The end of February

Yesterday we took the little man for his first outdoor stroll in his pram. After feeds and naps (for him and me) it was 4.30 by the time we got out, but these days it is light till almost 6, hurrah! The light wasn’t great for taking photos but you get the idea. (You can’t see him but he’s wearing his cute little bobble hat again.) Also after two weeks of hovering around -8 it had heated up to around 0, so we felt less mean about taking him outside. I asked the nurse though, and she said as long as it’s above -10 it’s ok. So we’ll see. There will be a whole new problem once it all starts melting again, as I don’t like the idea of pushing a pram down a hill when the footpath resembles an ice-rink. One hurdle at a time I suppose. He didn’t mind the walk, and went to sleep. It muddled up his sleep and wake times though, as happened when we took him to the shops. I guess one gets the hang of this eventually!

Things we are learning:

  • He hates wet diapers.
  • He hates being too hot.
  • Simple cotton all-in-one suits are best, as his skin is very sensitive, and doesn’t like anything too tight or too synthetic, or with too many layers.
  • He looks most beautiful in cream.

He is getting a little more insistent with his demands and testing his lungs a bit further, but is still a pretty happy calm little chap on the whole. He also doesn’t like it when he gets over-tired, which seems to happen sometimes despite our best intentions. We love him dearly but gosh this is hard work! Oh and after a dream-run with breastfeeding I’ve developed a bit of mastitis, which I’m hoping I’ve nipped in the bud. Feels a bit better already but I still need to be careful.

Michael went back to work today which we both felt a bit sad about but I guess it’s the way it goes. I am very happy and blessed that my Mum is staying for another two weeks, which will make the transition into my new life as smooth as possible!

On the weekend I finally finished writing up the story of his birth, which felt like an important thing to do. (It takes so long to do anything at the moment!) It feels good to have that finished now, at the cusp of a new month, when the little man has had two whole weeks in the world.

We are still waiting on the documents we need to apply for his Norwegian birth certificate, which we need before we can even think about registering him as one of our various nationalities, which we also need to do before we can apply for his passport, which we need before we can apply for his US visa for later this year. So we might be leaving a couple of weeks later than planned, but I guess we’ll get there eventually.

It has been a most beautiful two weeks. Michael’s Mum was with us for five days, and left last Friday. She was very sad to go and we were sad to see her leave, but at least Germany isn’t as far away as Australia, and they’ll be able to come back to visit very soon. This is one of the hardest things, how far away our families are. But we will make it work. When she was leaving, Monica said she was especially sad to leave because it had been so very ‘harmonisch’. Which it had. But, little Felix, I am most excited to discover what March has in store for us, too.

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Birth Story

Warning: this is a very long post. Also, if you’re not interested in the gory details, you might not want to read on.

On Saturday night, just over two weeks ago, we walked over to our friends’ place for waffles. I was bored, frustrated, more than a week overdue and tired of waiting. Waffles were just the trick. I brought some brownies too. Our friends live only five minutes away, and I insisted on walking, trundling my heavy form through the thick snow and biting cold. (The funny thing is, my friend was nearly two weeks overdue just over a year ago, and the day we went out for chocolate cake together was the day her labour started.) It was a nice evening. We walked home slowly through the cold and went to bed.

At one I woke with a dull ache in my legs. This had happened before and not meant anything. I went to the bathroom and back to bed. At two I woke again with what I soon realized were waves of pain in my lower back. Terribly excited, I crept downstairs without waking Michael. The contractions were coming every two and half minutes. If I walked up and down when they came I felt ok. After half an hour or so Mum came down. Other nights she’d come to check on me but I had just been coping with bad cases of heartburn. Tonight was different. ‘Is it anything?’ she asked. ‘Yes’, I said, ‘yes, I think so.’

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Eleven days old

I love…

The little high whinnying sound you make when you’re distressed. Actually, I haven’t heard you make it for a few days, so I guess already it is a thing of the past. It was pretty cute though.

Your cry, when it decreases from your utter pitch of anger to slightly calmer but still energetic. It sounds exactly like: ‘waa, waa, waa!’ I thought in the hospital in the first couple of days: even your cry is gorgeous. Is it just because I’m your mother, or do you have a particularly lovely voice? Fortunately for us we don’t get to hear you cry all that much. But I do love your voice.

The little sighs you have started to make over the past day or so. Tonight there was even a bit of a gurgle.

I love when you look straight at me.

How when you wake up, you don’t cry, but just snuffle and root around for a feed. You’ll do it for ages and ages if I am too tired to pick you up quickly.

How excited you are when you are hungry and trying to latch on. You fling your head around pant and pant patiently but after a while if it doesn’t work you screw up your face and let out a ‘waa!’ Which of course is a perfect opportunity to plop in the nipple.

How limp and satisfied you are after a feed. Your shoulders droop, your arms and legs hang down, your hands are completely relaxed. (The rest of the time they wave and fuss around.)

How when I stroke your belly downwards you stretch yourself out like a little soldier.

Cuddling in bed in the morning with you and Michael after your feed.

The way you always startle yourself at the end of a yawn.

Overnight you pretty much seem to sleep in three and a half hour blocks, with an hour waking in between. So this really isn’t too bad.

How after their first terrified reaction the kittens have accepted you. Mermos stands beside your basinet and purrs. Whitby brings you his toy mouse and wants you to throw it for him.

How healthy you are. We got you weighed today and you are already over your birth-weight and doing great.

The way you’ve rearranged and centred our lives.

How much Michael loves you.

Michael says I look both older and younger. He says I have a new energy about me, a new purpose. He does too.

Baby goes shopping

Baby capsule. (Um, if you’re sick of baby photos already, you might want to look away for a while.)

Pram (fit for arctic conditions – but we’ve been too nervous to take him out walking in the -8 temperatures so far).

First public breastfeeding attempt. Pretty chuffed with myself.

What we didn’t get was a photo of Michael and I walking arm in arm, pushing the pram and smiling our heads off, so thrilled to be finally out with our own baby after baby-spotting in this shopping centre for past year. Felix did pretty well but I think next time we will take him out at the beginning of a sleep instead of the end of one… As my Mum says, it’s all trial and observation…)

Tuesday

4.30. Felix went to sleep at four after a lovely couple of hours feeding and playing with his parents. I quickly snuck upstairs with a cup of tea and a snack-bowl filled with grapes, popcorn, almonds, dried apricots and two oat cookies. I ate them all. I left Michael chatting to his Mum and adoring the sleeping baby. Soon I need a nap. I went without one yesterday and was a terrible wreck by the evening. It is hard to surrender to sleep in the few moments I have to think and write and contemplate things. Hard but essential. Soon. But right now I sit in my bed and look out all three windows to the soft grey light and the tops of the trees and the wood-smoke and the snowflakes falling and falling.

Beginnings

Three in the morning. I look down in a sleepy haze at the little creature feeding at my side, feeding from my side, and I think incoherently – ‘but there’s only one of you! There isn’t two? I thought there were two.’ And then I realize that there are always two – him and me.

Or him and Michael. Michael took so many wonderful photos of Felix and me in the hospital, but I took hardly any of him. And he is so beautiful with him. I will try to take more.

The days are passing in a beautiful haze. Finally I understand why everyone warns you that with a newborn time slides and it is hard to do anything apart from the essentials. I get to the end of the day and realize I have not had the time to even look out the window. After all those weeks of waiting and gazing out windows. Mum is here with us and Michael has two weeks off work and we are doing so well, taking care of each other.

I feel so blessed that everything is going so well. There is so much to say but the words are hard to catch. Yesterday afternoon I lay in bed while Felix napped, too exhausted to sleep, writing in my head but too tired to fetch my computer or even a pen. Something about how I also understand now how everyone says – about poo and vomit and that sort of thing – that it’s different when it’s your own child. I always thought it would just be because you liked them better than anyone else’s child. But it’s not that. It’s that, at the moment, Felix feels like a sort of physical extension of myself. He is his own person. But when he vomited in my face on our first night home, I truly didn’t mind, because it’s like his physical functions are an extension of my own. The fluid he spat back at me had come from my own breasts. And then I wanted to write about how at the moment it feels that the borders of identity are permeable. Everything is leaking.

But now if I want to finish this post  (for which I have forsaken my chance to have a shower), I’d better just stick to a few more photos.

Yes he is here!

Felix Jonathan Hildebrandt

Born 11pm, 13 February 2011.

3.9 kilos, 54 cm.

Felix for happiness, Jonathan for my brother, Hildebrandt for my beloved.

The birth went well. Will tell more later, because, um, sleep has become a bit more of a priority than it used to be. And yes, we have about a thousand photographs already, so there might be a few more of them too.

We arrived home from hospital today. We are happy indeed. About this happy:

Or maybe this happy:

Or possibly, even, this happy:

Just in case you were wondering if no news was good news

It’s not. It’s just no news.

Still, we’re doing ok. And the week is flying past. The hospital is meant to ring me tomorrow to organize some sort of ‘overdue’ ultrasound, but it will drive me crazy waiting for a call all day so I think I will ring them. Yesterday I did all the vacuuming and made delicious apricot and marmalade flapjacks. They are all gone. Today it snowed all day. Mum and I braved the weather on an arctic expedition to buy milk.

41 weeks

Getting a bit tired of waiting. Felt quite irritable today. Feel better tonight after a bean and lentil ‘shepherd’s pie’. Michael is even more impatient. He spent hours on the weekend breaking up ice on the driveway. Everyone says to enjoy the peace and quiet but it is difficult. Perhaps I should resign myself to it taking another whole week but I really don’t want to! Bubs is oblivious to our increasing impatience and is happily doing jigs in there. Michael says when he comes out he’s going to give him a big cuddle. He’s also jealous of the kicks and wriggles I feel, and says he’d like to be pregnant next time! And he says if the baby doesn’t arrive by tomorrow he’s going to the gym. Come on babbie!!! We want to meet you!

Forty weeks

I have been meaning to write this post for a while but have been a little distracted. But I want to record what this past week or so has felt like before it all becomes distant history! So… last week it finally began to sink in that there’s going to be a baby around here pretty soon. I got really excited. And realised there was still a couple of things I needed, which prompted a shopping spree. So I bought some bedlinen, for me and for him (thought I’d better get myself a single duvet in case he comes into bed with me and I don’t want to smother him – recently we’ve been using a double duvet each). I bought a chest of drawers. I bought cloths to use on the changing-mat, and some blankets. And then I saw a couple of cute cute cute suits in rainbow colours with lions and mooses and mushrooms on them, and we didn’t need any more clothes but I couldn’t help but buy them. I restrained myself from buying the light-brown furry coat with bear ears. And then I regretted my restraint and went back to get it anyway. I gave it a hug.

I had some friends over on Friday night and made home-made pizza. It was delicious.

Then, over the weekend, the spring-cleaning bug set in. I did loads and loads of washing. I put all his clothes away in the chest of drawers. I moved most of my books from my office to the spare room. I threw stuff away. On Monday I tidied the spare room for mum. I made up the bed for her. I thoroughly cleaned and re-arranged the bathroom. Today I finished the vacuuming and hid in the cupboards everything I couldn’t work out how to throw away. I had a midwife appointment then picked up Mum from the station. So nice to see her. She arrived with a bag stuffed full of gifts from Australia, including the most gorgeous teddybear from my brother and his girlfriend. (And we love all the other presents too!) So, yeah, still pretty excited.

Mostly I feel very healthy, although my belly is starting to feel like a balloon fit to burst.

Michael says waiting and waiting is the most boring thing in the world. He has been fixing door handles and rehanging the fridge door and moving the kitchen light-switch from the hall to the kitchen.

The midwife says everything looks perfect. She says to rest and to eat. So tomorrow, I will try to quell the excitement and get some rest, just in case he comes sooner rather than later. Who knows?