Oliver William Holmes
Son of Luciana Ricart and Andrew Holmes
Born on the 7th of September 2012
At University College Hospital, weighing 9lb
met Andrew at an international law competition in Washington DC, in 2005. We only spoke to each other a couple of times, but in 2006 we were both back, judging the same competition, and we realized that there was something between us. We had a lovely week together, then reality hit: I was going back to Buenos Aires, and Andrew to Newcastle Upon Tyne – we lived 11,000 kilometres apart.
We stayed in touch by email, but we didn’t manage to see each other again until March the following year. Then, that summer, I came to work in Geneva. I visited Andrew in Newcastle; we met again for a romantic weekend in Prague, and, finally, for a long weekend in London. It was lovely, but I had to go back to Argentina at the end of the summer, and our relationship continued to be very long distance. It wasn’t easy, but we knew from early on that we wanted to be together. We then managed to meet every two to three months, either in Argentina, the UK or Washington, and, together with our daily Skype conversations, this kept our relationship alive.
We were married in Buenos Aires in March 2010. I moved to the UK, and we moved together to London, where we both now work as lawyers.
In January 2012, I was having all the early symptoms of pregnancy. Andrew was out of town that week and, although I was keeping him updated by text, I didn’t want to take the test until he got back. By the time he arrived on the Friday evening I was fairly sure that I was pregnant, but we were very happy to confirm it.
Being pregnant felt incredible. I didn’t have any morning sickness, and I only really felt tired during the third month. The rest of the time I had even more energy than before. The month before Oliver was born was the busiest time of the year at work and I didn’t miss a single thing, despite the partners fearing that I would give birth during an arbitration!
I felt ready for the labour and birth, but I’m not that sure that I prepared enough for the actual baby. I’d read every single book about pregnancy and labour, but I’d left the chapters on newborns for when I started my maternity leave – little did I know that I would only have one day of leave before Oliver decided to make an appearance.
My waters broke at 39 weeks, on the evening of the day that my maternity leave started. A few hours before it happened, I’d told Andrew that I was already bored and Oliver obviously got the message!
I went into hospital to be examined, but, as I wasn’t having contractions and the liquid was clear, I came home again. At 9am the following day I felt that I’d reached the frequency of contractions needed to be admitted to hospital, but when we got to UCH the midwife told Andrew, “only come back when she wants to scratch your eyes out.” At 2pm Andrew felt that his eyes were in danger, so we went back and were finally admitted.
I was in labour for 26 hours, and the last three hours were quite intense. I was taken off gas and air and asked to walk the corridor to bring on the really strong contractions needed to start pushing. I think I almost broke the bones in Andrew’s hand, squeezing with every contraction.
They say that you only have a second child because you forget the pain of labour. I don’t remember it being that terrible, but Andrew has a different recollection. I pushed for about 40 minutes in different positions, and gave birth on all fours. When I told everyone in Argentina about the position in which I gave birth, they were really surprised – even my mother, who is a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist!
Andrew was a wonderful birthing partner, he didn’t get squeamish at all, and he cut the umbilical cord. As soon as Oliver came out, the midwife asked me to lie on my back and put him skin to skin on my chest. I was thrilled to be holding him in my arms, finally, and I couldn’t believe how cute he was. I also remember thinking that he was very slippery, and that I didn’t really know how to hold him.
A few minutes later, Oliver suddenly went pale. The midwife pressed an alarm and took him out of the room. It was very scary. We went from being extremely happy to being very worried. However, after a few more minutes, a consultant paediatrician came in and assured us that Oliver had never stopped breathing, and that they’d run a series of tests on him and everything was normal. They thought that he must have either swallowed some liquid when he was looking for the breast, or suddenly felt cold as he went from being in my womb to being outside.
We spent the first night together as a family in the recovery room. We were asked to spend a second night in hospital, so they could keep an eye on Ollie, and I’m glad we did – because not only were we reassured that everything was alright, but we also got a really good rest on the second night.
It was lovely to come home. Andrew took two weeks of paternity leave and, although there wasn’t a great deal of sleep in those first few days, and there was a lot of checking to make sure Ollie was still breathing, it was wonderful to be together as a new family.
Being a parent is more difficult than I’d thought it would be – I’ve always loved babies, but I’d never spent much time with a newborn. Having to look after one 24/7 was a challenge, and the sleep deprivation was a real shock – especially for Andrew. However, it’s also the most rewarding experience we could imagine, and we feel so blessed to have such a gorgeous little man in our lives.