Introducing: Freyja Haiku Hill

Freyja, 15 minute oldAt 1:47pm on July 8th, Freyja Haiku Hill was born at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, weighing 9 lbs, 4.7 oz and measuring 22″ long. She has dark hair and dark eyes, although it’s too early to tell what color. (They look dark blue, but that will change)

Before you read any further here, I suggest you read my wife’s blag post about her pre-birth feelings and fears/reservations from last time. (The Jean Harper called it “sobering”) It’s not too long, I’ll wait.

Yeah, it was rough.

This time went really well, though.

Childbirth

Aside from a change in venue, we also did a Caesarean birth this time, which was kind of a radical move. They’re very common, of course, and so our anxiety about the procedure was lessened because of that, but we were still both really nervous.

One of the things that the birth books we’ve read always talked about was how medicalized birth experiences could be disempowering for the mother-to-be; there’s something about the whole notion of DIY baby-producing that can be self-empowering; requiring a Doctor to remove the baby, like how one would remove a tumor or parasitic worm, just seems wrong.

In this case though, our whole goal was to avoid a repeat of the horrendous birth experience from last time. It was very impersonal, cold, scary, and out-of-control. She and I both still have nightmares about it. We seemed to be between a rock and a ran (har-har) with having to choose between either a C-section or risk induction again, solely because we were shooting for that elusive brass ring of an emotionally-rewarding natural childbirth. In the end, vindication was ours when the Doctor told us that the baby was so big, if we HAD delivered normally, it would have been another rough delivery. So we made the right choice.

Two years ago, Sullivan was delivered at Miami Valley Hospital — they aren’t a bad hospital anymore than Newark Airport is a bad airport: they’re very large, move a lot of clientele, and have to operate with machine-like efficiency to keep up with their workload. Woe to those with complications or any sense of desire for ownership of their birthing!

Comparing to, for example, Dayton’s airport, which is much smaller and more likely to find someone to help you personally. McCullough-Hyde was absolutely awesome. The facilities have been quite comparable (even superior, given the size of our enormous room this time!) to MVH, but what we really both appreciated was the very personalized and compassionate care Melissa and Freyja have received while we were here. Seriously, it’s that good. Our OB, Dr. Harlan, practices at Oxford OB/GYN — we had also been seeing Donna Bostick, a Certified Nurse Midwife, and she was terrific as well. Dr. Harlan did the procedure and Melissa says that he was very considerate the entire time (I was in the room for the majority of it, but not the initial 10 minutes, while they prepped her).  A smaller hospital like this can just afford the manpower to be more focused on the individual patients. On the OB floor where we’re currently staying, there are MAYBE 2 or 3 other mothers right now, but 4-6 nurses. The customer service here is just phenomenal, and it really makes everything seem so much more relaxed.

The Name

As I mentioned in my post a while back (“It’s like Deja Dad, all over again“), I think the naming of a new baby is a very important event. It’s something that will identify them the rest of their lives, and so I personally feel like it should be given some good thought. (I know some people just want to pick the name and be done with it, and that’s fine for them, as well.)

We had some names picked out beforehand, just a handful of them, and we thought of new names all the way up to the end of the pregnancy. We did the same thing with Sullivan — his name wasn’t declared until after he was born, when we saw him. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the name “Sullivan” means “dark eyes” — which is the first thing I noticed about him when he was delivered. It’s always funny to hear people comment about his eyes when they meet him for the first time; it’s like reinforcement that we picked the right name.)

With Freyja, it was several HOURS after she was born that we finally settled on the name. With Sullivan, Melissa had picked the first name and I took the middle; We switched with Freyja. She agreed with my pick for Freyja and I said she could pick any name she wanted for the middle name.

So why Freyja Haiku?

Freyja (by Penrose, courtesy Wikimedia)Freyja is a Scandinavian goddess of fertility, love, beauty, (and occasionally also war, battle, death, prophecy and magic). She is homologous to Odin in that when a battle is waged, half of the dead go to her and half go to Odin. She was highly revered by Scandinavian and Germanic pagan cultures, and in fact the day of the week “Friday” is rooted in a germanic translation of her name, Freitag. The chemical element Vanadium is also rooted in a variant of her name, Vanadis. The flower “Virgin Mary” was originally called “Freyja’s Hair” She has been featured in many folklore stories and is well-known among the Northern European countries (presumably in the same way Americans know about Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill, except much much older).

In short, she is a strong feminine character, and Melissa and I both want our children to be strong individuals (strong of body and strong of spirit & mind) as they grow.

Melissa picked Haiku for the middle name in reference to the poetry style, of which she is both very knowledgeable and very familiar. Melissa has had several articles about Haiku as a style and adaptations into English published in the Japan Times, an english-language periodical published in Japan; She also did her Undergrad Senior Thesis on Haiku as a form of poetry, and has run many Haiku-oriented zines and websites over the years (including the now-defunct “waterblossoms” zine/blog). It carries a very special meaning for her, and for me it is a word that always immediately makes me think of Melissa, so I liked it as well.

I suppose you could also say that Haiku is elegance, frugality, and concentrated meaning, but we didn’t really think that deeply into it. :)

Sullivan

Another thing we were both apprehensive about was the issue of how Sullivan was going to deal with being away from us for a night. This is the first time since he was born that he has not stayed with us overnight. We have some close friends that frequently babysit him when Melissa has class — They’re great people and Sullivan really loves being with them; They graciously offered to watch him for us yesterday so that we could focus on getting everything taken care of without being neglectful of him.

He did pretty well, I guess. He went to bed kind of late, but they said he slept through the night. Yesterday, after we had gotten settled into our enormous recovery room (seriously, it’s like a hotel room), they brought Sullivan down so he could meet his sister for the first time.

The first 20 minutes he was here, I took him out to walk around Oxford’s downtown for a little bit. I wanted to reassure him that he and I are still BFF and I figured he was probably a bit wound up too.

When we returned to the hotel — I mean hospital room, I eventually got him to calm down enough that he’d sit with Freyja and I. He was very curious. He pointed to, and named, her eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hat, and head. I got him to say (sort of) her name — he says “Fray”. He was very excited about the “bay” (baby) that was sitting in the little hospital bed-on-wheels.

Our babysitter called this morning to let us know how he did. She said that he kept talking about “Fray” last night. It seems like he made some sort of connection with her. A couple weeks ago, we all watched the “Sullivan, Year One” DVD I made for our families for Xmas last year. It chronicles his first year starting with 10 minutes after he was born all the way up to just before the holidays that year. He was very excited about it, and it seemed to have the desired effect: he recognized that the child in the DVD movie was him, and that he began as a tiny wrinkly little baby. We’d been doing some other “baby exercises” as well, using a cabbage patch doll. Mostly involving “baby is in the bed! Shhh! she’s sleeping!”

In a little bit, I’m going to pick him up and bring him back down here for a while. Not sure if I’ll be staying here overnight again or not — Sullivan and I may just go home and watch Finding Nemo together.

Melissa

Melissa has done amazingly well through all of this. When she first got into the OR, she was scared – her teeth were chattering. But she calmed down when I got in there. The procedure went great and she is recovering wonderfully. She was able to get up and walk around a little today.

I wanted to make Melissa something for this day — my original idea, inspired in part by the movie “Up” was to make her custom “merit badges” to document the different accomplishments she’s done (having children, getting married, graduating, etc.) and to give her a companion book that describes the event and the badge.

Finding custom merit badges is HARD though — the only place I found that would do TRUE custom badges required a minimum order of 100 — way too expensive. I did find one dealer on etsy, but her “custom” merit badges weren’t QUITE custom enough. (they were really nice, though.)

Oblivion "skill image"What I decided on was to make a scrapbook for her where each page would have a commemorative 4″x4″ colored drawing. Stylistically, I tried to emulate the “skill images” from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. (see image inset)

The idea would be that on each occasion, I could make her a new page, we could write down the basic details, and then she could write a short journal entry about how she feels, what it means to her, and any other noteworthy details.

I found a nice paisley-print-cover scrapbook at hobby lobby, bought some extra pages (blank white, acid-free), and assembled it at home and got to work. Below is the “merit drawing” to commemorate Freyja’s birth.

Melissa's Scrapbook

She’ll probably be coming home on Friday or Saturday, depending on how quickly she recovers.

This has been a really great experience for both of us, and we’re both really excited to be a family of four now. :)

thanks to everyone that called, text’d, twittered, facebook’d and emailed us — apologies if I didn’t respond to you personally; the Internet is somewhat spotty in this room (I had to go down the hall to upload the flickr photos — but I’m not going to complain too much about free internet. :) )