It's been two weeks since our little Miss, Willa Greta Lux entered our lives and the world. That is approximately a whole week later than when I sat down to write a similar reflection after her older brother was born. Already you can see my standards are slipping with the second child, so at this rate she'll be cooking meth in our garage by kindergarten.
For those that read Archer's story, you'll know that his birth didn't roll exactly how the instruction booklet said it would. Spurred on by that past experience, we got ourselves a Doula. What is a Doula? The best way I can think of it is as a Birth Coach except rather than being all sporty, intense and shouty, they tend to be hippy mums with a rampant appetite for having babies in baths, at home or both. Why get one? It's kind of like those people who hire men to put together IKEA furniture. Sure, with the provided instructions you could work it out yourself, but sometimes the pain isn't worth it. With hired help you get your new chair assembled quicker and just as the designer intended, and hopefully involving less stitches.
We went nearly a whole week overdue. This translated into about a month overdue to those around us, after I had convinced myself and everyone else that this baby, much like an Apple iPhone, was coming out early. I guess it was because I've heard that's what second kids do. They just pop out. It’s pure logic. The guy who digs the tunnel has the hardest job; everyone else who follows behind reaps the benefits. It would turn out thought that she was just like her mother and had every intention to be annoyingly late and just sleep in.
The night before the birth was very low key.There were no false contractions or burger-induced indigestion that had been causing some murmurs in the past few weeks. We knew that those murmurs were actually doing some warm-up work, so that the main race would be more a sprint that an endurance event. We checked in with iTunes and agreed the "What to Expect When You’re Expecting" was a good movie choice as it was about having babies, supposedly a comedy and we both, along with many others I am assuming, had never seen it! Maybe it was few actual decent laughs or just timing, but the next morning at around 2am things kicked off. Sar was contracting like the economy, so we made the call and within half an hour my sister (the babysitter) and the Doula where at the door.
With our first child, Archer, Sara had a bad reaction to the epidural and a couple of midwives that she didn’t quite connect with. We bought the Doula on board because Sar wanted to try for a natural (say no to drugs kids when having kids!) birth and avoid trying to deliver posterior like last time. The Doula came armed with a wealth of alternative birthing knowledge that at times had me blown away with its wisdom, and at others times had me cementing my assumptions about people who live in mud brick houses.
My favourite was the tip she shares with first time Mums who wonder whether a baby will be able to get out of 'there'. Her solution? Grab a friend, measure the distance between your hip bones on your bottom and trace that onto some paper vertically. Then measure the distance between your tailbone and pubic bone, trace that onto your paper horizontally and join the points around the outer. Hopefully your somewhat-oval shape still fits on the page or you have been working with a piece of A3. That, dear lady, is how far your body has to stretch! You are welcome.
There was also talk of special weed tea, lactation cookies, Steiner schools, past lives, home births and placenta eating and burying. However, overall the lady was brilliant and packed us full of fresh knowledge and confidence that the human body is capable of handling the pain it generates during this natural process.
At around 6am, Sar had been making a variety of animal noises but the change to bison had Doula thinking now was the time to head into the hospital. I was relieved as Arch was due to wake up soon and the last thing I wanted to be doing was dealing with a women in labour while making a bowl of Weet-Bix for a hungry 3 year old. We jumped into the car and I somehow strapped Sar into the front seat, with it fully reclined and her facing the back of the car. She then managed to move from bison noises to angry mother elephant with a blocked trunk looking for her lost child.
We arrived at the hospital to be told we were coming in at the end of a busy night with six other little ones dropping that night. Luckily we got what I would call one of the better rooms of the public hospital we were at. On the tour, the rooms we had seen were like something out of pre-war Iraq with beautiful views of the hospital's premier cooling towers all the way out to the staff carpark. The one we were in was sparse, clean and neutral in pallet. Definitely not Scandinavian cool, but maybe only a few Bunnings gift cards and an issue of Real Living away from it.
We hit the shower after all the checks, and Sar continued her impressions of the animals of Noah's Ark. By the time we hit hungry polar bear, it was time to push. Sar made her way to the bed and there we locked in for the main task ahead. My role was to provide a level head, keep counting and breathing through contractions and also support whatever yoga-lates positions she wanted to get herself into. At one stage I was across the bed from her arm gripped in hers, supporting her whole bodyweight as she bared (polar bared) down with gravity on each contraction. We looked like we were doing some sort of trust activity for a camp of Personal Trainers.
It seemed like hours but was actually 45 minutes before the pushing came to a head....literally. It was thought at one stage that she would be born in her waters as they hadn't yet broken. This is considered extremely lucky by the Chinese and extremely weird by me. Luckily things finally flowed and soon later little Willa appeared. Doula was there in the room, holding, stretching, coaching and affirming in between snapping what would later prove to be very graphic photos that will never make it to Instagram.
She came out covered in the gunk they don’t tell you is everywhere when babies are born. She was slapped straight onto an exhausted Mum and I got to cut the cord like a Mayor opening something. This time was so different to last. It was relaxed, we were in control and everything went amazingly well.
Maybe it was all the estrogen floating around the room, but I started to sob with joy when I saw these two girls together. I was overcome with happiness and amazement at finally getting to meet our little Miss who had been somewhat intangible to me the last 9 months. To enjoy the peace of the moment after the craziness of labour was really nice and something we missed last time.
I was also shedding a tear of pride, respect and a deep love for my wife. She was unbelievable in being steadfast in her desire to have a drug-free birth. I couldn't believe that from meeting at some high school lockers all those years ago; we could end up here with a proper little family.
We are now two weeks on, and Willa has been an easy baby so far. There are a heap of tests they can do to determine percentages of likelihoods for certain illness, diseases and syndromes. Unfortunately what they can’t screen for is looks. Luckily for us she isn’t ugly. Her features are symmetrical like an orange or something. Her eyes suggest the smarts of someone who is going to be running circles around me by the time she is 10.
Willa’s name means ‘resolute protector’ which talks to the strength we hope she has. Greta is a nod to a traditional family name and Lux means ‘Light’, which we hope she shines into the lives of those around her.
From the moment we stepped into the door of our recently purchased home with her, the place seemed more full and complete. I’m not sure what it was but Sara felt the same thing too. It was a bit like that for me on the inside too. I think you tend to worry, how will you love the second child as much as the wonder that is your first? How can you share that love? Divide it equally between two? A friend of mine put it beautifully- “You don’t divide, you just multiply’.
What he didn’t tell me was when you do, you also feel pretty full.