Before I get too far into blogging about Elisabeth and how amazing and wonderful and clever she is and how lucky and awed we are as parents, I want to take a few moments to reflect a bit on my experience of pregnancy.
If I had to sum up how I felt about pregnancy in one sentence, it would simply be this: I loved being pregnant. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, first trimester wasn’t brilliant. It could have been a lot worse, though. And it’s rather easy to forget the bad bits of it given how good I felt through the rest of the pregnancy.
A few of the things that I loved about pregnancy:
- The miracle of being able to grow a whole new person inside you is really astounding and something that you comprehend in a whole new way when you experience it. We were quite lucky to have four ultrasound scans (rather than the usual two) – at 10, 14, 21 and 34 weeks – and it was amazing to see this little person growing before our eyes.
- I felt really sexy. For the first time in years (decades?) I wasn’t embarrassed about my poochy tummy and actually felt really attractive in my body. I’m sure that was helped by the fact that I lost a lot of weight early on and didn’t gain it all back until the week Elisabeth was born (net weight gain for the pregnancy = 0) so while my tummy got nice and round, the rest of me got rather more svelte.
- Feeling a baby’s movement inside me and having those movements get stronger and stronger. Elisabeth was quite an active baby in utero, and I loved every kick and punch and scritch and squirm. James and I both revelled in the interaction with Elisabeth while she was in my womb. In a way it gave her a distinct personality before we knew who she was – or even that she was a she!
- The anticipation of it all! I am someone who often enjoys the anticipation of an experience as much as (and sometimes more than) the experience itself. I’m glad we decided not to find out in advance whether we were having a girl or boy because it just added to that sense of anticipation. By the time I reached 35 weeks I was feeling very psychologically ready to find out who the little person inside me was, so I’m quite happy not to have had to wait longer than I did, but that anticipation while it lasted was so enjoyable. Now we have a different sort of anticipation – what will Elisabeth learn to do next, what sort of person will she become, etc?
I was really very lucky to have had such an easy pregnancy. I had a few flare-ups of heartburn and intermittent sciatic pain but there are a whole lot of symptoms that many women experience late in pregnancy – swollen hands, ankles and feet; backaches; piles; nausea; insomnia; etc – that I never had to deal with. I kept waiting for the really uncomfortable stage of late pregnancy to set in and it never did. Maybe it would have if I carried Elisabeth to full term, but I was still feeling great when I reached 36 weeks. My body just seemed meant for growing a baby!
And now we have our precious little girl and our lives have been changed forever. I couldn’t be happier about this amazing Christmas present that we have received this year – the best one I’ve ever gotten!
Our beautiful daughter, Elisabeth Soraya Clare Stewart, made her unexpected arrival (unexpected both because she was 3 1/2 weeks early and because James and I were sure she would be a boy) into the world on Thursday, the 4th of December 2008. Following is the announcement email that we sent out to family and friends the day after she was born:
We’re very pleased to let you know that our daughter Elisabeth Soraya Clare Stewart was born last night, December 4th, at 7.13pm after an intense but relatively short labour, all beginning at 11pm on Wednesday evening when Kari’s water broke shortly after going to bed. We headed to the hospital to get checked out, and since she was still four days short of full term, they decided to keep Kari around. It’s just as well that they did, because once labour really got going early in the afternoon on Thursday, it wasn’t long at all before Elisabeth made her grand entrance. Kari didn’t even have time for any pain killer other than a couple of paracetemol (Tylenol)/codeine tablets. Pushing lasted all of about 20 minutes.
Although four weeks early she is in very good health and weighed in at a quite respectable 5lbs 3oz and is 46 cm long. Mum and dad are tired but very happy and very much looking forward to introducing her to the world outside the Whittington Hospital (in North London).
Since Elisabeth arrived as early and small as she did (and as long as she did after the water breaking), she’s having 48 hours of antibiotic treatment which involves having her arm wrapped up in a foam splint to keep the IV tube from getting knocked about too much. The premature birth also means that she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of sucking and feeding and has a feeding tube in her nose. These combined factors mean that Kari and Elisabeth are having an extra-long hospital stay and will probably not go home until Sunday at the earliest. (The extra-care treatment also means that they got a private room which is a great blessing!) We’re looking forward to – hopefully – taking a tube-free baby home with us.
Since we are on a mobile wireless connection at the hospital, we haven’t attempted to upload more than one photo of Elisabeth yet, but you can see her just a few minutes old at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jystewart/3083876687/. More photos will be on Flickr soon once James has a chance to get online with a faster connection.
A note about her names for those who are curious:
Elisabeth is a name we like partly because it has lots and lots of possible nicknames. She may end up being called Lizzie or Elsa or something else… or maybe just Elisabeth. We’ll see what she grows into. Kari had a great-grandmother Elizabeth who was known as Lizzie. Elisabeth also recalls one of Kari’s literary heroines, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennett. We just happened to prefer the spelling with an “s”.
Soraya is an name which is very popular in Iran. James’ mother had a very close friend named Soraya when she was growing up in Iran. We’ve heard a couple of different possible sources of the name. One is that it’s the Persian version of the Hebrew name Sarah and means “princess”. Another possibility is that it’s the Arabic name for the same star cluster that in Persian are called Parvin which is James’ mother’s name.
Clare is for our dear friend Clare Patterson who, along with her husband Matt, was the first person (besides us) to know that a baby was on the way. Clare also has the good fortune of having a name that we happened to really like. 🙂 [Addendum to the original email: when we were first discussing the name Clare, our intention was also that it be in honour of Kari’s grandmother, Clara Stoel, who died in June 2006.]
We can’t wait for you to meet her! We’re planning to be Stateside for most of March and the first week or so of April, at least spending time in Nashville, Indiana, Chicago and Grand Rapids. We look forward to seeing many of you and introducing you to our sweet baby girl then.
We are very much looking forward to spending the Christmas season basking in the arrival of our precious gift!
Pictures are constantly being added to Flickr, so go on over and have a look. We think she’s rather stunning – not that we’re at all biased or anything!