On March 23rd, 2015 at 14:35 Pacific Standard Time Claire and I were delighted to meet our baby daughter for the first time, Ada Maria Ryan. She was tiny and beautiful and perfect and purple. Oh so very purple.
But let's rewind a bit first.
In July of 2014, after trying to get pregnant for almost two years, Claire announced to me that she was pregnant. Thus began weeks of nervous anticipation and worry that it might all be taken away, as nature sometimes does. But it was to be, and we told some of our family and friends the good news with our 12 week ultrasound, and everyone once we had our 20 week ultrasound.
Christmas came and went and Claire still wasn't even really showing. She started to have a noticable bump in early February, and gave up work at the start of March.
We had decided to use a midwife right away, and our dream was to have a water birth at home in our own apartment. All was going well until early March when we confirmed that our little Spawnling was in the breech position, head up instead of down.
We had a few options, namely a risky vaginal breech birth, a far less risky elective c-section, or, an attempt at turning the Spawnling in utero, through a process called External Celphalic Version, or ECV. Frankly, the thought of a c-section terrified us both, and there are very few doctors trained to do a vaginal breach birth thanks to a now discredited report from eleven years ago that adviced against it.
The attempt to turn the Spawnling with ECV failed, after five attempts over two sessions on the same morning, leaving Claire sore and upset. After discussing our remaining options together and with our midwife and doctor, Claire chose to go ahead with a c-section, and all I could do was be there to give her my full support.
That was not an easy choice to make for Claire. She is phobic of needles, or more specifically, injections, a condition called trypanophobia. One of the neccessities of pregnancy in the first world is a regular requirement to have blood taken, and be generally poked and prodded throughout the nine months. She was much more capable of facing a bloodtest by early March than the first time back before Christmas, but the thought of having an IV and an epidural was terrifying.
With an elective c-section, you're given a time and a date to be at the hospital, as well as a consultation a few days before. There is no stress, no hours and hours of labour, no rushing about like a headless chicken, panicing about what is or might happen. It actually felt a bit weird, and the night before was like the worst Christmas Eve ever! If you think waiting for Santa is exciting, try waiting for the best, most unique gift imaginable!
We woke up before 7am Monday morning so that Claire could have breakfast, as her major abdominal surgery required her to fast from 7am onwords. We took the bus into downtown and headed to the hospital a little ahead of time, arriving at Surgical Daycare just before 1pm.
Claire was brought into surgery at 2pm, an hour ahead of schedule, and while the staff got her set up, I was told to wait outside in the hall. At 2:25 I was called in and found Claire surrounded by hospital staff with a sheet dividing her head and shoulders from the rest of her body. I sat beside her and talked to her, just trying to keep her calm and focused on me.
At about 2:30, our obstetrician, the wonderful and hilarious Doctor Anderson, told me to stand up. When I did, I looked over the dividing sheet to find myself looking at Doctor Anderson holding a tiny bottom and two legs up. Only a tiny bottom and two legs. The rest of Spawnling, from chest up, was still securely inside Claire. Doctor Anderson twisted the legs a bit and we had the following conversation:
Doctor Anderson: Do you want to call it, Denis?
Me: Er... I think it's a girl.
Entire room laughs.
I sat back down and tried to hug Claire.
"It's Ada, Claire. It's our daughter, Ada."
A few minutes more, with another bit of pulling and pushing, and a purple, gooey Ada was brought around the curtain for Claire to see for the first time. She was taken to a table to be cleaned, and as I hugged Claire we heard her cry for the first time. I was called over to see her, and despite less than a minute old, apart from her hands and feet, she was a healthy shade of pink already. As soon as I stood near, I said "Hello Ada", and she just stopped crying, turning her head toward me. While her umbilical cord was cut to allow her to be moved to the table, it was left long to allow me to cut it to size.
Once she was cleaned up, she was brought back for Claire to hold. After a few minutes of just being close, Claire and I did what we had talked about before her birth: We started talking to Ada in Irish, welcoming her into the world in our native tongue. Ada, for her part, just lay on Claire's neck and breathed.
Out of the OR and back to a Recovery Room for a few hours where mommy, daddy and Ada could bond. After that we were brought to the room we would spend the next three days in. We got to meet the most extraordinarily wonderful nurses, get help with Ada's low blood sugar and high bilirubin levels, and relax in peace, while Claire recovered from her surgery.
On Thursday, March 26th, we were dismissed from the hospital, and came home to be a family at our own pace. Since then, we have learned so much about our little Spawnling. She refuses to sleep on her back, laughs at jokes we can't hear, loves having her diaper changed and dislikes baths. We can't stop looking at her, and I can't stop photographing her, in case I miss anything. New parents, eh? Yeesh!!
We still talk to her in Irish when we can, she sleeps at night lying on each of our chests in turn, and while Claire tries to breastfeed as much as possible, she eats more than Claire can give, so we supplement with formula, allowing me to do night feeds, leaving Claire to get some sleep. Because of that, and regular naps during the day, we've both been getting a lot of sleep and feeling great.
We've taken walks up to Safeway, just two blocks away, and longer walks around downtown. We've visited the park on a sunny day and relaxed on a bench. We've met friends for lunch in a restaurant and been able to eat without too much trouble.
Ada has become a wonderful addition to our family. We are lucky to have her, and hope that we'll prove to be great parents over the coming years and decades.Related:
It Was All A Dream
Ada on Flickr