I can't believe it's been 9 days since Madeline was born. On the eve of what was supposed to be my due date, I can't help but look back over the last 2 weeks of pictures we've captured and replay these moments over and over in my head. I love 'rehearsing' the birth of my children after the fact, in hopes that it solidifies the details of those first few days in my mind's eye.
The 4 days of painful contractions and early labor that got me nowhere near active labor.
Pacing the waiting room of my doctor's office the day before I would end up delivering Madeline, because the doctor was running 45 minutes late but I was SURE if she checked me I would be found to be in labor and be sent directly to the hospital.
My sister driving me to that last doctor's appointment, waiting with me, then taking me straight to the hospital (with a stop at Subway for my 'last meal'!) for monitoring. Laughing about how funny we must have looked - her on crutches with a boot up to her knee, me 9 months pregnant. Quite an incapacitated pair.
The relief narcotics brought as my doctor decided whether to help my labor along or send me home.
How unpleasant the hours are after having your water broken.
What a 10 minute contraction feels like after being given too much pitocin.
How delicious chicken broth and ginger ale can be when a nurse sneaks it to you because the ice chips just aren't cutting it 24 hours after your last meal.
Getting a stiff neck from watching the bedside monitor after your baby's heart rate plummeted during a contraction and the nurses came rushing in to turn you over, give you oxygen, and scare you half to death.
The way an epidural allows you to keep family members updated on the progression of labor up to 9 1/2 cm via texting.
Taking a nurse up on her offer to wheel over a large mirror so that I could see Madeline as she was born (out of curiosity), and then quickly asking her to remove it. Wishing life had a rewind or erase-memory button.
The physical relief I immediately felt when Madeline exited my womb.
Rob's kiss after Madeline made her entrance.
The urgency I felt to hold her close to me right away, and the jealousy that tugged at my heart those first few hours when the nurse needed to take her away from me.
How special it was to have my sister in the delivery room during Maddie's birth, and the surprise of having my mom and dad waiting in the hallway ready to join us a little while later.
The way Maddie changed every hour those first few days, and noticing all of it.
The smell of her sweet breath, that downy soft hair, the dimple that is hardly noticeable on the right side of her face, her slender fingers, her impossibly skinny legs, long feet, and finger-toes.
The things she already shares with her siblings:
- looks like her brother as a newborn (to me)
- was 10 days early just like Robbie and Ellie
- was nearly the same weight as Ellie, 1 oz heavier but 2 inches longer
- how I spent the same amount of time pushing her out as Robbie (1/2 hour)
- was born with very long fingernails, and when I tried to clip them, accidentally clipping a little bit of skin too, drawing blood... just like I did with Ellie after her birth
- sleeps most soundly at night in the crook of my arm, just like the other 2 did as newborns
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of taking her home while I was in the hospital, and the encouraging pep talk my nurse (and mother of 4) gave to me as I dried my tears.
Proudly telling the lactation consultant that my baby had a great latch from the get go.
How great that first shower feels.
Walking the halls to speed up recovery; stopping by Rob's coworker's wife's room who had her baby the day after Madeline came. How shameless we are after giving birth about appearance, modesty, etc., and how there is a kinship with other women who have also just given birth.
Stopping in to see an old friend from high school who was also on my floor after delivering her 28 week old baby due to complications with the pregnancy. Feeling shattered inside to learn that her baby survived only 36 hours. Wrestling with guilt and sadness, while feeling so blessed and joyful at the same time.
Bringing Madeline home in the early evening on a beautiful spring day.
Watching my husband singlehandedly take care of our household and Robbie and Ellie while I rested in our bed for the first 2 days.
How Madeline slept through getting her blood drawn at the pediatrician; the nurse commenting that that's the first time a baby has ever slept through a blood draw for her. Feeling proud of and grateful for my sweet baby's disposition.
The first time I put all 3 kids in the van, and looked into the rear view mirror to see all of my precious cargo as we drove down the road. Wondering how life had happened so fast, bringing me to this point.
Hearing Robbie call to me every time he hears Madeline start to grunt, "Feed the new baby, mommy!" because it worries him so much when she cries.
The way Ellie says her name... "Madd-en".
How Robbie talks sweetly to Madeline during diaper changes, saying "Are you a brave girl, Maddie? You are a pretty girl! You are a little one." How tender he is towards her.
How my heart swells when I see the 3 of them together, how blessed I know I am when I observe Rob lovingly caring for each of them individually. How sensitive and patient he has been with me - always.
Those are a few of the intangibles I want to hold on to. These are the images.
A few days before she would give up her status as the baby of the family...
Showing off her new bracelet and irresistible pigtails.
Just the 2 of them, but not for much longer
The last picture I took before leaving them for 4 days
My view for 20 hours in the labor and delivery room. Much of the time spent dreaming about what our little girl would soon look like in that baby warmer across the way once she arrived!
First nap together. Contentment, joy, thankfulness, peace, relief, bliss.
My girls. I don't care that it's out of focus, it is so representative of how I've spent these first days. Cradling Maddie in one arm while consoling / helping / loving on someone else with the other.