The waiting is over. It is finally done.
Awatea - the Maori word for daybreak - is the name we have given our new baby daughter. We have had the name picked out long before this pregnancy played out, from when we started trying for another baby nearly two years ago.
And it was daybreak when she made her first really serious dash for freedom, finally arriving yesterday at 9.52am.
I've been waiting a long time to write this. Now I'm at a bit of a loss for words to describe the sight of our daughter emerging into the harsh glare of a hospital maternity suite onto the warm, sweaty and welcoming chest of her exhausted mother.
I cried, of course. It was a mixed-up, intense scene of brutality, disorder, pain, elation, relief, and ultimate beauty. When our first daughter, Miss K, entered the world, she hardly made a peep, apart from a muffled cry. I was almost baffled by how clean and perfect she looked. Her wide eyes had searched the room, observing everything around her and all the people in her gaze, before she slipped into a deep sleep.
This time it was less of a blur. I noticed more. Awatea was tugged into the world screaming and spluttering - covered with blood, amniotic fluid and a white film of vernix. She wriggled and jerked like an eel on a riverbank, and howled when anyone touched her. Eventually she got accustomed to her surroundings and snuggled in for her first meal.
We were in the hands of an amazing midwife and wonderful obstetrician. The caring and professional maternity staff also played a vital part at the end. Thank you all for what you did, and for what you do everyday for expecting parents.
As a first-time father, after Miss K was born, I went home from the hospital at 5am still buzzing. I felt elation. I was so excited I couldn't sleep. I lay awake just staring at the photograph I took of her at the hospital.
I wasn't sure how I'd feel this time. My wife had miscarried between the two births, and I think I protected myself by numbing my feelings a bit towards the end of this pregnancy, until our baby was out safely. I felt emotions flooding back as Awatea's birth got closer, but it was different. I felt a mixture of happiness, relief, peace of mind and a deep sense of pride and admiration for my wife's incredible strength.
My wife told me later, from her hospital bed, "I was sick for the whole pregnancy but the baby was doing well." But we were both shocked at how well she’d been doing in the womb – our midwife told us she weighed in at a healthy 4.32kg.
Miss K was born weighing just less than 3.17kg and was swimming in her first onesie. This time around, I only just managed to get Awatea into the newborn outfit we’d packed.
We often said over the last nine months we wanted another one just like Miss K, but in the end I love how different they are.
Awatea, of course, is unique. She has familiar traits; her mother's nose, her great-grandma's mysterious almond-shapes eyes, her aunt's heart-shaped chin and her father's piano-player's fingers (I don't actually play piano ... but I could). But she has her own features, too. She has a voice she's not afraid to use (and it is loud, folks). She seems to have an inner calm, like she's got everything sorted. Her spindly fingers seem to spread in 10 different directions at once and she's already resisting being tucked tightly into her cot. Will she be a match for the Calman family's master swaddler? We'll see, little one.
Miss K met her little sister in hospital yesterday. She held her and stroked her black, matted hair. It was beautiful to watch. Last night she told me how much she loves her little sister and my heart melted. Seeing them meet was the fulfilment of a long-held dream.
Nau mai, haere mai a Awatea ki to ao hou me to whanau!
Welcome to your new world and your family, Awatea!
- Fairfax NZ