Hugo turns two months old this morning three days ago (and I meant to post this on Monday, but then I went ahead and broke my big toe, freaked out about a broken, noxious-gas spewing AC, and caught the flu, so hi...one day I'll get the hang of this blogging thing and post with punctuality, maybe?) To mark the occasion, I thought I’d post a few reflections on our first week together before these memories vanish along with baby Hugo’s newbornness.
In the weeks leading up to my due date, I was growing more uncomfortable and increasingly impatient and uncomfortable.
I was besieged by false labour (which I moaned about in great detail here, and on Twitter. And Facebook. Instagram. And basically to anyone who would listen.) I was having regular contractions that would last hours and hours, leave me more or less incapacitated by discomfort and is-this-labour-anxiety and then suddenly vanish with nothing to show for all the suffering.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy were slow, and my parenting lax. Afternoons spent watching documentaries about midwives and trips down to the pool were about all I could muster. I was spending more and more time in bed, curled up with the laptop playing pirated DVDs of The Good Wife, hoping that each day would mark the beginning of life as a foursome.
My due date came and Mr. Chef took some time off. The due date went, and so to Mr. Chef back to work.
I kept waiting, false labour coming about every other day, convinced that this time, it really WAS something.
I must have known, deep down that I wasn’t in labour, but a couple of days after my official due date, I called my doula to come over. I was hoping, somehow, just by calling her, she could declare braxton hicks official labour. But alas, she came, and announced I still had a long way to go.
The night of Chinese New Year I was up all night with braxton hicks contractions. Mr. Chef was off work because of the holiday, and so to provide some solace for my suffering, he took the three of us out to my favourite restaurant for pizza.
We ran into a group of our friends at the restaurant. The grownups chatted and ate, the children ran amok as children in Asia are wont to do, and I quietly suffered through contractions.
The contractions continued all day, through a walk around the Jakarta streets, a lazy afternoon with friends, dinner and bedtime. As the night grew darker, I became quietly hopeful that labour was establishing.
By midnight I was sure. The doula came, and she was sure as well.
I laboured at home for a couple of hours, before heading to the hospital at around 4 AM while Stella stayed behind, awake and excited, with her babysitter.
(Aside: if you’re ever planing on going into labour in Jakarta, may I suggest heading to the hospital at 4AM? Zero traffic! And, PS, one of my biggest fears about this pregnancy was being in transition in the back of a taxi in a driving rainstorm while traffic stands still and horns blare and contractions…gah!!!!)
On the way to the hospital Mr. Chef and the doula were cracking jokes about how long it would take to deliver the baby, sure that he’d be here by 8 AM. I wasn’t convinced, based on the 23 hours of pitocin induced labour last time around! However, I did appreciate their optimism!
My labour was great. I had strong contractions with nice, solid breaks between them that allowed me to catch my breath and gather my energy (unlike last time, pitociiiiiiiin!!! *shakes fist*). Two hours after arriving at the hospital, I was ready to push, and Hugo was born fifteen minutes later, a few quiet mewls announcing his arrival.
He was placed on my chest, warm and perfect, and there he stayed for an hour or so, peaceful and calm. Feeling this fresh baby on my chest, his soft weight and warm body, this brand new little being, settling into me was perfect.
After a few routine checks, we were moved into our recovery room. Mr. Chef went home to get Stella (who was beside herself with excitement about her new brother) and do a little snack shopping for me as I was ravenous and the hospital breakfast of two pancakes was not quite enough to replenish my energy.
I was charged with getting some rest. Unfortunately that proved impossible as I could not keep my eyes off my sweet baby’s face.
A few hours later, Stella arrived at the hospital, and asked, her voice full of wonder, “Is dat my brudder?” And immediately jumped up on the bed to hold him. I was officially chopped liver; she only had eyes for Hugo. She delighted in wrapping him up, and was fascinated by the hospital-issue mittens that he was dressed in. After lots of cuddles, and a few games of midwife-midwife, she and Mr. Chef went home, and again I was instructed to “get some rest,” which AGAIN proved to be exceedingly difficult because OMG fresh baby perfection heartsplosionsetc.
While I was in the hospital, we packed full Stella’s days to somehow make up for my absence. This proved to be an ill-advised strategy. Stella went from pre-dawn wake ups to breakfast out, to gym class, to playdates, and on and on until she succumbed to a nasty cold virus on Hugo’s second day of life. And of course, Hugo came down with this cold five days later.
We stayed in the hospital for a couple of days. In retrospect, I might have stayed one more day in the hospital to recover (day three marks a massive hormonal crash, I reckon, and better to crash at the hospital, than at home) but I was eager to get home to Stella, who was really missing me, and also keen to start settling into our new life as a family of four.