Tuesday, September 6, 2011

28 Days Later

Four weeks ago today, I got up in the morning certain that by the end of the day I would go from being a “mother of one” to being a “mother of two”.
Four weeks ago today, my husband and I got out of bed, packed a bag, dropped off our son at his grandparents’, and went to the hospital where I was scheduled to be induced. When we arrived, the doctor told us that everyone and his brother (or, more accurately, “everyone and her sister”) had gone into labor and there was no bed for me, so they did a quick “non-stress test” to confirm that our baby wasn’t in any kind of distress (and also that I was having strong and regular – although still unfelt – contractions), and then sent us home, telling us to call at 2pm, hoping they’d have room for me at around 3pm.
Four weeks ago today, we spent the day with Herb’s daughter and our son, checking out various playgrounds and enjoying our last few hours as a family of four. At 2pm, we called the hospital and were told to come back at around 5pm, so we spent a few more hours relaxing at Bammy and Pappy’s house before we headed off to try, once again, to convince this baby to make an appearance.
Four weeks ago today, my husband and I kissed the kids goodbye and headed back to the hospital. At 5:30, they turned on the Pitocin. At 8:45, with little additional progress, the medical team hooked me up to an epidural, broke my water, and cranked up the Pitocin. Finally, I could feel the contractions, although they were still painless. At 9:45, the contractions finally became painful – I was thankful for the pain, and also for the epidural.



Four weeks ago today, at 10:08pm, the doctor examined me and announced that I was fully dilated and effaced, and on the next contraction I could try pushing and we’d see how things went. As the next contraction approached, I braced myself and began to push, as the doctor and the nurse chanted in unison: “Push! PushpushpushstopSTOPSTOP!!!” I would have been scared by the urgency of their voices except that they were both laughing as they told me to stop. Apparently, the baby and I were more ready than they were. The nurse turned on the baby warmer as she headed for the door to call in the rest of the team, and the doctor retrieved the delivery cart from the corner of the room and removed its sterile drape. About a minute later, everything (and everyone) was in place and as the next contraction approached, I once again braced myself. I don’t remember hearing the instructions from the doctor or the nurse, I was simply aware of my husband by my side, and knowing it was time to take a deep breath, drop my head to my chest, and get this reluctant baby to join the world! I pushed through two contractions, and on the third, the doctor said, “OK, look down here!” I remember wondering what on earth I was supposed to see, and then I saw the doctor lifting this beautiful, long, perfect baby into the air and hearing voices announce, “It’s a girl!” and “10:12pm”. Hands placed her on my chest and as her first cries filled the air, everyone in the room laughed and told us how beautiful she was.


Four weeks ago today, I saw my beautiful baby girl for the first time. I touched her downy hair, I counted each perfect miniature finger, I marveled at the impossible tininess of her wee toenails. I gazed into her face and examined every feature. She looked very much like her brother, which is to say that she looked very much like her father. As I took in the nearly-invisible brows and lashes, the tiny purple veins in her eyelids, the pore-less perfection of her skin, she struggled to lift her head, then opened her eyes and looked toward me in that vaguely cross-eyed, unfocused newborn fashion. I whispered to her, “I’m your mum, and I will always take care of you.” For a moment, I thought of my own mum, and tears filled my eyes as I wished she were here to see her beautiful granddaughter. But then I felt my husband’s warm hand on my shoulder as he gently caressed our new daughter with his other hand and whispered to me how beautiful she was and how proud he was of me.



For a few moments, the three of us stayed still, simply taking each other in and appreciating the wonder that is the miracle of birth. All too soon the nurses took her back to weigh her and clean her up. But in just a few more moments they had brought her back, swaddled in a warm blanket and wearing that silly little pink-and-blue-striped hat that is the hallmark of all newborn babies. I guided her to my breast and she immediately clamped on, making me laugh with pleasure and relief. Apparently I wouldn’t be going through the same difficulties I had with feeding her brother.
Once again, I marveled at her tiny perfection. I reveled in the impossible softness of her pale chestnut hair, the pert upturn of her nose, her curly rosebud lips, the way her ears faded from pink at their tops to pure alabaster at her earlobes.
Can it really be true that all those things happened four weeks ago? It seems like just yesterday, and yet it also seems like she has been a part of our family forever. Our daily routine feels like it has always been this way. Haven’t I always eaten my meals with one hand while jiggling a persnickety baby with the other? Haven’t my nights always consisted of sleeping for two hours, then feeding and rocking a wide-awake baby for another two? Haven’t I always spent half of my time with either a baby or a breast pump attached to me? And haven’t I spent my whole life loving this child, loving this amazing, wonderful, perfect little family?
Maybe it’s only been this wonderful and perfect for the past four weeks, but I have no doubt that it will stay this wonderful and perfect for the next four, and the next four, and the next four. Even when it doesn’t quite feel perfect, it still is. After all, how could it possibly ever be better than our perfect full house?


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