The first night
I can’t believe a whole week has gone by since giving birth to Baby. Already, it feels like she’s always been around, sort of like in the fifth series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy suddenly had a sister and the memories of their childhood were magically implanted in Buffy’s head.
Every day we learn something new. James has gotten over his “baby paralysis” very well. We coined the term “baby paralysis” for what happens to James when he is holding newborn babies; he freezes, with his eyes wide and scared, until someone takes the baby out of his hands. Generally, it’s very amusing to watch. In the birthing room, I asked the midwife to show him how to hold Baby properly before handing her over. Now, he’s like an old pro. It turns out the cure for “baby paralysis” is to have one of your own.
After I moved to my private room, James left me at the hospital with the baby, so he could get a few hours of shuteye. A short nap later, I took her out of her crib and brought her into bed with me. I loved holding her, admiring her and breastfeeding her while I was lying down. She had such beautiful skin for a newborn. I studied her hair, vacillating between whether I thought it was blonde or red.
James came back at 9am with a shopping bag full of fruit and nuts. It was like he’d gone foraging in the woods to feed his new family. How very caveman. We continued playing our new favourite game, Stare at the Baby.
At the very second that visiting hours began, most of Baby’s grandparents filed in. What do you call a group of grandparents? A “pushover” of grandparents? Looking at them coo over her, I could easily imagine them all spoiling her rotten, so I think a pushover would be an apt term. I could tell that they all fell in love with her instantly, which is great. The more people who love her, the better off she will be in this world.
At 5pm, a film crew arrived. James and I are taking part in a documentary called Becoming Mum, so they needed a few minutes with me in the hospital.
By 6pm, it was just James, Baby and me and, at 8pm, just Baby and me. Both of us were thoroughly exhausted by this stage, so it was straight to bed. Little did I know what I was in for.
Before I had Baby, a friend told me that I should aim to stay in the hospital for as long as possible because I’d learn a lot from the midwives. I remember saying that I wanted to go home as soon as possible after the birth, the same day if I could. SCRATCH THAT! Having a night with midwives on call was invaluable. Baby did not sleep well that night. The midwives taught me various ways to get rid of wind and generally helped me get her to sleep. At one point, I was rocking her crib, leaning my head on the edge in a semi-vegetative state, whispering, “Sleep, Baby, please.”
When James came back the next morning, I was utterly broken. Even so, I could only doze as he watched after her. My senses remained on heightened baby alert. A noise from her and my eyes snapped open.
Well, if I couldn’t have sleep, at least I could have a hamburger. I sent James out to get me my first burger in 9 months. It wasn’t gourmet, unfortunately, but it filled the void. Besides, I needed to replenish my iron supplies because babies apparently strip their mother of their iron just before birth.
We were waiting to be discharged. I had been checked over that morning by the doctor and been given the all clear. We just needed the paediatrician to come in and do the same for Baby.
At this point I was absolutely exhausted. I had been in labour for 24 hours and had almost no sleep since to recover. A lot of parents laughingly say, “Get used to it”, but how can you get used to so little sleep right at the beginning? This is where husbands or other birthing partners come in to save the day. It turns out birthing partners aren’t just for Christmas. As gorgeous as Baby is, I needed to stock up on sleep and food as much as I could; the ever-faithful James stood by to help me sleep just by being there. He sat by the side of Baby’s crib, after a huge feed, and kept her content whilst mummy finally got some zzz’s.
Wonderfully he’s done this many times since, although I sometimes fall asleep wondering what sort of crazy clothing combination he’ll dress her in when I wake up. Yesterday she was a little pixie . Sigh.