Please excuse the slight break in transmission, but I think the arrival of New Zealand's newest nature-nerd might be a good excuse.
As some of you may know, I am, as my blogging mate Moata over at Blog Idle put it, no longer pregnant. Last Tuesday the bloke and I welcomed the arrival of our wee boy, Hunter Manaia Toki, to the world. Hunter was the only name that the Bloke and I could agree on for a boy; we both love the name, but I have been asked if it's a nod to the current groundswell of support for a Predator Free New Zealand! Not intentionally, I can assure you.
Hunter on his way home - leading to the remark from Moata that "there's as much handknitting in the photo as there is human."
The Bloke and I didn't know what sex the baby was going to be, and for me (possibly the most impatient person in the entire world), it was tough not knowing, but boy what a wonderful surprise (and I had taken the advice of a workmate at DOC years ago who had said to me "If I'm going to do all that work in labour, I want a surprise at the end of it").
The Bloke is glad to even up the score, as Hunter has twin big sisters and a big brother, and when the grown-up kids are here, the girls outnumber the boys. Now there is a mini-Bloke to add a bit of balance to the equation.
In a quaint nod to our colonial roots, where we seem to instantly revert to the imperial measurement system, Hunter was 7lb 11oz. I will spare you the birth story, only to say that from now on, I take my hat off to every mother on the planet (especially elephants, who are pregnant for two years and give birth to a baby that weighs the same as six grown men!). I do recall lamenting to my midwife between contractions that "This is bloody hard," to which she replied "It's not called labour for nothing, dear." Nuff said. I'm just glad I'm not an elephant.
In awe of elephants - imagine being pregnant for two years!
Giving birth is, as my sister-in-law put it, "about as primal as you'll ever get". This is true, and it fascinates me that despite all our modern medical support, the birth process is something that (if it's all going well, of course) in the end your body simply takes over and gets on with the task at hand (though I was incredibly grateful for the support from Doctors, midwives and other staff at the time of Hunter's appearance!). I watched "One Born Every Minute" last night with new eyes and much more humility.
So on Friday last week, after our last-minute dash to Christchurch Women's, and a few nights in the care of the amazing staff of the Rangiora Maternity Hospital, the Bloke and I brought wee Hunter home to stay. He's been remarkably good so far (which leads me to believe that he'll be drawing on the walls before I know it!). What is interesting to me is the way that my life is now about being at this tiny primate's beck and call - and to be honest, I don't really mind it (though at 2 o'clock this morning I probably would have given a slightly different perspective).
It has all been a big learning curve for me, I know close to nothing about human babies, and growing up in a nuclear family that moved around like nomads for the first 12 years of my life, I never saw or experienced babies as part of a wider family group. All I have to go on is instinct and my experience with native animals. The Bloke cracked up the other day when Hunter was wriggling like a maniac as I tried to give him a feed, and I remarked that it was like "trying to hold on to a tuatara".
Tuatara-wrangling has set me in good stead for holding on to babies.
Please be assured that I will not be babbling about baby in every In Our Nature blog from now on, regaling you all with endless tales of baby's first smile, attempt to crawl or bowel movement. But he may pop up in the odd story if we take him with us on some of our nature adventures. However, I'm well aware that young Hunter might just turn out to have no interest in creepy crawlies and might instead develop a love of hotted-up cars and heavy metal music!
I wanted to finish this blog with a youtube link to the Toyota ad of 1989 which had John Grenell singing Welcome to My World (do any of you remember that!?), but sadly I can't find it anywhere online. However, the lyrics say it all - so Hunter, welcome to our world... miracles, I guess, still happen now and then.