Time is slow.

How quickly you forget how welcoming a baby into the world reduces everything down to life's most basic necessities.

Food. Sleep. Love.

There is relief that he is here safely and that he and I are both alive. And utter disbelief at how small babies are.

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The brutal reminder of how long it takes to do small things: go to the toilet or have a shower when you are in pain.

There is a wonder at how this baby fitted in my stomach and at the things the female body can do.

Months of wondering what our baby's face will be like then, in an instant, it is impossible to imagine any other.

There is the shock that "he" is a he. Three children and three times my "mother's intuition" about their gender has been wrong.

It has been three-and-a-half years since I was last in Tauranga Hospital to give birth to our older son. He was a block of butter heavier than the 7 pounds 3 (3.250kg) of utter deliciousness hauled out of me by planned caesarean section - because our third baby's placenta was in the wrong place.

This birth was quite different from the last two (both straight-forward natural births) and I have a much longer recovery ahead after a couple of additional complications.

My husband brings our other children, aged six and three, to the hospital to meet their little brother for the first time.

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They are both in awe, smitten, but become slightly hyperactive after about an hour and need to leave.

During the next few days, the same occurs again.

My husband takes them out to the rooftop garden to expend some energy. Our boy returns with tears in his eyes. I knew instantly he was hurt and I almost begin crying when I see it.

I am hormonal and my heart is soft. It is hard to console him while bedridden.

Our boy explains he "falled over" and, as he clumsily climbs onto my bed for a cuddle, I am amazed at the sheer size of him: his legs, his feet.

Mere days ago, I had a hilarious wee man, full of antics and invisible sword fights as he energetically charged down our hallway at home. In what feels like the blink of an eye, he is a giant man-child.

The "baby blues" are setting in.

I am in love with our new arrival yet he has brought with him a sudden, raw and irrational grief for the two older "babies" I didn't know I'd lost. In a few short days, they have been stolen from me.

Our girl seems 16, our boy, six. Where did they go?

Luckily, I have great friends. When I expressed my emotions on one of the many visits I received in hospital, those good friends reminded me: "Don't worry, he will grow up and annoy you too and you will yell at him and screw him up just as badly as you screwed up the first two."

Thank you, this is all true.

Then I feel teary again for having good, funny friends who bring me love and laughs - and treats.

I watch our girl, the feisty, frustrating sassy one who turned six just days ago, who I did not expect to be fussed about a baby.

"He has tiny fingers," she marvels, in awe. "And little ears." She adores him instantly. Photo / Getty Images

Her eyes become watery as she holds him so gently and stares lovingly at her new brother - a side of her we haven't seen.

"Can I hold it?" she asks.

"We can say 'he' now," I urge. The "It" suddenly seems harsh now we know his gender.

"He has tiny fingers," she marvels, in awe. "And little ears." She adores him instantly.

She looks up and announces: "He's quite perfect."

Yes, sweetheart. He is.