I think most guys my age have a similar thought when it comes to having kids – it’d be nice to be a dad one day, but whatever we can do to put it off until later, we’ll do it! I was the same when Elissa told me she wanted to have a baby earlier this year. However, this time I couldn’t think of a valid reason to wait any longer. As they say, there’s never a good time to have kids…

      I was a late child, born to a 38 year old mum and 45 year old dad. I’m an only child, and I remember growing up that both my parents lied to me about their age! I only found out my dad’s real age when I was 16, and I was heart broken! In my mind, old age equaled closer to the end, so finding out my mum and dad were 15 years older than I’d thought was devastating for me! 🙁

      Of course, the age didn’t make any difference. My mum still looks a good 20 years younger than she is, and is much healthier than other ladies her age. My dad sadly passed away to prostate cancer in 2005 on his 70th birthday. Growing up, I never really did anything physical with him (aside from the odd game of golf), which could have been due to his being much older than my friends’ dads. I didn’t feel like I was missing out, but in retrospect, I’m sure he would have wished he had had a younger body to keep up with me back then. So, I decided that whilst it’s great to be young, free and DINKY, it would also be great to be a young(isn) dad too! Hence our decision in December 2013 to try for a baby.

      Fast forward a few days and some super-potent swimmers later… Elissa’s pregnant!!

      With ’40 Weeks’, I wanted to keep a visual diary of Elissa during the pregnancy. I also realised that I’d taken hardly any photos of her since we’d been together, so thought it was a good chance to practice – she’s a harsh critic, and doesn’t much like a camera pointed at her, so I was in for a challenge.

      As I look back over the photos, I realise that aside from her morning sickness at the start, there wasn’t actually much change in her, aside from the physical aspects of course. Elissa worked, exercised, cleaned, cooked… did everything she normally does all the way up until her labour started, and didn’t complain once. Even during the 46 hour labour, she didn’t complain, despite having only a couple of hours of sleep and enduring the most pain I’ve seen anyone put through. I’m sure she’s not the only mother out there who handled their pregnancy this well, but to me, I saw her in a totally new light, and it really moved me.

      This post is dedicated to Elissa and our new son Harry. Here’s to many happy years together as a family.

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      Elissa & Mark, January 2014.
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      16 January 2014 – Red Leaf Pool in Sydney. The day after Elissa found out she was pregnant.
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      Dating scans. Baby was only a bean at this stage.
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      From around 7 weeks, Elissa started getting morning sickness. Actually, ‘morning’ is an understatement – the nausea lasted all day long, meaning the only thing she could stomach were crackers with Vegemite…
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      2 weeks on and the morning sickness was still there. Poor Elissa! I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you’re about to throw up 24/7, without actually throwing up. What a cruel start to her pregnancy voyage 🙁
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      We still ventured out during summer despite Elissa’s nausea. Before she was pregnant, she’d be doing laps in the water somewhere, but here in the Mahon pool in Maroubra, she was struggling to do anything.
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      Filling in the hospital forms…
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      Keeping her nausea at bay with fruit and simple foods.
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      3 months – time for the first trimester ultrasound!
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      These ultrasound machines are pretty amazing. Amongst other things, the nurse is able to measure parts of the baby and let us listen to its heartbeat. This is the first and only time you can see the whole of the baby’s body on the screen at once.
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      In March the bump was starting to show. The morning sickness had gone, so we went to the Alfred Park pool in Redfern to do some laps.
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      Little did she know but her ‘thin’ back would be advantageous for a quick epidural further down the road!
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      Back at her family home in Murwillumbah. Time to get a bigger bikini!
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      The Natural Bridge at Numinbah. Motion sickness mixed with morning sickness  🙁
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      20 week scan – this was right after we found out that we were going to have a boy! Elissa’s texting her mum the news.
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      Elissa with her younger sister Eleanor. These two are super close. Like, ‘speak to each other every day on the phone twice’, close! They have weird hobbies like doing crosswords or jigsaws together…
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      This was our first and last effort at a ‘pregnancy shoot’. Elissa doesn’t like posed stuff and neither do I. We were actually having an argument by this stage as I was finding it hard to take good photos of her! She’s my harshest critic…
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      This Louvre-like greenhouse is in the Sydney Botanic Gardens.
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      Yeah she’s had enough by this stage…!
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      The bane of the pregnant girl about town – what to wear every day?!

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      This was shot on a 1970s medium format film camera in our back laneway.
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      Another shot on medium format film.
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      Did I mention Elissa and her sister were close?
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      Dad, mum and Elissa.

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      By this stage the morning sickness was gone so she was back exercising, whether going on 1 hour+ walks to work or doing a strange yoga/pilates/ballet hybrid called Xtend Barre.
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      6 months pregnant.

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      Prenatal classes – Baby wrapping 101.
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      We’re determined to use non-disposable nappies. Ask us in about a year whether we stuck to our goal!
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      Ultrasound number 3 – it’s still a boy 😉

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      Fitting of the baby seat in our new car.
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      37 Weeks!
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      H for Harry 🙂
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      9 days to go!!
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      And so begins labour… 20 September 2014. Lots of pacing around the room…
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      Aunty Elle can’t wait to have him out!
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      By Saturday morning, 12 hours since her contractions started, Elissa was pretty uncomfortable to say the least. However, the contractions weren’t long enough or frequent enough to warrant going to hospital yet.
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      Elissa’s pretty good with pain – she never complains, so when she does, I know it really hurts. The worst was still yet to come of course though…
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      Sunday morning and poor Elissa hadn’t slept for almost 40 hours. Her contractions were every 3-4 minutes by this stage, meaning that even if she could nod off, the pain would wake her up each time.
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      Elissa’s mum Kate had had 4 children of her own by the time she was Elissa’s age! With all that experience, she knew, as do all other mothers no doubt, that there wasn’t any need for concern no matter how much pain her daughter was in.
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      Sometimes a loving mother’s support is all you need to get you through anything.
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      Sunday 12pm and we’d finally been allowed to go to hospital. Here they hooked Elissa up to a machine that showed the baby’s heart rate and contraction strength.

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      The ‘Dance of Pain’ – there wasn’t much I could help with at this stage. All I could do was offer myself as something to grip during her contractions, and keep feeding her with water. Holding someone in so much pain like this reminded me of my dad’s final days. Thinking of this, a beautiful irony – the end of one life and the start of another.
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      By this stage Elissa had been in labour for 45 hours, awake for pretty much the entire time. She was at the end of her tether, physically exhausted, so the midwife suggested some morphine.
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      I’d never seen anyone clench both their fists and their feet in pain before!! The morphine had clearly done nothing helpful…
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      Finally, the anaesthetist administered a drip and an epidural. The end was in sight…
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      The final moments before Harry was born were quite surreal. Elissa’s mum, dad, sister and I were all in the room with her, eating a tray of food that had just been brought in. Elissa wasn’t in pain any more, so we weren’t really paying her too much attention. The midwife casually told her, you can start pushing if you want, and before we could finish our mouthfuls, the baby was crowning! Not the best post-dinner entertainment I have to say, but 20 minutes later, we had a new person in the room…

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      Welcome to the world, Harry.
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