This is a bit overdue, but I want to get it written down ASAP while the memories are still fresh. Our daughter was due to be born January 10th, 2014, but of course she arrived a week early.
New Year’s Day was turning out to be like any other day. We went for a nice walk / bike ride in Washington Park, went home, the kids had naps, etc. I was actually a bit trigger-happy already with my camera because I had just acquired a new lens the day before and was excited to try it out. That night at about 8:30pm, Dawn’s water broke while she was doing some laundry. Of course, we were still nine days before the due date, so this was a bit of a surprise. Needless to say, there were very few signs of actual labor for quite some time. We went to bed, slept peacefully, and got up the next morning like any other day. That was a bit depressing – we were excited to meet our little girl and not much was happening.
I went to work for a half-day, then watched the boys for the other half while Dawn went out walking in the pouring rain with her mom in order to try to get things moving. Dawn had been in contact with her midwife, who said this slow progression was not unusual, and that often times, 24 hours is the magic point when things start to kick into gear. Sure enough, right at about 6:30pm, contractions came on with a vengeance. I was in the middle of building some legos with Liam, but we decided it was time to pack up the boys and take them over to their grandparents’ house. We snapped a few pictures with them before leaving.
Our midwife came over, and things began to progress, though more slowly than we would have hoped for. We watched an old Sandra Bullock movie while laboring – I’m sure I’ll never think of her the same way again. Contractions were consistent and painful, so we tried to get Dawn into relaxation mode and give her some mental distractions. We even played and sang some songs on ukulele in between.
This labor was a bit harder than with Levi, though not nearly as hard as Liam, our firstborn. It didn’t take Dawn too long to push her out, though there was a bit of a scare at the end because her shoulders were stuck. The final moments are always the scariest for me. Will the baby breathe on her own? Will she come out okay? Lots of unknowns. Our little girl was born at 2:09am, January 3rd. We named her Lyla, partly because both of us thought it was a pretty name even before we had any kids, partly because it starts with an “L,” not that we set out to have all “L” names in the beginning, but hey, might as well go with it, and partly because it is the female variant of Lyle, which is English for “From the Isle.” That was fitting, because both Dawn and I grew up on islands that have a lot of significance for us – Fidalgo Island for Dawn, and now Lyla as well; and Revillagigedo Island (Ketchikan, AK) for myself. Lyla came out weighing 9 lbs, 6 oz. Right in between Liam and Levi, who weighed 8 lbs, 15 oz, and 10 lbs, 6 oz respectively (yep, we have big babies. It runs in the family).
I feel incredibly blessed to have a daughter. I love my two boys with all my heart, and while no gender is better than the other, it just feels different for a dad to have a little girl. She has already worked her way into my heart, and at 6.5 weeks old, every day she smiles a little more, her eyes are getting brighter and her features becoming more and more defined. It is an awesome responsibility, and I pray that God would grant me the grace to be the kind of Father who pursues his kids, just like our heavenly Father pursues us. I hope to be patient, to love unconditionally, and never simply take the back seat to parenting. We are extremely blessed, though every day is a struggle, and oftentimes we fail to hold it together. That said, there is a part of me that feels more whole – like I am now more me, even though I didn’t know what I was missing before. I have my beautiful wife, my amazing boys, and now Daddy’s little princess… better enjoy this period, because when the dating years begin… well, I’d better sign off for now and save that for another post.
Photo tip: It’s hard to get good indoor photos due to the low light. If you want to have nice, sharp indoor photos with natural looking light, get yourself an external flash unit and point that thing at the ceiling (if you have white ceilings). Mess around with angles as well. For most of these pictures I set the flash to half power, and set my camera to manual mode, Aperture: f5.6, Shutter Speed: 125, ISO: 250… or close to these settings. I used the same technique for the “studio” shots below (scroll down a couple posts).