Introducing Janelle Helena Rodriguez
After making an endless number of phone calls to friends and family late last night, it became clear that the question everyone was keen to ask was not, 'So you're okay, Rafael, after all the exhaustion and trauma you experienced with the birth of your first child?' No, it was, 'So when do we get to see pictures?' So I present to you this photo essay to introduce you to Janelle Helena. The story of her birth can be found in the raptuous prose of the previous post.
As you can see from the first pic, Andrea gave birth in one of the birthing pool suites at Jessops. I don't know if being in the warm water made the whole experience 'easier' (I use this term advisedly in reference to labour) or less painful, but it was something Andrea was really keen to do. As they only let you do this if you've had a completely normal pregnancy and no real complications, I was particularly glad she was able to do this. Here, then, is one of the first pictures ever taken of Janelle (without the aid of the Royal Navy's sonar equipment). Mama and baby are well, despite the impression to the contrary.
Shortly after Janelle was born I got to cut her umbilical cord and she was given to me so that I could have some skin-to-skin contact. This, then, is my first time holding my daughter. They sorted Andrea out and she got to come lay with us. Under the bundle of towels in my arm is my baby girl. What you can't see from this angle is that, under the towels, my lovely girl is stealthily coating me with a layer or two of meconium.
As a follow-up to the previous photo, this is Janelle's first bath, occasioned by (you may have guessed) the fact that she covered me with her lovely baby-poo. She clearly isn't happy as Nicola, the midwifery student who observed our birth, washes her off in preparation for her first feed. What you can't see is that I'm in the bathroom pulling the exact same face as I, too, removing the offending substance off my person.
I had to get a special dispensation in order to make this photo available to you. After her bath Janelle was promptly introduced to the labour ward's cafeteria. Andrea is still enjoying the effects of her body's endorphines, but she's handling the baby with all the instincts of a mother (well, a good mother, anyway). I learned through all of this that babies come in all different shades of colour. Not different babies come in different shades; our baby girl is herself exhibiting a number of different colours, including pink, red, and in her hands a lovely, spring-time shade of purple.
So here we're starting to get past the traumatic first moments of life-after-birth, and you can see mama and baby holding each other close after what has been a supremely difficult morning. Andrea is still a bit dopey from being in theatre to undo the damage Janelle caused. Aren't these two of the most gorgeous women in all the world? If you haven't already sussed it out yet, I am the luckiest man alive.
Okay, now we're getting to the pictures everyone wanted to see. Here Janelle is happily playing with papa. No, I haven't yet taught her to pull my finger, but there is plenty of time for the classic gags still to come. I'm clearly quite chuffed with what Andrea and I have made together. You should also know that I dressed Janelle in this very cute outfit. If you look carefully you can just see my spine bending painfully as I get myself hopelessly wrapped around my baby girl's little finger. I'm going to be hopeless when it comes to refusing anything my daughter asks for. I know she's only a couple of hours old at this point, but is that a smile I see on her face?
Here's the money shot: a close-up of my little girl playing with her papa. I don't deserve this, but for some reason I have been blessed more than most. I am nearly completely subdued into submission to Janelle's will at this point, and any discipline Andrea wants doing in the future is going to have to either be taken care of by herself or out-sourced to someone else. (Astute observers will notice that I look particularly good for having spent over twenty-four hours awake waiting for Janelle to be born. Alas, these last three photos were taken after I nipped home for a four-hour nap, a bath, and a change of clothes.)
The last photo . . . for now. I'll be sure to put more online for you very soon, but I invite your comments and well-wishes, which I promise to pass on to Andrea in a timely fashion. This photo, though, is particularly prophetic, I would imagine. Here we see a loving, doting father trying to show his affection for his eldest daughter, but she's having none of it. In truth, she's actually pulling this face because of her mother, who keeps snapping photos and setting the bright flash off in her face. But it doesn't matter. I know that, fifteen years from now, when Janelle pulls up on my driveway and gets off some punk kid's motorcycle, this is the look she'll give me everytime I try to kiss her. All the more reason for me to get them in now while I can, before she's big enough to resist!