Thursday, 31 January 2013

there is a baby in this house...

I thought I would share some photos of Miles' first week at home. You may notice that it's basically just various shots of Lily and/or Eli holding the baby as that is mostly what has been happening! Yeah... these two are obsessed with their new sibling. And yeah, the parents are too! He is the newly crowned little prince of this household - cherished, adored, kissed, cuddled and loved on almost every minute of the day. I am pretty much addicted to nuzzling his little neck... mmmm, delicious!

 I feel so grateful for these cosy little newborn days and am just enjoying soaking them up as much as possible. We are burrowing into our little home as a family of five and loving having time (oh, glorious time!) to hang out together and get to know the newest member. Finding our groove, establishing a routine. Miles is just a sleepy little bear, chilled out, snuggly and just-too-cute-for-words. I can't get enough of him! When he is not being cuddled it is easy to forget he is even here - it still seems a little surreal to have this new baby in the home!?

There is something so renewing about these newborn days, a chance to shed almost any other outside obligations and have permission to simply cocoon inside with your family... it's a blessing! Of course every now and then we welcome the outside world in...  newborns are so delicious, their joy and  freshness must be shared with friends and family - and of course doting parents like to have others agreement on how impossibly cute they are! We love visitors. But for the most part, we are enjoying quiet days whilst Mark is still on paternity leave - resting, feeding, sleeping, having fun with the older kids, taking care of long-awaited chores and to-dos around the house (well, that's mostly Mark!) and simply chilling out together. I know things will get a lot busier (and crazier!) once I am running all this solo when Mark goes back to work so I'm determined to embrace this short season while we have it. I feel good, happy, relaxed and recovering from the birth  and I guess also from the preceding nine months of sickness. Occasionally I am smacked upside the head by post-partum hormones (oh, yes, they make a mama ker-azy!) or overdoing it and feeling rapidly exhausted, but mostly - I am trying to take things slow, soak up these quiet family days and enjoy our time in the cocoon! 

It feels like our family is complete and we just feel so thankful to God for blessing us with a little Miles-shaped puzzle piece - he is the perfect fit!

Arriving home from the hospital... um yeah. this kid can
sleep in any position it seems!

I forgot to mention in the last post that this little green suit he came home from the hospital in is the same one worn
by his two siblings when they also came home from hospital. I will let the three of them arm-wrestle out who gets to
keep it in years to come, haha!

She just loves to hold him. She was devastated to learn she couldn't actually carry him around the house 'like a
grown up'  but has settled for constant cuddles in her lap!

Little brother wrapped in the arms of his adoring older sister.

Somewhere in my archives I have shots of both Lily and Eli in the same outfit, on the same blanket.
One day I will track all three photos down to compare!!

My three kids (!!!) with their sweet 'sibling welcome' gifts. Miles 'gave' Lily and Eli the Hungry Hippos game and a cool real stethoscope. Lily gave Miles the teddy, Eli gave the rabbit. All are a hit!

Two little brothers.  Oh, the adventures this pair will have!

E is so happy holding his lil' bro!

I walk into the lounge after getting a drink and catch this scene. 'I just cuggling Baby Miles!!' he proclaims
defensively lest I think he has been trying to pry his eyes open again...

First bath. Plenty of helpers!! 
He was (as always) chilled - loved his first bath and didn't make a peep!

Watching PlaySchool with her new companion. Don't worry, Miles was not
interested in viewing - he prefers napping!

Cutest little Aussie around!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

'dis your new family!

Miles' first day... 

While Mum takes a shower, Daddy + Son take a long snuggle/nap together!
Ahhh, bonding time!

My wonderful step-dad David, who had looked after the kids the night before, brought them in late morning to meet their new sibling. When we spoke on the phone I could hear them shrieking with excitement in the background. Oh  yes, they were crazy-ready to meet the new baby at loooooooooong last - nine months is quite a wait for a 4 and 2 year old!

When it was time for the kids to arrive, I was all ready as 'recommended'. I put Miles in the bassinette so I could greet them on my own for cuddles first- no trauma induced by them seeing me captured by this new intruder to the family and all that. Um yeah - an unnecessary precaution! The kids galloped into the room and pretty much straight by me, eagerly crying 'Where's the new baby?!'. Jealous - not so much. They love this little baby and have been beyond eager to welcome him to the family.

So they rushed over to greet him, cooing and gasping over his cuteness, his smallness, his tiny face, and so on. 'Baby born vewy tired' Eli proclaimed, seeing him in the bassinette (he usually likes to call him 'Baby Born' to signify that he is indeed here at last). They were both just so happy and so instantly in love - showing as such by completely smothering their little brother with kisses, cuddles and near-crushings. Eli in particular is very passionate in his affections - it has been a challenge to encourage the sweetness whilst also tempering the enthusiastic physical demonstrations a little bit! We really had to draw the line when he was trying to pry open the eyes of his sleeping little brother - eek!

The first look at little brother

Beautiful little sentiments burst forth from their hearts and mouths all through their visit and I'm so glad David was filming so we can go back and soak up all the cuteness. Lily kept exclaiming things like 'I like this new baby! I love him! I love you, little brother! I'm so happy!' and pretty much just gushing non-stop, cooing into his sleeping ears. I just about melted into a puddle when in the midst of the visit Eli was proudly cuddling Miles on the big bed and I heard him sweetly whisper 'Baby, 'dis your new family!'. What an introduction, huh? *tear* 

Barely able to contain their excitement at the first cuddle... they have waited nine LONG months for this!

Love it, just so typical.!
Eli - I'll just swing my legs in the air while I wait for my hold. WHAT A BOY!

The visit was delightful chaos - excitement, cuddles, kisses, taking turns holding and getting to know Miles. Lily was also excited to point out that now the baby was born, I wouldn't be sick any more - good point, kiddo and yes, I'm happy about that too! The kids presented a stuffed toy (a rabbit and a teddy) to Miles that they had chosen out for him as gifts. Miles, the very organised newborn that he is, had somehow arranged ahead of time (via Google perhaps?) to have gifts ready to present to his new siblings too - a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (a classic and very well recieved) as well as a real stethoscope! After all the midwife visitors the kids were so pleased to get their very own real stethoscope to monitor the heartbeat of baby, each other and any other passers by they can coerce into a check up!

'Dis your new family, baby!'. 

She is a natural. So gentle and affectionate, always cooing 'sweet nothings'
to her little love!

Three kids - wow. I can't even do the numbers on the various relationships and dynamics between a trio that will now emerge. No doubt there will be ups, downs and every-shade-of-in-between ahead, but I am grateful today for a joyful, loving start to this trio's sibling relationship!

First family portrait...
Miles looks like he has some serious concerns about joining this crazy family! Sorry buddy, you got us for LIFE!!

Is that a button nose or what?!

Preparing to head home with our new family member...

4/52 - And then there were three...

Last week I posted two portraits and this week I am posting three.... and from here on in, three it will be!

Yes, our new baby boy was born. 

Amazing how the family and the heart can expand... now I am the mother to three beautiful little people, and how aware I am of what a rich blessing this is!

Here are portraits from the week that our family became a party of five...

Eli: Digging in!
The day I went into labour. 
With mild sporadic contractions, we had a quiet little home day. 
I cut the kids hair (doing my best w a wriggly toddler!) and 
we enjoyed a special ice-cream treat in the backyard. Bliss...

Lily: My little Bower Bird. 
After I gave her hair a trim, I saw her picking up some 
of the offcuts. Shortly afterwards she presented this little doll she made with her
own hair stuck on it!!! Um yes. She is quirky, creative, and delightfully mine!

Miles: Into my arms and my heart.
Welcome to the world, Miles! We love you!

For more images of Miles' water-birth and precious first moments, you can go here. Photography by Amber of We Stood Together.

Project 52: A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

the gentle water birth of Miles

The end of my pregnancy was approaching – after so many months of sickness, it seemed surreal that the birth was actually going to happen! At 39 weeks, I began to feel mild and irregular cramping/contractions. I hoped for the birth to be soon but given my previous history with many days of pre-labour, it was hard to tell when baby would really come! I was hoping to make it to a ‘last hurrah’ girl’s dinner on the Saturday night (at 39+1) then I was set to go anytime! I did make the dinner (oh, it was lovely) but felt like it might not be much longer.

On Sunday 20th, I spent the day at home while Mark took the kids to church. It was good to sleep and rest and quietly potter… ‘nesting’ I guess, as I finished packing baby/labour/birth centre bags and taking care of other odds and ends – including giving the kids haircuts in the carport outside and having a family treat of ice-cream cones which was enjoyed by all! It was a quiet, sweet, relaxing day with my little family. Not many contractions all day Sunday, just every now and then, so that night Mark went to his own ‘last hurrah’ burgers and a movie with the guys. He kept saying he should stay home, giving me funny looks all day and asking me out of 10 how things were progressing. Just two or three, I would reply. ‘Nothing major, so just keep your phone on and go!’ I insisted. So he did. As the evening progressed the contractions did heat up a little – only every five to ten minutes or so, mild but seemed like they could be heading somewhere. Perhaps this really was it?!

I pottered around, getting dressed to go to the Birth Centre just in case, knowing Mark would be home soon. I was feeling torn between wanting to stay home as long as possible, ensure labour was truly established before heading in too early, and also not wanting to leave it too long and end up birthing on the bedroom floor again! Ahhh, labour – so unpredictable. I texted my midwife AnneMaree about 11pm telling her I had some sporadic contractions, just as a heads up but wasn’t sure if it was going anywhere. As soon as Mark got home and saw things were increasing, he wanted to head in to the hospital, but I wasn’t ready yet! So he recorded the contraction times for half an hour then called AnneMaree to let her know. It was up to me whether to go in or not and I just didn’t know… as I feel a bit of ‘performance anxiety’ when I get to hospital which I think slows things down, and I also really didn’t want to go and then  come home again like last time with Eli. She suggested rather than walking around or sitting on fit ball as I had been, to try lying down for half an hour and see if the contractions kept coming. So we did that – it was about midnight at this point. They spaced out quite a bit – like over five minutes apart, but were feeling fairly consistent and a minute in length, so when we called back she suggested we just head in, just in case, which Mark was keen to do!

So we called my step-dad David and he kindly dragged himself out of bed and came over to sleep in the guest room so we didn’t need to wake the kids in the middle of the night. And then off we went at about 1am on what was now Monday the 21st! This was it?!

Once we got to the Birth Centre and confirmed that things were indeed happening (I was 5cm dilated it turned out), I finally called my dear friend Amber who was kindly lending her amazing photography talents to our little one’s arrival. She had insisted I call her no matter what was happening or at what time, and so eventually I did call her – I kept delaying not wanting to wake her too early or unnecessarily but also knowing how random my births could be, didn’t want her to miss the big moment after all the build-up and planning we had done! So I called and she came in around 2am I think. She was a quiet, discreet, supportive and calm presence throughout the entire night – not to mention photographing some amazing moments. What a wonderful friend!

From there on in it was just… quiet. Lights dimmed. Candles lit. Cosy, quiet atmosphere. Huge glorious bath filled with warm water for a hopeful water birth (took over an hour to fill that massive tub!). The same music playing on the iPod as we had at Lily’s birth… (no chance for music with Eli's birth, lol)… bringing back so many wonderful memories. Music for Dreaming…  so gentle and soothing! After going through the Birth Centre system twice before (love their approach and the continuity of care!) but never actually birthing in the Birth Centre, it was quite bizarre to finally be there – I almost couldn’t believe I was actually going to have that natural Birth Centre water birth after all this time - I think I said this to Mark about a dozen times that night, haha!

The time ticked on and the contractions slowly built though they seemed to still be quite sporadic and mild. I would find myself thinking ‘This can’t be real labour’ and wondering if I would just end up going home again! I had to catch myself and reassure myself that this was indeed it, I was not going home and to just focus myself on the task at hand! I was wishing a bit we could have stayed at home a little longer before heading in but as we didn’t want to get caught out again – and seeing how spaced out my contractions remained the whole time - I don’t think I would have ever felt sure of when to come in!

I was keen to get in the lovely bath but knew that it could slow down labour if I wasn’t far along enough. I held off for quite a while and also felt like I needed to be walking, rocking, swaying on the fit ball to keep the contractions coming and building. As lovely and warm as the bath looked, I did kind of wonder what I would do in there, lol!! Eventually I did get in and it was indeed warm and cosy but my contractions slowed right down – actually, pretty much stopped for 15 minutes! Well, I wanted to keep things moving – and felt like I needed to be actually moving, so I hopped back out and returned to just walking and swaying on the fit ball.

It was probably 4 or 5am at this point. I was feeling tiiiiired. Not so much from the labour which was really very gentle and low-key (almost too low-key!), but just tired from being awake all night. I would catch myself drifting off between contractions and even my legs started to give way as I walked around. Oh, I longed for sleep but knew I just had to keep going in order to meet this baby! I have to admit the primary motivation for birthing the baby at this point was just so afterwards we could all curl up and take a nap!! (Of course, as soon as baby was born, the adrenalin kicked in and as much as I tried to sleep, I couldn’t catch a wink all day! Don’t worry, Miles and Mark got plenty of zzz’s, haha!).

Anyway, slowly but surely I worked towards the goal. Mark was amazing, just gently supporting me, encouraging me and helping me not feel anxious or pressured about how long this was taking – I do realise it wasn’t very long compared to many labours but it was long compared to what I was used to (which in retrospect was probably because I was a few days early so my body wasn’t quite as ready as it had been the other times?). After two very fast previous labours (four hours and one-ish hours) I did begin to feel a little frustrated at the time it was taking, mostly because I was very conscious about keeping Amber and Anne Maree up all night and feeling terrible about that! But Mark reminded me that Amber wanted to be there, Anne Maree was being paid to be there, and I needed to not worry about them but just relax and focus on the baby. Ok, ok! He was a wonderful and calm support – I focus pretty internally in my labours so I didn’t need much done for me, but just having him there and being so tender was wonderful.

Somewhere in the wee small hours of the morning my waters started leaking (at last) and then my midwife broke the rest which helped things really get moving. Finally, things got strong enough that it seemed I was ready to get into the birthing tub again. I still needed to move though, and the contractions were still a few minutes apart (up to 5 minutes right up till the very end!), so between contractions I would stand up (in the tub - carefully!) and sway, then kneel down and do my breathing during each contraction! I was using the ‘hypno-birthing/calm birth’ breathing technique through all of this – the philosophy and breathing techniques being something that has equipped me and helped me through all three of my births – along with the things I learnt from doing pre-natal yoga. I just find the approach to be excellent for understanding what our bodies are actually doing as they birth (God created them so wonderfully!), and how to focus, keep calm, work with your body and make the most of every contraction. It has been such an excellent tool, I couldn’t imagine labouring without the knowledge and strategies it equipped me with.

And so then…. I felt things shift and start to open. I focused my breathing on flowing down and out and suddenly, my baby was coming. Yes, this was really happening! Up till this point I really hadn’t been sure! I knelt in the tub as Mark held my hands and I breathed and I think for the first time in the labour made some noise… up till now, I breathed silently through every contraction but as my body birthed my baby, well…. I think I shouted the house down!! In that incredibly surreal blur of time and emotion and intensity, his head was out, and then he was coming all out. 7.38am. I received him into my hands, scooping him up and out of the water. My baby, here with me, at last!

His precious little face was scrunched up, eyes closed, face and body covered in incredibly thick white vernix though he was only 4 days early… he whimpered a little as I snuggled him close in the warm water. I was laughing and crying and who knows what else.  Mark was behind me, grinning, holding my shoulders, gazing at his little boy. It was beautiful. Miles was healthy and strong and we could only sit there, marvelling and thanking God for this beautiful blessing! His temperament already seemed as gentle and quiet as his birth. No shrieking, just this scrunched up little face quietly squinting against the emerging light, trying to open his eyes to look at these strange parents of his. It was only when I moved to hold him out in front of me to look at his little face some more that he squawked in protest!! As soon as I snuggled him back against me, he was happy once more. 

We sat there in the warm water for ages – 45 minutes I think – just admiring this little guy. While there he started to nuzzle against me and then basically just latched himself on for a feed – amazing! Even the midwife seemed to marvel at how naturally it all happened! After a while Mark and Anne Maree somewhat delicately extricated me (still holding baby) from the tub and we were bundled onto the cosy double bed where Miles and I were covered in warm towels and blankets. We snuggled up happily together and he shortly afterwards latched on again with almost no assistance for a mega-two-hour-feeding session! I laid there – happy, exhausted, thankful, marvelling.

It had been my toughest pregnancy, and at times I almost forgot about the prize at the end of that marathon…. Yet here he was, in my arms at last and just as I suspected, worth every moment of sickness. I feel hardly able to comprehend how undeservedly blessed we have been by God, to have a third healthy beautiful child in our family. We are so grateful!

Sweet baby Miles – welcome to our world, and our family. We love you, darling boy!
Born 7.38am, Monday 21st January 2013
3.7kg, 51.5cm

 (For more photos of Miles' birth, go here!)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

the birth of miles: a story in pictures

Our darling little man, Miles, is settling into our family. He is such a cutie, we cannot stop looking at him - between the parents and the siblings, he is under constant kiss and cuddle rotation! It still seems surreal that he is here to stay... and that I am the mother of three kids. Um... wow! Much to say about life at home with our new family, but before I get back to the present day, I really need to cover off how we got here - yes, the birth of little Miles!

I feel like it is going to take a while to process and record the story of his birth - just remembering, reflecting and then of course physically writing it out - I've gotten started but don't want to rush it. In the mean time,though, I do have some beautiful photos!

My dearest friend Amber of We Stood Together crept out of her cosy house in the middle of the night to record the arrival of our new family member. A gift of time and talent from her that I will never forget. Birth photography is admittedly not something I ever (umm... EVER!) imagined having... but being part of this blogging/photographic community the last year has changed things I guess! This being our last planned baby, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to capture the incredible first moments of welcoming a child into the world. As my talented photographer sister-in-law Alex said to me - if I didn't like my birth photos, I never had to look at them - but if I don't have them, I would never have that option!

I am so grateful now to have these images - just as beautiful as my memories - of the moment we met our new son. I am so grateful to Amber for her time and incredible talents - not to mention her gentle, supportive and unobtrusive presence during such a special time. I don't think I will ever be able to thank you enough, Amber!

I have wavered over what to share here - though certainly not graphic, they are intimate portraits of a pretty intense and personal time for our family! So many will be kept just for us... but there are some special highlights I couldn't help but share. I am too proud of Amber's stunning photography and my adorable new son to keep them all in the vault, haha! ;)

And so...

A quiet night, a gentle labour, a waterborn baby, and two very happy, blessed and thankful new parents.

Welcome to the world, baby Miles!

It was the last night of not knowing you.... so thankful that now and forever, we do...

Our room at the Birth Centre. Yes, we made it there this time - third time lucky?!
Micro-sleeps in the bath.  I admit to thinking 'Wow, can't wait till this baby is born so we can curl up together and NAP!''
Out of the water, and into our hearts and lives.... the first magic moment of meeting Miles.
A beaming, proud Daddy and a brand new little person! This memory takes my breath away!

Oh, that face! My heart! He kept trying to open his eyes but the world was just too bright for him just yet...
Born only four days early...
he was absolutely covered in vernix. He could have swum the English channel with that coating!
The look of love...
Just a minute in this world and he has already captured Daddy''s finger and all of our hearts. 
Beautiful boy. He was so peaceful and calm upon meeting us - as long as I kept him snuggled close, he was happy!
I love in this shot that you can see the time on Daddy's watch!

And just like that - he was here - and we love, love, loved him!