She makes me madly happy.
There is an article today in Psychology Today about the best age to have a baby.
I have a baby.
26 is not that young, as much as I don’t feel terribly grown up (do you ever?).
I was 22 when I got married. I had a plan (in an ideal world). At least 4 years married, at least 2 years in a career and hopefully to travel overseas before I had a baby and the novelty of the plan paid off. We’re coming up to five years married, I’ve worked 2 and half years in Design, enough to push me to a midweight – not far off senior role in the studio I was working in and enough to establish myself comfortably in freelancing to deal with pretty much any job I get thrown. I have made enough mistakes to be careful. I got to travel to Vietnam.
The age is arbitrary. What do you want to do with your life? What’s important? These are great questions. And to be honest, there is still SO much I want to do with my life and these things haven’t changed since having Claire.
Having a baby has made me value time so much more than previously. Um, what the hell did I used to do with all my spare time?
Claire is a great sleeper . This helps my introverted being get stuff done and remain somewhat sane. I am bessotted and distracted at times, but life continues. I’m married to great guy. I have good family around, a community that I am invested in and invests in me.
I am still working out how to be less introspective, but I can only suggest that my heart has been further blown open for greater things.
Why would I want to have a later start on this… you know, at age 34? When I can have it now?
I’m not sure birth was quite what I was expecting, it does however in many ways, play out precisely in the stages you talk about during prenatal classes. A universal western frustration with first births – from what I can gather, is about ‘when to go into hospital’. They say, ‘you’ll just know’ which is frustrating – but you kind of do just know… However much you can’t prepare for birth there are things that you can do and we are extremely happy with the choices we made, including our original decision of (hoping) to have our baby at a Birth Centre rather than via the standard hospital system. Birth Centres accept non-complicated pregnancies and aim for minimal intervention re. drugs, which is essentially better for the baby – there are also some great perks such as the partner being able to stay the night nd a more ‘home-like’ environment. If you want an epidural you get moved out into the main birth suites. If you get gestational diabetes, you’re out. The pregnancy wasn’t devoid of issues – including some strange ones like low platelets and two trips to the ER but on the whole things went smoothly.
Even if we could afford private healthcare, the idea of an obstetrician didn’t really float my boat. My sister is a midwife and I am confident in the care that they offer. Midwifery (simplistically) is a happy medium between doctor and doula. It didn’t bother me at all that I saw different midwives almost every appointment, I kind of liked it better that way. Going public barely cost us anything and the care and service was exceptional. On the other end of the scale, we’re not home-birth kind of people at all, I’d rather have the medical backup if required. The Birth Centre was a great middle ground. We’re not hippies… we’re nerds.
Claire graced us in coming essentially a day after her due date (the second date – and the one the midwives were running with). My revised guess the week leading up was that she’d come on the 29th, and I wasn’t too far wrong. I did spend a fair amount of time sitting forward/scrubbing floors etc. in an attempt to a) speed things along as I was getting bored b) she was partially posterior and I was hoping she would turn. I also entirely completed my ‘to-do’ list including the one last random DIY – which I had banked as completely optional.
A few days before Claire was born I was researching birth photography online to give Geoff some idea of the kind of photos I’d like him to take and I came across Spikey Hedgehog Photography, I enquired, entirely not expecting to have anything of the sort happen so close to the baby being due but because I was curious. A back and forth email conversation in the early hours of the morning and Jill was on-board, I met her the next day.
Labor kicked in about 3am on Wednesday morning (27th June) we decided that Geoff should stick around at home rather than head in to work. We spent the day watching Grand Designs, eating from our stockpile of snacks and timing contractions on the iPhone. Things stalled early morning, frustratingly, and didn’t pick up again until late afternoon. I used a heat pack and we put the TENS machine on pretty early and kept that going. Such a smart decision to hire one, I cannot recommend them enough! So we stuck it out. By evening – whenever I got into the shower things would speed up considerably (between 2-4 minutes). We called the hospital and they said wait a bit to see how things went and come on in when we thought we should. A few hours later we decided to head in, they weren’t terribly busy and we thought things could keep progressing with the use of water.
Things slowed down again with the change of location. Once there we tried the shower again and sure enough things picked up. We hit a shift change pretty soon after our arrival, which worked really well. I knew the first midwife from a few clinic visits but hadn’t really met the second. The familiarity of the first midwife was great was she is lovely and was perfect for us to get settled. I was praying for someone through labour who would be a good fit for us and the shift change bought pretty well exactly the kind of midwife I needed, not overly saccharine, respectful and present but not in our faces.
Jill showed up not long after we arrived and met Geoff, I probably vaguely acknowledged her but that was kind of it. You’re not terribly interested in concentrating on anything much except contractions. I alternated between the shower and sitting on a birth ball (yeah a gym ball people – nothing more special than that) as I preferred the TENS to the shower – although I’m not sure I actually let anyone know that verbally. Geoff was extremely wonderful throughout. I was pretty vocal – more so than I thought I would be.
After who knows how many hours the midwife suggested I try the bath, and I remember wishing it would hurry up and fill up faster as I was pretty desperate for a change. The bath was not the immediate mind blowing relief I was hoping for – I think I thought it might magically take a lot of the pain away, it did work really well, just not quite as beautifully as I unrealistically hoped. It was great having the room for Geoff to be there too to help hold me up – along with the rail. We were both exhausted and I felt Geoff doze off a few times (apparently it happens a lot with that room… warm and comfortable – not quite your Peninsula Hot Springs…) and it was goodly (sic) distracting to have to pay attention in keeping both keep him and myself awake.
At 4am my waters broke spontaneously – in the bath, another thing I was extremely happy about not having happen prior to hospital as the risk of induction and the use of intervention jumps if your waters break and things don’t move. Things progressed a bit more rapidly then. I had extremely bad back pain – it turns out Claire was posterior – which I didn’t really realise at the time. The midwife suggested sterile water injections as an option but aptly warned me – this was something I had discussed with my sister, who is a midwife only a week before. Foolishly (or wisely) I requested them. Sterile water injections are four injections given simultaneously with a contraction. They are literally just water beads injected under the surface of your skin – and work on nerve gateway principles and block pain. They work insanely well. I had two midwifes during a contraction. I had no idea I could make that kind of noise. They hurt. They hurt. They hurt. They work. Geoff marks this as possibly the most terrifying part of the whole labour. They tell you they hurt like a bad bee-sting… this was some kind of mutant bee.
Things moved pretty quickly after that. I did get really ‘pushy’ quite early. Too early. They got me out of the bath and back to the room where they put me on a drip as the babies heart rate was quite high as I was dehydrated despite my best attempts to drink. Red Powerade makes for nasty vomit… I got stuck at 7cm dilated. I couldn’t pee. They put a catheter in. Thank goodness. You’re not meant to like these things but glory it was good. The concentration of transition and having to breathe through and not push was genuinely horrible. The catheter meant things could actually keep moving.
The pushing bit of having a baby is not the worst bit. I’m not sure why this bit is always understood as the worst. It’s difficult, it’s bloody painful but you get a chance to rest and genuinely stop between pushes. It’s helpful having the end finally in sight and yet frustrating when you think each push is going to be ‘it’ but it doesn’t quite get you there.
Claire Matilda arrived at 8.11am on the 28th of June. She was posterior – face out (a real treat for the midwives, Geoff and Jill – not so for me). Geoff knew she was a girl when he saw the top half of her face. It was emotionally foreign and wonderful and entirely overwhelming. She was tiny and amazing.
I delivered the placenta physiologically (no drugs again) despite being offered an injection – which I half accepted and then figured I’d got this far, I might as well go the whole way, far less rewarding this bit – you kind of just want your uterus to stop working and to sleep/enjoy your baby. Prior to birth I was rather scared of tearing. I tore. I asked them if it was going to hurt – I’m not sure why I didn’t factor in that you get a local before they stitch you up but it was an odd (and somewhat ridiculous) relief. I did use gas then and the local and it wasn’t bad – the recovery hasn’t been bad either (all things considered).
And then we were. Tired. But new. With a little girl 3.5kg, 51cm long, a head of hair and little mole on the right side of her face.
Such a huge thanks to Geoff for his incredible support, to Zoe especially and Christina and the Mercy Family Birth Centre for their experience and wisdom and to Jill for her stunning photographs and help through the whole labour. I am so grateful we had the opportunity to record this life changing event.
It is two and a half weeks on. The days are kind of blurry – which I think keeps you sane. The Tour de France is on and helpful in keeping company at 1am. People have bought us so many meals. We have been out and about a bit, to grandparents, to bookclub, to the shops, to church.
We are adjusting, and loving it. She make hilarious faces and cute ‘smiles’ and has a deep cry. Breastfeeding sucks (pardon any pun, but it does) despite probably going considerably well.
She’s good. It is good.
This is Claire Matilda Matheson.
She was born on the 28th of June, after a 29 hour (15 hr active) stint of labour, drug free – which I’m pretty darn happy about. 2 weeks today. She is entirely delightful, very settled. We are a bit sleep deprived but doing great. Time is extra fast and the days have been thrown in a blender. She timed her entrance perfectly to coincide with school holidays – meaning that Geoff has had two weeks off.
Huge thanks to: the midwives at the Mercy Hospital Birth Centre, especially Zoe, Jill of Spikey Hedgehog Photography who photographed Claire’s birth (there’s a story in itself!) – photos to come – and was an invaluable extra pair of hands, and all the people who have bought us meals, visited, cleaned up and kept us sane. It is insanely good having a midwife for a sister.
These are not a paid reviews by any means, I just like these things. However if you’d like for me to review something… I am VERY good at honest opinions.
Also please note this is a brief overview prior to this baby’s birth and so these are things I think/know are great but have yet to officially road test.
The wheels: Peg Perego Skate (2011) (aka. it pays to talk to people at baby expos)
This delightful (elegant) beast was on my, “I’d LOVE it but can’t afford it” radar. Infact the cost of a lot of prams is OUTRAGEOUS… and yet of course I still looked, It ticked the right boxes in terms of flexibility, quality, ease of use, ease of care, front and back facing etc (believe me I did A LOT OF RESEARCH – I’m talking weeks here of reading online reviews, yes I’m crazy). Due to a marvelous chain of events it is now in my possession. This is entirely thanks to very generous inlaws and also a conversation at the Melbourne Baby expo where they were selling them half price (and couldn’t advertise the fact). Geoff and I also invested in the jumper seat (yet to be removed from the box) if we happen to get baby no.2 at some point. The jumper turns the pram into a two seater without a lot of extra size. Naturally this would not work if you have two babies at the same time as the jumper is really only suited to a toddler (fingers crossed no.2 does not come until baby 1 is a toddler). As for the colour – the green is fun, I’ve always been partial to green but really wouldn’t have minded it in the red or pretty much any other (except the black with the weirdo pattern).
Anyhoo, it’s VERY easy to push, and comes with everything. No buying add ons (which is where a lot of the other prams start to add up). There’s the rain cover, bassinet and normal seat, basket and ahem cup holder (hello coffee I really miss you!). It did take a bit of working out how to fold it all up the first time but once you know how, it’s easy. This pram also works as a travel system with the Primo Viaggio car seat (which my Dad pulled a very Dutch bargain hunting move and they got that for us for $100 less than retail). I’m not sure I would have necessarily bothered with this car seat if we couldn’t get it as cheaply as we did as it is on the expensive side.
Other pram brands I looked at and liked:
- Baby Jogger (Select/Mini)
- iCandy (Peach)
- Bugaboo (…which I kind of wrote off before I started looking because they are so expensive).
The indulgence: Fertile Mind – Milkbar (Nursing Pillow)
Uh yeah. weird indulgence. I actually got given a nursing pillow to use -which is perfectly alright, but after being given SO many things, I really kind of wanted to purchase something new. This seemed like a reasonable thing to buy (again not at full price, I waited for an online baby store to have a whopper sale and did scout for them second hand too… which would’ve defeated the purpose of ‘new’ I realise now).
Besides, it’s pretty, it’s new. I felt kinda funny buying it as I’m a cheapskate and don’t care about most second hand things at all but I’m really glad I did.
Hands down the best baby book I’ve read. I read a lot. Funny, easy to read yet still intelligent with some excellent observations and ideas, the cultural observations were interesting coming from a cross cultural background. Geoff loved it too. I have handed it to my midwife sister and she was quite impressed. Naturally you wouldn’t adopt the whole of the ‘French parenting’ style observed, but that is not the point of this book. It is not a manual it is a series of thoughts and and some fantastic ideas which we hope to use!
“This is not a shrill or preachy book. It’s a carefully observed memoir tied into a larger conversation about how a less intense – but still structured – parenting style may deliver happier parents and children.”—Houston Chronicle
I will probably be buying this for people for baby shower presents.
Another good read: Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly
“A toddler’s mother, both an intimate guide and an affectionate coach, writes to a pregnant friend about the transforming experience of motherhood. “These are letters I would have welcomed when I was pregnant,” says Beth Ann Fennelly, as she seeks to go beyond the nuts and bolts or sentimentality of other parenting literature. The letters range in tone from serious to sisterly, from light-hearted to downright funny. Some answer specific questions such as decisions about pain medication; others muse about the identity shift a woman encounters when she enters Mommyland or address our responsibility to the natural world. Still others explore the magic and mysteries of childbirth, the wonders of language, and the exhilaration (also the ambivalence) about a baby’s first steps to independence.”