Welcome to the world Tobias Johannes Murray-Palm

Tobias Johannes Murray-Palm
Son of Dirk and Esther Murray-Palm
Born on the 18th of October 2010
At the Whittington Hospital
Weighing 7lb

“I’d never wanted children before, but one morning, sobbing into my toast, I confessed ‘I wahahaaant a baaaaybeeee!’ Dirk said, ‘of course you do, we love each other, of course we want a baby’. I was amazed that he was so calm – it was turning my world upside down.”

Both psychologists, Dirk and Esther had met at a New Year’s Eve party. “It was a bit of a set up, without either of us knowing we were being set up. Dirk asked me to marry him eighteen days later, and I told him to ask me again when he was sober!”

Esther was thrilled to discover that she was expecting a son, but stunned that it had happened so quickly. “I thought that at my age it would take ages – but it happened the first month we tried.” Dirk, who has twin sons from a previous relationship, was less surprised. “He said that with his track record he didn’t expect anything else!”

Despite having SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction, which causes pain in the pubic area and groin), Esther managed to enjoy her pregnancy. “It was better than I expected – I really liked watching my body change shape and feeling my baby move. The SPD was hard, but I had lots of support from the Whittington and through my antenatal yoga class.”

At 38 weeks, Esther had rising blood pressure and protein in her urine, which together indicated that she was at risk of pre-eclampsia. Her doctors took the decision to induce, but, after five days of trying, the medical inductions failed to bring on established labour and she had to be taken into theatre for a caesarean. “There was great camaraderie on the ward, although I was so jealous of the women I could hear groaning through their contractions, when I was making no progress. The induction process just wouldn’t work. It was a relief to finally get Toby born, even if he did have to come out through the sunroof!”

“Dirk cut the cord. He used to be a nurse, so nothing about any of the medical procedures floored him – he was totally calm all the time, which really helped.”

In the recovery room, Esther was able to bond with her new son. “It was a really happy time – I was feeling no pain, Toby had been born at last, and the midwives who had been involved in the many days of trying came to find me and congratulate us – it meant the world to me that they took the time to do that.”

“I thought Toby was the most beautiful thing in the world – and clearly a genius, as he latched on to my breast straight away. We had loads of skin to skin contact, it was bliss. Looking back at the photos I sent out at the time, they were so inappropriate for work colleagues – because I really wasn’t dressed at all! But I was so happy, I thought it was a great idea.”

“Coming home after a week in hospital was a bit nerve wracking, I felt very strange and I was enormously tired. The first night we tried to put Toby in his cot and he looked ridiculous – he was so tiny, and we had no moses basket, so he ended up sleeping his first night in a drawer that we pulled out from under the bed! It was about the same size as the crib in the hospital so we thought it would do.”

The first few days were not exactly plain sailing for the new family. “My milk came in a bit late, and my blood pressure didn’t go down. Toby lost twelve percent of his body weight and I wasn’t making a good recovery, so we were both readmitted to hospital just two days after we’d come home. That was a bit of a blow and we were there for a further five days, though Toby got better much more quickly than I did. It was really hard on Dirk, who was spending the days in the hospital with us, but nights alone in the flat.”

Happily, Esther received a lot of support which helped her to establish breastfeeding, both in hospital and at local breastfeeding clinics, and things gradually got easier for everyone. “Motherhood is so much better than I ever imagined.” Says Esther. “I didn’t realise what a joyful experience it would be, and how much I would be capable of loving my son. Dirk is a brilliant papa, and we are so enjoying getting to know Toby – he’s such a character and we have lots of laughs.”

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