I remember the moment that Eva was born like it was yesterday. So many memories of the baby days fade over time, details get blurry and you can no longer ‘feel’ it, but this, this still stays with me as vivid as can be. As I lay on that cold table in a bright room full of doctors I felt terrified that after all this time I would have to have an emergency c-section, I looked around the room taking it all in as the midwife that had not long come on shift tried to reassure me, to hold my hand and tell me it was all going to be taken care of. It would be ok.
Yet all I could see were so many people standing waiting in the wings in case the forceps didn’t work. There were two men in blue scrubs standing so casually chatting above my head and I remember vividly that one leg was crossed over the other, how strange that I recall that detail, but I remember thinking how at ease they looked with the situation when I felt so very scared for my daughters life. I panned over and looked at Eddy in his blue scrubs and strange little netted hat and I then realised I wasn’t alone in this, that as much as I was going through this, so was he. Life was changing not just for me but for him aswell, and that he was a little bit terrified too.
What felt like a lifetime later, but in reality was mere minutes, the baby was born and let out the gurgled and piercing first cry that was so very very welcome. The long awaited sound that triggered tears of joy, of love and of relief. As they lifted her up to show us this beautiful baby that was not only just fine but absolutely perfect the mood changed in the room and everyone was excited to know the gender. I looked at Eddy and he uttered the most beautiful words with a tear in his eye and a smile on his face “We have a daughter”. I looked at him and knew that this was his moment, this is the moment that it became real for him, this tangible little 6lb 10oz dot of a person right in front of his eyes made this the moment his life changed forever. When he became Dad.
He became about the proudest person I have ever seen, he was totally in love with her and in awe of this little human we had created, but what he also got, was his wife back. Having been so ill with hyperemesis he recalls that as soon as I had her I was back (and also that after 9 months of not eating properly I ate a jacket potato at the speed of light – he loves to tell that story too!) and for him life felt pretty perfect. As Eva was a little early and struggled somewhat to breastfeed – and sleep – he would rally around to help as much as he could. He even put together and figured out how to work a steriliser at 1am when both me and Eva were crying in the kitchen from failing to feed for the last two hours.
The kettle became his friend in the first few weeks and he would make endless cups of teas for me and visitors. He would sense the time was right (or feel the stare into the back of his head) for people to leave and negotiated all comings and goings – a tip from our NCT classes that definitely stuck with him.
Of course things were not always rosey and we had our fair share of moments when we were both getting used to such a change, like the “who’s more tired” debate which I am sure he never ever won, the “why is she still crying I have no idea what to do” moments or the the more lovely “who is going to bath her because it is amazing and she loves the water” ones, although not so much coming out.
We weren’t aware at the time but our tiny little baby had allergies, she could get very sicky and upset and was also a little jaundice. She was happiest snuggled right into us and as I said in my last post I would cuddle her skin to skin, not only me though, Eddy aswell. He absolutely adored this bond with her and would sit for ages just looking down at her face and having her look right back. I know that if he could go back and relive any moment it would be those. He would also hold her up with his long outstretched arms and sing “circle of life” which he must have done 100’s of times before she got too big, although given half the chance at the thought of the memory he still does it today, with a pretty tall 6 year old!
Our new normal was starting to feel just that, normal. We were very lucky in that Eddy had almost a month off work. At the time he worked shifts, 2 days, 2 nights and 4 off days and it fell perfectly. We really did make the most of it, simple days at home seeing people, getting used to functioning on a few hours sleep, the nappies, the washing, the calm and the fact that we still talked parenting because we just couldn’t help ourselves but beam with pride and know that the other person felt that way too. Ordinary moments at home suddenly became the fun of laughing at her mohican, or her bubba lip, or the fact that for so long she had scrunched up legs like a frog. But we also went out, excited shopping to buy clothes now we knew she was a she, having lunch, showing her off and soaking in this time. It was relaxed and wonderful.
Until one bleary eyed morning when the familiar painful sound echoed around the room at 5am. A sound not heard for almost a month, such a short space of time to some but one that already felt like a whole lifetime ago. Before parenthood. The time when it was only me digging him in the ribs to turn the sound off and get up for work but now the extra panic that it might in fact wake the sleeping baby that lay so perfectly on the other side of the room. Quietly (or rather noisily in Eva’s case) nestled in the moses basket that creaked when she moved and accompanied by a rolled up tshirt in the hope that having my smell next to her would give us at least a couple of hours sleep in our own bed, alone.
I was all geared up for that first day, we knew that with a 12 hour shift it would be a long one and we would miss him lots but we could do this. Eva has almost always loved routine and been at her most settled when she didn’t get overtired or you caught her at the right time to sleep or feed and at 4 weeks she was having a good long nap in the middle of the day. A great time for me to sit and recharge my batteries and make sure I was getting something to eat.
So this first day, that is just what I did. I remember it so well, maybe just not for the right reasons. I put her down and made myself a cup of tea to sit in my favourite spot on the sofa with my legs tucked underneath me and watch some tv. A sigh of relief and a leap for joy that we got through the first morning happily together. I was tired, as all mothers to 4 week olds are and I actually have no idea what happened but suddenly the mug of scalding hot black tea was empty and all over my lap.
I have never felt anything like it, instinctively I screamed, jumped up and took off my trousers which were sticking to me. It was so painful I was shaking and had to do the one thing that I didn’t want to have to do on that day of any. I rang Eddy. Long story short and after a cold shower fully clothed and a speedy drive home we ended up in hospital getting the burns on my stomach and legs dressed with an appointment the next day to do the same. I felt like I had failed. After a month of parenting together I had stupidly had this accident on the very first day alone.
Thankfully after some tlc and a few weeks of healing we got into our stride. It was a little hard sometimes especially the days when he worked so long. For us at home but also, and more so, for him. He would leave before she awoke and most of the time make it home just in time to give her a sleepy kiss on the head as she was heading for her slumber. As he walked into that bedroom with the lights low and her eyes dropping I could see the ache in his heart to hold her and talk to her and start the day all over again. Those 4 days felt long, of course when he was on nights it was sometimes tricky to sleep and get the balance of family life just right but it was also a huge blessing. We had 4 whole days off together, well 3 and a half if you count sleeping the first day!
We could spend days just like we did when he was off and not feel like they were in short supply, he could push the pram through the park or in town, feed the ducks and talk to her when she was doing tummy time. He was present in her life so much that even the long days paled into insignificance. When he was on nights we would sneek up and give him a kiss because he can basically sleep at any time of day and he would flash us a half asleep smile.
It felt like he was there alot, he may have missed weekends and events sometimes but I definitely felt like we got the best deal, and after all he did it for us. He worked for us, he lived for us. He was still my husband, the man I had met in a bar just 4 years earlier and left without saying goodbye (me not him!). The Man who then went off to Japan for 6 weeks with work and promised contact when he was back, who text me immediately in the taxi on the way back from the airport and who just 3 years later became my husband. He was still that man, still the man that lived for me, just now he lived for us.
He has always been Eddy, long been Mr to my Mrs but this was his time to become something more, to become what he is today, to become Dad.
These aren’t the most flattering photos, I wasn’t so much into photography then, they are real, and raw, and us.
In the hospital when noone but us even knew she was here
As proud as proud could be x