It’s been three weeks now since Fred joined us here at The Karen & Donners Show; three whole weeks of newborn diaper changes and middle-of-the-night feedings and an unending need to do more laundry. His entry into this world was an experience completely opposite to Nyana’s arrival—my water broke spontaneously around four in the morning on my due date, by noon I was admitted to hospital and by 3:00 PM I was clad in a hospital gown, walking the hallways waiting for contractions to begin from the induction IV they’d placed. At 6:30 PM his heart rate started bouncing around and at 9:28 PM on his due date he was born via emergency c-section, weighing in at roughly three-times his sister’s weight, a hefty 8 lb 4oz (3,742 grams). Despite spending his first night in the Intermediate Nursery adjacent to the NICU to monitor his heart rate, we were officially discharged 37 hours after he was born—Nyana logged more than five thousand hours before being discharged. He’s been home for three weeks and sometimes I still can’t believe that they just let us package him up and bring him home.
The first week or two were as you can imagine they were—a sleep deprived haze of late-night feedings and diaper changes and pediatrician appointments. Add healing from a c-section, making a two year old feel like a special big sister, and preparing for Christmas into the mix, and the house has been in some varying state of disarray since we brought Fred home. But we’re all surviving and adjusting—Don and I learning to be parents to two; Nyana learning how to be a big sister and how to share her favourite big people.
Our first outing as a fambly of four was the day after Fred came home, and it found us walking across the street to the mall to get Nyana a photo with Santa. Her first Christmas came while she was still on a ventilator, and her first Santa photo consists of the Fat Man himself standing over her solarium in the NICU. Fast forward a year to Nyana’s second Christmas, and her Santa photo shows her standing in her crib in the pediatric ICU, waving to the jolly old man through the sliding glass doors of her isolation room. She was discharged late on Christmas Eve—much too late to salvage any hope of the holiday—and we were forced to postpone Christmas 2011 until February 2012. Needless to say, she (and we) had been very excited to meet Santa this year, and we were thrilled to be able to give Ny the solo experience. Fred was only four days old at the time, and after two miserable hospital experiences, Nyana deserved a private audience with the man in red. Despite the look on her face, she was very excited to meet him, and only froze up at the last minute when he started asking her questions.
When Fred was exactly one week old we invited photographer and fellow NICU parent, Tom (aka Nyana’s future father-in-law) over to our house to do a family session for us. We didn’t really have the opportunity to do professional newborn shots with Nyana, so when capturing her early days on film, we opted for quantity over quality. So it was nice this time to be able to take some quality photographs of our new family dynamic—both of our kids healthy and at home where they belong. Nyana still hasn’t entirely warmed to Fred, but she’s taking each day in stride and seems to be slowly coming to terms with the idea that he’s here to stay.
And what better way than Christmas morning to distract from her little brother and remind Nyana that she is very loved. While Santa didn’t forget about Frederick, he sure made sure Nyana’s stocking was just a bit more full than her brother’s, and her presents just a bit more bountiful. After putting her to bed in her new Christmas Eve pyjamas, we woke Nyana at seven o’clock on Christmas morning and went about stockings, breakfast, and finally, presents. Oh, the presents. Stacks of books and mega blocks and puzzles. Robes and fuzzy slippers and chocolates and jelly beans. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit of a humbug in the past few years, and so it was so, so nice to feel the true magic of Christmas again; to be able to view Christmas through the eyes of a child. Knowing that Don and I were responsible for giving her this gift of Christmas morning was exciting. Exhausting, but so exciting.
After the excitement of Christmas morning, we tried to have a family nap before heading off for dinner. Turns out I was the only one to sleep during family nap time though, and before we knew it, it was 3pm and we were all dressed in our Sunday best and on our way to my grandparent’s house, where a small family dinner was being hosted. I can’t tell you how proud I am of all four of us for being dressed and safely buckled into Daisy Rae in time. Oh, right… Daisy Rae. She’s the other newest member of our family. A bright yellow 2002 Mazda wagon we bought about a week before Fred was born. We’ve named her Daisy Rae. Nyana, on the other hand, has stuck to affectionately calling her YELLOW CAR!.
And, two blocks from our destination, we learned the hard way that Nyana gets carsick. In retrospect, perhaps cheddar-flavoured goldfish crackers were not the wisest choice to offer a child who had yet to prove her motion sickness status… at any rate, our beautiful princess who had been dressed in a pretty pink dress and white tights and black Mary-Janes and perfect ponytails, our belle of the ball who was so deserving of being paraded into our dinner party like the jewel she is, our poor Nyana was led to the front steps of my grandparent’s home, crying and covered in regurgitated crackers, and then later, carried (still sobbing and naked save for a diaper) into the living room asking if we could please open a present early, preferably one that contained new clothes. In our haste to get the whole family out the door in time, we remembered three changes of clothes for Fred but didn’t once stop to think we might need a change for Nyana. Not wanting his sister to feel too embarrassed, however, Fred managed to spit up on everyone who held him, officially making my children the pukiest dinner guests my grandparents have hosted since my siblings and I were kids. But everyone survived and we have a good story to tell at future gatherings. And as we drove our car home on Christmas night, with our two healthy kids sound asleep in the backseat, I had such a feeling of contentment wash over me, and a newfound appreciation for the Christmas sprit.
Hoping you all had a safe and joyous holiday with friends and family who love you. I realized on New Year’s Eve that 2012 brought me a new job, a new place to live, a new car and a new son. I can’t imagine how 2013 can top the year I just had but I invite it to try. Wishing all of you tons of love and laughter as you head into this new year, and a million thanks again for continuing to join us on our adventures. Love to each of you.