What is this?

This is a very long, open and public letter to Baby Bean McGyver, the little boy curently residing in my belly, to be evicted in December, likely during Christmas dinner.

I promise to back everything up in print to read to him during the sleepless nights. Oh, and in case you are wondering, the title did come from a horribly catchy Gwen Stefani song that is always stuck in my jukebox brain.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A tiny bottle

Hey baby!

I know, it's been a while...in my defence, you're quite the handful! I can now do almost everything one-handed, except type long blog posts. For the record, you are 64cm long and 6.5kg heavy. You've lost all of you newborn clothes and a lot more this week.

What a lovely handful you are.We are all in love with you deeply and madly, my dear.
At almost five months, you laugh at everything and everybody, as if the world exists only to entertain you.
You and I spend our afternoons reading silly cardboard books, playing with colorful toys, walking about the house as if it were a mansion. We have a nice routine going on and you have the precision of a swiss clock.

You started solids a few days ago, because we just couldn't handle anymore of the ogling and staring and wanting to grab everything we were eating! You are definitely your parent's son, a food lover! So far you had banana - big hit, apple, pear, potato and carrot. And a bit of daddy's frozen yoghurt. We are doing this slowly but surely even though daddy wants to give you everything from ice-cream to bacon, right now if possible. It's so much fun to see your face when you try something new, I'm tempted to do it all day long. If only we were in Brazil where there are endless possibilities of fruits and vege. Here, I'm afraid you'll turn into a pumpkin soon enough.

Today you sat up by yourself for the first time. Un-assisted, for about a minute. I ran for the camera, but was too slow. It was glorious, up until second 61 when you flopped your big head forward and landed on the floor...crying ensued, but rightfully so, as you're on the floor so the knock must've hurt.

Also on big news: we went to Wellington last week for two nights and you were the perfect gentleman the whole time, including holte sleep and both plane rides. You slept from airport to airport, return.

And you are officially registered at the Embassy, with a brazilian certificate of birth. Sorry about that.

I'm writing today because we had a great day, so full of laughter that I (almost) fell bad for putting you to bed.

If only I could bottle your laughter, the giggles, the gummy wide open laughter, the gurgling deep joy, the dimply smile and the one eyebrow raise, the clutching hands that can barely contain your excitement, If I could bottle all that I'm sure that the world would be so much better. I'd carry it around and release it all over the globe and see everybody light up like I do when you laugh.

Thank you for your laughter, son. Thank you for you.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Settling in this life

Hey baby!

You had your 12 weeks immunization shots today, one injection on each leg, sorry about that. It's for a greater good, I promise! And unlike the first time when you slept all day, this time you were completely normal, crying when you had to and sleeping when you had to, so I'm hoping you don't hate me that much.

Tonight I'm thinking a lot about your surgery. I don't, usually. Only when we meet someone new or when you cough oh-so-loudly in a public place and I want to laugh because of some weird looks we get.
Today I am, because we are approaching ( I use this term losely, as in "we are approaching the day of your birthday party, 8 months from now." Don't judge. It's an over-planner thing. I just have to think of all possibilities and that takes time!)  the time of introducing solids in your diet and that will be an extra challenge. Hum.

I also think of random things like, will you cough in kindergarten and kids will look at you funny? will I have to make a pamphlet to explain to teachers that you eat differently? will you play sports normally? will the scar show or when and how are we going to tell you about all that's happened when you were a little tiny baby.

It's funny, I worry so much because you are an "unwell child" but I guess all babies are born with their own set of challenges. It's just that we hardly ever think of them. What I mean is, instead of a TOF-baby, you could have been a hate-every-bottle-baby or a horrible-colic-screaming-baby or a spit-everything-out-baby. You are a giggling-dimply-hair-losing-best-internal-clock-ever-baby.

You are our normal. Everything you do is normal and new at the same time. The challenge really is allowing you to grow and helping you find your way. All these drops of worry are nothing in the grand scheme of things.

And the cough thing is pretty funny, actually.

My point is, we are lucky to have you. Our lucky draw. Maybe we did win the lottery after all.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

3 months in

Hey baby!

You're 10 days away from being 3 months old, which means the newborn phase is over, the "fourth trimester" is over and we're getting into a nice groove of life.
I feel like we know something about you already, you are very much your own person and we love discovering your personality in between milk and nappies.

For example, you don't leave a single drop of milk left in a bottle, even if sleep is overcoming. You must finish it!
The magnets on the refrigerator door are fascinating to you and I can't wait till I find some really educational ones instead of random cows and cats.
Your favorite time of day, hands down, is shower time with daddy. Shower is a moment of joy and reflection and chewing on your own hand.
Remember how you were always moving inside my belly? This hasn't stopped now you're out. In fact, I'm afraid you'll keep on moving forever, like the Energizer bunny.
Nappy changing is my aerobics exercise, several times a day. You just keep stretchting when I need you to flex, flexing when you need to stretch, constantly moving all limbs in a crazy dance that leaves you and me exhausted at the end of the day. It should be a 30 sec operation of nappy out nappy in, instead it's a 3-minute string of cajoling and convincing you to help me out.
A sucker for any kind of movement, you sleep in the car seat and in the stroller about 2 minutes into a drive or walk. Occasionally, you haven't even made it to the front gate.
By now, you've mastered the front-to-back roll, but not on command.
You enjoy story time but I can tell Dumbo won't be a favorite.
Waking up is hard, isn't it? You yawn and stretch and look very dazed and confused every day. By the way, you stretch with both fists up in the air and your legs curling, like a tiny Superman getting ready to fly. And then you laugh like everyday is your birthday. Really, who wakes up laughing?!? I blame your Daddy, the morning person.
Other things you like are my singing (Yes! I finally have an audience, one that can't walk away yet!) and looking at yourself in the tiny mirror. Also, licking my banana.

Your nickname when you're born and in the hospital was Chicken and we still call you that when you're naked. Not a fan of being naked, you.
You laugh at lady nurses, doctors and waitresses. Such a ladiesman...
You enjoy Skyping and I'm pretty sure you recognize grandma and grandpa.

I'm sure I can write a lot of other things, but I really need to sleep so my brain is shutting down.
Can't wait to bake a 3-month cake =)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

9 1/2 weeks of

Love. Milk. Cuddles. Smiles. Crying. Colic. Cough. Not much sleep. Vanity-free. Barely cooking, but still baking. Baby-wearing. Dog & stroller walks. Crying some more. Skyping grandparents. Talking about poop. Painful boobs. Doctors, plunket, lactation consultant, surgeon, dentist appointments.

Hey Baby!

Last time I was here, a million years ago, I talked about your surgery and how scary that was. Now that we know the end of the story - you're here, all smiling and happy and healthy, we can talk about something else Mommy and Daddy learned from that surreal time.

But first, a word from our sponsors picture of you looking cute. You know, just to keep everybody updated.

You see baby, you are going to learn every single little thing in life. Hopefully, you'll learn all the majors things like kindness, respect, how to cook rice, quite early. Eventually, there'll be one or other lesson skipped that will come back to bite you later on in life. To us, this lesson was gratitude.

During your week long stay in hospital, we only made it to the other end because we had help. Major help. Not only we had an army of people praying for you, we also had nurses to watch over you and teach me how to operate a breast pump, doctors that answered our questions everyday at 8am rounds and even tried to speak spanish, house-elves that delivered breakfast, lunch and dinner in the NICU parent room we were so kindly occupying. We had friends coming over to visit to make sure we were still sane. We had family to feed the dog and the cat and make sure the house was still standing.
We had Family and Friends making sure we were loved. Making sure we were strong enough to love you enough. Forever a debt bigger than we could ever repay.

That, my darling son, is gratitude. To acknowledge when someone has done something for you and to be thankfull. Forever thankfull in this situation, because everyday when I change your outfit and see that scar on your back, a twinge of memory passes through my heart and I say a little prayer for Friends and Family who were there, in body and mind. Thank you.

Also in this subject of lessons, with the help of a fast-food clown we learned the difference between charity and pity.

The Ronald McDonald House South Island

A couple of days after surgery, when we (us and the doctors) didn't  know how long your recovery would be and when you'd be able to breastfeed, we (Daddy and I) were offered a bedroom to stay in the Ronald McDonald House, because our home was too far from the hospital and the parent room was needed for other people.

This happened without us asking for it and more importantly, without an ounce of pity. It was a very matter-of-fact situation: this couple needs to be near their son, let's find them a place to stay free of charge for as long as they need, with heaps of food available and a place to leave their own food and stuff. So we went.

Nobody asked us anything and that's when we learned the difference: all this happened not because they pitied us and we looked like poor, miserable people who couldn't possibly afford accomodation in town. No. This happened because we needed it and they could provide. No pity, just charity. To be in the receiving end of such love is a humbling experience. Humbling indeed. They gave us something at that moment we didn't know we needed: a place to regroup and to be human again.

It's an amazing place, truly fantastic, 5 minutes walk from NICU at Chch Women's Hospital. I honestly have no words to describe this magical land, so please if you've made it this far in Oliver's story, visit the website and see for yourself the fantastic work they do.The kitchen alone deserves an award. And all the baking and goodies and stuff! The kindness of the staff, the perfectly cozy bedroom, the outdoor area, the garage. The beautiful gifts for Oliver and me. All that still overwhelms me. I hope they keep this up for many many years to come. Although we were there only for 4 nights, our debt of gratitude is enormous and we hope to pay them back in kind. So many families helped by them, so many painful situations, so much love going around.

So again I ask: visit their website. Donate if you can. If you can't, spread the word. Thank you, so many times. Thank you.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Hey baby!

(You are now 5 weeks and 5 days old. We had a crappy night last night but still love you when the sun came out. I guess that's parenthood. Right now you just fell asleep and I'm thorn between things I wish I could do - sleep, I need to do - express milk and I want to do -write and find your Daddy a birthday present. Expressing milk wins for now. I'll be back. )

(Aaaand we're  back! Only one day later...)

So, last time I posted, Daddy and I were driving down to Chch Womens Hospital, at around 2.30am on Christmas Day. I had been awake now for 24h hours and given birth and my brain was mushy. My brain remained mushy for the next week, so I'll do my best to remember things. Remembering now, even a month afterwards, is still painful and yet it feels like all this happened light-years ago, in another lifetime.

We were greeted by a nurse who told us that we had a parent room (double bed, ensuite, meals 3 times a day for both parents) available for Daddy, but I wasn't discharged from Maternity yet, so I would have to sleep upstairs until the midwives checked and discharged me the next day. I didn't even know there was such a thing as parent rooms in the Neonatal ward, but then again, I'd never been in the Neonatal ward. Or dreamed of it.

While we talked to the nurse and she showed us around the floor - where you'd be, the family lounges with tea, coffee and toast, the milk bar where I'd stored my expressed milk, the reception and that scary corridor where they keep the spaceships and other scary equipment for tiny babies, you arrived in your own spaceship and went into Room 1.
Room 1 of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would be your home for the next 5 days.

You were X-rayed and once again checked by (pretty and young looking) doctor Claire the pediatrician, who had a green mini-top hat fascinator and green stripes in her dark blonde hair. It was Christmas Day and everybody working was dress up in pretty hair acessories, angel wings and all sorts of fun stuff.

Doctor Claire then proceeded to explain the diagnosis, drawing a picture and everything: you were born with Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF) and Oesophageal Atresia (OA). Basically it's a mal-formation of the oesophagus and trachea that makes you unable to swallow food and breathe properly. It's important that it's repaired as soon as possible so you can grow and be happy. It's rare but not that uncommon, happening in 1 every 3500 babies (click here for more info).

You're one in a million baby =)

We woke up a few hours later. At 10.30am we met with the surgeon of the Pediatric team and he was amazing in reassuring us, first and foremost, that this problem was not our fault. There was nothing we could (ou shouldn't) have done to prevent or avoid it or even detect it sooner, as its not seen in a pregnancy scan.

Even so baby, I have a feeling I'll be apologizing for years and years to come.

We asked questions, signed forms and consents and at 12h30 - 24hours after being born - you went into theatre for surgery.

And right now you're waking up for your morning tea, so I'll wrap it up and once again promise to continue soon.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Hey Baby! Nice to finally meet you =)

Hey baby!

You're here!

At the moment, you are sleeping in you pretty bassinet, looking cute as button and threatening to wake up at any minute. Please don't, as I've been trying very hard to write this post for a few weeks now and every time, you wake up!

So...wanna know how we've come to this amazing predicament of you being here with us, 4 weeks and 1 day old?

Last time I posted, I was around 37 weeks pregnant. After that photoshoot at the park, a lot has happened: Grandma and Grandpa arrived from Brazil. You auntie Sandra and cousin Julio also arrived, you Daddy took some days off work to relax and we all (and when I say all, please remember how many people were thinking of us in Brazil and New Zealand. It was like waiting for the Second Coming. And in the end, it almost was.) were counting down the hours to see you. We shopped, we cooked, we ate all sorts of yummy things, we planned for Christmas.

Christmas Eve, December 24th 2013, morning came and I started feeling some pain at 2.30am. I will spare you the gory and minute details of labor, let's stick to the short-story version.

I labored at home, making a beautiful trifle (never tried it though, it looked delicious.) and decorating cupcakes for the Christmas Party. Daddy woke up and went to work at 5am. Everybody at home woke up too and hang around with me while I had contractions. Daddy came back home at 9.30am, around 10.30am we finally went to hospital (This song was playing in the car when we drove and I'll never forget it because it also played in other relevant car rides in this story) and met Hannah at the door. In her words, I was laughing and smiling when I came through the door and she tought your birth would take forever and a day.

Waters broke, birthing pool. You came out at 12.30pm. Yes, around 1h30 after I walked in laughing. Disney-style, that's how we do it baby!

Welcome baby Oliver =)

 I was so shocked to actually having created a human being that I didn't even cry. I should have, because we were so so happy to finally meet you, and scared to bits too.

And that is the point when this story takes a weird turn, one that nobody suspected or expected.

You were born very mucousy, breathing heavily and wet like a 80-year-old with a bad cold. The midwives at the Maternity centre tried to aspirate your throat, but found that the tube wouldn't go further down. You breastfed for a little bit but that only made it worse. They put a monitoring thing on your wrist to keep checking your breathing and heart rate.

While phone calls were made to Chch, family came, Daddy left to spread the news at our Christmas party, food was consumed, flowers received, pictures were taken and joy was felt all around. You are so cute, with a crease in the right eyebrow and a dimple in your bum and smell of newborn. We fell in love and became mum, dad, grandma, grandpa. We became family right there.

At around 9pm, the midwives became concerned about your breathing and that's the moment right there when it all became this surreal tale: "We want to send baby Oliver and you to the hospital to have that checked out. The ambulance will be here to pick him up in a couple of hours."

Daddy rushed back from the party, everybody went home to pray, we cuddled and waited and worried at the Maternity centre. St. Johns ambulance arrived with a pediatrician and a nurse from the hospital. They worked on you, took blood, aspirated, measured, pricked, stuck, injected, examinated, all that to have you safely transported into town inside an incubator that looked like a spaceship ready to eat you up.

In the meantime, I cried, Daddy cried, midwives and nurses were the kindest people on Earth trying to console us and explain everything that was happening. All I can remember is you looking so tiny, so small with wires and tubes inside that horrible contraption. I would've put my own heart in that incubator instead of you then.

Your first car ride was in an ambulance to Christchurch Womens Hospital. Daddy and I followed in a sleepless daze and that song played again as we got in the car. 

Ok, I have to stop now, because this post is already a mile long. I'll write the rest as soon as possible, promise!