Our Birth Story: A Dad’s Perspective

Two days ago, our little guy turned one! Can you believe that? One! Jesse has officially been part of our lives for a whole year. Where has all that time gone?!

Today we celebrated this wonderful milestone with our closest family and friends at Jesse’s first birthday party.

All the festivities has me reminiscing about our amazing journey into parenthood. From right back to when we first kicked off trying to conceive, to falling pregnant, Jesse’s arrival into the world and those first few days and weeks as new parents. It all still seems so clear in my mind.

So following Renee’s last blog post, I thought I’d give my perspective on Jesse’s birth story. Because let’s face it, how many birth stories have you read from the perspective of the dad?

The last weeks – The calm before the storm

I was loving the fact that I had access to a permanent designated driver ever since we had found out that Renee was pregnant. It was just a shame I didn’t take advantage of this fact more often.

In all seriousness though, in those last weeks of Renee’s pregnancy, we were both starting to get very excited about meeting our little bundle of joy. But it wasn’t just excitement that was starting to build inside me. It was a mixture of emotions that included excitement, nervousness, joy, panic, elation, fear… you get the picture. I was excited but freaking out at the same time about becoming a first time dad.

Renee and I would constantly talk about the impending labour. We spoke about the birth plan, when I should start my parental leave, what kind of labour we thought Renee might experience and when the baby would finally decide it was time to greet the world.

In those last few weeks I constantly joked that I didn’t mind when the baby was born, just as long as it wasn’t born on State of Origin night. And if it was, well there better be a TV in the birthing suite, because I was not going to miss Game 1!

On the weekend of the 23/24 May 2015, Renee and I agreed that I should start my leave earlier than I had initially planned. While the plan was to work right up to when Renee was in labour, I started my leave on Monday, 25 May 2015, so we could enjoy some time together before the baby came.

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The day before

We didn’t have much planned for the day. A casual stroll around the shops (or “the mall” depending on where you’re reading from) was the most exciting thing we had planned for the day. Mostly because we wanted to keep things as relaxed as possible to not put any undue stress on Renee.

After walking around for about an hour, Renee looks at me and tells me that she thinks she’s been having mild contractions the whole time we’ve been at the shops.

“What?! Really?! Do we need to go to the hospital?! Your water isn’t going to break in the middle of the shopping centre is it?!”

I have a slight tendency to overreact to certain situations sometimes. So after Renee assures me that it’s nothing too serious and that perhaps we just head home, I calm down we head off.

For the rest of the day, Renee kept me updated on how she was feeling, how intense the contractions were, how far apart they were and whether she needed me to do anything for her. There didn’t seem to be any consistency to the contractions with regards to how far apart they were, although they were getting more intense.

Later that night at around 11pm, as Renee was leaning up against the kitchen bench to help get her through each contraction, I asked again if we should tell anybody or ring ahead to the hospital. But again I got reassurance from Renee that we don’t need to ring through to anyone just yet, as for all we knew the contractions could stop. Plus, our midwife had told us to stay at home until the contractions were 3 minutes apart, which they weren’t.

So on Renee’s approval, it was off to bed for me to get some sleep, just in case things ramped up during the night.

D-Day

Renee gave me an update over breakfast about her night and how she was presently feeling and as she suspected, throughout the night, the contractions eventually began to get lighter and further apart until they faded away almost entirely. Regardless, we had a midwife appointment at 10:30am, so we could talk through what had happened with a professional soon enough.

I remember however that despite how calm things appeared on the surface, I was still a little anxious underneath it all, as all signs were starting to point to this baby making an appearance sometime in the next few days… if not earlier. And so while at the midwife appointment, I again make the joke that the baby better not come tonight because I really want to watch Game 1 of State of Origin. We all have a bit of a chuckle. We then head to Renee’s parents for a quick visit.

We barely last an hour there before Renee ends up bent back over the kitchen bench as the waves of pain from contractions start again. Renee’s mum looks both excited but supportive as she comforts her through each contraction. Not long after the contractions start again, Renee gives me the nod that she wants to head back home to ride them out.

I leave Renee at home (again, with her permission) to grab some lunch. When I get back, I find Renee doing what could be described as some sort of squatting manoeuvre beside the bed and in what appears to be a world of pain. Even I can tell that this time, it looks like it’s all systems go. Time to call the hospital!

Again, excitement, nervousness, joy, panic, elation, fear all washes over me and I feel my legs start to shake as I start to freak out. Wow… This is actually happening… Right now… This… Is… Happening… Right now… I must hide it well though, because it appears as though Renee doesn’t seem to notice my wave of emotions. Although, given the state she’s in, I can hardly blame her for taking notice of anything else other than the pain she was experiencing.

And while all this is happening, in the back of my mind I can’t help but think, “dammit… all that joking around about how I didn’t want the baby to come on State of Origin night, and now it’s happening!!!”

So I get all the bags we prepared for the birth together and start packing the car. I hit schedule TV to record State of Origin Game 1, just in case we do end up missing it (priorities right) and we head to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital was probably one of the longest drives we’ve ever had to take. I was a nervous ball of energy. Renee was in tears because of the pain she was experiencing with each contraction. And all I wished was that we could somehow teleport right to the doorstep of the hospital.

We make it. But the battle is far from over. I pile myself up with all our bags and help Renee out of the car. But it’s even a slow journey up to the maternity ward with Renee having to stop every few minutes to ride out yet another contraction. We make it to the maternity ward counter and our midwife team is called. Renee gets down on her haunches while holding onto the counter for another contraction when one of the midwives appear and says “Wow, looks like you ready to go then. Follow me.”

In the birthing suite

My first job was to call Sharon and Lia (Renee’s mum and sister) to ask them to come straight to the hospital as Renee wanted them both there for the birth. From that moment on my sole responsibility was making sure I helped Renee as much as possible and whenever she needed it.

And like that it was on… like Donkey Kong!

It was such an intense experience. I often felt a little helpless, as I watched Renee have to push through waves of pain as each contraction got more and more painful. I got her water when she needed it. I helped her move around the room when she needed. I let her squeeze my hands so hard at times that it felt like she was about to break my fingers off. Actually, at one point her mum took over the hand holding and I think Renee did cause her some finger damage!

But I wasn’t going to complain about a single thing, because I knew I’d probably get a slap to the face.

The most annoying thing for me however, was the fact that I must have either been nervous or I drank too much water heading into the birthing suite, because I remember having to go to the toilet nearly every 20 mins. It was quite inconvenient, but whenever I did need to go, Sharon and Lia were there to continue to help Renee through the pain.

I couldn’t believe how well Renee was coping with labour. She wanted the birth to be as natural as it could be and with the exception of a little gas, she did it completely unassisted. And I don’t think I’ve ever told Renee this, but the midwife must have had more faith in Renee than she had in herself, because she turned the gas off well before Renee knew it was off.

And then, at 7:50pm, our beautiful boy was born. Wow… A wave of emotions flooded through me. There he was. A boy. So tiny. So beautiful. All 6lb 2oz of him. Renee caught him in her arms, brought him up to her chest and held him close as he took his first breaths. I nuzzled into them both. So proud of Renee for what she had just done. And so completely overwhelmed with what was now in front of me.

A little while after he was born, I had the pleasure of cutting the cord. And then not too long after that, I got to have my first cuddle of my new born son. Skin to skin. Just me and our baby boy. At that point, I remember thinking how tiny and delicate he was. I was so worried that I was going to break him.

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When the midwife had left to complete some paperwork and Renee and I got some alone time with him together, we started thinking about what we should name him. We didn’t want to rush naming him if we didn’t feel the names we had picked suited him. But, as we did already have a few combinations picked out, we thought that now was a good opportunity to go through them.

Once we got to the name Jesse Jack Barton, we immediately knew this was the one. It fit perfectly. He even looked like a Jesse Jack Barton.

And so as if it was always meant to be, we both looked down at Jesse Jack Barton. Our first child. Our son. Our life.

Like Renee said, I’ll never forget the moment my life changed forever. The moment in that birthing suite where I met our beautiful baby boy for the first time. The moment I fell madly in love with our sweet little Jesse.

My dearest Jesse, happy birthday!

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Photo Friday: Happy Birthday Jesse

Happy birthday to the most amazing little dude we know!

We can hardly believe that you turn one today Jesse! You have brought so much joy and happiness to our lives, more than you will probably ever know.

We love being woken by you every morning. We love your cheekiness. We love your spirit. We love that you suffer from FOMO, even when you should be sleeping. We love how you put a smile on the face of everyone who meets you.

Today, is all about you darling.

Happy birthday Jesse. We love you…

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A very special day!

It’s a special day in the NSSLOU household today.

“So what’s so special about today?” I hear you ask.

Well, today just so happens to be Renee’s birthday. That’s right… The old wifey for lifey is one more year older today. Which also makes her one more year wiser. And when we think back on what’s happened over the last year… wow.

Renee, or ‘Mummy’ as she has now become affectionately known as throughout our household, is one amazing woman. And without her, everything would well and truly be falling apart!

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Photography by Renee Trubai

Renee is very much the pillar of our household. Largely due the fact that she has taken on the very big and important responsibility of being a full-time stay-at-home mum to our beautiful boy, Jesse. BUT… Not being content with just being a full-time mum, Renee has also started and is currently building her Kangatraining business on the side. And while being a Kanga Trainer has it’s perks (like being able to take bubby to work), it adds to the already overflowing plate that is Renee’s daily schedule.

But while there certainly are exhausting days here and there, for the most part, you very rarely hear even a single complaint about it. Why? Because like I said, she is amazing!

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Photography by Renee Trubai

Renee continues to surprise me with everything she does and everything she takes on. I am forever thankful and lucky to have her in my life. As is Jesse.

Now, as the sun sets on today’s festivities, I cannot wait to celebrate many more birthdays in the years to come with one of my favourite people in the whole wide world. I can’t wait to share more laughs and more fun with you. I can’t wait to grow our family even more with you. I can’t wait to travel with you and experience more and more new things with you. I can’t wait to grow old with you.

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Photography by Kaine Barton

But for now, let me just say this…

Happy Birthday babe!

You are amazing and you deserve all the happiness in the world!

All our love,
Kaine and Jesse.

365 Project: The Home Stretch

A little over a year ago we decided to document our first year as parents – a 365 project and one of the catalysts for this blog.

Here’s a little reminder of what we set out to do.

We will:

  • For the entire first year of Jesse’s life and our first year as parents, chronicle our journey through writings and photos.
  • Both journal something every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (no matter how sleep deprived we are)!
  • Each take a photo every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (crappy, badly lit, grainy selfies at 5 minutes to midnight included)!
  • Not share our journal entries or photos with each other, until after Jesse’s first birthday (the official end of the project).
  • At the conclusion of The 365 Project, compile and publish the journals and photos as two individual books titled ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Dad’ and ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Mum’.

We are 343 days in now so well and truly on the home stretch. And though it’s been challenging at times I’m proud to say that we have managed to stick to our intentions for the project.

The hardest part for me has been taking a photo every day. It sounds easy enough and like most mum’s my camera roll is full of photos of my baby. But some days have been so full on the only time I’ve been able to take a quick snap is when Jesse has fallen asleep for the night. And other days there’s just enough time to click a few selfies in between meal times, play time and nappy changes. So this means plenty of dark, grainy shots of Jesse sleeping and selfies with bad hair and dark circles under the eyes.

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Day 56

I’m not sure how interesting it will be for others to read. A New York Times best seller is probably out of the picture! Some days my entries are only a few words long while on other days I have waxed lyrical about the joys and challenges of new motherhood. But I am really intrigued to read Kaine’s finished product as I’m sure he has written thoughts and feelings that weren’t vocalised (as I have) over the last 12 months. I’m also looking forward to looking back over my own and reminiscing, particularly those early days and weeks.

Honestly, it really hasn’t felt like a chore at all and it will actually be kind of weird not to do it any more. Though preparing our finished products as books will certainly keep us busy for a while yet.

I’m really proud that we have stuck with it and no doubt we will have a new project in the works soon enough.

Work/Life balance: It isn’t easy

Working in the city when you live as far out into the suburbs as we do, means that every day you have to deal with a long commute. And when I tell people that it takes me an hour and a half to get to work of a morning (and an hour and a half to get home in the afternoon), they often look at me with a face that says “are you crazy?!”

I almost always say to them, as they continue to stare at me with that “are you crazy?!” look, that I’ve been working in the city ever since I graduated High School in 2001. So basically, a long commute to and from work is all I’ve ever known. And because of that fact, it has never really bothered me.

Well fast forward to 2016 and the long commute to and from work is getting just that little bit harder to take day by day.

Let’s put it this way… At the moment, I generally leave the house at 6:30am every morning and generally don’t get home from work until nearly 6:00pm most nights. And as for getting home by 6:00pm, that is assuming I get out of the office at 4:15pm every afternoon. If I don’t, well, depending on the public transport schedule, my home time could blow out to anywhere between 6:30pm to 7:00pm.

Unfortunately, this means that during the week, because of my long commute, I get very limited awake time with Jesse.

When I leave for work of a morning, Jesse is either still asleep, or has just woken up. And when I do manage to get home by 6:00pm, because at that time it’s smack bang in the middle of his bedtime routine, he is usually asleep (most of the time) not too long after I get home.

For that reason, I really cherish the time I get to spend with him during the week. Simply because of the fact that my awake time with him can be quite limited.

Just over the past week, there was one day where I didn’t get to see him awake at all. I left work when he was asleep. And when I got home, I got home to this… Our cheeky little monkey completely worn out from a big day asleep on mummy’s lap. Down and out for the night.

Sleeping Jesse

And this is the exact reason that I am starting to find it just that little bid harder, day by day, to accept such a long commute to work.

I know there are plenty of options out there available for people who have long commutes to and from work. Hot-desking at local work hubs… Working from home… Flexible work arrangements…

And these are all options I am really starting to think about with more seriousness as the days and weeks and months fly by with Jesse.

Because at the end of the day, time does fly by. I mean Jesse is turning one next month. ONE!!! I can’t believe that. And because it is flying by so quickly, I can’t help but feel bad that I am unable to spend that quality time with him during the week.

The saddest thing of all, is that I know I’m not the only one in this situation. There are a lot of mums and dads out there that have long commutes to work who don’t get to spend a lot of quality time with their kids during the week. And when there is so much flexibility available for work arrangements, I think this is very sad.

With all that said, I am thankful that Renee is able to spend all the time in the world with Jesse during the week given that she is a stay-at-home mum come Kangatrainer legend!!!

So while I continue to deal with my long commute to and from work, I will make the most of my cuddles in bed with him now that we have started co-sleeping again.

I know, that I will get to spend quality time with Jesse during the week soon enough!

Photo Friday: Getting back to nature

This is a bit of a throwback Thursday on a Friday.

Yes. That totally makes sense!

We love getting outdoors with Jesse. And he absolutely LOVES it! Crawling in the grass… the fresh air… the wonderful new smells and sights… It must be like a sensory overload for him.

And now that it’s getting a little bit cooler, I imagine us getting outdoors a lot more often!

Autumn in Queensland = Love!

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Boating and BBQing

Yesterday was a great day!

We decided to go childless…

That’s right. We dropped Jesse off at Grandma and Grandpa’s and headed out for a day on the water!

There was 11 of us in total. And we had an absolute blast! It was so good to get out for a day without Jesse (don’t get me wrong, we absolutely LOVE Jesse, but it is good to get some time to yourself every once in a while) and have a few drinks with some friends.

It was so fun in fact, that we shouldn’t wait 10 years to do it again like we did this time round!

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The best night I’ve had as a new dad.

This past week I probably had my worst nights sleep since becoming a dad.

Before I go into that, let me start from the beginning though.

I have been incredibly lucky with my sleep since becoming a first time dad. Renee, who is an absolute legend of a first time mum in my books, incredibly, unselfishly and without hesitation took on the night shifts when it came to getting up to Jesse when he woke throughout the night.

In the beginning, she was breastfeeding, so there wasn’t much use for me to be awake. And our rationale was that it was better having one well rested parent for the day to take on most of the responsibility.

Then, I went back to work, while Renee continued her journey as a stay at home mum. We both agreed that again, there was wasn’t much use for me to get up throughout the night so that I was tired for work the next day.

What an amazing woman right! I am an incredibly lucky man to have someone who has practically been a sleep deprived mess for the past 10 months, but hasn’t complained about it one bit.

Cut to last Wednesday night.

Jesse has been teething and on top of this, he is going through his latest leap. This has resulted in a very unhappy and unsettled boy over the past week or two.

Wednesday night, I went through Jesse’s new bedtime routine which has become one of my new responsibilities. One that I cherish and love to do. He fell asleep relatively easily at around 7pm, which has become somewhat of the normal time he falls asleep for the first time of a night.

9:30pm he wakes for the first time. Something that we’ve become used to recently. Him waking up often throughout the night. Well, trying to get him back to sleep after he woke was nearly impossible!

Everything Renee tried just simply would not work. He was quiet when he had a boob in his mouth, but as soon as that stopped he would wake up. Renee would try and stand and he would wake up crying. Renee would try and put him down in his cot, and he would start screaming.

Cue me to try and calm the situation. I manage to get him to to fall asleep in my arms without waking up. SUCCESS!

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Go to put him in his cot, and again he would start screaming!

It turns out the only thing that would stop him from screaming was bringing him into our bed with us.

So that’s exactly what we did. We brought him into our bed, where he tossed and turned until he found a comfortable spot in bed. He had his chest and head laying up on my pillow pressed in as close as he could to my face.

Every time I would move, he would shuffle over pressing his head back against my face. At one stage, he was almost pushing me off my own pillow.

And that is how I lay in bed… until 2am the next morning. Not sleeping. Just snuggling with our little Jesse, listening to his breathing as he slept soundly.

And you know what, despite the fact that I didn’t get to sleep until 2am… and despite the fact that I was tired at work the next day, I loved EVERY… SINGLE… SECOND of him snuggled into my face as he slept that night.

Since that night we have thrown the rule book out the window and decided that for all 3 of our sakes, if having Jesse sleep in our bed means that we get a better night sleep, well dammit he will sleep in our bed!

And that’s what we’ve done. For the past 3 nights he has slept in our bed. And you know what, I think it’s the best sleep Jesse and Renee have gotten in months!

As for me, I get to fall asleep every night knowing that I’m snuggling with my two favourite people in the whole wide world!

Fright in the night!

I know it’s been said many times before… But having a baby is a big responsibility!

Being responsible for this tiny little human that can’t fend for themselves and that needs your care 24/7 is huge! And as a result, your new little bundle of joy soon becomes all you think about.

You think about them when you wake up. You think about them when you’re with them. You think about them when you’re at work. You even think about them when you’re asleep.

And this, is where one of the funniest running episodes in our household has started unfolding.

Okay, imagine this…

You’re sound asleep. Have been for hours. You’re chest is softly rising and falling with each breath. You’re pleasantly dreaming away. You are at that point where you are in your deepest sleep. You’re cosy. You’re safe.

And then it happens.

All of a sudden your partner (the wife in my case) startles you awake with a jolt! And not just once… On multiple nights…

W … T … F … !

So like I was saying, I’m sound asleep, and then out of nowhere, bloody Renee grabs me by the arm as I roll over in my sleep because she thinks it’s Jesse rolling out of bed!

Oh yea, that’s right… full on grabs me and wakes me up with a fright! On multiple occasions. You see what I mean with the whole, you even think about them when you’re sleeping.

“What the hell?!?!” I said to her one night.

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“I’m so sorry, I thought you were Jesse rolling out of bed.” We both have a little chuckle and go back to sleep.

Two nights later, happens again… “Really? Again?”

“Sorry… I thought you were Jesse again” she says.

Two nights later, happens again. “WHAT THE ACTUAL F***! CAN YOU PLEASE STOP IT!!!”

Yes, I actually got mad at Renee one night… Keep in mind I was half asleep, I was woken up with a fright, and I can’t believe that she’s done it again.

It is actually pretty funny when we talk about it the next day, but damn I wish she’d stop grabbing me all of a sudden at 2am in the morning because she thinks Jesse is falling out of bed. I mean, he doesn’t even sleep in our bed any more.

However, almost every morning when I get up for work, I bring Jesse into bed with Renee. It’s like a morning ritual. The two would doze together or at least Renee would while Jesse played with some toys that we keep stashed on the bedside table.

But a few weeks ago while Renee dozed as I got ready for work, our newly mobile bub fell off the bed to the floor with a startling thud that woke Renee from her morning slumber. It would now seem that this moment, has scarred her for life. Yup, pretty sure it has since she now panics every time I roll over in the middle of the night, thinking it’s Jesse about to roll off the bed again.

I guess they are right when the say women never sleep the same way again after becoming a mum.

The struggles…