Dev and Miri

I found this draft from November 2014, and it’s still accurate eight months later. Miriam is 18 months old now, and walks and runs everywhere. Devin is coming up on 6, and doing quite well at school (though he still doesn’t talk). They love each other and have recently started playing quite well together, now that Miri is slightly less susceptible to putting absolutely everything in her mouth.

Let me tell you about Miriam. She is adorable. Unbelievably cute. She attracts gushing and cooing like a magnet of adulation, every time we leave the house. She is also unbelievably squirmy – she used to give me a good battering from inside, and just as I predicted, she’s been no different on the outside. Just always moving, not necessarily in a mobile way, but in a… slippery eel kind of way. She finally started crawling after the 10 month mark, but just like Devin at the same age, she crawls predominantly to get to things that she can pull herself up on and use as walking aids. (Often, our hands.) She would also happily crawl straight off the edges of things without a moment’s pause if we didn’t stop her.
She’s rough. My goodness, is she rough. Pinching, biting, scratching, pulling, whacking… Not maliciously, of course, but she doesn’t seem to have a soft mode. She’s either ‘off’ or ‘tough’.
Nappy changes are so difficult, she absolutely hates them. I’m sure most every parent can identify. I can’t even distract her these days, because even as she’s laughing at me blowing raspberries in her tummy, she’s trying to flip over and crawl away. And when she’s stopped, she yells. Not crying or shrieking; yelling. It’s a stark contrast to her very cute and lilting speaking voice. She cries when she’s hurt, or wakes up disoriented in bed, or when Daddy tells her sternly to stay away from something. She shrieks when she’s playing (hospital corridors are very good for playing with high-pitched echoes…) She yells when she’s grumpy.
She’s watched us use hand sanitiser so much that she only has to see the bottle to start rubbing her hands together. She waves goodbye, and sometimes will hold a hand out in front of her as we’re walking, palm up, in a ‘what’s going on?’ kind of gesture. She LOVES sparkling water, loves drinking with straws, loves trying whatever anyone is eating.
Her favourite person is Devin.

Let me tell you about Devin. Oh, man. Firstly, his hair attracts as much attention as Miriam does. I’ve got my own little travelling circus when I’m out with the two of them.
All that attention is kind of hard, because he doesn’t talk to anyone except me, Jene, Miriam, my mum and my two sisters. That’s it. Everyone else would be lucky to get a nod or a wave. I’m sure it has everything to do with his experiences over the last 18-ish months, and it does weigh on my mind. I have to speak for him, knowing he’s not going to (many long, awkward silences in the past), all the while feeling like I’m not actually helping him by doing that.
He can be clever, but he’s easily frustrated, and easily defeated. He stubbornly refuses to learn things. But, he will often try them when he’s alone. He’s yet to take that initiative with numbers and letters…
He loves Lego, and frequently surprises me with what he builds. He is, much to my disdain, rather obsessed with ‘gun shooters’ – if something isn’t a gun, chances are, he’ll make it one. Mind you, these ‘shooters’ usually fire jelly, or, I don’t know, sharks. And he also loves playing doctors, and superheroes, so..,
His most favourite show is probably SpongeBob. He loves a lot of shows and movies, though the one I find most unexpected is The Jetsons Movie, from 1990.
His favourite song is Outkast’s Hey Ya. His favourite food is pork ribs – he could probably eat more than Jene.
Most mornings, the first thing he asks me is, “does Grandma have work today?” He goes to her house on weekends, and gets the true beloved grandchild treatment.
Sometimes, he’s quite sensitive. Sometimes, he must feel like all he ever hears is “not right now, Devin” “I’m busy at the moment” “maybe later” “please find something to do yourself”… Or just outright, “no.”
Sometimes I go to bed feeling so guilty that I didn’t take the time for him that day. Sometimes I just want to hold him and tell him I’m so sorry that he knows more about hospital than he does about playing with other kids, and I’m so sorry his baby sister arrived and divided our attention at a time when he just wanted us.
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Arrival

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This is Miriam Eleanor. She arrived on December 16 at 1:50 in the morning, the day after her ‘due’ date.
I thought I’d tell her birth story, though honestly, there’s not much to it.

A week before, Monday, I had an afternoon and evening of back pain and belly contractions that felt exactly like my labour with Devin. We all got excited – but I woke up the next morning still pregnant. The rest of the week passed without incident, and I became increasingly frustrated and a little miserable – it was hot, I was tired, and we’d expected baby to have arrived already. What’s more, because my first labour was just over four hours long, we had to be ready to go at the first hint of serious pains, and it was exhausting being on high-alert.

That Sunday, I was awoken by the same pains, and though the felt slightly stronger, they still didn’t establish into any kind of pattern, even after 16 hours. I eventually fell asleep at 11 that night, fully expecting to wake up the next morning to nothing.
But, I woke up at 12:20am to something. I sat and waited. They were starting to hurt, and they were very close together. I woke Jene and called my midwife, and we left for the hospital while Devin and his Aunty Amanda slept soundly in Devin’s room.

IMG_8186This was 34 minutes before Miriam was born. The look on my face is the break after a contraction, and the knowledge that another is coming soon.

I was examined at around 1:30 upon being admitted to the birthing unit. “Only 4-5cm?” I thought to myself. “Holy fuck, I’m not going to be able to do this.”
We moved to a delivery room – and we had our pick, the entire ward was completely empty after several weeks of non-stop births. I hunched over the bed and got undressed while my midwife started filling the bath, but I knew as soon as I was there that I wouldn’t make it to the bath. I wouldn’t even make it on to the bed – I wanted to push baby out right now. So, I did.
I managed to yell, “Pushing!” so that someone could, you know, catch, and after three contractions there was a tiny, slippery person being handed up to me.

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Miriam fed for two and a half hours before I gave the ok for her to be checked and weighed. We all thought she would barely be 3kg (6.6lb), but she was a surprising 3.38kg. (During that time, three more women presented to the birthing unit, and all three gave birth less than an hour after arriving!)
Because I was under the care of a case load midwife we would have been able to go home straight away, but I sustained some damage from Miriam’s speedy exit and had to stay until the afternoon. Nonetheless, after my (rather unnecessary) four day stay following Devin’s birth, being home in twelve hours was amazing.

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Devin was weaning off a very strong steroid and didn’t show much interest at first, but as the days went by he began to open up again, and now he adores his sister. Stroking her head, giving her kisses, asking to hold her, watching me change her, repeating the soothing phrases we say to her… He also has a funny habit of calling her “Ah-Miriam”, though he knows her name and we often shorten it to Miri.

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We were surprised by her hair, just like we were with Devin’s. Both of us thought Devin was a fluke, and this baby would surely have dark hair.
Nope. Another ginger. Almost a strawberry blonde, even. Genetics are weird.

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The other thing I expected was a very alert baby. One, Devin had his eyes open from the minute he was born and they were barely closed from then on. And two, Miriam pummelled the bejeesus out of me when she was inside, so much that it was painful.
But actually, she’s quite sleepy, and only now at two weeks old is she opening her eyes more. What she is is a little wriggler – her legs are almost always stretched out, and she moves around like the hands of a clock while she sleeps.

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We’re totally in love with her, and I already suspect that both boys will be at her every beck and call.