these days

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The days of 80 degree heat are gone (when did Fahrenheit become normal for me?) and instead it is sort of just perfect. Some days it rains and rains and some days the sun shines brightly, but never hotter than 70, and that is actually just how I like it right now. I love it when I can’t take a sunny day for granted, or when the evening air is cold enough to really snuggle under duvets. (I also love it when the air is warm enough that I can sit outside in shorts til midnight, which DID happen this summer. So it seems Seattle is just perfect for me.)

M is at spanish school 3 mornings a week and we have been going swimming together twice a week in the afternoons. She has already moved up a level in her swim class and it amazes me how kids go from not being able to do something to being able to do it so well that you can’t remember what it was like beforehand. Things like walking and talking and getting themselves dressed. But also things like riding a scooter or a bike or learning how to swim. And I guess we’re always improving and growing in some ways, but it just starts out being such huge improvements and then gets harder to notice as we get older maybe. Anyway, it’s very exciting to watch her jumping and wriggling and kicking and floating and playing games in the water that remind me of when I was a kid and my brother and i would just play for hours in our cheap backyard pool.

And I have not been sleeping very well but I don’t feel surprised by this. I’ve gained a measly 11 pounds during this pregnancy – which no-one has really commented on at all, so I suppose it’s not an issue – but I definitely don’t feel like I’m waddling around as much as last pregnancy. At our last scan (last week) they predicted that baby weighed only 4 pounds, and at about the same time with M they predicted she weighed 7 pounds. I feel a little nervous, but hopefully baby will do some extra fast growing over the next week or so.

We have finally accumulated almost everything we need for baby’s arrival. I’ve been high-fiving myself for being the master of craiglist finds after finding a $40 dresser (my budget: $100), a baby bed for $150 (my budget: $300) and a futon/couch for guests (my mum) for $100 (my budget $400). In theory I’ve saved like $500! Totally in theory though..

And wow baby clothes are tiny. And wow M is excited. When she saw the bassinet we bought she asked ‘is baby here?!!’ and so we have been going over the timeline of events for the next few months and it is so cute because I love how she says ‘exciting’ instead of ‘excited’ so she runs around the house going ‘i’m so exciting! i’m so exciting!’

And one last thing: Last night she was really itchy and Ivan had to leave in the middle of the night to go buy her some medicine and so she was cuddling me tightly around my neck to try and stop herself scratching and she sort of drifted in and out of sleep and I started crying! Because her world is about to change and she doesn’t even really know it. And I am not scared about having enough love for another child, but rather I’m scared because this sort of love can make me feel so fragile sometimes. And I start thinking about all the people I love and how they are just out in the world and I can’t protect them or keep an eye on them and so it feels like my heart is out there totally unprotected and it is so open for being hurt. And here I am creating more little vessels who will take my heart into the world and obviously i do not think about this all the time, but right in this moment of holding M tightly and feeling her cheek against mine and hearing her gentle snoring, it all seemed so wonderful and unbearable at the same time.

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with one month to go

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it is very difficult to trust my instincts when there is a strong medical voice in my ear telling me every single possible worst case scenario. and i know that it is just their job and that it is so marvelous and wonderful that we have the ability to deal with so many potentially bad outcomes. But it is one thing to think ‘oh i will take their advice and listen to what they say, but then at the end of the day i will consider what they say and trust my instincts’ and it is another thing entirely to actually know what those instincts are after hearing only one big medical opinion for so long. are my instincts not to just deliver a healthy baby at any cost? at what point am i making a dumb decision to try and hold onto an experience that i might want? we’ve all seen the business of being born, and doesn’t it feel like the hospitals are not the places for bringing life into this world? they are places for sick people and i do not feel sick and i do not feel as though our baby is sick. will i make our baby sick by letting these doctors worry over every heartbeat and every measurement? or will i be doing the best thing for our baby?

but so it seems that we have ended up in the hospital anyway. and it is hard to know how much to question it/the doctors/the process and how much to trust it. i wonder am i fighting hard enough to keep myself out of this system? and then i wonder should i even be resisting it at all? i wonder if i was in New Zealand instead of America, would things be different?

and i feel stupid for feeling so scared and helpless and worried because there are much more scary and worrisome things that people deal with. and i want to feel confident that everything will be AOK and in order to really connect with this baby i feel like i need to feel 100% confident, but then too much confidence in everything being ok makes it even more confusing for me to trust the doctor’s concerns. if i could be so confident that everything is ok then why let them take control of the situation? so what does that leave me feeling? i have no idea, and it is exhausting.

it is one thing to say that we are designed to birth babies and to trust in the process and it is another thing to be told all the possible bad outcomes for your baby and have to make your own decision in the midst of teams of medical professionals and large hospitals. i want to hear the confident voice with an alternative recommendation. but even that is proving very difficult to find.

one thing is for sure though – by the end of october we will have a baby in our arms and i want to picture a healthy and strong and gorgeous little newborn. please picture that with me.



On sacrifices

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After 6AM yoga this morning I was sitting at One2One Cafe in Ponsonby burning through the pages of my latest book obsession (Water for Elephants) as fast as I could in the short 30min I had between Yoga and work.

As I was reading I suddenly re-realized how much of a sacrifice children are, especially for the parent that stays at home. The more I think about it the more I appreciate what Pamela does for our wee little baby.

I mean sure I provide financially for the family, but I love my job, so (usually) going to work isn’t a dread at all. Sure I have good days and bad like anyone else, but I am fortunate enough to love what I do for a living.

On the other hand, Pamela put everything she loved doing on hold. Exercising went first throughout the first few months of pregnancy, then work. Then Mika came into this world and exercise slowly came back but full-time work hasn’t and it’ll be on hold for a while. And the longer she stays at home caring for our little girl, the harder it will be to get back to the working world.

(However, Pamela is one of the few people I know that won’t stop doing stuff no matter how sleep deprived she gets. So instead of full-time work, she’s managed to get started with her photography business alongside another new mama (and hair & make-up artist) Julia O’Neil.)

I can see how a sudden change like this can be scary for a new family. Especially if the communication between mama & papa is poor – both could be left feeling like they are missing out on something. It shows me what a product of love and dedication a happy family is and I feel so lucky that we are working hard to make it work. And I feel even luckier that it doesn’t feel like hard work.

Just some thoughts I had this AM.

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the birth of Mika Cruz

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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.



running out of womb

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(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..

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