*I started writing this post a few days after we brought her home...I'm just now finishing it up.*
Some of my most memorable moments so far...
1. I cried on the operating table after she was born. I had tears streaming down my face as I listened to her cry for the first time. They weren't tears of happiness or of sadness...but I think more of a unique combination of the two. I was happy that she was crying because it meant that she was healthy but I was also feeling incredibly helpless as I lie on the table completely unable to move and therefore missing out on her first moments of life. I cried because I was disappointed in the manner in which she had to be brought into the world, but also out of sheer joy and relief that she was here and healthy. I pride myself on being a pretty strong and tough person with a "get it done" type of attitude but I think at that moment, I just needed a release of ALL emotions - the good and the bad. But I did have a smile on my face when Craig told me that she was 21 inches long...and then we high-fived.
2. I really enjoyed the care that both Natalie and I received at the hospital - the nurses were always very prompt in their response to any of my calls and both the momma nurses and the baby nurses routinely checked in on us to make sure that we were doing well. As much as I appreciated the personal attention as well as our frequent visitors, I relished in the few quiet moments I got alone with Natalie. Every night I sent her to the nursery so that I could try to get some sort of sleep and the nurses would bring her back to me about every three hours to feed. Usually they brought her back around 6:00 in the morning and I didn't send her back because I knew that Craig would be on his way up to the hospital by 7:30 or 8:00. So the time in between was my quiet time with Natalie. After feeding her, I would wrap her up close to my chest and we were skin to skin under the covers with the morning light gently shining in the window. It was serene and peaceful and I felt so perfectly isolated from the rest of the world.
3. During labor when I was given a dose of Pitocin it caused Natalie's heart rate to drop dramatically which resulted in me having an oxygen mask placed on my face and I just remember being told to take deep breaths. I know that there was a lot of commotion in the room between the nurses, my family and the doctors rushing in, but all I was focused on was the little machine that sat next to my bed and continually monitored Natalie's heart rate. As I took a deep breath in, I could hear her heart rate on the monitor get faster and then slow down when I exhaled. I ignored everything else going on in my room and zeroed in on that heart rate and taking big, deep breaths so that I got her heart rate back up to where it was supposed to be. I think this focus allowed my attention to be drawn from the terrifying discussion my doctor and Craig were having right over my bed which surely would have caused me more anxiety and therefore would not have been beneficial for Natalie.
The above three memories were from her birth and subsequent stay in the hospital. The following are from our time at home in the past three weeks.
4. I had been doing so well keeping the house in order, staying on top of the laundry and taking good care of my baby and myself both physically and emotionally. I was pretty proud of myself for somehow managing to avoid the post baby tears that so many women experience after bringing a baby home from the hospital. And then Craig had to go back to work. And I broke down. I was a hot mess of tears and smeared mascara. I was terrified of taking care of this baby all by myself and I was emotionally exhausted from breastfeeding her for what seemed like every hour on the hour for the entire day. Much to my initial chagrin, but to my eventual pleasure, Craig called in the reinforcement and shortly thereafter my mother showed up in the doorway of my bedroom with her overnight bag and a sympathetic smile on her face. I have a feeling she had had her bag packed and ready to go for this moment for quite some time. There wasn't any specific moment during the evening that really stuck out to me as memorable, but it was the feeling I had the next morning that was more important. I woke up feeling like "okay, I got that out of my system...lets move on and get adjusted to the new routine."
5. The last few days have been rough for Craig because he has had track meets directly after school and hasn't been able to spend any quality time with Natalie. Last night (Thursday) when Craig came home from the track meet, Natalie was still awake and after he ate his dinner I handed him the baby and directed him to go upstairs, change her diaper and put her in her pajamas and swaddle - I would meet him in her room with a bottle. He curled up in the glider with his baby girl cradled in his arm and began to feed her. It took a little bit for her to get adjusted to the new person feeding her as well as the new manner in which she was being fed, but they soon figured out a rhythm. The picture I will keep in my mind forever is Natalie all wrapped up in pink staring up at her daddy with her forehead creased...and her daddy staring back down at her with that same crease in his own forehead. I turned on the U2 lullaby CD and quietly exited the room to give them their bonding time...and to properly wash my face and brush my teeth and curl up in my own bed to watch a little Chelsea Lately before bedtime.
6. I have two nephews from my eldest brother Stephen and his wife Meredith. Alexander is seven years old and very intelligent and sensitive. Ford is four years old and quite the comedian with a penchant for destruction. They are very different, but equally as lovable. It's been very interesting to watch how the two boys react to their new baby cousin. On Sunday night we were all over at my parent's house having dinner because my middle brother Mike was in town from Maine to meet his new niece and goddaughter. At one point, Natalie was fussing and Alexander brought over her wind up giraffe and held it by her head so gently and began cooing at her so softly, trying to calm her down. He was so gentle and loving with her. Ford on the other hand was not too interested in Natalie until...she pooped. Stephen was sitting on the couch holding Natalie when he felt and heard the explosion. In fact, the explosion was so loud and sudden that it actually made Craig jump! Stephen signaled me that we had a blowout and I needed to retrieve my daughter from his arms. Of course, at the news of poop Ford was immediately interested and accompanied me to the back bedroom to investigate baby poop. He did not want to be directly involved in the changing, but he thought the whole thing was disgusting, hilarious and fascinating...all at the same time.