You entered the world at 2:03 a.m., and Dr. M immediately showed you to Daddy. He proudly announced “it’s a girl!” — a surprise for all of us since we’d chosen to wait to learn your gender. The staff quickly placed you on my chest. I was completely exhausted and elated at the same time. Finally, I was holding my baby girl. I immediately fell head-over-heels in love with you. You were so beautiful; I kept kissing you and touching you over and over. I almost couldn’t believe you were real.
Dr. M soon announced “the cord has stopped pulsing, so I’m going to cut it.” It seemed like it hadn’t been very long, but I was too wrapped up in you to pay much attention. The nurses coached me to rub you vigorously so you would cry enough to clear your lungs, then asked me to stop while they did your footprints. Meanwhile, the doctor stitched up my episiotomy cut.
Then Dr. M said it was time to take your weight and other measurements. “Can we wait a little while, please?” I pleaded. “No” was her stern reply. “We have to do it now.” Reluctantly, I handed you over, urging Daddy to stay close to you. Although the scale was only a few feet from my bed, I felt wretched and helpless as you screamed the whole time. Your weight was 7 lbs, 5 oz, and you were 20.25″ long.
You quickly settled down once they brought you back to me. By 2:45 a.m., you were ready to try nursing. Our doula, Michelle, helped us with our first attempt. “Ow, this kind of hurts,” I told the nurses as my toes curled; they replied I probably just needed to get used to the sensation. Reflecting back months later, Michelle suggested that if I had been anyone else, they probably would have been peeling me off the ceiling. My labor experience proved I had a remarkably high pain tolerance, which likely dampened my reaction.
Daddy and I called our parents and a few friends who had asked to be notified, no matter what time it was. Once the medical staff was certain you and I were both stable enough, we went to the maternity floor. Hospital rules demanded that you ride in the bassinet. I would much rather have held you, but at least you calmly slept through it. A kind and gentle nurse was waiting for us when we arrived in our new room, along with a sandwich for me. I was starving.
After helping to carry all our belongings, Michelle took her leave. Shortly after, your nurse arrived, and she was also very cheery and sweet. We had asked for an in-room check-in for you, so you wouldn’t have to go to the nursery. Since it was around 4 a.m. by that time, the staff wasn’t too busy to accommodate the request. It’s impressive that these people were working the third shift, yet they were quite comforting and pleasant to be around.
We declined the Hep B vaccination and Vitamin K shot, but hospital rules required you to have the eye ointment. Your first nurse gave you a sponge bath and washed your hair, adding a tiny blue bow when she was finished. She swaddled you and placed you in the warmer, instructing us that you had to stay there until your body temperature got back to normal, which could take hours. I was disappointed, but took the opportunity to rest and relax a little.
I was already feeling relief that the labor and delivery were over, along with the joy that accompanies a beautiful, healthy baby. But both Daddy and I were extremely tired. We had been awake for almost 24 hours at that point, endured a very intense labor which was physically taxing for both of us, and we hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, either. We both decided to take a nap.
For the next two days, all three of us stayed together in the hospital room. I nursed you on demand, though we quickly realized something was wrong in that department. That’s a story for another day, though.
Daddy and I napped, ate and showered whenever we could, which wasn’t often. In addition to a newborn ruling over our new routines, it felt like there was a near-constant stream of people parading through our lives. Though we had plenty of visitors, they were only a tiny portion of that stream. The bulk of it was nurses for me; nurses for you; physician’s assistants; lactation consultants; orderlies; administrative-types to take care of the paperwork; doctors for me making rounds; doctors for you making rounds; and because it was a teaching hospital, there were also medical students and nursing students, sometimes accompanied by a supervisor, sometimes not. We were poked, prodded, and interrupted so frequently that it was difficult to get much rest. And one of the doctors who came to examine you required that you be brought to the nursery, despite our objection. I wasn’t happy about it, but at least Daddy was able to go with you, though he had to stand outside the door and watch through the window.
After two full days and nights in the hospital, it was time for us to go home. Packing and getting ready were stressful for me; it felt like it was taking forever because we only had a little time between feedings. I was also worried about how we would fare at home, without the hospital staff to guide us and help us with fundamental things like preparing meals, cleaning up, and basically waiting on us hand and foot.
As we checked out of the hospital, I half expected somebody to stop us and tell us we were too inexperienced to take you home. I could hardly comprehend that you were ours — this perfect, enchanting angel belonged to Daddy and me — and we could keep you forever.
Amidst the chaos, we neglected to take a “going home” picture, which I regret very much. But we did make it home eventually. Lola helped us get settled. And then, our little family set out on our own.