The First Three Weeks
Many of you were kind enough to compliment how great I looked in the pictures taken at the hospital, mere moments and hours after I had given birth to our 7lbs 8.5oz bundle of joy. Thank you. And here’s why:
In the hospital, I was given access to two magic buttons. The first was the button to self-administer an increased dosage of the epidural. When I felt a contraction coming on, I simply pressed the little green button and got a hit of the good stuff. Exhale. Let me be clear that having a medicated birth did not eliminate all labor pains, but it made the pain much more manageable and far less excruciating. Thank Goodness for the green button.
As soon as our baby girl was born, they wheeled me into a private recovery room to spend the next two nights. There, I was given two options: #1. Have baby Harper stay in the hospital room with me or #2. Have baby Harper bunk up in the Nursery. Without hesitation I chose option #2. The nurses would bring our sweet baby down the hall from the nursery for me when it was time to feed her. Once she had a full tummy and had been sufficiently snuggled, I pressed the red button on my bed that summoned the nurses to come and get her. I slept oh so soundly thanks to the pain meds and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your little one is in the capable hands of trained professionals. Hearing her being wheeled down the hall in her bassinet will forever remain one of my very favorite sounds.
They said we could leave the Four Seasons hospital as early as we wanted on Friday morning. To be honest, I was in no hurry. We opted for a late checkout.
At the end of the day, they sent us home with our baby and three pages of tips on how to care for a newborn. (Note that our car seat has a 30 page manual. And our toaster came with a bound notebook of operating instructions.) The drive home was surreal and certainly one of those life moments I’ll never forget.
And this is the day My Man and I became Adults. Getting grown up jobs, getting engaged then married, opening a joint checking account, buying a house and refinancing our mortgage were all preludes to true adulthood. It became official the moment we brought our baby girl home from the hospital.
The first night home was a blur of joy, panic and delirious exhaustion . You see, our baby never cried in the hospital in our presence—but sure enough she found her voice when we got home. At 2am we were watching YouTube videos about how to swaddle and soothe a baby while our unswaddled baby cried hysterically. And there was no button to press to bring us or our screaming baby any relief.
Night one we broke the “no pacifier until the baby is one month old” rule. No regrets there. By night two we’d made three panicked calls to the pediatrician and taken four rectal temperatures—each confirming that there was absolutely nothing wrong with our child.
All of this to say, the new mother glow captured in those photos taken at the hospital was gone a few days later. The whole first week at home I looked and felt like a sleep deprived refugee prisoner of war. And my unfortunate flu-like reaction to the TDAP vaccine didn’t help the situation. And there were hormones and there were tears. The first week we were in the trenches. I sent text messages to my mother-friends along the lines of “tell me it gets better..?!” They assured me that I does—
And they were right. Every day is better! There are certainly hard days and the (fingers crossed-occasional) sleepless night–but in the past few weeks I have experienced the most profound sense of joy and sheer gratitude that I have ever known. Every day I grow more and more smitten with my little girl—and every day I learn something new about how to care for her. And My Man has been amazing. I fall more in love with him as I watch him fall in love with our little girl. Fortunately for his sake, the hormones have left the building and he has his (mostly) even and optimistic woman back. I bet he was worried that he’d lost me for a minute there.
We are getting more sleep around here and have mastered the swaddle (thanks, Miracle Blanket!). We have also fallen into something of a rhythm with the new normal. And I like it. I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and I couldn’t be more grateful. Our life will clearly never be the same—it will be even better.