Something extraordinary happened last week. Something quite wonderful. My son, Elliot Nixon Ward, was born.
Weighing 9lbs and 55cm in length from top to toe, Elliot is the most precious, miraculous thing to ever happen to my wife and I. We are smitten by him and I am in awe of them both. In awe of what they went through to get to this point and bursting with pride and love for my growing family.
I sit in Elliot's nursery feeding him. One tiny, miniature hand clutches at my shirt while the other reaches for the bottle, minuscule fingers gently touching its plastic side, almost guiding the bottle to his sucking mouth. Two plump white legs kick out. Perfectly-formed feet start to twitch, the newborn skin slightly chapped on their soles. Teeny, tiny toes curl one by one revealing small nail beds on each toe that have now turned from white to a rosy pink.
|Elliot Nixon Ward, born 19 November 2012|
He has a soft blond fuzz covering the tops of his chubby arms and along his fleshy shoulders. A light dusting of fair hair coats the back and sides of his fragile head and his skin smells of brand new baby - I want to inhale his newborn fragrance over and over.
As he finishes feeding from the bottle, he smacks his lips together in satisfaction and leans back, arms stretching out above his head. In a state of milk drunkenness, he closes his eyes, a dead weight in my arms. His eyes briefly open and he looks straight into my own as if to say "I'm done. Thanks, Dad."
This is Elliot, our son. Elliot, who arrived in this world at 6.33am on the 19th of November. Elliot, our miracle boy. For Elliot is an IVF baby and a truly wondrous miracle of the modern world.
Unable to conceive for reasons unknown, we watched him grow from a minute embryo to a robust and thriving baby boy. We waited nervously and impatiently, hoping and praying he would make it beyond those early weeks to become the wee man we cradle in our arms today.
Our love for him is all the stronger because we wanted him so very much. For two people who advocate travelling and exploring the world, these passions suddenly caught up with us. Our frequent moves delayed our decision to start a family and age overcame us so we went down the IVF route. Looking upon Elliot's face as he sleeps, I'm filled with unbridled joy. Regardless of the means and the method, we did it. We are finally parents. Elliot's parents.
His arrival on Monday was, in itself, something of a miracle.
With an umbilical cord wrapped tightly twice around his neck and a heart rate plunging with every contraction, the call was made to get him out fast. After labouring for many hours with an epidural to boot, Sarah was exhausted and distressed, but we knew what had to follow to ensure the health and safety of mother and child. It was a no-brainer.
After a tense emergency c-section, Elliot was delivered safely into his mother's arms. There was an immense sense of relief in the operating room - everyone was okay and the right course of action had been taken. We will be forever grateful to the English midwife that queried a chart that at first looked quite ordinary and the Australian obstetrician that made the immediate decision to operate. I have no doubt in my mind that the actions of these two people saved Elliot's life.
A few days later, I came home from visiting mum and bub in the hospital and sat on the floor with Milo, my other 'furry' son. As if sensing my unease, he lay his head down on my legs and let me stroke the soft fur under his neck and gently play with his ears. The events and worry of the past two days smashed into me like a tidal wave and I broke down where I sat, overcome by what I'd seen my brave wife go through yet ecstatic at the birth of my son.
This morning, I had a cuddle with Elliot in his nursery. I scrutinised his features and saw myself, a mini-Russell, staring right back at me. Pursed lips, ears with a tiny crease at the top, fair hair and a pair of long, lanky legs. Then he smiled and it changed. I saw my wife - her pale and unblemished skin, piercing blue eyes, strawberry red cheeks and, thankfully, her nose, not mine.
On the wall of the nursery hangs a picture that reads "Let your little light shine". This is your time now, Elliot. Time for your miraculous little light to shine.
Welcome to the world, little Elliot. World, meet Elliot Nixon Ward. Our own sweet miracle.