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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Callum Uditha Ginige

[reader beware - this one's a long one!]

Waiting for baby

Here's what we got up to the in the week before Callum's birth with my sister and my mum...

We headed to a fabulous New Orleans style cafe, Toulouse Petit and had some amazing gulf fare.

Gumbo with fried chicken

Cajun chicken po-boy

To beanie or not to beanie?

We think....maybe not?

Callum Uditha Ginige

The birth [from dad's point of view!]

5-1-1: the magic numbers that signal the trip to the hospital, and the imminent arrival of the latest member of the Firehouse clan. Contractions for an hour, five minutes apart, lasting for a minute each, and of such an intensity that you can't talk or walk through them - these were the signs we were anxiously awaiting. Since Pabs' arrival in Seattle, those contractions had been increasing in frequency, duration and intensity - but they never seemed to reach the magic levels that we'd been taught about in our ante-natal classes.

As D-Day approached, the news from the obstetrician wasn't particularly encouraging. There just wasn't enough happening to signal the beginning of active labour, despite all of the contraction activity of the previous few weeks. We left our last obstetrician appointment three days before Australia Day slightly despondent, wondering when the little man was ever going to show up. During a dinner consisting of spicy vade that night, those contractions started to hit a pattern... but we didn't think too much of it at the time, we'd been burnt previously by false alarms. Those contractions just wouldn't let up though - they were even starting to become more painful... but we didn't think too much of it at the time. Time in a bath to try and manage the pain didn't seem to help... but we didn't think too much of it at the time.

Finally, at around 11.30pm that night, we called the hospital - and just to be sure, they recommended that we all come in to see what was going on. Still not thinking much of it at the time, we thought we'd be sent home to rest, and wait for labour to actually begin. So, we loaded our bags into the car and off we went, zooming down the highway. All very calm, all very controlled - and not at all like Hollywood!

Once we arrived at the hospital, we entered triage, to see what was actually happening. First up, we were attended to by a nurse, who we'll call Lucy. Lucy had the warmth of an ice cube, and the personality to match. Her initial determination was that our OB had been a bit generous with his dilation estimate, and that quite frankly, there was much too much smiling going on for the contractions to be painful (because she's the expert of course...), and in her estimation, "if you weren't in labour a few hours ago, then walking around the hospital floor for an hour isn't going to change anything". Thankfully she couldn't discharge us, so in bumbled a hospitalist (???), who as a qualified OB was in a slightly better position to make judgments about these things. His analysis was that Chathuri was 4cm dilated (more generous than even her OB), and that it was time to get things moving.

At this point, we started to believe that maybe something was going to happen, and soon...

At this point, an angel-nurse in the form of Jeannette walked in, to take us to the labour room. Over the next 7 hours, during the worst of the labour, she was an absolute rock, guiding Chathuri through the entire process, and making things as comfortable for her as she could. She was never pushy or bossy, and was at pains to ensure that all of our wishes and requirements were met without question. I can't speak highly enough of her professionalism, warmth and compassion throughout the time she was with us - thankfully, the standard she set was met by all subsequent nurses who were assigned to look after us.

With labour well underway, and the epidural administered around 5am, after three hours of increasingly painful contractions, the diagnosis was that at 6cm dilated, progress was expected at 1cm/hour, with 1-3 hours of pushing to get bub out at that point. That took us to 10am, with a realistic arrival time of 11.30am, so we took the decision to take Pabs and soon-to-become aththamma (grandma) home so they could get some rest. A quick trip home to drop them off, and I was back at the hospital to rest for a few hours before the main event really kicked in...

... but of course, things don't go as plan, and it was barely 90 minutes after returning to the hospital that Jeanette suggested that given that Chathuri was at full dilation, it might be time to call Pabs and tell them to hurry on back to the hospital ASAP! So much for 11am! Lots of things started to happen at once - new nurses (the lovely Jeanette had finished her shift) took over, our OB was paged, and the urge to push become uncontrollable. So in the midst of manic pushing, and lots of counting and encouragement, our OB sauntered in, preparing to deliver the baby, with an I-told-you-so smile plastered across his face (he had declared at our last scheduled appointment that he didn't think that we'd make it to the next appointment, and we'd been slightly sceptical at that point). Pabs and aththamma arrived, and then things happened even quicker - an announcement of "there's the head", and suddenly, Callum Uditha Ginige just slid out, a jumble of arms, legs and shoulders, looking just a tiny bit confused. 8.09am on January 24, 2013, an unusually sunny day for a Seattle winter, and our lives had just changed forever, in the most glorious way imaginable. 

Callum's very first birth announcement!

Being poked and prodded just after birth
Proud Appachchi a few hours after birth
After he popped out, we just stood/lay there, in somewhat dumbstruck amazement, as we started to wrap our heads around this little bundle of a man who was our son. It was at that point that decided to go with his first-choice name (more on that below), and we started to bond with our insanely cute (if slightly pale) baby boy. Some poking and prodding later by the nurses to make sure everything was ok, and some immortal measurements (7lb 2.2oz, 20 inches, damn the imperial system), and we made our way to the mother-baby rooms for our first day and night as a family of three. 

Our first-class care continued all the way through to the end of our hospital stay, with nurses guiding us first-time parents through nappy changes, feeding, swaddling, and all the other things that we had no idea what to do. Food was available from the in-house menu, and we ate like ravenous monkeys, more for the novelty than any real hunger (although Chathuri may have enjoyed consuming as much acidic food as possible without the fear of reflux!). Of course, not knowing what we were doing most of the time, Callum was incredibly restless for his first night at the hospital, and as a result we got very little sleep as we tried to calm and reassure him that things were actually better on the outside. Despite the fact that everyone at the hospital had been more than lovely, and the entire labour process had been a very positive one (I think enjoyable is pushing it a bit too far), the three of us were more than ready to head home and get on with the rest of our lives. A white-knuckled drive home from the hospital with our precious cargo strapped securely into the backseat later, and the couple that had departed 36 hours ago had returned as a family of three.

The first few days

Sometimes Callum likes to wake up his Punchi-amma

Pesh mami was upset that all of Callum's pics had his eyes closed, so we caught this rare moment in time.

Australia Day was Callum's original due date so we celebrated with an Aussie lamb roast courtesy of was amazing!

Callum and his Appachchi spend the mornings cuddled up in bed. It Nuwan's favourite time of day

At 5 days, Callum became a model. We did a newborn photography shoot in Puyallup. In between takes the photographer left Callum in this bucket....we'll post the real pics as soon as they're done. They will be very cute.

life in a bucket's not so bad

Punchi christened her new polaroid camera with a picture of her favourite nephew

The name

There are two questions people ask when they know you’re pregnant “do you know if it’s a girl or a boy?” and “have you got a name?”

Our stock standard answers are usually “yes, a boy” and “we have a short-list”

Truth was, it was a very short list and Callum was always at the top. Now there’s nothing we’ve been hiding, we’re not actually Irish. Nuwan was born in the UK so I guess that counts for something but we simply liked the name. The other appealing thing was that it can have two pronunciations and neither is right and neither can be mangled by the Aussies, Americans and Sri Lankans in his life. In English it’s Callum, like that young bloke of masterchef. If you’re Lankan it can be
We’re broaching new territory here and hopefully Callum can decide if he has a particular preference. Though his very Sri Lankan grandmother (Aththamma) calls him Callum like a true blue Aussie.
He’s also named after another chef (casting out some career vibes) my Uncle (bappi) Uditha. My uncle was a chef at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi when he got sick in his 20s. He was the kind, bright effervescent one in the family that always had a mishchievious streak….they say Pabs takes after him. They never could tell what was wrong with him but he ended up in ICU quite a few times after episodes of muscle numbness and tingling escalated into full blown paralysis. In truth I’d never seen him healthy, he was at home in a wheelchair from my earliest memories. He survived in the wheelchair, with various bouts of seriousness for almost 20 years, finally passing away in 1999, in the end they diagnosed him with ALS. I guess putting a label on it didn’t really make it any easier.
Bappi - Uditha Palipana Wijayaratne

Bappi is the one that first got me interested in cooking, he gave my first cookbook and whenever we travelled to Sri Lanka would send someone out to get new and exotic ingredients in small town Ruwanwella so we could make his recipes. The first thing he taught me to cook was potato and leek soup and to this day I cook it and always add a piece of bacon to give it extra flavor. Back when Pabs and I were younger we would often spend 8 weeks of our summer in Sri Lanka. While our parents visited family and friends we stayed home with Bappi who would skip us 20 rupees to go by snacks at the corner shop or batteries for our game-boys. He sat on the porch in his wheelchair and sarong and would put on a shirt for special guests. Whenever we arrived home from our outings he was waiting, watching the road excited to tell us about what we were going to eat.

I can’t imagine what getting sick would have meant for someone like Bappi who was such a social person and who thrived on adventure. Having said that, it was because he was sick that we formed such a close bond. I imagine healthy bappi would have been a hard man to keep in rural Sri Lanka.

I still have the recipes he gave me, some painstakingly typed out and some in the shaky scrawl he developed as his muscles got weaker. They’re still winners and Ammi still declares in this day of Peter Kuruvita and Pablis, Bappi’s devilled pork beats all! When I teach Callum to cook I think I’ll make sure it’s one of bappi’s recipes we try first.

So anyway..that’s why Callum Uditha Ginige is Callum Uditha Ginige. He will always have his surname to remind him that he’s a Firehouse but hopefully his middle name will help forge his identity too.
A special message from Bappi

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nangi,
    My name is Ruwanthi..I am Vasanthi's older sister and she forwarded me a link to your blog. Amazing.. another foodie in the family :) If you are on twitter look up my husbands feed @chefpolice. We live in Miami, FL and would love to host your beautiful family in South Florida, if you make it down here for a vacation.

    I also quite vividly remember your Bappi. In fact my Dad was quite close to him. It is very touching that you honored your son with his name.

    Much blessings! (would love to hear from you -