are many stories of unplanned conception that start in a bar, fuelled on by one (or two) too many. This isn’t one of those.
Content warning: This article includes stories about violent assault. If you are sensitive to this kind of content, it might be best if you skip this one.
We had decided to call it a night and went our separate ways, me into an Uber and my conversation partner to his inner-city apartment.
It was a twenty-minute ride home, so I settled in and tried to avoid an awkward, tipsy conversation with my Uber. I usually love a chat with the driver, but I was feeling a bit under the weather (read: drunk) so I kept my mouth shut.
My phone rang.
It was someone I was seeing, but in an attempt not to embarrass myself with any incoherent mumbling, I didn’t answer.
She called again.
I figured she probably wanted me to come over, but I was already halfway home, so again, I didn’t answer.
“I’ll just shoot her a quick text to say we can catch up tomorrow.” Just before I hit send, I realised she had beat me to it. I opened a text from her and what it said sent chills down my spine.
It didn’t say I’m pregnant, like I’m sure all of you are thinking. She’s not that predictable.
“I think I’ve been stabbed.”
Not what you want to be told in an Uber on your way home to throw up. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do.
Call the police, call an ambulance? Both of those things feel obvious in hindsight, but I didn’t do either.
I asked my driver to turn around and immediately called her back. She was sobbing and scared, hiding around the side of her apartment building, unable to move.
We turned the corner into her street after a very stressful and silent ride. My Uber driver smiled at me as I opened the car door. “There’s nothing to smile about mate” I thought to myself as I gave him a five-star review.
Probably would have made his night more interesting if I told him what happened…
I pushed the gate to her apartment block open to see her shaking next to the front door, hand clutched to her side. She couldn’t reach her keys because her hand was frozen to her abdomen.
Noticeably calmer then when I spoke to her on the phone, I tried to comfort her, but I could see that things weren’t good.
Blood was seeping through the fingers she was holding on her side, and she was white as a ghost.
Adrenaline kicked in, and I instantly forgot how many drinks I had thrown back. I leaned in for a look. Shit, we need to get to the hospital.
I definitely couldn’t drive, and an ambulance would take too long.
Her housemate was also rushing over and thankfully arrived sober and able to drive us all.
As a side note, It escapes me why triage nurses are always so casual about everything. Oh, your bone is sticking out? Please wait. Your brains are leaking out of your nose? Take a seat, please.
There we were standing in the emergency room while the person who takes your information is dithering with some pointless paperwork and getting confused about our relationship (more on that later).
“Okay now, what brings you in tonight?” He asks. Why this is the tenth rather than the first question I still cannot tell you.
“Someone stabbed me.”
His whole face changes, as does his snail pace, and we are whisked over into a room within about three seconds.
While we wait for a doctor to arrive, perhaps this would be a good time to tell you what exactly happened to her that night.
It was late, around midnight, and my future wife was on her way home to the notoriously fancy and not at all crime-ridden suburb of Toorak in Melbourne.
She left the tram at her stop and proceeded to walk down the street to her apartment building. Three men followed her from the stop, just out of sight, on the other side of the road.
Two of the men kept their distance as the other crossed over, ran up behind her and grabbed her.
There was a struggle, a lot of screaming, and all the while his friends watched from the other side of the road. A kick to the balls seemed to finally get him to leave with (what she first thought) was just one nasty punch to her side.
She didn’t know that it was actually a knife, burying itself an inch across and an inch deep.
The doctor is here! And so are some detectives…
They are not impressed that she hadn’t wanted to create a fuss and called neither them nor an ambulance from the scene.
As I got to know Katie, I learnt that she’s all about not making a fuss.
She looks embarrassed, and they turn their sights onto me.
“And are you the boyfriend?” They say directly.
I was famously unsure thus far, of what I wanted in our relationship, asking for something casual (hilarious, as we ended up married less than a year later, but that’s another story).
“Uhh, Yes? I think so.” I mumble.
I guess that settles it. In between wincing and crying, we had a giggle about the situation and appreciated the absurdity of having ‘the conversation’ in such strange circumstances. At least we got it done.
Fourteen hours and many frequent and prolonged trips to the toilet later, (I was drunk, remember) I left the hospital to get ready for my night shift at work. When I came back the next morning, I met her parents for the first time. Perfect.
She’s ok now, just so you know.
The knife narrowly missed puncturing any organs. The doctor told her it was the best place on your body to get stabbed! So, I guess we can thank the attacker for something, though they never found him or his mates.
That night taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better partner (a committed one, at least). It taught me how strong my now wife is, but most of all it taught me how to be there when I’m needed, even though I sometimes feel like I can’t. Like when I just want to go home to vomit.
Less than a year later we were married and one year after that we welcomed our son into the world.
When you know you know, you know?
Thinking back on this experience almost six years later, I’m reminded of how much of a tuning point that night was in both of our lives. Not just that it was the catalyst for us to commit to each other (mostly me) but also individually too.
I’ve struggled to find peace with myself since then. What would have been different if I had been there with her, or answered the phone when she called the first time?
Both questions that don’t have answers, of course.
All I know is we’ve barely been apart since. And I would like to keep it that way.
Oh and the sight of a Gin and Tonic still makes me sick.