Things I’d forgotten about the first week

Lopsided boobs after a feed.

Dripping milk after a shower.

How babies sometimes giggle in their sleep.

All the little mewling and sighing and grunting groaning noises they make.

Their funny ugly cute facial expressions.

How much they sleep during the day.

How tiny newborns are.

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10 years since our first date

2006 – We’d known each other for a year. During the summer break, I’d been overseas and we hadn’t seen each other. On the first day of lectures I’m pleased to see him hanging around before my criminal and public law classes. We both start coming to class earlier and earlier to spend time together. He later confesses that he went to every lecture stream on that first day to find me.

2007 – I get a summer internship in a different city. He comes too. He finds a dead branch in the botanical gardens and carves it into a Hanukkiah. He teaches me how to say the blessings.

2008 – We go away together for a weekend trip to Waiheke. We visit vineyards and feel like we’re pretending to be grown ups.

2009 – We find a tiny studio apartment and move in together. We put postcards on the wall instead of pictures and have friends round even though there is no space. He takes washing to the laundromat while I do the dishes.

2010 – A cat turns up at my parents’ place and doesn’t leave. My parents don’t want the cat. So he insists that we move into a place that will let us have the cat.

2011 – We get married. On our honeymoon, we make plans to come back on our ten year wedding anniversary with our kids.

2012 – We move to a different city and are training for Trailwalker. Every Saturday we spend the whole day walking together. That’s how we fall in love with Wellington.

2013 – His aunt and uncle send us some baby clothes. I keep taking them out of the draw and telling him “we’re going to have a tiny person this big!” He looks nervous.

2014 – While I’m in labour at hospital I hold his forearms through the contractions and feel him supporting my weight. The next night, he has to go home and I have to stay at the hospital with the baby. I call him after five minutes and start crying. I don’t want to be by myself.

2015 – He has a bath with our son most nights and at the end of the bath I come into the bathroom with a towel and he says: “one, two, three, blast off to mummy cuddles!” and he lifts our son up high into my arms.

2016 – It’s ten years since our first date and we have two little boys now. He burps the baby after each feed and at three in the morning I can hear him walking up and down the hallway, softly singing, while I drift back to sleep. 

I don’t normally rant about technology, but

The new auto fill reply function from Gmail is horrible and I hate it and I can’t figure out how to turn it off. I love emails, they are the next best thing to real mail. Many of my dearest friends are overseas and, though instant messaging is great, there’s something special about getting a long email with rambling asides.

I got an email this morning from a friend in Marseille and it was so beautiful and evocative that I could almost smell the rosemary on the seaside cliffs she describes and see the irises blooming, yellow tongues and blue-purple bonnets, tall and bright and beautifully messy.

Then Gmail goes and spoils it by suggesting I reply “Great!”.

A last thing I didn’t notice

Mr Daddy picked the little dude up from crèche today while I stayed at home with new bub. Occurred to me later that when he goes back to work and I do crèche collection, I’ll have new bub in tow and won’t be able to swing the little dude up in my arms for a cuddle when he runs up to me when I arrive. It used to be a daily event, a highlight, and it’s finished now.

Newborns

You kept us up allllllllllllll night and then you go and do that cute little feeding sigh of “uhh-heeeaah, uhh-heeeahh” during your feed just now and it’s the first time you’ve done it and I forgot that it’s a thing newborns do, and I’m like awwwwwwwww, good job you so adorable.

Turns out labour and birth can be fine

Baby born this morning at 12.15am. I’m still at the hospital with him. He’s asleep in his little hospital perspex box next to me. I’d forgotten how noisy newborns are. He’s sleep mewling. Wonder what is happening in his baby dreams.

The birth was amazing, couldn’t have been more different to last time. I’d had periodic clusters of strong braxton hicks all day but had tried to rest lots in between. In the afternoon they picked up enough that I thought they might be seguing into labour and arranged for the little dude to go to my parents’ for the night and for my husband to leave work early. At around 6, my husband and I went for a walk round the block and the contractions continued. I called the midwife when we got home. Then unlike last time, the contractions did what they’re supposed to and got stronger and longer and closer together while I laboured at home. I went into the hospital at 9pm and the obstetrician examined me and I was 4cm dilated. I hadn’t reached that stage with the little dude until about 28 hours of contractions so this was amazing news! The obstetrician broke my waters and I laboured in the pool for a while, then the shower, and the midwife and my husband rubbed my back, then I felt I needed to rest more between contractions and got on the bed. Obstetrician examined me again and I’d gone 2cm further. In the examination she deliberately stretched the cervix slightly and the contractions immediately picked up. I got off the bed at the next contraction, feeling like I couldn’t lie down through it, and laboured some more in the shower. Before long I felt like I needed to push. Obstetrician was concerned that I might not be dilated enough so I had to get back on the bed for another check, but I was dilated enough and the baby was born on the bed after a 25 minute second stage.

With the little dude, I was pushing while still on the epidural and I couldn’t feel anything. It was so much easier pushing without having had pain relief, following the cues of the contraction. His head came out and then on the next push he came all the way on out. Only a slight tear for me, no need for an episiotomy this time. When the little dude came out, I was dazed and he was rushed away but this time I had the picture perfect thing of the baby being passed straight up to hold and feed.

He looks exactly like his big brother did as a newborn.

I’d had pethidine and then an epidural with the little dude and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage strong contractions. Turns out my contractions last time had been strong, they just hadn’t done anything. I kept saying to the midwife last time that it wasn’t the pain, I could handle the pain, I was just exhausted. This time, the whole way through I felt that the pain was within manageable bounds. I tried to think of it as an intense sensation like cold water or vertigo rather than pain as such. My yoga teacher had recommended visualising the contraction as a wave of feeling and yourself as a surfer riding the crest of the wave down your body. This was a really helpful image for me.

So my husband is pleased that a good birth makes me more amenable to a third baby…

Meanwhile I’m not sure how the starkness of the contrast between this time and last time makes me feel. In some way, redeemed and vindicated in my sense of myself as person whose body can do stuff? In some way even more disappointed in the outcome last time?

People brag about their drug free childbirth experiences, like it’s a badge of honour that not everyone can manage (kinda like the smugness that can accompany exclusive breastfeeding). I feel sort of proud of how it went, like you might feel after climbing a tall mountain and coming down again feeling fresh and full of vigour. Last time I climbed the same mountain and came down limping and wounded. But I suppose comparing the two, I reckon that to come off the mountain limping and wounded demonstrates extra strength, extra determination, not less.