These five days have been the most unbelievable five days of my life. And I mean that in every sense: I literally cannot believe that these five days belong to me, that I get to fold them into the story of my life. It sounds cheesy to say it, but they feel like a true gift, like something I waited all of my life to have, and now that I have it, I just want to savor each and every moment, even the ones that make me cry (and man, there are SO many of those).
I want to try to recap these five days, but I’m certain that I won’t do it justice, mainly because I can’t quite figure out how to write about our Mollie-bean and parenting and all of the million things that come with it. It sort of comes out in a list of things I cannot stop thinking about (practically in order): how beautiful my daughter is, the fact that I have a daughter, breast-feeding, the state of my nipples, Matt, parenting with Matt, not sleeping and co-sleeping, overwhelming emotions, family and friends, eating one-handed, my 4-months-pregnant-looking belly. These are the things I think about all the time, cannot get out of the running dialogue in my head. And then Mollie wakes up and whoosh! all I hear are my thoughts of how amazing she is, how cute she is when she makes that half-smile that shows the dimple on her left cheek, whether she is warm enough, comfortable enough, or hungry.
Here is labor, the short version: I started having contractions at about 11:30 on Friday, March 4th. I went to the hospital when my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and the triage nurse was mean and unhelpful. We waited an hour before the doctor came in, and when she did her exam, my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, I was 7cm dilated, and 90% effaced. After being rushed up to labor and delivery, the wonder-doctor, the anesthesiologist, came in and gave me an epidural. Blissful, pain-free labor ensued from 10pm until about 3:50am, with only a few hiccups when the baby’s heart rate slowed down.
At 3:50am I felt a punch from within and then heard a big gush as my water broke. By 4:30 I was pushing, laughing out loud at the fact that I was actually pushing, trying to figure out how I was actually doing anything given the fact that I couldn’t feel a thing from the waist down. When my amazing labor and delivery nurse, Denise, took my hand and put it on our baby’s head after the second push, it was a feeling so miraculous that I am almost hesitant to share it here, that’s how sacred and special it was. Looking into Matt’s face, I told him, “that’s the baby!” through tears, and he laughed with me, saying, “I see it!” Then there was an urge to push, a squirm that told me I wouldn’t need to, and the baby on my chest by 4:48am. It happened so quickly that the nurse had to turn the baby towards Matt, “It’s a…” she prompted, “GIRL!” he finished. And we laughed and cried and cried and cried and laughed and kissed, while they cleaned her up and stars shot across the sky, fairies danced in the forests, Matt and I became parents, and the world changed forever and ever and ever.
I am making myself cry.
But that’s how it was, especially with the stars and the fairies. At least, that’s how it felt to look down and see this wet little head on my chest, this squirming little body, all while knowing that she was mine. I felt like a superhero at that moment, invincible not because of what I had done to bring her into the world, but because of my power to protect her.
After we went up to the room with Mollie, we started calling the people who are destined to love her most in the world. Those were some of the best calls to make because we got to hear people’s excitement over her existence and the fact that she was a girl-bean.
Julie was the first to meet her. And later that day, she met Stephen, Jason, Cris, Adam, Linda, and Katy. And still later, she met Dan and Steph. And then, much to our surprise, she met her Pop-Pop and her Uncle Andy, who drove from Philly a few hours after they got the phone call so they could meet her on the day she was born. On Sunday she met her Aunt Elissa and her cousin Ike, who suddenly looked so big that I cannot believe that Mollie will be his size in just a short 18 months.
And the next day we got to take her home. As I was being wheeled down the hall at the Brigham, holding her in her carseat on my lap, I was silently talking to her like I used to do when I was pregnant with her. “Some of these people are doctors, some of these people are sick. Some of these people are daughters, some are friends, or parents, or grandparents. Some of these people are poor, some of these people are rich. You are the only you here, and your whole life is ahead of you, waiting to happen.”
By the time we got to the car, I was overwhelmed with the emotion of driving home with our daughter, so that when Matt said, “I can’t believe they’re letting us take her home,” I knew exactly what he meant. We had spent her first two days of life inside that hospital room, and as bizarre and unfamiliar a place as a hospital is, it felt like the place where we were supposed to be with her, making home more surreal. Of course, in the grand scheme of her entire life, those two days are but a blip on the radar screen and home is always home.
In the days since we have been home, we have spent our time learning her and learning ourselves in this new role. There have been more visits and so many thoughtful gifts and emails. We have seen projectile spit-up and pee, and this morning she farted so loudly that she woke herself up. I have struggled with breastfeeding and am working through it, because there is something amazing about holding her so close to my body and actually providing all of the nourishment she needs, much like I did just six days ago, but in a totally new way.
Because she is my daughter, I am privy to certain information about her: I know how much she loves to have her hands close to her face, that she can find her thumb in a time of real need, that she curls her lower-lip under when she breastfeeds, that she has a tiny stork bite on the back of her head, that her eyes are getting pigmentation around the pupil, that she looks almost exactly like her father when she sleeps soundly. I study her face every chance I get. If I could draw, I could draw it from memory for you. I miss her when she sleeps.
One of the most amazing things I have noticed about being her mother is how wonderful it feels to be her mother, to know that no matter what, I will always be her mother. And I find myself thinking, over and over again, “She’s here! She’s here! She’s here!,” a running dialogue in my head, repeating itself regardless of my ability to have a normal conversation. As with sad things, I am always having two conversations – the one I am actually having, and the one I am having internally. The only difference is that my internal conversation is delighted, thrilled, overwhelmed with joy.
These have been some of the best days of my life in every possible way. I am exhausted. I am amazed. I am so incredibly lucky.