Bringing Home Baby

This past weekend, two related things happened:

1. I started planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party, which (shockingly!) is only a few weeks away.

2. While looking for a notebook to write in, I came across this detailed log, which tracked every feeding and diaper (including content descriptions) of her first days at home.  Needless to say, this obsessive practice didn’t last long…

These two events take me back in time to eleven months ago when our family made our great escape from the hospital and embarked on parenthood those first, wild days. 

Our stay had been marked with unexpected events that were rapidly chipping away at my fragile confidence of early motherhood.  An unplanned C-section… a daughter who screamed so loudly when hungry that even the lactation consultant was shouting, “Just give her the bottle!”… and a NICU doctor that informed me he could not release my daughter into my custody because I wasn’t feeding her fast enough.

When they finally placed her in my arms, five days after birth, we were ecstatic, disbelieving, and eager to get home as soon as possible… which was perfect timing, since the hospital staff had told us it was time to leave. 

The great thing about leaving the hospital is that they load you up with goodies before rolling you out the door.  Our wheelchair/cart was piled high with diapers, bottles, formula, snot suckers, pacifiers, and anything else “baby” you can imagine.  Still, I felt somehow like I was stealing it.

My adrenaline was pumping as I waited for Billy in the freezing cold.  I was kidnapping my baby and fifty diapers… we needed to get out of here! When he arrived, the nurse helped us load the car.  I hadn’t thought to bring any bags, so loose items were spilling off the cart and rolling on the ground while we tossed duffels, pillows, three bottles, a jacket, one snot sucker, two more bottles, and a thousand other miscellaneous items into the car at rapid speed. 

It turns out we should’ve practiced for this moment because when we laid Ella into her car seat, we discovered we had no idea how to work it.  There were nylon straps, various items that appeared to need to “click” somewhere, ambulances racing past us, and a nurse waiting in the desperate cold for us to finish up.  Finally, I blocked her body from the view of the nurse I was sure would take her back if we proved unworthy, tossed a blanket on top of her, and shouted to Billy, “Go, go, go!” 

We pulled over at a gas station down the street to strap her in correctly.  Ella was fussing and crying out when she suddenly made a sound.  Billy looked at me.  “She just said, ‘Help!’” 

Apparently, spending the first five days with professional caregivers had been okay by Miss Ella. She panicked now realizing she was clearly in the hands of amateurs  who couldn’t even buckle a car seat!  It turns out that her being in the baby nursery had spoiled us as well.  We got home and quickly realized, “This is it… we’re on our own.” 

Thank God for my mom, who decided to give us the first night off so we could recover from the tumultuous hospital stay.  I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but I know I woke up the next day to find an empty crib… my daughter sleeping in a twin bed… my mother passed out on the bedroom floor… and empty baby bottles strewn everywhere.  It was like a scene in a movie… or a little baby frat house.

It has certainly been a wild ride, and I’m excited to celebrate her birthday in a few weeks.  I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that as we get closer.  I can’t believe it’s almost been a year.  Then again, I also can’t believe we made it through that first week.

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