* This is the fourth part of a four part series about your birth & after, You can also read Your Birth Story: Part One, Your Birth Story: Part Two, & Your Birth Story: Part Three. *
After pushing on my stomach for an agonizing 30 seconds, my doctor finally game me the go ahead to be discharged from the hospital. My heart was so happy. Home. Just 48 hours beforehand, we had left our home just the two of us, & now we were returning home as a family of three.
First we had to make our way out of the hospital. I dressed you for the first time in clothes other than what they had put on you in the hospital. It made me smile. The newborn clothes that seemed so teeny when I was pregnant were actually big on you. We snuggled together while your daddy got everything else ready. He asked the hospital staff to install our car seat & packed the car with all of the things you & I had accumulated during our short hospital stay. He helped me change out of my hospital gown & into a night gown (while the hospital gown was hideous, it was just easier to wear it during my stay).
"Where's the wheel chair?" I asked a nurse. "Oh, there's no wheel chair. You have to show us that you can leave the hospital on your own." What?! That was going to be a challenge. Just walking to the bathroom was a challenge, but I was determined to do it. I clutched at anything I could to help support me as I walked what seemed like endless hallways. I know he was walking at a normal pace, but it seemed like your daddy was running down the hallways with you as I hobbled behind. He was just so excited & anxious to get you home. "Hey Brian?" "Yeah?" he looked back at me. "Do you think you could slow down?" "Oh, yeah, whoops."
We waited at the security guard station for all three of our ID bracelets to be checked before we could leave. There was a little family of three in front of us, & they were asking about having their car seat installed. The new mom was all cute in a matching sweatsuit, carrying her baby & walking around like it was nothing. I remember thinking how unfair it was. I felt like I was going to die. I knew if I didn't sit soon, I was going to collapse on the floor & they were going to take me right back to my room.
Not a moment too soon, we were checked & cleared to go. I sat down with you while your daddy pulled the car around. He loaded you in your little car seat, which looked so huge compared to you. We were ready to go home.
That car ride was the most agonizing one of my life. I had a donut to sit on, which looked like a pool float tube, but it didn't help. Your daddy drove at least ten miles under the speed limit. I wanted to beg your daddy to drive faster. I wanted to scream. But, I knew he was nervous about driving with you in the car for the first time. I bit my lip & tried to suffer in silence.
After dropping my prescriptions off at the pharmacy, we finally arrived home. Daddy helped walk me into the house before returning to the car to get you. I called out to my parents & brothers, but the house was empty. That was when I remembered the flight of stairs that stood between me & my bed. It was then I had a little freak out in my mind. The stairs just seemed so impossible at that moment, but your daddy was right there. He helped me up every step & helped me into bed.
My doctor had talked to me before I had left the hospital. He explained that there were going to be a lot of things that I would feel like I needed to do once I was home. He told me that most of those things would have to wait, & instructed me to be on bed rest for the first two weeks. Right then, that sounded just fine to me. There was nothing else I felt like I needed to do right then, & laying was the least painful position.
Luckily, nothing else really needed to be done anyway. My mom agonized during my labor too, except for her she was struggling with waiting. She cleaned our entire house spotless. My family arrived home just as I was done nursing Em. My mom sweetly picked you up, changed your diaper, & took you downstairs for some Nonnie time. Your daddy left to pick me up something I had been craving for nine months, an Italian sub.
I was left in peaceful & comfy quiet. I drifted in and out of sleep all day. After eating our subs together, your daddy joined me for some much needed sleep. My mom woke us up only when it was time to nurse you or to eat ourselves (she had made us a gourmet dinner, my favorite, fried fish). It was amazing & absolutely exactly what we needed. Looking back now, I feel like such an awful mother. Never once in the first 72 hours of your life did I change your diaper or even think to ask if it had been changed. I was so sleep deprived & pain consumed, I could barely think. My mother gave us the gift of sleep, the most precious gift she could have given us at that moment. It gave us the strength to be better parents moving forward.
I decided it was time to shower for the first time since I had gone into labor. First I sat for a sitz bath that we had taken home from the hospital. I watched TV episodes on our laptop as I struggled to sit for 30 minutes. Then your daddy had to carry me into the shower. The hot water felt amazing, & it felt good to be able to stand on my own, even if it was just for a few minutes. I knew I wasn't going to have enough strength to actually fix my hair or put on makeup, but still, I was making progress. All of a sudden, I heard a crash. Our laptop was knocked off the bathroom counter. We lost everything on our hard drive. Every picture. Every file. On any other day I would have been absolutely devastated. "It's OK," I told your daddy. "It could have been so much worse. I'm fine. Little Em's fine. We're all fine. The laptop doesn't really matter."
At around 8pm, I heard your little cries, but my mother didn't bring you up to me. Thinking you were hungry but my mom didn't want to wake us, I got up & hobbled downstairs. I looked into the family room to see what was going on. My mom was laughing & you were screaming. She had your baby book laying on the floor, & purple ink covered your little hands. I smiled as I realized she was trying to get your hand & footprints into your baby book for us. You were not thrilled, & it's funny to look at the prints now. You wouldn't spread your hand out. Instead of five tiny fingers, there's one little blob.
It was then that my mom showed me what the two of you had done all day. She had a camera full of photos. There had been multiple outfit changes & poses throughout the house. You had watched football in your Patriots onsie with Papi. You had been rocked by Jared and peaked at by Greg. You had posed in front of the Christmas tree. When we put you down to bed, you were so exhausted from Nonnie time that you slept from midnight to 5am. Not bad for your first night at home.
The next morning was a sad one for me. My mom, dad, & brothers had to return home. My mom showed your daddy how to change your diaper (& he changed every diaper for the next two weeks) & showed him where she had stored homemade meals for us. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I said goodbye. "I don't know if we can do this without you," I whispered to her as she hugged me close. "You're going to be great," she whispered back.
The next two weeks we had a flurry of visitors. With the strict visiting hours of the hospital, we had asked everyone except our parents to wait until we were home to visit. Everyone was so excited to meet you. They brought you gifts & us food, which was such a blessing. We didn't have to cook at all. We set up chairs in our bedroom, & in the first week all of the visits were in our room (which was a disaster, but I didn't care). It was so fun to see everyone smile at you while you mostly just slept. Your Grandma & Papa came often, & I think you were two weeks old by the time they finally saw your eyes open.
I have to say, we loved watching everyone meet you, but my favorite moments were when it was just the three of us. Your daddy basically had the first two weeks off. We spent most of it snuggling in bed together. We napped together. I nursed you & he changed your diapers. The TV was typically on, but mostly we just stared at you. We marveled at every little movement & expression you made. Everything about you was absolutely adorable & fascinating to us (even the constant spitting up).
I think back on those days with such a smile in my heart. I know I was in a heck of a lot of pain, & the road to recovery was long. I don't really remember that part though. I mostly remember the smell of your skin & how your daddy asked if all babies smelled a certain way or if it was the lotion that is rubbed on them. I remember watching Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy every night like a bunch of 80 year olds (we may have tried to sign up to be Wheel of Fortune contestants). I remember waking up in the middle of the night just to hear you breathe. I remember you peeing on daddy as he changed your diaper while I laughed & tried to catch a picture of it. I remember you falling asleep in our arms & then sleeping between us in bed until I gave you your last feeding of the night. I remember the swirl of hair on the back of your head. Whenever you turned the back of your head to face me, Daddy would tell me that you were giving me the swirly. I remember swaddling you in blankets, & thinking you looked like a little baby burrito.
Did we really know what we were doing? Nope, didn't have a clue. We still don't. Still, I wasn't scared. I knew we'd figure it out together, & eventually we did. Actually, we're still figuring it all out, everyday. There's one thing we do know for sure. Never did we know love like this...until there was you.
I love you so,