Stu's page
September 25, 2010
Berlin, Germany









At 3:15am on the 15th of September Ant woke me up to tell me that she was having contractions and could not sleep. In my soporific state I helpfully suggested she continue sleeping; the baby was not due until the 24th and even then he or she would probably be tardy.

At 15:17pm on the 15th of September our daughter, Paula Louise, gave a brief scream and took her first breath. Ant cried. I cried. Paula cried. It was a very touching moment and we were all relieved that the birth had gone smoothly.

After two nights in the hospital, emotional family visits, various tests and learning how to put a nappy on a baby we left the hospital as a family of three.

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Paula Louise Riley

Walking out of the hospital carrying our baby was a thrilling moment - a moment that lasted half an hour. By chance Ant met a friend from her pregnancy yoga course as we were leaving. Her friend cried when she say Anjte with Paula- she was expecting a baby herself in a few weeks. Gathering our bags we walked out the front doors and breathed the fresh autumn air. A pregnant woman sitting alone and serene adjacent to the door offered to take our picture. She looked at our two day old Paula with amazement and told us, with an indescribably soft expression on her face, that her waters had just broke - she was expecting her first baby in a few hours. Time was flowing like honey dripping off a spoon.

At home we relaxed, slept well and then the fun started. Paula inherited a bag of Ant's old clothes that had been stored in Anke and Frank's attic for three decades. Thanks to the fashion of the late seventies Paula started to look like a green, terry towelling ace of clubs. She enjoyed her first bath although the second one ended in tears. Ant's old wheeled bassinet made the perfect day bed and I am thinking of making a remote controlled, adult-sized model for myself to avoid leaving the bed to make breakfast.

It's inevitable that people see a facet of every relative in the face of a newborn. She has my nose, she has Ant's eyes and ears, she looks like Frank, she looks like Jan, she looks like Pops as a baby - she actually looks a lot like our friend Tina's baby...probably because she is also wearing some of her clothes. When she is grumpy she looks like a tiny, wrinkly old man bearing a passing resemblance to the German comic character Loriot. However, if you stretched Paula's ear (as it most certainly will as her head grows) it would make an almost exact replica of Ant's. Then again, if I shaved a sideburn, used a little wrinkle cream and seriously squashed my ear I might have one like Paula's.

After spending three days in the apartment, greeting many friends and family, cooking, cleaning, changing nappies, singing, laughing and by brief forays for food, we finally made it to one of the nearby parks. It was a joy to lay on a rug together, warm our skin in the autumn sun and breath the fresh air.

After experiencing long international flights with infants sitting behind you, it is no surprise that babies can kick with a power disproportionate to their weight. Still, I was not ready for Paula's feistiness after only a couple of days in the world outside the womb. At 10 days of age she had already mastered a number of difficult kung fu kicks.

We are looking forward to see what the next days, months and years bring. Every day is a new adventure.

Of course there was a time before Paula arrived and Ant and I spent it preparing for the apartment, sitting in parks, trying to guess if the baby was a boy or girl, baking and eating delicious cakes and paddling around lakes in a rubber dinghy.

We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary on a rowboat with alcohol-free champagne, Anjte made her first flamenco performance with her dance class and we ate like the Duke and Duchess of Berlin - even if Ant had to go a little easy on the watermelon.

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