They may be international stars on the basketball court, but it's their musical talents that are helping Tyrell Harrison and Kalani Purcell through their first few months as parents.
The Brisbane-based athletes welcomed their adorable baby girl Nyx Awaaterangi Harrison in Hamilton on 23 May. Her first name honours the multiple family members who go by the nickname "Nick" and means "goddess of the night".
But even goddesses have their difficult moments and when Nyx won't settle, it's the Māori waiata Tyrell has been serenading her with that never fails to calm her.
"We've started to instill our cultures with her and it started with songs," says Tyrell, who is of Māori, Scottish and Italian descent. Nyx's middle name was chosen from the wall of Tyrell's Coromandel marae and translates to "river through the sky".
"The waiata really soothes her," adds Kalani, who has Samoan and Dutch roots. "One time when Nyx and I were in New Zealand, she was having a hard time, so I sang the same song he always sings to her, Tiaho Mai Ra, and she instantly calmed down. I was like, 'This is great!'"
Such tricks are valuable as the couple settle into family life in Brisbane, where former Tall Black Tyrell is playing for the Brisbane Bullets in the Australian National Basketball League.
The trio moved there after welcoming Nyx in Aotearoa, where Kalani, 28, faced a challenging labour. Vomiting throughout, her energy was drained by the time she had to push and after 75 minutes in a birthing pool, she had to ditch the water birth she'd hoped for.
Tyrell, 24, was by her side – cleaning up after she vomited, cooling her with cold towels, getting Powerade, holding her hand and providing comforting words. He was thrilled when his "precious little Nyxie girl" came out, weighing 3.6kg and measuring 53cm.
"As soon as she was placed on Kalani's chest, we both looked at Nyx and I was like, 'Wow! That's our baby.' It felt surreal.
"After waiting all this time, she was finally here, and suddenly it went from us two to us three and we're looking after a little human."
Adds Kalani, "Straight away, Tyrell was like, 'That's my baby', because she looks so much like him! It was such a relief to have her here. Even on day three, we were still going, 'I can't believe she's here.'"
While Nyx's first month was challenging as they learned her needs and settled into a routine, she has been a "blessing", who sleeps six-hour stretches at night.
"She's so chill and will happily sit there looking around or being held by anyone," says Kalani. "She's been babbling a lot lately." Right on cue, Nyx pipes up and Tyrell promptly checks on her.
As for whether she could follow in her parents' sporty footsteps, Tyrell says, "She kicks and throws her hands around a lot, so she's definitely going to be an active little child!"
The couple agree their highlight in recent weeks has been witnessing small milestones, like seeing Nyx hilariously eye up items she wants to grab, then have to figure out how.
"She's trying to sit up and learning how to laugh – she'll smile with her mouth open, then try to make a sound," says Tyrell, who's helping out with nappy changes.
Tyrell finished up the season and headed over to Brisbane while Kalani waited for Nyx's passport. Saying farewell to family was tough. Kalani was pregnant at the same time as her sister Hailey Moala. Her daughter Meysa and Nyx were born just three weeks apart.
"Our babies had quite a connection," says Kalani.
"They would smile and laugh at each other, which was really cute, so it was hard to say bye to them."
However, Tyrell's Brisbane-based parents are ecstatic to have the trio staying with them. "My mum cries nearly every day because she's so happy!" says Tyrell.
With grandparents on hand, the couple enjoyed their first outing since becoming parents, to a team function, which was followed by a dinner date.
They agree having a child has improved their communication and organisational skills.
Kalani, who has captained the Tall Ferns, has meanwhile made her return to the court, playing for the Tokomanawa Queens in Wellington. She admits getting back into athlete mode was hard.
"Initially, I couldn't activate a few of my muscles to even run properly, but in New Zealand, I had a great physio and strength-conditioning coach, who helped me get everything working.
"It was nice to be thrown into it because it jump-started me into getting ready for the Olympic qualifier in February."
Tyrell also plans to try for the Olympics next year. Luckily, Nyx has been the perfect travel companion, adds Kalani.
"Every time I've had to fly, it's only been me and her, but she's such a relaxed baby, she's made it easier because she's not crying, emotional and uptight, so I'm not all stressed out trying to calm her. It's actually been nice travelling with her. It's easier while she's young and still sleeping a lot, so we'll see when she's older!'"
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