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Change has come! Celebrating and sharing about the birth of my son

Gorgeous

Change has come” was the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald on Ethan’s birth date, 21st January 2009.  The paper was referring to Obama’s inauguration but we couldn’t have put better ourselves the profound turn our life was about to take!

Thanks to everyone who’s sent their wishes and asked for more details.  Ethan’s official birth stats:

– time of birth: 10:34am
– weight: 3.510kg (about 7pounds 11 ounces in the old language, or something like that)
– length: 51.5cm

As I write this a week after Ethan’s arrival, I’m still in awe at the miracle of his birth and how something so beautiful came out of me!  And I’m amused by some of the events that transpired before and since his arrival.  Here are my Top 10 favorite and funny memories so far:

1. You’d think that with all the degrees and qualifications I have, and the business projects I’ve managed, that a simple pregnancy test shouldn’t pose much of a problem, right?  Wrong! If I’d read the instructions, I would have known that there was a CAP on the end of the pee-stick that needed to be removed to show the result window.  This is where the blue line shows if you have a positive result.  Except because I didn’t know there was a cap that needed to be removed, and I thought the actual dip-stick bit would show the blue line, I was oblivious to the first positive test result.  And the second one!  It was only as the symptoms kept mounting that I thought to check the instructions… and of course the result in the window beneath the cap was a clear blue line!

2. It’s a boy! But we knew that from fairly early on in the process.  Because I’ve never been one to remember when my periods fall, I had no idea what the due date would be.  We did some guestimating with my GP and concluded that I must have been about 6 weeks when I first realised I was pregnant.  Around the same time a big lump appeared in my abdomen and during a scan to confirm the lump was nothing serious (just a big uterine fibroid), the baby was also scanned and determined to be 15 weeks old already.  Fantastic – I’d sailed through the first trimester without even realising!  But I was just gob-smacked to see on the big plasma screen in front of me that at 15 weeks the little chap already had perfectly formed arms and legs and everything in tact – and looking at him in 4D imagery, all I could mutter over and over again was “isn’t this technology amazing!”  This seemed to amuse the radiographer no end.  She asked why I hadn’t brought my husband with me so he could see the scan as well, to which I replied “had I known I was 15 weeks already I would have!”.  At this point she asked if I wanted to know the gender, which again I was amazed to know could be determined already, and just as we were discussing it the baby moved around and into a full frontal position leaving no doubt that either he was a boy or he had three legs instead of two!  Being the youngest of an all-girl family, and perhaps just being a girl, I was shocked at the idea of having a little boy growing inside of me.  “A boy.  I don’t think so.  Are you sure?” I asked, about three times, stunned silence in between.  When the response was the same each time over, I finally spoke again “well that’s hilarious; his father should be happy with that!”.  Which of course he was.  A little Ric was on his way!

3. So, soooo tired is what I’ll remember most about being pregnant.  For someone who’s normally burning the midnight oil and producing my best work at that time, it was a shock to be tucking myself into bed at 9pm.  And then there was the doctors appointments on top of that – I had weekly visits for much of my pregnancy and in the beginning this stressed me no end in terms of my lost productivity as I waited less than patiently for 3 or 4 or 5 hours for my turn to see the doctors.  With the fatigue and the lost time came an overwhelming sense of guilt: not for myself, but for all the women who’d worked for me over the years and for whom I had no empathy or sympathy as they’d pushed on through their pregnancies.  Only now, through my own experience, could I truly understand how tiring it can be making and carrying around a little person in your belly – and I didn’t even have to deal with morning sickness.  As I looked back on my complete ignorance, I truly felt like the bitch boss from hell.  I apologise – at least I know now!

4. Most of the pregnancy was less than memorable for me, but towards the end things started to get interesting.  The nesting process in particular really cracked me up!  It’s that instinct that kicks in as the baby pushes down into the engaged position that has even the most domestically unconditioned of us picking up the vacuum cleaner and Spray and Wipe and cleaning like a demon!  Given my history of domesticity (or lack thereof – the house normally looks like a bomb’s gone off in it!) I found the nesting almost as miraculous as the birth process itself.  Two weeks before Ethan arrived, and within 24 hours of him making the final drop down to the birth canal, I was off and racing on a quest to clean every last surface, wall, carpet and couch in the house.  All I could focus on was cleaning house from top to bottom and getting the nursery set up and ready to go.  Bathrooms were scrubbed, carpets were cleaned and walls washed.  Ric was in hysterics watching me and wondered why I’d never managed such a feat before.  And I think he’s more than disappointed that this phase has now passed and we’re back to the mess and clutter that inhabits my normal existence.  Oh well, it was good while it lasted!

5. On time and on budget – now that’s good project management.  Or good luck!  As my due date approached I was sure the baby would arrive early and though there were signs that he might, in the end he didn’t.  But he did arrive right on cue. Perhaps it was good luck or maybe it was the threat of being induced if he hadn’t arrived by term (due to the gestational diabetes I was managing throughout the pregnancy).  Either way, I was due to arrive at the hospital at 7am for the induction process to begin and my stage 1 labour began 3 hours earlier at about 4am.  When the contractions started, I slept through the first hour or so until I realised they were getting stronger and closer in time.  Realising this I woke myself and began timing the contractions.  At about 5am I woke Ric; the contractions were 5 minutes apart and we rang the hospital to find out what we should do next.  In hearing my cries of pain, the midwife gave us the green light to head on in.  So what was Ric’s first question, at such a critical moment?  “Have I got time for a shower?”  Now Ric’s a deep sleeper, so I thought this wasn’t a bad idea.  “Just a quick one” I said, as the wave of the next contraction washed over me.  So imagine my amazement when I looked up into our ensuite to see him in the shower, basquing under the warm water, lathering up and preparing for a shave.  “A QUICK SHOWER… NO TIME FOR A SHAVE!” I yelled, quite sure there really wasn’t time left!  This woke Ric up for sure and we were off on our way.  The game was on!

6. We were on budget with the birth because, for a variety of reasons, Ethan was delivered through the public hospital system.  I’d had some complications during the pregnancy that required specialist support, which was provided by the fantastic team at Royal North Shore throughout my term.  The midwives who assisted with the delivery were absolutely wonderful as well and our birth experience was certainly a positive one.  It seems that rarely a day goes by without a bad news story about our public hospital system, but in truth I could not fault the service and the expertise we had access to at RNS.  It is indeed a privilege to live in a country and a city where access to world class medicos is freely available to all.

7. Finally, when it came time for the delivery, the little chap wasn’t mucking around!  We arrived at the hospital at 6am, the epidural was administered about an hour later.  Unfortunately it didn’t work though, so another one was administered about an hour or so after that.  And once that one kicked in, the midwife’s examination showed the baby was on his way out!  Only problem was, Ric had headed out to get some refreshments (once the epidural kicked in I realised how hungry I was!) so we had a phone hotline going to him and he ran all the way back to the ward just in time to help me with the pushing.  Our baby boy was born at 10.34am.

8. The name game was an interesting one.  Once I found out early in the pregnancy that a boy was on the way, the naming process started in earnest.  I have to say this was the toughest branding exercise I’ve ever undertaken!  For over 5 months we tossed around different names: modern, traditional, classical, biblical, English, French, German, you name it.  It was tough!  In the 2 weeks prior to Ethan’s birth it became an obsession as I scoured the book of baby names and by the night before his arrival we were still undecided.  Ric favoured more popular names; I wanted something distinctive and strong.  It seemed like we’d never reach an agreement so when the midwife finally delivered the baby and asked if we had a name picked out, I was surprised that Ric turned to me and asked “do we have a name?”  After the effort of the birth he left it to me to have the last word.  And so I chose Ethan Richard – Ethan meaning “firm, strong, steadfast”.  For the middle name the choice was simple – without Ric’s persistence he would never have convinced me to have a baby in the first place.

9. “Did I really make this little person?” I’ve asked myself over and over and if I didn’t see him come out of me with my own eyes, I’m sure I wouldn’t believe it was possible.  In the days following Ethan’s birth, I stared at him for hours on end wondering how we managed to produce such a perfect little being.  Mother Nature is simply incredible and I’m in awe of her work.

10. What is normal anyway?  Now that we’re all home, life is beginning to resume some sense of normality, whatever that now means.  On the first night home together, we were watching the Australian Open tennis on the TV in our room and as I put Ethan down in between Ric and me, I had this momentous realization: when I left for the hospital we were a couple and now, just a couple of days later there’s an extra person in our family.  Seems simple, but it doesn’t really hit you til you’re faced with blunt realities like this.  The all-nighters have taken a different form, and working flexibly is taking on an entirely new meaning.  But isn’t it amazing how quickly something so completely and utterly foreign can soon become “normal”…

A week down the track and Ric and I are really enjoying getting to know the little chap.  The beagles have been on their best behaviour; initially they oscillated between being terrified (Baby wet herself when he cried the first time!) and intrigued.  TJ tried to nest with Ethan like he did with the little calf and Millie is just wondering whether the new pet is staying or being given away like her puppies were!  All in all they seem to be more than impressed with the little guy as well.

Ethan is being very kind to his parents and sleeping better than I had expected.  Yes, the new mum and dad are tired but it could definitely be worse!  Thanks to everyone for the little tit-bits of advice and suggestions that have been flowing through, and for the good wishes you’ve been sending.  I’m about a month behind in my emails but I will get back to you all soon.  In the meantime, we’ll just continue to take things as they come!

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