Now that I’m home and settled with my new baby girl, I finally feel like I just gave birth.
I know that sounds weird. Let me explain.
Since Chloe got shipped off to the NICU for her first week of life, our initial first days with our baby didn’t exactly go as planned. Instead of heading home after a peaceful day at the birthing center where we had her, my husband and I ended up staying at the hospital. There was a small room with a small bed near the NICU entrance that wasn’t being used, and the nurse on duty let us use it for the night.
We both spent the next day at the hospital with our baby girl, and then both spent the night again—though that second night we opted to stay in her little room (a room with curtains instead of walls, that is). The chairs folded out into something that resembled a bed, and since we’d been granted permission to finally hold her—albeit with all the tubes and wires still attached—we wanted to stay as close as possible.
During those first two nights, our son stayed at his grandparents. It was his first time away from both of us for a night. We decided by the third night that he needed some parent time, so my husband went home for a night of cuddling and I stayed again in a foldout bed. This didn’t mean I slept, though. I averaged about two hours of sleep for each of the nights I stayed in the hospital.
We did that for two more nights—I stayed overnight, then my husband returned during the day. I stayed during most of each day, too—after all, I was pumping in hopes that my milk would soon come in. It finally did, on the fourth day.
What amazes me about all this is that I was able to travel back and forth from home to hospital, sit up nearly all night holding and loving on Chloe, and then doing the same thing again each day. Only a few times did it occur to me that I’d just given birth. Obviously, my mind (and attention) were elsewhere.
Except for getting some wildly swollen feet, I felt fine. (Check out the picture of my monster-ankles compared to what they normally look like!) It was odd, though. I never got swollen during my entire pregnancy, but that post-birth week really did a number on me!
So what’s interesting is that it wasn’t until Chloe was a week old, once we were happily settled at home, that I began to feel like I’d just given birth. That’s when the aching and the soreness between the legs first set in. It’s when I really started to bleed, in earnest. It’s when I got suddenly emotional and even a little crabby. It’s when my breasts began to ache and I felt like I hadn’t slept in years.
Fortunately, my husband and all our visiting relatives did an incredible job of waiting on me. They stuck me in bed, brought me food, and let me watch whatever sappy flick I chose. Most of the time, though, my therapy of choice was reruns of Friends.
I guess it just goes to show how, as mothers, we can rise to whatever occasion is necessary when it comes to being there for our kids. Though it made my overall recovery longer, I’m pretty proud of what I was able to do for Chloe. I figure she had to go through plenty that week. The least I could do was be by her side for it. I’m glad to say I was.