Ryan, one day old.
By Tina Su
After spending 4 weeks on hospital bed rest, at week 32 of my pregnancy, I was sent home – after the doctors were confident that I wouldn’t deliver within the next few weeks. One day later, while resting peacefully at home, I went into labor. A few short hours later, I gave birth to baby Ryan (photos here).
On Dec 20th, at 7:07am, Ryan Ananda Sawatzky – weighing 4 lbs, 4 oz and measuring 18 inches long – popped out of me like a football, after 6 short hours of contractions, 22 minutes of pushing and about 12 pushes in total.
The whole thing happened so quickly, and relatively painlessly. I was focused on being relaxed, and put all my awareness on my breath. I remained calm through out, and while Jeremy shouted “Holy S*&#!” as Ryan came out, I remarked calmly, and with a monotone voice, “That was easy”; we captured it all on video.
You know when you see mothers give birth on TV, you always see the mother crying as she holds her baby for the first time. I wasn’t sure whether I would cry or not. I didn’t want to fall into the cliché, yet, I wasn’t sure if that was a pre-requisite for good mothers.
When they wrapped him up tightly like a burrito in a soft blanket and placed his little body into my arms, I looked down, and saw just his tiny round face exposed, already fast asleep.
I marveled at how complete he was, how serene he looked, how cute his cheeks were, and how much his button nose resembled my own. It was like looking at my own face. I started marveling at the miracle that my body could produce something so perfect and complete. Then I started laughing, and then without any conscious effort, I burst into tears.
Here’s a video of baby Ryan at one day old with his expressive little face
Since baby Ryan was born two months earlier than his expected due date, he was taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) right after the delivery. Those four weeks of bed rest paid off, when we learned that Ryan didn’t need a respirator or any medication. He was just early, and needed to learn all the basic skills that full term babies have, such as maintaining his own temperature, breathing without holding his breath, and take all his feedings through the mouth without a feeding tube.
Napping time with mommy. Ryan, 11 days old.
He has since been moved out of NICU and into the hospital nursery, and recently graduated out of his incubator (used to maintain his body temperature) into a newborn crib – which looks like a clear plastic box.
We visit him everyday, and while Jeremy is at work, I spend 10 hours each day beside his little clear box. I get to change his poo-poo diapers, take his temperature, and hold his tiny body closely to mine – skin to skin.
In between feedings and diaper care, we take naps together, as I lay on a large recliner sofa, with his body morphed onto my chest. Sometimes, his little fingers will wrap tightly around my forefinger. Sometimes he will be holding his little toes. And sometimes, he will rest his fingers softly over his own cheeks.
I love his smell. I love his sweet little face. I love his tiny feet. I love his breathing sound. I love the softness of his skin. I love feeling the small bumps of his spine as I run my fingers gently along his delicate back.
This is the happiest I have ever been.
Looking into his expressive and innocent face, the enormity of how I feel surmounts anything I could ever fully express in words. Time stops, and I can feel my own heart gravitate towards his, as if he is an extension of me. For him, I would give up anything. For his life, I would give up my own. “Ah, is this what unconditional love feels like?”
I had not anticipated feeling this way. It is the most incredible feeling and I could not have prepared for it.
My friend Helaina summed it up perfectly, “There are no words to adequately describe a mothers [or fathers] love and no way to understand it until you experience it. It is simply a miracle”
Finally, I can begin to understand how my own mother feels towards me, and what it means to her when she says I love you. It is, no ordinary love, after all. I get it now – she loves me unconditionally.
Seeing Jeremy become a father is one of the most precious and beautiful experiences I’ve ever witnessed.
Cuddling with daddy. Ryan, 5 days old.
I love watching his large body hovered over Ryan’s little box, as he meticulously changes his little diapers with utmost care. His big fingers gently maneuvering around tiny moving legs that try to get in the way. Sometimes, Ryan will pee as Jeremy is in the middle of changing his diaper, and daddy will patiently clean him off with a smile and some teasing words.
Some nights, when daddy can’t sleep, he will drive to the hospital at midnight, so he can get another chance to change his little diaper, to hold his little boy as he sleeps on daddy’s warm chest, and to wrap him up like a burrito before putting him back into his crib.
And during the first few days when I first started to express small amounts of milk. Daddy would excitedly drive to the hospital late at night, so his little boy could have more fresh milk to replace his formula.
Daddy loves his little boy. And that love too is unconditional.
Adjusting to Adulthood (Parenthood)
Ever since I moved out of my mother’s house, part of me has always felt that I was a little kid playing the role of an adult. And I think the day Jeremy and I both became adults was the day when Ryan was born.
We used to think that once we had children, our (social) life would be over; we wouldn’t be able to travel, or be able to sleep through a whole night, or simply pack up and move. But now that we have baby Ryan, our whole perspective has changed. The benefits of the parenting experience far out weigh the tradeoffs. There isn’t anything else we’d rather be doing.
We love the experience so much that we just want to make more babies. Our old dream of traveling to exotic destinations, has been – unexpectedly and willingly – replaced with the desire to get a house with a big yard where our children can run around with the puppies on a sunny day.
Light therapy to treat Jaundice. Ryan, 3 days old.
Aside from the parts we love, the need to breast-pump every 2 to 3 hours for 20 minutes was a new responsibility we did not anticipate. My day and night now revolves around pumping, and the washing of the pumping parts. Not only is it painful, it kind of takes over your life. As a result, I’m tired all the time, and have learned to sleep everywhere I go. Jeremy got a box of earplugs, so he could try to sleep throughout the night, despite the alarm going off every 3 hours.
I really don’t know how working mothers do it.
For the most part, if I’m not at the hospital holding Ryan, I’m either breast pumping, eating or sleeping. Everything else, including housework and ‘work’ has taken a back seat.
Adjusting to the new responsibilities has been challenging, but I’m learning – slowly – to inject breathing room into the equation as time passes. For the first time in six weeks, this past weekend, I changed out of pajama bottoms and went out for dinner (I wore black leggings, because other than my one pair of maternity jeans, it’s the only thing that fits.). Now my idea of leisure is a quick trip to Target [store] to shop for nursing bras, with Jeremy timing me, so I don’t miss a pump and end up hurting myself.
2009 has been a crazy eventful year for me, and hopefully, after Ryan comes home and I get better at balancing my time, I will get to write about what I’ve learned. Until then, I will be on semi “maternity leave” from Think Simple Now.
If you have sent me an email over the past few weeks and wondered where I am, I hope this post answers that question.
Daily cuddles with mommy. Ryan, 13 days old.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Thank you for your prayers and positive intentions. Thank you for those who sent us baby things – they will be put to good use. Thank you for your understanding and continuous support for this site – despite the lack of new posts – as I transition into a fulltime mommy.
* Got baby tips? We could use them. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there.
Other Articles You May Enjoy:
- The Ups and Downs of Life
- Embracing the Unexpected
- Feeling Lonely + Baby Updates
- Living Enlightenment – A Personal Report
- Yup, I Got Hitched!
- How to Find True Love
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