Every day around the time she was due (12 March), we wondered if that day would be the day...and as the days kept passing, I began to wonder if she would ever come out! Did she not want to meet us as much as we did her?
We had so many plans in place for who would take care of you when it finally happened...plans for if it happened in the middle of the night; or on a weekend; or (God forbid!) while I was at work...but alas, all the best laid plans aside, it happened about 15 minutes after Daddy had gone to drop you off at school. On Tuesday the 17th, I'd had a check in with my doc, hoping that she'd just admit me then and there since I was approaching the 41 week mark...but she'd been up all night in surgery, had the next day off, so instead scheduled me for an induction on Thursday...the official start to the 41st week. Sigh.
Let's just say for the rest of that day, I felt as though things may be happening. I was feeling what I thought might be mild contractions but having not experienced this on my own without induction the first time with you, I just wasn't sure. Daddy and I went out to lunch, I remember thinking maybe I should be counting these...maybe it's just something else (though seriously, at nearly 41 weeks what ELSE could it be?)...that night, I said to myself, eh, let me just make dinner and then I'll call the doc. No sweat.
I put you to bed that night convinced it was the last as the three of us, and that I'd have to wake you up in the night to shuffle you off to someone's house while we did this. You assured me you were fine, not scared and knew exactly what would happen if I had to wake you up. We'd gone over this plan many times.
I did talk to the doc on call who didn't think I was ready to come in yet. At 9 pm, I got into bed and began counting the spaces in between contractions. At some point I fell asleep because the next thing I knew it was 6 am on Wednesday and there was still no baby. I packed your lunch, got you up and ready for school, and off you and Daddy went. At 7:30 am on Wednesday, the 18th, my water broke and I remember uttering out loud, WTF just happened? It was time.
Off to the hospital we went...Daddy took this picture of me to commemorate the day and the waiting began. We weren't going to need to worry about you though, as one of our plans fell into place and you'd go home that night with your buddy Nolan and we'd know you were safe, happy, well-cared for.
As I told the amazing nurses who took care of me, the thing I was really looking forward to the most about my hospital stay was this: The giant mug o' water. There's just something solid and awesome about it. I loved it the first time, I loved it again.
The day progressed. Events were so drastically different from when I had you. I was not given any pitocin (yippeee!) because I was just doing everything on my own...and things were happening on their own. At some point though I felt like things were getting unbearably intense and by things I mean the contractions. Let's be real. I wasn't trying to be any kind of rock star here...giving birth no matter how it's done is it's own kind of surreal wonder...whether you choose to be out, fully awake, loaded with meds, or med-free, the fact that a human being is extracted from your body is just miraculous. So I had no problem flagging my nurse down and saying it's time for the epi.
And while I received the epidural, it came at a time when things were happening too quickly for it to kick in. So essentially when it came time to push, and boy, that time came quickly, I felt every last excruciating moment. I'm pretty sure I've referred to it as torture. I remember thinking that I couldn't do this...how could I keep going? It felt impossibly monumental. I was dimly aware of the stoic doc at the end of the bed flatly encouraging me that yes, in fact I could do this...and the nurses (who by the way really are the rock stars in this story) and Daddy who were also telling me yes I can...of course in my head I'm screeching 'that's what you tell everyone who does this!'. Am I wrong?
And after what felt like, to my delirious self, hours...(but only happened to be 52 minutes) your little sister finally arrived. I don't remember much from those first few moments except that they were a little bit tense, there wasn't any crying from her, and the nurses were whispering and moving very quickly. Later, when I had the presence of mind to ask my nurse at the 3 am check in what happened, she simply told me that little Madeleine wasn't quite sure how to take her first breath, and so they had to help her along for some seconds...I'm glad I wasn't really aware of that at the time.
Instead, I was aware of how beautiful she was (is!)...and how amazingly she looked exactly like you...exactly. The female version of Garrett. This is you:
And this is Madeleine:
So we marveled at the likeness and were quite simply in awe of her as we were with you.
The next day, Grammie and Grampie came to visit...
And then the moment we had been waiting for you...Daddy had gone to pick you up and bring you to the hospital so you could meet her. I couldn't wait to see you, I missed you so much. I think you were a bit undone by the hospital setting, even though we had practiced, even though we were all together...you were a little nervous, and understandably so. But these were the first few moments captured and they were still just as sweet.
That night, Daddy went home to be with you. We had agreed that you would probably need him more than I did, since I had a fleet of nurses to take care of me...and it was important that you knew we were thinking of you and loving you as much as ever before.
On Friday it was time to go home. There is something terribly bittersweet about leaving a maternity ward unlike any other part of a hospital, I would imagine or at least the maternity ward of Midcoast Hospital.
The nurses--they see you at your most vulnerable (and let's face it, there is nothing private, dignified or graceful about giving birth. You leave all that at the door the moment you check in)...they hold your hand while you're screaming from the pain and while they probably think you're going to crush their fingers, to you, it's a lifeline of trust; they essentially do everything for the baby and you once he or she is born and they take care of you and the baby throughout the duration; they make you peanut butter toast at 10:30 pm because you're starving, dinner was hours ago, and breastfeeding makes you ravenous; they give you the drugs when you need them; they wheel your baby back to the nursery without judgment, because you know you have only a small window of time before the next feeding or vitals check and you just want to spend it with your eyes closed in the dark and quiet sanctuary of your room, reflecting on the events that had occurred mere hours before as the adrenaline begins to fade.
And most importantly, at least to me, they make you feel like you're their only patient--the only one they have to take care of. Yet this is their job. They do this day in and day out for hundreds of women, all the time. So you're not special, you're just one of many. But they make you feel special. And when it's time to say goodbye, or you know that their shift has ended and you won't see them again before you leave, it's bittersweet. You'll likely never run into them again or have the occasion to see them. It's such a weird feeling and one I don't even know I can truly articulate. But to those nurses, who took such awesome care of me this time around, thank you...it made such a difference.
Adjusting to life...
I do so love that every day when you get home from school or when you wake up in the morning, your first questions are "How's Madeleine? Any poops? Any crying?" You are always so concerned. You are such an awesome big brother.
A whole lotta random cuteness...
So there it is...our first eight weeks of our family of four. Next up...your 5th birthday and kindergarten registration (!!!).