A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.
Anakin: Quietly reading by yourself. I find you like this several times throughout the day, completely absorbed in books for ages. Once you learn how to read I have no doubt your love of books will only grow.
Isis: Your eyes light up and you turn your head and smile upon hearing your brother’s voice. He comes over to comfort you, to hug you and kiss your forehead. Seeing you like this is pure magic, intertwined and forming that lifelong bond that will hopefully outlast me.
Weeks are passing in a flash. You seem to grow so quickly. I can hardly bear it. I’m so conflicted by pure joy and by sadness as I watch your fleeting newborn time disappear before me. You change so fast and every time you do I am delighted by your growth as much as I miss what’s left behind.
I’ve been having this strange feeling of things moving too fast lately. As if something is slipping away from me. I look at you and I can’t believe all the things you can do and say, the level of things you understand and how refined your interactions with the world are. And you’re only two. All the clichés are true, time goes too fast. There are so many first and lasts. And I am finding myself scared of forgetting them all, and terrified of missing any of them.
I want to remember these things.
Like how you love to nibble on parsley and rosemary, and how you pronounce rosemary (rosmarin in Norwegian) Ros-atte-min.
Like how you call a police man a police car man (politibilmann).
Like how last night was the first time you let your pappa put you to bed since you were a tiny baby. We made a deal that I would feed and cuddle you in your room and then you and pappa would read and sing in our bed. And it went as smooth as if it was something you’d always done.
Like how today after a day of highs and lows you decided to forgo your normal bath and go to bed early. And it was the first time you didn’t ask for milk, and I didn’t offer. I want to remember how sad and happy that made me at the same time. I want to remember how you asked me to put my head on your tummy and sing while you stroked my hair and how you laid next to me for close to an hour just snuggling. Your little hands touching my face, feeling my eyebrows and the contours of my lips. How you laid there looking into my eyes for ages with a slight smile. As if you knew the significance of it all and wanted to make sure I felt just as loved as before.
Like how your face absolutely lit up when I hang your paintings on our wall and how you kept looking at them, so proud and so stoked that your art means something, that it means enough to be hung on the wall next to our art.
Like how your imagination is running so free now. You make up songs and change lyrics. How you can sit completely still for 40 minutes listening to an audio book and how you start acting it out afterwards. Your vocabulary, in both languages, is far beyond your age.
I so desperately want to remember you like you are right now. I feel I have already forgotten so much of how you were when you were smaller. I want to remember it all.
You truly are a magnificent person. I can only imagine what an amazing man you’ll grow up to be. I hope that when you do you’ll remember some of these things too, and remember that you were loved so deeply, so completely and so unconditionally.
Yours always, Mamma xx
Ok, so we leave tomorrow and I have a million things to do. But… I figured why not just get something out of the way first and perhaps save us some annoyance once we get to the other side.
My first name isn’t Dida. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but let’s just say that it is something I have yet to hear any English speaker pronounce correctly. After getting so sick of constantly repeating and spelling my name, I took another middle name, hence here my name is Dida. Simple enough, right? You’d be surprised at how many struggle to get that one right too.
When we named our son Anakin, we kept in mind that it was a name that needed to work in both English and Norwegian. Seems pretty straight forward? Apparently not. The amount of people who mispronounce his name is surprising. Most all Norwegians do it and even here in Oz there are quite a few people who do. Norwegians will say “Annakin” or “Anniken”, the latter which is a girl’s name by the way.
Is it a big deal? Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it, but it kind of is, to us anyway. We all agree that Mari, Marie and Maria are different names, right? Depending on which language you speak they can sound very similar, a norwegian Mari could be said to be the equivalent of an english Marie which has a silent e, yet they are not the same name.
So, to spare us having to correct everyone constantly here are a few tips:
– If you can say the english name “Anna” just throw in a “kin” at the end. Beware that the norwegian A-sound is different to the english A. Anakin is not a norwegian name and should as such not be pronounced as one. If you’re norwegian it sounds more like an Æ.
– His name is not Anikan, Annikin or Anikin. Just forget it.
– Think english Ah-nha-kin (but fast, not Ahhh…nhhhaaaaa…kiiin), or Norwegian Æh-nha-kin, phonetically: ænə-kin
And in case you were wondering, no, we do not call Anakin Ani and neither may you.
If in doubt, just ask, and remember practice makes perfect.
And while I’m at in, a heads up on our big Golden Rules:
NO sugar (except the very occasional ice cream), NO tv, computer or iPhone, NO juice or soft drink, NO junk food.
There, that should cover the big issues.
We’ll be hugging you in no time!!
See you soon, Norway!
This was a weekend of birthdays. Will had just got back from Singapore in time for Isaac’s birthday and was still growing his beard for a wedding in December (in which he is a best man and has to dress as a knight). Will wants a baby, but babies scare him. I think he really likes you, although he may be reluctant to admit it. You didn’t mind his big beard at all. You were cool as a cucumber (especially in the skull vest I made you). Will usually doesn’t look this scary, but the sun and the flash gave him a funny grin.
You quickly gained momentum when you started to crawl. It didn’t take more than a few days before you were zooming around everywhere and I needed to keep up to make sure you didn’t get into any trouble.
You love Olav. Sometimes I think Olav loves you too. He swims up to where you put your hands as if to say hello. We adopted Olav from some friends who were moving back to Norway a few years ago. Olav is named after the former king of Norway.
Our Panda enjoys the last rays of sunshine on a lazy afternoon.
Anakin doesn’t walk or even stand up by himself yet, but I thought it was time he got his first pre-walkers. I think he prefers to chew his new shoes rather than wear them.
We’re loving the warmer weather. The days fly by when we can sit outside and explore the little things, like the taste of grass.
It’s been one of those weeks. The greater the high, the longer the fall, right? (I don’t know how that saying goes, but it sounds good enough to me.) From Saturday to where we were yesterday was a long way down. In some ways I think Saturday’s happy events is what kept me from falling flat on my face this week. No… It wasn’t a good week for sleep in our household. But, it’s Friday and things are looking up! I love Fridays! (And it helps that I had some sleep. I said some, not a whole lot, but some will do fine for now.)
We’ve come up with a 10 day plan for dealing with night wakings and hopefully by the end of it we’ll see some improvements. If things stay the way they were last night it’ll be an easy ride. If they go back to what they were on Monday and Tuesday night we’re in for 10 days of hell. And let me just say this; when I don’t sleep, I become quite the asshole. Oh yes, it’s true. I’m still capable of being a loving mother (though it takes a lot more effort on my behalf), but as for loving partner? Heh. Nah. Just plain asshole. Sorry, babe. I haven’t really slept much in over 9 months, but I’ve managed to not be a total asshole all the time. I hope. Just hang in there, I’ll return from the land of the tortured and dying eventually.
So, a 10 day plan. It’s a gentle plan. We’ve looked at Pantley’s No-cry sleep solution and we’ve come up with something we’re willing to see through. It’s flexible, it doesn’t involve any tears and I’m fairly sure it’s something all three of us can live with. First off, we’ll do our best to stretch the times between feeds by resettling. He’ll resettle alright most of the time, he just won’t stay asleep for very long without boob. Not that he sleeps for very long with boob either. But that’ll change. If it becomes clear that resettling isn’t working I’ll feed him, but for shorter times and I’ll try to remove the nipple before he falls asleep to work towards breaking the sucking to sleep association. We’re aiming towards going back to two overnight feeds first, then moving on to one. We’re also working with very specific bedtime and nap times, and routines for both day and night. Our bedtime routine is the same as it’s been for ages, just with a few tweaks. It usually works really well. If it doesn’t a hand on the tummy seems to do wonders these days. We’re also introducing a sleep time lovey, mr Frog (Frosken). After 10 days we’ll re-evaluate and see if we need to change something and if things have improved. Hopefully they have. It’ll take time and consistency. And a whole lot of patience and chocolate.
Shit, I forgot to say that we have already started. We’re going until next Sunday.
As for our little Sith lord? He’s still ridiculously cute, pointing away and trying out new things. Still a mighty bookworm. He still amazes me every day. And he still makes me burst into a million bubbles.
Anakin’s new favourite thing is to point to things and say “There!” (Or sort of say there…) His favourite thing to point at is (not surprisingly) Hedda.
We’ve started the journey into finger foods. I have never seen a more content little man than this one when he gets to feed himself.
It’s early morning and I’ve given Anakin his nightlight to play with while I wash my hands (and take a photo.) Hedda is as usual not far away.
I had to add this second shot. Hedda’s expression is too good. (Do cats have expressions?) Moments like these are my favourite.
For not having slept much he sure looks fresh, our little AquaMan. Steinar took this photo of us while we had a bit of quality splash time before bed.
Hedda may not want to get too close, but you can usually find her where Anakin is. It’s always safer with a bit of a barrier between them.
Anakin’s favourite things these days are his books. We spend most days reading. The more cats in the books, the better. If I were a Kitten has been a favourite for months followed closely by Where is the green sheep .
I have a thing for bunny ears and bunnies in general. I love them and I am sure this was only the first of many times my poor son will suffer under my slight bunny obsession.
“Just chill, Yoda. I haven’t gone to the Dark Side just yet. ”
He’s Casper, the Jedi ghost.
So… turns out I encountered a luxury problem during the most recent 365 shoots. (Not yet featured here.) I had too many good ideas and decided to try them all at once. Then once I had, I immediately found ways of improving most of them, so I reshot them the next day. Seems I’ll have to do that for a bit because when I reshot them I wanted to use more than one and I am still determined to stick to the rules. Lesson being only try one thing at a time and when you get the shot, walk away until tomorrow.
I am getting an idea of how many raw files I’ll end up with from this. It’s a scary number. I had a look yesterday and the count was over 800 already. I like shooting. I at least feel like I am exercising some of my photographic muscles. I’m still trying to get used to working with someone who’s not doing exactly what I tell them. Maybe I’ll have to consider starting to build baby props… Oh dear. This can only go one way…
I’ve always had a troublesome relationship to Sundays. It’s the end of the weekend and frankly, it’s a bit depressing. When I worked I used to spend Sundays rolled into a ball on the couch desperate to milk every minute of it, just dreading bedtime and the horror that was Monday morning and work. (Yes, I hated my job. Intensely.) Now most days are a blur and it matters less because Monday will start exactly the same way Sunday did, except my partner goes back to work and I… well, I’ll still be doing the same thing I always do.
I’m pretty proud of myself for not missing one day of my 365 project yet. But I’m noticing that it’s harder to get an image I’m happy with. I should clarify that I’m not a photographer although I have a degree in art photography (keyword being art) and my work is photographic. I rarely introduce myself to anyone as a photographer. Yes, it has happened, but in the hierarchy of what I call myself professionally photographer comes after visual artist and light painter. I am always an image maker long before I am an image taker. I simply don’t think like one. And those two things are different. But I digress. Anyway…
There are only so many ways I can shoot Anakin being cute before even I get horribly bored by it. The wig was fun, but I can’t keep shooting him in the same thing either, so my new challenge is not only taking a photo of him every day, but taking one that I’m happy with, one that’s different to the others. I realise that I won’t be able to do that all the time. Some days I just don’t have the time, nor the energy, to figure something out. It’s challenging because it is so removed from the kind of work I make. I haven’t done today’s image yet, but hopefully inspiration will hit me in the face at some point.
At least it’s still Sunday.
More than a few times over the past months I have had to remind myself that there is a lot more to me than just being Anakin’s mum. I have been a practising artist for years and all of a sudden my art has had to take the backseat for a while. It was hardly noticeable at first, but in the past couple of months I have really begun to miss it.
During my pregnancy I struggled to go out and do large photo shoots. The last successful photo shoot I did was at 3 months at Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia. It was cold, wet and the hardest shoot I’ve ever had to do, both technically and physically.
I make light paintings (they are photographs, not paintings) so I work outside at night. As I got bigger this represented more than one issue; I got too tired at night to last very long and I couldn’t manage to log all my gear around. My shoots usually involve larger set ups and a lot of planning. I attempted another one around 5 months, but dealing with water rats due to my use of a pig’s head and other edibles in a creek was too much and I had to abandon it. So while my belly grew I resorted to building props and planning for future shoots thinking I’d be back in the game in no time.
Before Anakin was born I had a lot of ideas of images I wanted to do with him in them. I pictured everything from the classical newborn portrait as a light painting to larger set ups with various taxidermy and other props that would be included in my current body of work. But I didn’t count on my little man not being a good sleeper, and there is just no way of light painting anyone that isn’t perfectly still for the duration of the exposure. So a few days ago I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never get those images. For Anakin to be a part of my night work he will have to grow a lot older. This realisation made me fairly sad.
What I miss most about my work is that it creates balance in my life. My work is dark, it plays with ideas around horror and humour, it reflects on issues of displacement; both cultural and from reality. Now that I am a mum everything can sometimes become just too cute, too adorable, too goo goo ga ga. I need balance. I need to feel like I am still me.
In December my maternity leave ends and I’ll have one year to finish my Masters and write my thesis, or… a couple of months to upgrade to a PhD. And my project is currently way too big to finish in one year unless I evolve into some sort of superhuman. All the while I will still be a full-time mum. I still find the idea of how to pull this off mind-boggling. But in having said that I am very excited about getting back into it. I am itching to get back out in the night as soon as it gets a bit warmer and I can’t wait to get a bit of gore out of my system.
The above image is Anakin’s favourite. It hangs in our stairwell and every time we pass it he smiles and has a giggle. Perhaps he senses his uncle Eirik under the mask though they have never met, or perhaps he just gets my kind of humour.
So far the only participation Anakin has had in my life as an artist is coming to the opening of the show in Sydney, and at that he did remarkably well considering it was way past his bedtime.
I suppose it’s just a matter of learning the balancing act between work and baby. I have never been particularly good at time management because i have never had to be, and my post-Anakin life has never had enough hours in the day or days in the week. And the very few hours of free time I have at night are only so precious I haven’t had it in me to use them for work.
As I write this while Anakin is napping it seems only ironic that I spend this time ranting about how I have had no time for my art when I in fact could have spent the past hour or so doing something about it. But then again, I deserve some lunch and a time out too, don’t I? I take comfort in that my mind never stops thinking about my work or coming up with ideas for images regardless of what I am doing, so I guess it’s only a matter of time, right?
“Come here, Kitty! Let me show you this book. See the panda, Kitty? Look at it! Oh and there’s the butterfly. It’s pretty, don’t you think? Where did you go, Kitty? Kitty?!?”
To make up for dressing Anakin as a girl I dressed him in his Superman outfit, cape and all. Gotta love a cape. Pretty manly, right? (What is it with superheroes and wearing underwear on the outside?)
Contemplating life, the universe and everything…. or perhaps just the feeling of grass on his fingers.
(Note: to my great annoyance I discovered by chance today that the camera is set on Norwegian date and time which makes all the data on the images one day behind. *grump* But.. I guess it’s better to find out now than later, at least it was easier to rename 19 final images than a hundred or more. As long as I remember to reset the time and date on the camera later…)
It usually goes something like this:
“Oh what a cute baby. What’s his name?”
Now one of the following will generally happen:
– The -I love Star Wars and that’s bloody brilliant look- followed by “That’s awesome!! That’s such a great name!”
Or… “Is that a traditional Norwegian name?”
“Oh, you’d like to think so, but no. It’s from Star Wars…. (silence)… You know, Darth Vader?” This is usually either met with rolling eyes, a smirk and/or…
“That’s a very nice name. You like Star Wars, do you?”
Alright, so we named our kid after a character in Star Wars. And yes, he becomes Darth Vader. And yes, he is a Sith lord. But he was, before that, also an excellent jedi, and regardless of anything it is a fantastic name, and the old school Star Wars is beyond brilliant and the new ones are still good. (The atrocity of Jar Jar Binks aside.)
I did do a bit of research before we chose the name, and there are a few, but not an overwhelming number of people named Anakin around. And in a survey I found most of them seemed pretty happy with their name. Of course they are! Being a jedi rules! I can’t wait for Anakin’s first proper costume party. Imagine a little toddler stumbling around in his Darth Vader getup. Adorable? I do think so!
He already has a bunch of Star Wars paraphernalia, the lucky boy, and even though he’s named after a Sith lord doesn’t mean he’ll turn into one.
I, for one, am obviously having heaps of fun with it already, and I will always stand by my opinion that regardless of what anyone may feel about Star Wars*, Anakin is a beautiful name for a beautiful boy. He couldn’t be anyone other than Anakin.
You’re perfect, baby!!
(* I don’t understand how anyone can not like Star Wars!)
Getting dressed after his bed time bath is probably one of Anakin’s least favourite things.
Everything’s more exciting when you’re hiding under something.
Bath time is the best time.
Small heads need protection from the elements and sometimes they just beg to be dressed up. Actually, make that most times.
1. Great hat from our local Curious Oyster Shoppe. Love that place!
2. Zebra hat that came with a newborn outfit from Big W.
3. Crochet mouse beanie I made him
4. Crochet cat beanie I made him
5. Yoda beanie, gift from a friend, bought through etsy.
6. Knitted beanie made by Anakin’s great grandmother
7. Cat hat from Mothercare
8. Sherpa bear hat from Pumpkin Patch.
9. Crochet bear beanie I made him
Because most things are better with ears!
Anakin’s tired, sad face. We had a rough day that day. Nap time turned into a scream fest. He was inconsolable. Nothing I did made it any better until we had a short play and I got him in his pram and went for a walk. After 2 minutes he was out and slept like a log for 1,5 hours.
Prince Charming. Anakin has had a camera in his face since he was about 3 minutes old. He knows how to work it.
Anakin aka Ariel. The night before this Anakin kept me up pretty much all night. I had 3.5 hours of broken sleep. I needed to have some fun to get through the day and figured it was about time we played a bit more dress up. Anakin loves my long hair and was very excited by the wig. So many good shots came out of this, but I’ve chosen this one because it reminds me of one of Edward Mucha’s girls. I’ll probably post some of the other ones later. He’s just too delicious… even as a girl.
Cuddles with dad before bath time
Quiet yoghurt face
Gathering scientific evidence of taste and texture
Anakin is a lot more impressed with Quincey than Quincey is with Anakin
Steinar has a real knack for imitating Anakin’s expressions. Like father like son, eyh?
When dad’s a rock’n roller Anakin’s the baby guitar.
I’m in a box, ma!
I’ve decided that I’m gonna (attempt) to do a 365 project. There, now that I’ve said it I’ve added some pressure to actually follow through.
The idea is to take a photo of Anakin every day. We always take a lot of photos, but now I have to do it every day. (I don’t just take one though, I take a few and then I choose one.) I started a while ago, around the 3rd to be exact, but I’m really behind in the editing. Who has time to sit down and edit images with a baby to care for? As long as I keep taking them every day, right? So needless to say I’ll be behind in posting them as well, but they will hopefully all appear sooner or later. But here’s the kick off:
Anakin – 365 Project
Anakin got a new critter from a Thornbury market made from old socks. He loves it and it gave me a few ideas of toys I could make him myself.
Sampling some shoes he got as a present from Thailand. He was so impressed by their taste he fell over.
Alright, before anyone thinks my life as a mum is The Sound of Music, let me just stop you right there. It’s not. I hate musicals. Too much singing and dancing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother. Most of the time. I think my son is absolutely divine, I love him more than I can ever possibly explain. I adore our little family and I have a fantastic partner of 7.5 years (who probably doesn’t get credit for being great half of the time). And I’m going through a very sentimental stage at the moment, the “my baby’s growing up so fast” one, so I understand if things read a bit like the sound of music right now.
But it’s not all glamorous or always hunky dory. Most days I look like I’ve just walked through a wind tunnel. I haven’t had a haircut in ages. It takes me half a day to get in the shower. I wear my pj’s for most of the day. I haven’t finished an artwork in a year (YIKES!!). I used to consider myself quite intelligent and good at what I do. Since I became pregnant my brain has not been at its sharpest. Today I found myself washing dishes from the dishwasher that were already clean. At one point in my pregnancy I couldn’t remember how many days were in a year. I guessed 252, convinced it had to have 52 in it and there was no way there were over 300. I was stumped when Steinar told me it had 365 days. Whenever I attempt to do any form of research my brain refuses to compute what I am doing. Everything baby sticks, everything else does not. My website, the one thing out there that informs the world of my work, isn’t even up and running at the moment. I just haven’t had the time to get it back up. (Shame..shame..shame!!)
All of a sudden I look like the cliché mum, vomit stains all over, hair in every direction and like I have no time to tend to myself, which I don’t. I think I used to look at least half decent. These days I leave the house not noticing that my crotch is full of regurgitated food and that I look more like a middle aged scarecrow than an early thirties mum. There is usually no time to put the yummy in my mummy, and it sometimes makes me feel pretty shit.
I haven’t waxed my legs since… i don’t even remember. I wear clothes for their practical function for breastfeeding, not for their style or great look. (I miss my wardrobe so much!) Because I share my body with my baby all day I have (a lot of) days where I am probably the least pleasant partner to be around because I just want to be left alone. I miss me time. I also miss us time.
I’d love to have more time to read… something other than “Where is the green sheep?”. I’d love to have a day where I didn’t have to be on a schedule and always three steps ahead of what needs to be done.
I’m tired. Pretty much all the time. And let’s not forget to complain about how I haven’t had a good nights sleep in… forever. I don’t even know what that means anymore.
There. I just had to get that out. Now I can go back to being sentimental, doting and in love with my son. Because some days it really is like the sound of music. (Yes, even with the singing and the dancing.)
“Are you getting any sleep?” “Is he a good sleeper?” “Is he sleeping through yet?” “Does he nap well?”
Sleep, or lack thereof, is apparently a hot topic when it comes to parenting. Didn’t take long to figure that one out. It’s frequently talked about and debated, and features in most peoples first questions to new parents. When we first had Anakin nothing could have prepared me for the months of sleep deprivation I had ahead of me. I didn’t sleep well during most of my pregnancy, but at least I had time to stay in bed. Neither did I know that you had to teach a baby to sleep, or at least we had to teach this one to.
I didn’t know much about baby sleep cycles, cat napping or anything of the sorts in the beginning. Babies slept a lot, that was all I knew. And he did, at first. But he would sleep mostly in our arms and we were only too happy to hold him for as long as we could. If we were downstairs in our house it was out of the question to put him down anywhere we couldn’t see him, particularly upstairs. It took many weeks before I even managed to sleep with the lights off. It was a bad case of first time parent paranoia. I would sleep in my pj’s (because he just woke so often) and with my glasses on the mattress above my pillow to make it easy for me to see him whenever I woke up, if I ever had time to fall asleep. The bedside table was too far away, I guess. I did everything a new, paranoid, doting parent would, I checked his breathing regularly, I held him at every chance I had and I probably tortured myself needlessly. I was horrible at taking care of myself.
It got to a point where I dreaded nights so bad they made me cry. Steinar slept in another room for a bit to make sure he wasn’t completely beat for work and I would sit in my chair in the bedroom pretty much all night holding Anakin, nursing, rocking, crying, doing whatever I could to get the little man to sleep. And he would, but as soon as I put him down in his cot he would wake back up. For a while I averaged about 4 hours sleep per 24, broken up into small catnaps here and there and I was going bat crazy.
Anakin was a big catnapper. Unless we held him or let him sleep on us he would do a 20 minute sleep at most during daytime. And 20 minutes is just not enough for a tiny baby. I tried to educate myself as best I could on sleep and routines, and we ended up going to a settling session with the amazing Helen Stevens (Safe Sleep Space). But as much as I loved the session, the issue with Anakin wasn’t the settling during the day, it was his inability to fall asleep and to transition between sleep cycles. He’s never been much of a crier in general, and resettling someone for more sleep who is happy as larry to be awake is a tough nut to crack.
As for getting him to fall asleep it turned out we were just keeping him up far too long. I didn’t recognise his tired signs for a long time. By the time he yawned or started to cry he was way past his window of going down easily. Our household was a bit chaotic in the start and I think it was too easy to think he could manage more awake time than he could simply because there were people there who wanted to see him all the time.
Once things calmed down his sleep started changing. As opposed to taking forever to get to sleep at night (due to being overstimulated and overtired) he started to fall asleep faster and on his own. We stuck to our bedtime routine and put him down while still awake and it worked a charm. Naps were still a struggle, but I was able to help him transition between cycles if I was already in the room when he stirred and acted immediately. This involved good timing, a lot of crawling around out of sight, stroking his head and giving him a dummy, then waiting for him to go back to sleep before exiting the room. And on a good day he’d do one 1,5 hour nap and then 45 minute naps for the rest. Fair enough.
At around 4 months we moved Anakin to his own room. He started waking every time we went to bed and would wake 8-10 times overnight for a feed or his dummy, and I was getting to the end of my tether. Anakin loves his room and sleeps very well on his own. And for a couple of months we were in putting baby to bed heaven. He would have his bath, his bedtime feed, a cuddle and then we could simply wrap him, put him in his bed with his white noise cd on and leave. And he’d mostly stay asleep until my night shift started.
But that’s a whole other story.
Anakin was born December 23, 2011, at 07.12 in the morning at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. He was a beautiful little thing. Quiet. Petite. Everything we’d asked for. The labour wasn’t too bad considering things didn’t go to plan at all.
I wanted an active labour and a natural birth. I wanted to stay at home as long as possible, even though our house was full of family visiting from overseas at the time. When I woke up around 6am December 22 I was excited, I had been looking forward to giving birth and I was ready. Nothing much happened for a while. There was a little bit of water, some blood. We went shopping for the last Christmas presents and got the car seat installed. It was hot and I was huge. I had put on over 30kg during my pregnancy. When it got to lunch time we decided to go home, I was getting uncomfortable and I needed to pee constantly. We ate and it dawned on me that I should probably give the hospital a ring and let them know what was going on. I had to come in to be checked out. So in case we had to stay we took our bags and all and left. I was not in very good mood at the time because I did not want to have to stay there.
When we got to the hospital it took a while before anything happened. Apparently the word Blood makes people weary and they think all kinds of things is going on. We got a bed in the emergency ward and I was hooked up to some monitors.
I didn’t want to be stuck in a bed at all. I had inflammations in my tailbone and pelvis, and lying down hurt. But I figured we’d be sent on our way soon enough. After getting an examination it started to become clear that may not be the case. There was a lot of old blood and I was told to wait for a doctor. After passing an alarmingly large blood clot in the bathroom even I started to realise that this would probably not go the way I wanted it to. We managed to get some food before we saw a doctor at around 6pm. After another examination I was told that at some point I had started bleeding (but it had stopped) and they were afraid the placenta may be coming loose so they wanted to induce as soon as possible. I was 1 cm dilated. I tried to convince them to let me go home, that I was already in labour so there was no point in inducing, but to no avail. I didn’t put up too big a fight because nothing was going to make me risk the health of my unborn child even if I thought they were making a big fuss.
So we were left waiting. They were busy so no rooms were available. They told me Steinar might have to go home if I was sent to another ward until there was a birth suite available and the thought of being left terrified me. Hours went by, we watched some tv shows. (American Horror story is an annoying thing to watch when in labour… I’m just saying.) My contractions were 5-7 minutes apart and everything was fine. My water broke in a big gush that made me jump up in bed. I was told I was being difficult for not lying still. I was annoyed, all I wanted to do was to move around as I felt things progress. Finally after midnight sometime someone came to take us upstairs. I asked to please be allowed to walk, but was firmly plonked down in a wheelchair and wheeled off. This was probably a good thing because on the way upstairs my labour kicked into high gear. We were taken to an assessment room as there were still no birth suites available. Steinar hooked up my TENS machine before getting our stuff from the car.
I was still at a point where I managed to have a few smiles and hold some sort of conversation. I sat on a birthing ball cursing the intravenous thing they put in my arm in case it was needed. It hurt and I made it my arch nemesis. I was still hooked up to monitors so my movements were restricted. Then things started to become a blur.
I held on to Steinar through the contractions, but they were so close together there was hardly any time to come up for air. He sat on the bed holding me tight as we went through one after the other, never complaining, never saying anything other than encouragements like “you’re doing great” and “I love you”. I remember going to the bathroom at one point where I made him run the water in the sink to help me pee. At one point I looked up at him after a pretty hardcore wave of contractions with tears in my eyes and said “Fuck that hurt”. He looked at me in amazement. It had taken me 23 hours since it all began to swear. And it only happened once. He tried to make me eat some muesli bars, but everything grew in my mouth and it was too hard to concentrate on eating.
Someone came in and checked me again at some point. I was 7cm. I vaguely remember the midwife popping in to see us every now and then. I was checked again, 9 cm and ready. I hated to be checked. As soon as they put me on my back the pain became close to unbearable. We tried sitting on all fours to push, but the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. We tried on the side, but the same thing happened. I was told I needed to be on my back with my feet in stirrups and for a moment I lost the plot completely, grabbed Steinar and tried to say something along the lines of “I can’t do this”. Except having to do a c-section this was close to my worst nightmare. I didn’t want to do it that way! As we started pushing a birth suite became available and we had to take a break to be wheeled in there.
They took my TENS machine (after flipping me over so I laid down on the dials and really boosted the thing) and suddenly the room was full of people. I heard words like “assisted birth”, “vacuum” and other things I did not want before vaguely making out a doctor looking at me. He gave me an hour to do it myself. So we started pushing. And every time I pushed both my legs would cramp up and I would scream. It took a while before I was able to explain that I was screaming because my legs were killing me, not because everything hurt beyond belief (which it did). I was exhausted, thirsty and just out of it. At one point my body gave up. Everything stopped hurting, I couldn’t feel a single contraction anymore and all I wanted to do was sleep. I kept telling Steinar I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed to rest. After 10 minutes of no action the midwives began to get anxious. I asked them to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Someone offered me some gas to which I said yes, but it never appeared so I went without. (Steinar later told me they put it next to me, but it fell on the floor, so when I didn’t ask for it he left it, respecting my wishes of not wanting to be offered anything unless I asked.)
When I was told we needed to get the baby out as soon as possible and they had to help me with vacuum I was more than happy to accept. I had nothing left in me. They gave me an episiotomy and with a few more good pushes our baby boy was out. He was whisked away and it took a minute or two before I finally heard him. He was brought back to us and Steinar cut the cord. It turned out our little acrobat had tied a true knot on his umbilical cord and this was what was causing his heart rate to drop. With only about five hours of active labour it was a quick, but exhausting one.
They put our baby on my chest and I was filled with this amazing calm and unconditional love for this tiny being I had only just met. I got to choose his name, and I chose Anakin. (It was either going to be Hunter or Anakin.) I was prouder than I have ever been, proud of myself for doing it without pain relief, proud of Steinar for being an amazing support and believing in me, and proud of our little cone head.
A few hours later we were taken to a single room with a big double bed. We laid there in a happy, exhausted haze until Steinar had to go home for the night.
The next day we went home to celebrate christmas with our family. I had hardly slept since it all started. We were in a daze of happiness.
This was by far the most amazing experience I have ever had. And I would definitely do it again. If we ever have a second child I will look forward to doing it all over again. No fear, no hesitation, just pure joy.
Does the internet need another baby blog? Probably not, so why start one when there are millions of others out there? Simple. Because this one is mine and I want to remember, I need to remember. I want to cherish everything before it’s gone, before our baby grows up and I’ve forgotten all the little things that make our days go round, that make me smile, cry and burst into a million bubbles.
As Anakin fast approaches his 8 month birthday I find myself growing sentimental already. So what better way to spend some quality time remembering everything that has happened so far than to do this… And in the process share some moments with our friends and families overseas.
So I’ll welcome you to join us on our journey if you want. Feel free to join in with your own stories and comments if you’re so inclined.