Wow, I can’t believe that it’s been over a year since my last post and yet so much has happened that I don’t know how I could even write about it. The biggest, and to this point in my life, most important, thing that happened this year was the birth of our first child, Matilda. Our baby girl joined us on her due date of October 10, 2014 at 21:25 after over 20 hours of labour. Both Jackie and I were exhausted by the time she was born but that tiredness went away as soon as I held her for the first time.
She had a slight infection when she was born so she had to go on antibiotics but I was with her in the NICU while they were giving her the initial shots, tagging her, and putting a tag on me since I was the parent with her. Jacq had to go for a small surgery post-birth and so she wasn’t there right away. This little 6 lb 7.4 oz baby, who looked more like a little alien with a bent little nose, had just come into this world and I was partially the reason for her existing. The weight of that reality quickly settled on me and my nervousness passed, being replaced by a determination. That determination was that this little being was my responsibility and I would do everything in my power to save her from pain, discomfort, heartache, and sadness. It was a realization, unlike anything I had ever felt in my life to that point, that life would never be the same again.
The first 6 days in the hospital were difficult with Jacq having to recover from her surgery and also having to start dealing with everything that’s required of a new mom. As with everything she does, she handled it like a champ and we were finally able to bring our little girl home. We had Jacq’s parents, youngest brother, and his wife staying with us so they got to meet Matilda right away. Zeus was also pretty excited to meet her but I don’t he realized what he was in for!
The first few weeks were definitely an adjustment period for everybody but we noticed that Mati seemed to constantly be in pain after feeding. We brushed it off as colic since that is very common in newborns and continued with trying to adjust to being new parents. After consulting with Dr Amanda who Jacq had been seeing throughout her pregnancy, she suggested that the antibiotics at birth may have wiped out Mati’s good bacteria and so she didn’t have those, for now, to help with the breakdown of what was in the milk. Of course the milk was coming from Jacq and so Dr Amanda suggested that Jacq go gluten/dairy/soy free to see how that affected Matilda. She was a completely different baby in just over a day and so Jacq, being the champ that she is, changed her whole diet to gluten/dairy/soy free. After a few months she was able to introduce soy again but is still gluten/dairy free. Ya, my wife is amazing!
Over the next few months we settled into a routine of feed, burp, cuddle, change diapers, sleep, repeat. Matilda continued to feed well and hit, and sometimes surpassed, her growth milestones during this time and as proud parents, we were happy to take hundreds of photos of her in the various outfits that we decided to put on her. During this time, I wasn’t too much use except the post-feed burping, diaper changing, and cuddling, but most of the time she was mommy dependent.
As we hit the 4 month mark and she started seeing and focusing better and recognising faces, then it started to become fun. This gave me my first glimpse into the innocence of a newborn child, going through the world full of experiences for the very first time. Watching her absorb absolutely everything she could see and focus on was simply amazing and quite a humbling experience. She saw, and still sees, the world with such naivety and innocence that is so amazing because as we all know, that innocence is lost as one gets older and “grows up”. I pray that she can keep hold of that innocence for as long as she can and look at the world with that unreserved curiosity for as long as possible.
After the 6 month mark we went on a 15 day trip to Beirut for her to meet Dede & Mema, my parents. I’ll write about the trip in a different post but it was simply amazing to be in the other room and to hear Mati giggling and my mom laughing along with her, as well as seeing her sit quietly, mesmerized as my dad sang to her. As parents, the jet lag was horrible and Mati basically reverted to a 6 week old newborn, wanting only mommy when upset, however it was all worth it for those moments she had with her grandparents.
The next few months seemed to me to be a blur of progression on her part. She went from simply rolling from side-to-side, to crawling, to pulling herself up on furniture, and finally to walking at only 9.5 months old. I was a 9 month walker and Jacq walked at 10 months so it makes sense that our daughter was also an early walker. She’s also been developing her motor skills, eating solid foods, and learning how to sign. She’s started understanding things that she’s not supposed to be doing and sometimes tries to test us by doing things she knows she shouldn’t be doing. She’s starting to communicate with the signing and little noises, and is starting to develop her little personality.
The last few months have truly been amazing, though. Matilda has been getting so much more confident with everything she is learning as each day progresses. She’s starting to not only run, but hop, dance to music, and she does the baby sign language like a boss… especially when she’s hungry; she makes it known! I’m so blessed to be able to spend the day, today, on her 1st birthday, with my family. I was raised with the fundamental belief that family is the most important thing in the world and although I felt it deep down growing up, I never truly understood it until I became a dad. I’m so proud of Jackie for everything she’s had to go through so far, and will continue to go through over the next few years. And, of course, I’m so so proud of my little baby girl, she’s growing so quickly, so curious to discover the world, and I love the fact that I get to ride along with her on this journey.