Nov 22, 2012

She Who Is Unnamed Is Named

Lyra Ishbel Gavin, come on down!

Actually now I think of it, I'm not sure how to spell Ishbel.

Nicole and I chose the first name, with not much actual method involved, just sort of brooding and not making a decision, especially when people were nagging us. Which they did.

Eloise chose the second name from a shortlist of three provided by us. Ishbel, Isobel or Elanore.

So maybe I should ask her to tell me how to spell it.

Number One Daughter

As you can see, bathtimes can be a "fun winding-down activity from the busy lifestyle modern children live" or something.

Eloise has her dance concert this weekend. She's doing six dances or something, and has been practicing for it for god alone knows how long.

Last Sunday she had a dress rehearsal up in Aspley that went on for eight hours. It went on too long; we had to be there for the last hour and half waiting for it to finish. There was a big storm while we were in there; all the Aussies were putting their cars under cover and we were wondering why, until someone told us that hailstones the size of tennis balls had been falling over Ashgrove and they were headed our way!

When I exited the hall and the blare of what passes for music these days, I was confronted by an intense curtain of rain blown by stormy gusts punctuated by lightning and thunder. I braved the elements and moved the car sort of under cover; all the good cover having been grabbed already.

No hail.

When I picked Eloise up from dancing today she was practicing her duo with her little chum. "They're not pointing their toes!" said Kristen the teacher. "You two are the only juniors I'm trusting to dance outside of a big group and you're not doing it properly!"

She has to go for an extra practice tomorrow. Last chance saloon. Then it's on stage, in front of lots of people. I expect nerves, and lots of them.

Nov 19, 2012


The Boss So: no name yet, don't nag.

Eyes appear to be focussing, intense locking of gaze is being achieved. Touching of faces with hands, etc, which is nice. Maybe even the vestiges of recognition. Who knows. She is, at any rate, taking an interest in the light and dark things that surround her.

Her legs are powerful, She has the ability to move in a limited way using them. She kicked me in the gonads today. Bless.

She is strong of neck, and appears to enjoy being suspended upside-down. At least it stops her crying.

Grip is good. As Nicole's hair will attest.

She doesn't entirely object to nappy changing, and I am fondly recalling the love I have for baby poo. Really!

Eloise is in charge of bathing, and discharges her duty with great care. I remember she used to absolutely hate having a bath, yet Spud 2 (or shall we let Woody stick) allows it reasonably fusslessly.

Breastfeeding continues to proceed without problems at considerable volume, though balance is yet to be achieved as Woody currently over-indulges and then vomits.

Last night for instance several hours of quality slumber were lost when a mega-vomit was expelled. Not a problem in itself, but Dionysian hunger soon followed, in the manner of a bingeing Roman, and the breasticles were unable to provide sufficient volumes.

Eventually, loud protests were silenced when one of the breasts was able to provide a snifter sufficient to suffer sleep, and slumber was restored.



One Astrological Event Displaces Another

In the sense that the birth of a child is an astrological event, and were it not for that astrological event, we could well have been in Cairns to experience the total solar eclipse that happened last week.

In the event, however, as it were, we weren't, we were in Brisbane, so we had to make do with the partial eclipse we got.

And, with our own little event in tow (Scorpio), we went to Chermside Retail Mecca, and parked in the Prammy Spaces, so parking was a breeze! But no eclipse glasses to be had: 'We sold out two weeks ago' said National Geographic Lady, 'we weren't expecting it to be a big deal, but we've had fifty calls today.'

So no eclipse glasses in Brisbane, but who needs eclipse glasses when you have binoculars and a piece of card! And if you don't have binoculars, you can borrow some!

So we borrowed some binoculars, got up at 6am as the sun was shrinking in the Eastern sky, and ate pancakes whilst projecting it onto a big piece of card. If you look on the picture, you'll see its crescent there.

And when maximum partiality was achieved, indeed the light did become a smidgeon unnatural, darkening a bit - not much, but it felt cooler than it should've.

Nov 13, 2012

Tired, Warm, Punctual

So even though things seem on the face of it easy, with nights only lightly punctuated by bawling and life progressing very much in a not-too-disrupted routine, other than regular stops for the tapping of the nork and medical visits to doctors and midwives, and the babe (still unnamed) sleeping a great deal, Nicole and I are still tired, for even though we profess not to have fallen victim to the same "china doll" syndrome that we probably had - though not nearly as badly as some - we are still obviously in a state of heightened emotions. And Nicole especially is tired, from recovering from Day Zero to constant breastfeeding, to the warm weather, to regularly overestimating her reserves of energy.

Spud (or Woody as the others call her, in recognition of her skill at woodpeckering) is now managing to point both her eyes in roughly the same direction, and we are having periods of marked lucidity and eye contact where it's just possible she might recognise that she's looking at something significant.

We have confirmed that she is not deaf by way of a clever machine at the hospital. She was wired up to electrodes and had ear pieces fitted. The machine played sounds in her ears and monitored the brain-stem for nerve impulses. We were impressed. Eloise's hearing test involved someone sneaking around a room and clapping!

She is almost back to her birth weight now, and drinking like a lunatic, especially when it's hot and she's thirsty.

We are constantly noting how a summer baby is so much easier than a winter baby, since not having to fit some kind of heated environmental spacesuit means you can actually be on time for things.

We're even managing to be on time for school, which is pretty amazing as Eloise insists on pushing the pram all the way there.

Nov 9, 2012

Separated at Birth?

Back to the familiar pattern of days of yore, the sleep-screech cycle, the recycling of liquid from the tap through the breast and - hopefully - into the nappy.

Spud II is being pretty good, after our couple of nights of drought-induced disquiet, we are settling into an easy pattern, as per the above.

The milk has come in and the babe is happy. Occasionally wifey absolutely requires draining when the breasticles become painful, and usually Spud is only too happy to oblige, before embarking upon five-hour daytime sleepathons which promise sleepless nights but somehow fail to deliver.

Nov 5, 2012

What is to be expected

So the sitrep is as follows:
Visitors: some
Breastfeeding: mixed
Sleep: patchy

Little Wotserface is doing well, no problems, to repeat the oft-repeated clichés she's got a good pair of lungs on 'er, she's gesturing like Superman, she's a hungry little thing, etc.

And hungry she is beyond the ability of Nicole to supply. In a situation where demand exceeds the productive capacity to supply, we expect inflation. And this is what is indeed happening as productive capacity is adjusted. The breasts they are a-growing, but in the meantime little Thingummë isn't taking No for an answer. After all, she doesn't know the word yet.

Night One was OK. We knew Night Two was going to be difficult. Eloise has been magnificent. After announcing that frankly she wasn't going to get to sleep with all this caterwauling, she assisted Nicole in keeping Sprog under control, even changing a nappy, before eventually flaking out.

I fell asleep on the sofa, fully in the knowledge that I might be called on later, and I was awoken at three in the morning by Nicole who was past the point of no return, having been bled dry of what little colostrum she had to offer. She lay herself down to sleep, and I set to pacing, rocking and humming upstairs through the ambulance call of Number Two's plaintive cries, her woodpeckering upon my breast, her near attempts at falling asleep so casually abandoned, until eventually she could maintain it no longer and we fell asleep on the sofa, she on the safe, backrest, side of my chest, and grabbed a few hours of sleep until around seven a.m.

Night Three wasn't quite a repeat, but it made a pretty good attempt at it. Nicole's norks were getting their acts together but the Night Terror, having emptied nine of them of what they had, just wanted more, and with a abdominal numbity and masticular discomfort on Nicole's part preventing further suckling, she began to express her frustration through the medium of voice.

Eloise was sound asleep and completely oblivious to any of this, but Nicole retired upstairs for some shuteye while I commenced the humming, rocking, pacing thing to occasional success. Having repeated Frère Jacques, Men of Harlech, Hark the Herald Angels Cry, Once in Royal David's Bitty, and the theme from Take H(e)art more times than I care to remember, having climbed into bed with hope in my heart and climbed out again with resignation in my gut to continue the trial, Nicole came in announcing it was three o'clock or something, I forget exactly what, that she'd had a nice kip and Spud seemed to have been very quiet.

"Oh, you bloody think so" said I, as I closed my eyes.

Nov 4, 2012

Express Delivery

Of course it's all a bit of a blur now, but as it's only likely to get blurrier, I suppose that I will write the story of Spud II's birthday while it's still fresh.

You'll be aware that Wolf has been cried a few times, but as I said to her the other day, Nicole always has appointments, like the hairdresser or whatever, and as I picked her up from the hairdresser she had a clear diary and it seemed like that would be like a red rag to a bull.

So when she woke me up at 6.30 on November the Second 2012, my first words were to the effect of "So we're on then, are we?"

And she said to me words along the lines of "Well I let you sleep in as long as I could but the contractions are now five minutes apart, so we should probably think about making a move."

So, first things first, get the coffee on, feed the dog, get dressed all that... a fever of half-asleep frenetic flapping.

Then a phone call to Marion to get Eloise taken care of, and it turns out that phones are really difficult to work when you need them to be easy and I hang up on her three times when I meant to do something else, and I'm sure the state of discombobulation conveys more than anything that something is afoot.

Nicole in the background, pacing, having contractions. "Can we get the TENS machine on, do you think?"

"OK, where are the instructions...."

Marion and Hannah arrive to pick Eloise up and it's all high-pitched female coo-ing excitement for a while, and I'm trying desperately to remember whether red is positive or is it black, and somehow Google is unhelpful to the point where we open Marion's bonnet (on her car) to look at the battery and even that's impossible to comprehend!

Anyway we wire up the TENS and Eloise has gone and the TENS is working so I'd better get the baby car seat mounted into the car and all that... and Matilda comes out of the gate with me and climbs into the boot of the car while I'm fiddling, because she really doesn't know what's going on, and frankly who does?

A quick spot of breakfast cereal whilst the last of the bags are packed and then we're off through the sluggish traffic with some nice relaxing Brian Eno to complement the very unrelaxing presence of the labouring woman with the three-minute contractions doubling her over whilst waiting for the lights to change on Newmarket Road.

The best laid plans of mice and men! We'd envisaged a nice relaxing trip down to the hospital, lazily scanning the area for a parking space (to avoid the exorbitant parking fees) and then a gently stroll along leafy streets to the hospital while the Carpenters played in the background.

Reality: straight into the exorbitantly priced multi-storey car park and a slow, heavily laden journey through the concrete cavern, lugging baggage and quiche, accompanied by moans and commuter traffic.

Into bright sunshine and stopping for a pause outside the cafe I offer Nicole a bar to lean against as another contraction comes, but she waves me off and we hurry, if hurry's the word, into the Atrium and into the womb of the hospital, into the lifts, and into the Birth Centre, and to our room, and.... relax.

It's 8am, the contractions are coming thick and fast, and the bath is full, but ignored as a midwife called Jill from Sunderland gives us a quick tour which I think she secretly knows we aren't really listening to, as we nod politely, occasionally retiring to a nearby trolley to lean against as another wave of contraction takes hold.

And it's just like last time, only more intense, Nicole in more pain, and another midwife comes along, our midwife for the day, Kelly, who is a Londoner, with child herself. And I say it's intense but at the same time it's relaxed and low-key, kind of a hum of activity as people do stuff in the background, and offer occasional encouragement and make chit-chat until "There's another one coming" and I man the Boost button and the pain, with Nicole bracing against the trolley then crouching down as though she's winding a spring in her legs and getting ready to leap.

After a while I remember there's an arrangement that I need to make, because Eloise has gone into before-school care her teacher probably needs to know what's going on and who she can contact so I nip outside to send a quick text message with my still-inept phone fingers, and when I come back in there's Gas and Air and loud moaning and things are clearly moving along.

Nicole says she needs to push and the midwife says -- yeah, go on, go for it; I suggest the beach ball but we opt for a large bean bag, and Nicole on all fours, goes for it.

I think, that's a bit odd, I thought the pushing was for stage two, but little do I know, for intensity mounts and the pain is intense, and Nicole lets us know that, and she's pushing down hard. Someone says "It's still in the sac" and I look down to the business end and Bugger Me! there's a head, in the sac, bloody hell! Better get the camera!

Jill is back and she says give me the camera so I do and one last push and there's a gush as the sac goes and the baby slides out, and there it is, grey and tiny, and that moment of dread before it starts breathing, and then it does, it takes a breath and cries, and I have it in my arms.

It's 9.23. And it's a she!

Nicole, flopped down, her face in the beanbag, exhausted, while a hug the baby, complains I'm pulling on the cord, and of course it's still attached to her, and we go through some complex manouevring to get Nicole sat up with baby on her chest. Their eyes meet. It's kind of special.

Image: Nicole, shaking like a leaf, gasping for air, tine baby on her chest looking up at her.

And that's it, aside from the placenta which is collected for research purposes, the trip down the corridor to load the infant into a bizzare machine that goes whoosh to measure her volume and weight etc, the heel-prick tests necessitated by Nicole's gestational diabetes diagnosis, and the marginal fail on one of those tests that threatens a 24-hour stay in hospital.

Hours have passed, and it seems right that Eloise should meet her sister, so I drive up to the school, not even minding the exorbitant parking charge, and meet her as she leaves class.

- We have a baby, I say.
- Is it a boy?
- No, you have a little sister.

Her shoulders sag a bit and she's a bit disappointed because, like every other person who's deigned to offer an opinion, and there's a been a few, she's expected a boy. She's wanted him for rough play, but I say she still has me, and she looks at me and says Yes I do.

We're on the way and I ask her how she's feeling and she says Happy but nervous.

But when she gets to the hospital and we go into the room and see Mum there with the babe and she gets to hold it her heart melts and she falls in love and all is well.

I deliver Eloise to Hannah's house where she'll stay the night then some phone calls and back to the hospital, where the blood tests are passed and we are free to go, back home by eight o'clock, twelve hours after we left, bruised, battered, tired. But happy.

Nov 2, 2012

The Arrival of the Spud

No words, too tired. Story later.
Suffice it to say: 9.23am, 3.3kg (7lbs 3oz), female.

Nov 1, 2012


Expectancy Since Nicole's Saturday night efforts we've had a couple of further episodes where contractions have started and then abated. I'm on tenterhooks, Nicole is ready to get the child out.

She's getting larger and larger, though by many people's standards she's really quite petite and really looks to be in great shape, trim and happy but with a bloody great beachball stuck up her dress.

Still around nightfall, the sprog wakes up and wombey things begin to happen, and we hang in there and see if it's something real or not.

Last night it looked to be something real, and Nicole was very uncomfortable but things again abated in the early hours.

And today, I went out to walk the dog with Nicole having regular tightenings and suggesting that when I got back we might think about the TENS machine, but again, no dice.