I am so happy to be your Dad!
Your arrival into the world was one of great speed and joy.
When I say speed, I mean it. This is the story of your birthday.
Your sneaky Mom had some contractions in the very early morning of July 3 but didn't make a fuss to wake me up and bother telling me. Like I cared, right? Your Mom was convinced the doctors had your due date wrong, insisting it was supposed to be June 30, not July 7. By her calendar, you were already a few days late. By 9 a.m., we were all awake and decided that the contractions were close and strong enough to go to the hospital. Your sister stayed at the house with Grammie and Popa, who had arrived by car like the Indianians they are a few days earlier.
Except we didn't go to the hospital like we did with your sister. We chose to have a different experience at the St. Joseph midwifery birthing center -- and the experience couldn't have been more different. The midwifery center is new since Eliza was born, so a new option for us. It provided some trade-offs. On the plus side, you get a modern, hotel suite-style room for labor, delivery and postpartum, including a great big bath for water labor. They offer nitrous oxide for pain, a doula onsite, and you also get to go home (and are forced) within 12 hours after delivery. On the not-so-plus side, there's no epidural option, and if delivery goes the wrong way, you're a few minutes by cart to the doctors across the street.
When we arrived at the midwifery center, we got checked in and you had some stress tests. We weren't ready for go-time yet, so the midwife on staff advised us to go for a walk for an hour and come back. Your Mom had some good contractions, leaning over some outdoor stairs on I Street that we can drive by anytime you ask. She's a big fan of leaning over and forming a right angle through contractions. We went back into the midwifery center after that hour, and while your Mom had dilated more, we still weren't in active labor. The time was about 10:45 a.m.
There will be some debate in the history starting about now. Your Mom has a communication style based upon the word "funny" and "think." She uses them in a polysemic fashion to explain many unrelated things. Anything is "funny" to your Mom. Not "ha ha" funny, but as in strange, interesting, entertaining, etc. Funny is many things but never "serious." Your Mom also "thinks" many things, and usually "thinks" means "really want" or "should happen."
We were told to go for a walk again. That wasn't "funny" direction to your Mom and she chose to stay put. She was still having big contractions, so she said things like, "I think I might want an epidural" and "What if I went to the hospital?" Your Mom also uses questions as statements. Many people do. Take note of that. Because she said these things in such a roundabout way, they didn't happen. To that lesson, if you want something, say it directly. Even when people speak the same language, it doesn't mean they understand your version of it. Your Mom will claim that the midwives forced her to stay put, but I more think that we didn't communicate or really know what we wanted to do in the moment.
Your Mom's contractions became suddenly stronger, and the midwives started prepping our birthing suite. Your Mom's water broke in the room at about 11:15 a.m., and I think she was happy to prove to the midwives we didn't need another damn walk. They asked her if she wanted to labor in the bath and she agreed. We had taken an online course for the water birth, and it's a good thing we did because you were born in that bathwater a little more than an hour later at 12:24 p.m.
That's also why that little history on your Mom asking about an epidural didn't matter. You came too fast for her to get one anyway. And without an epidural your Mom performed a miracle getting your 9 pound, 11 ounce body out of hers.
I think the bath helped a lot with the late contractions and active pushing that took your Mom no more than 20 minutes. She was in the back corner of the tub with feet up on the opposite end, and we had two midwives helping with delivery. I leaned over to hold your Mom's hand from one side of the tub. As you were a considerably large little guy, your shoulders got stuck after your head was born. That was scary because, hello, you were underwater. The talented midwives quickly reacted, turning your Mom over onto her hands and knees and pulling you out from behind out of the water. The midwives quickly cut the cord and moved you over to the table to help you start breathing.
That was tough for me to watch. You were really limp. Your sister had a tough entry into the world, too. After a considerably long labor she was purple but had a good cry. You were nearly white, though it was hard to tell how much of that was vernix. Moreover it just took you more time to cry -- about a minute. You were trying but it just wasn't happening. They roughed you up some more, and we finally heard that cry we needed. I hugged the nurses immediately after hearing that first little noise. They rushed me to take off my shirt so you and I could have skin-to-skin time while your Mom was getting out of the tub and on the bed. I was so excited to get to hold you first! The doula took a first photo of us that I'll forever cherish.
I'm sure you'll look at that photo in the future and think I look young, excited and awfully pale for that Italian crest tattoo. All true.
Once your Mom was settled she got more skin-to-skin time with you. Your color came along nicely over that first hour and we examined all of your perfection.
The story goes that when I was born, my extended family gathered around the viewing room to get a glimpse of me. Back in the 80s, hospitals were a little more relaxed and way less secure. They had these viewing rooms where they'd put all the newborns on display to give parents a break and distract visitors. My Nonno Enzo, a proud Italian immigrant, identified me and said in a thick Italian accent in front of a large group of Seattleites, "That's a Mottola. Look at the size of those balls!"
Well, like father like son.
Nonno also said, "That's a light one." Though you're a quarter Italian, you had thick, dark hair -- thanks to your Mom. Your name suits you well. We liked the sound of Matteo, not named after anyone, and I like the rich alliteration with our last name. You already sound famous. Your middle name, Paolo, is of course a nod to me and your Nonno Paolo.
Our first visitors were Eliza, Grammie and Popa. Eliza peeked around the corner into the room, honed in on you and your Mom and ran over at toddler speed, saying "baby wow" over and over. One emotion in the whole experience I didn't expect was the overwhelming feeling of realizing that we creating siblings. Your Mom and I created your relationship. What a trip.
This experience of having another child has been so wonderfully different. As a new parent with Eliza, every day was an entertaining surprise. With you, we can anticipate what's next and look forward to it. I feel more appreciative of every moment we have, knowing how quickly it will come and go and how much I'll miss it.
I've been home a lot of the past month due to paternity leave at work and a week of me being sick. It's been so fun to watch you grow and adapt to the world. You've spent most of that time in the cycle of sleeping, nursing, farting/belching, making dirty diapers and going back to sleep. My favorite moments right now are in the evenings, holding you while you sleep on my chest. You still fit between my chin and waist, and I know that won't last much longer. We think you're 15 pounds already!
What's also different is that you're a little dude. I've been there and can relate to how the world is set up for you, what to embrace and what to change. It's an awesome reminder of all the life I've lived and all the life ahead of you. I'm excited for our relationship and my role to help you become the wonderful person that I know you will be.
Love always, Dad