The moment when the midwife placed baby Mika in the bassinet next to my bed and said goodnight to Ivan and I sleeping in separate single beds in one of the birthing rooms, was the first moment that my stomach lurched. What? She’s leaving us? With our baby? But what do we do?
It was at this moment that I had some pretty intense realisations. It was at this moment that I realised Ivan and I were parents. Not just a Mexican guy with a pregnant girlfriend. But a mama and a papa to a little baby. I realised that there is no manual. Everything from now on is a joint effort in trust and instinct. We were made to do this and our little baby is meant to have us as parents. I remember my friend Ange once said to me that she believed babies choose their parents (in a spiritual sense) and I love this thought. Everything is as it should be and we need to trust that we know best, as terrifying as it might seem.
I love being a little family now. Every time Ivan comes home from work and asks ‘where’s my little family?’ and we have family cuddle time on the couch, I couldn’t think of a happier moment. (She’s 8 days old.. she doesn’t yet know how lame family cuddle time sounds – and I’m going to milk every day of it).
So I still haven’t really ventured out of home yet – we’re both still recovering slowly, allowing our bodies to heal and taking the time to get to know each other a bit better. We’ve had a couple visitors but any more than 1 person per day can be a little overwhelming (so please don’t be sad if we delay the visit requests)!
In other news, here’s some cool stuff I’ve seen/heard lately (whilst our little bug sleeps peacefully on my lap)
My mum was watching this TED Talk the other day and she restarted it when I came into the room. It’s well worth the 20 minutes, I promise.
Are you excited for the new Fleet Foxes album release?
Our little bug loves music. She can’t seem to process pain/discomfort and music at the same time, so if she’s fussing about something we just need to play some tunes and she zones out and forgets about her discomfort until the music stops.
Check out this wicked awesome website campaign about homelessness. I found it through my friend Jade who posted something about it on Facebook. It’s very clever and very effectively makes you see homelessness in a ‘real’ way.
Do you love cookies? Just when you think cookies couldn’t get more wonderful, you find cookies being sold by a bag and string hoist in San Francisco. *Sigh*.
Ok that is all. Here is our family photo taken at the end of Mika’s first week. (Yes, we will take better family photos one day soon).
One week ago today I was dropping Tess off at the airport, about to head out for dinner with Ivan and later heading into Birthcare to give birth to our beautiful daughter.
So much can happen in a week!
First-time motherhood is… beautiful. I’m still marvelling at the wonders of the human body (I know I’ve said this a lot… but seriously it is incredible). There have been so many questions from friends and family about how we are doing, how I’m feeling, how Ivan’s feeling, how it is being home now etc etc and so I thought I’d do a little summary (my brain is still a little mushy.)
- We got home from Birthcare on Sunday and Mika has been adjusting to her new surroundings. She mainly just eats and sleeps and poops – but she also has some very alert and calm ‘awake’ time where she stares into my eyes and my heart melts and I wonder what she is taking in and what she sees and hears.
- Breastfeeding has been pretty easy I suppose. She has no problems figuring out what to do – although sometimes she has this look of sheer horror as my gigantic boob looms near her face. I seem to have a ridiculously abundant supply of milk and she can only manage about 5 minutes of gulping (seriously, you can hear her swallowing from the other side of the room) before she tears herself away and pants wildly for about a minute, does a huge burp and then lunges for some more. It’s hilarious.
- I’m feeling pretty OK. Obviously there are certain aches and pains associated with pushing out a baby – so I’m not planning any serious exercise soon – but today Ivan and I left Mika with her grandpa for 15 minutes and went for a walk to get an ice-cream. It was the first time I’ve been outside in a week! And a hunched-back old lady probably in her 70s or 80s overtook us at the crosswalk… but I’m cool with that. Really… All in good time.
- Mika has gained 200 grams in SIX DAYS! Ruth came to weigh her today and said that it was a pretty impressive weight gain. Oh Mika girl, you need to take it easy with the boob. (She takes after her daddy).
- Changing diapers is really no big deal at all. Even really smelly ones.
- I sleep in 2 hour blocks and get roughly 5-7 hours a night if I’m lucky. I let Ivan sleep a solid 6-8 hours in one go and then he wakes up early to help change her before he heads to work. It’s not so bad.
- We could watch her all day. She has LONG legs, long black hair, big blue eyes, a teeny tiny nose and little rose bud lips. She loves to kick her legs out now that she has more room compared to in the womb.
- The most common nickname that she gets now is ‘bug’ because she looks so adorable when she is all wrapped up in her swaddle and squirming to try to get free. Middle name perhaps?
It’s so surreal that 6 days ago she was still in my belly and now she is out in this world. Gah, I just can’t really believe it! And time will just keep moving forward… yikes.
Here’s a snapshot of some moments I want to hold onto. Mika from day 3 to day 6.
This is post number 100 on our blog. Fancy that!
Our beautiful baby girl was born at 12:04am yesterday morning (March 23, 2011). She weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and she was 49cm long. Her name (so far) is Mika Elena Cruz. We plan on adding another middle name too…
So it’s been a long time now with hardly any rest and so I don’t feel overly coherent but I wanted to get this down as quickly as I could while it is all so fresh in my mind. I am marvelling at the wonders of the human body, giving thanks to mine on a regular basis for all that is has done in the last 10 months and especially in the last 30 hours. I also find myself thanking the universe for ensuring things unravelled as they have and for the infinite sequence of events that has led us to this moment. This moment right now as I sit on my bed with Mika resting beautifully next to me. Nothing in the world matters more right now.
Here is my (possibly incoherent rambling) story of Mika’s birth.
Ivan and I had just discovered the culinary delights and european ambience of Elliot Stables. I was half way through my meal when I felt an intense tightening in my abdomen. I momentarily closed my eyes to wait for it to pass. This was first time I had ever experienced a pain like this that actually required my full attention so I was a little excited that perhaps this was a real contraction. We continued eating and I soon experienced another one of about the same intensity. I pulled out the ipod so Ivan could time them for me. After about 20 more minutes or so he pointed out that they were consistent almost to the second, lasting 30 seconds and about 2-3 minutes apart.
The drive home was bearable and we called Ruth our midwife when we got back – just to double check how intense these contractions were meant to get (both of us had forgotten the ‘rule of when to call’). She asked how long I’d been having them for, we said maybe an hour and she almost laughed when she explained I could still be in labour for another 20 hours or so and suggested we try to relax – have a bath, watch a movie, get some sleep. Secretly I couldn’t imagine this pain getting too much worse, but I told her I’d try to relax and call her when they got worse.
Ivan put on the Big Bang Theory in the living room and we moved upstairs together to watch it. I can’t remember any of the episode – my contractions quickly became about 1 – 1:30minutes long with about the same time between them. I was scared. I was scared because I had no benchmark to know if this was bad or if I was just weak and not dealing with it very well. To my surprise I found it easiest to sing through the contractions at this point – but I soon changed my mind as I worked on ways to make them more bearable. I discovered that silence, focus and complete relaxation of my mind through each contraction actually helped to ease the pain. As soon as I spoke or tensed up or got startled, I could feel the pain intensify. It felt a little unfair – to deal with the pain I had to go into the pain and really accept it and that’s when it would subside – which felt unfair because the immediate reaction is to want to cry out or tense up, which proved very counterproductive to dealing with the pain.
It was hard to get this focus and relaxation at home. Not because it was my home (I would love to have a home birth) but because we had plans to get to the birthing centre and I was just so unsure when we should go. I didn’t feel safe. My mum was trying to convince Ivan that we needed to go soon or I wouldn’t be able to get in the car and Ivan was trying to explain to Ruth over the phone that I was really in quite a lot of pain despite only having been in any pain for about 2 hours. Eventually she asked Ivan if I felt any desire to push to which I exhaled with desperation ‘yes yes I need to go poo!’ I heard Ivan say “ok, we’ll meet you there.” and hang up the phone. He turned to me and my mum and said ‘we’re leaving now, she’ll meet us there in 15.’
Mum suggested we get our ‘hospital’ bag and that she’d drive so Ivan could sit with me. Ivan explained we didn’t have a bag ready. What kind of prepared parents don’t have a bag ready at 41 weeks pregnant?? Unprepared ones. Ivan and I had decided the less prepared we were the more likely she’d be to arrive. (Murphy’s Law and all that, right?)
So Ivan did a sweep of our room grabbing a bunch of important looking stuff and Mum called out to Dad that we’d meet him at Birth Care in a little while.
The car ride was OK. I was a little tense but knowing we were on our way helped me to stay calm. We’re only a 4 minute drive from Birth Care but I swear the one light Mum had to stop at lasted for about 20 minutes.
At the Birth Care entrance I rang the little intercom thing and demanded ‘can i come up please?’ I was a little frustrated at the whole locked door thing. She asked who I was and all I needed to say was ‘Pamela’ and she let me through to level 1. On level 1 we were greeted by a lady holding doors open for me who also said ‘ruth is on her way, come with me I’m preparing your room.’
I had to sit for a moment for a contraction and I felt a warm liquid between my legs soak through my pants. As soon as I entered the birthing room I whipped them off and noticed I was covered in blood. I looked up at the lady “is this normal?” i demanded. She confirmed that it was. I paced the room between contractions and sat on the end of the bed quietly during them. The birthing pool was filling up fast and it looked amazing, but the lady said I needed to wait for Ruth before I got in. She also mentioned that my labour was progressing quite quickly based on the time between contractions. I didn’t really care what she thought I just wanted Ruth to arrive. Ruth arrived and asked me to lie down so she could check how far along I was. This meant lying on my back which was the last thing I felt like doing but she promised it would be quick. The possibility that she’d tell me I was only 1cm dilated or something popped into my head and I was about to contest the whole ‘checking me’ thing for fear that it would disappoint me when she quickly exclaimed ‘Oh, there’s the head – you’re having this baby in the next couple hours’. Sweet jesus. I was so relieved and that relief turned quickly into an overwhelming desire to push. I asked Ruth if I could push and she casually said ‘sure, if you feel like it’. So I gave in to the feeling for the next few contractions. Then I got a little flustered with my positioning. How could I feel best and push? Ruth put the back of the bed up to a 90 degree angle and suggested I kneel on the bed with my arms draped over the head part. This is how I stayed for the rest of labour.
Before long Ruth said she could see the head. I don’t have a very detailed account of this part but I know I pushed for about an hour. I know that it hurt like crazy but hearing that the head was visible helped me to focus. I felt her entire journey. During every contraction I managed about 3 of the most intense pushes of my life. The more it hurt, the more I knew I was achieving so I pushed with everything I had. I could feel her traveling down as I pushed. But between each contraction I could feel her head slide back inside me. It was so tiring – Ivan told me (afterwards) that I had looked like a boxer because I was sweating like crazy with a wet towel around my neck. My mum was amazing too. Ivan and her had a little towel-cooling system where Ivan would pass her a towel and she’d cool it with cold water and then he’d place it on my back and neck and then repeat.
Suddenly Ruth told me I’d be having this baby before midnight. I glanced at the clock near my head. It was 11:45pm. Nothing could stop this child being born. A few more contractions and the most intense burning pain in my life (it felt like my pee-hole was being torn) and I felt a rush of liquid and sudden relief as the head popped out and then crying! So much crying! She sounded like a little duck and was making gurgling crying sounds. I wanted to keep pushing but Ruth told me sternly to keep still and not push. It felt like eternity before the next contraction and I felt Ruth slowly guiding her legs out. “Pam, reach down and see what you have here.” Ruth passed her through my legs into my arms and I pulled her up to my chest, “we have a baby girl!” and she was perfect. The most beautiful head of black hair. The perfect shaped head. Little wide-open eyes and pouty little perfect lips. The most beautifully designed creation. A little bit of me and a little bit of Ivan.
And I needed no stitches and I again marvelled at the ability of the human body. I was helped to the shower and Ruth brought me toast and hot chocolate.
And then my Dad came in and she met her Grandpa for the first time. My heart ached. And then she was cleaned and dressed and Ivan held her and my heart ached.
And now we are a little family. Pamela, Ivan and Mika. And I have never, ever felt so grateful for life.
Playing :: Backgammon, Cribbage and Scrabble.
Enjoying :: Facebook’s new message thing where you can read your entire message history with anyone. It’s awesome.
Eating :: The best and easiest chickpea and broccoli salad ever.
Laughing at :: This insanely funny video. Probably old news, I dunno… but it is so.freaking.funny:
Hoping :: That baby will arrive before Tess leaves (tomorrow at 6pm). She has been here for a whole 7 days!
Thankful for :: A beautiful boyfriend who has a rough sleep because of his allergies but then wakes up at 7am to make us all pancakes for breakfast. Just because. <3
(Sorry about the title).
Whilst I think ultrasounds are a little creepy (just wait for it to come out, no?) we just got another scan to check the growth and fluid and all and we managed to catch a clear shot of baby having a good yawn. Can’t be too much fun in there.. time to come out I say! But yes, all things are well. Fluid and growth and everything seems fine. It must just be kinda cosy.
<!– Update by Ivan –!>
I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw the little baby yawning… It looked plain beautiful..