There were bright spots in my hospital stay in the moments after Ellerie was born late in the afternoon on Thursday until we left Saturday evening. Much of the stay was just awful. But the tender moments were so wonderful. These are the small things I want to remember.
I want to remember her first cry as she was pulled out from my open belly. I was relieved she was out and alive and more than anything I was relieved it was over. I had tried. I had surrendered. I had offered up her safety to the doctors and they were able to get her out. The relief was instant and immeasurable. I sobbed.
I want to remember that after she'd been cleaned up a bit and wrapped they brought her to my head. My little girl was here. My oxygen mask was removed and I wished her a happy birthday. I love you, Ellerie. I said over and over as I sobbed and shook uncontrollably from the medicine that was keeping me numb.
I want to remember seeing Paul holding her as I was wheeled into recovery. I think one of the first things he said was that she was 21 inches long. How is that possible?! I thought. We're short people and our little one is tall. I want to remember Paul holding out my phone and showing me all the love and encouragement that had been pouring through via text messages while I was stitched up.
I want to remember that moment where I really felt like she was born. The moment she was handed to me and I finally became a mother. My face shows it all. I was so shattered. So overwhelmed. So relieved she was healthy. So honored to have the responsibility of this tiny one and really just so thankful it was over. I had my prize and she was perfect.
I want to remember her latching onto my left breast immediately and the feeling that God knew I needed this small but mighty win.
I want to remember holding her and feeling her move in her tightly wrapped swaddle. Her kicks and motions were exactly like what I had felt in my belly for so many weeks. This baby that I had dreamed about was here. She was and is my dream baby.
I want to remember that rough Friday night when none of us - Paul, me or Ellerie - slept. It was awful, but there were good parts. I want to remember hearing Paul whisper into her ear. Tiny instructions that I could hardly hear but seemed to calm her down. I want to remember Paul standing over my bed as I tried to nurse although there was not enough milk yet for her to drink. We were all so frustrated. I told Paul, "it's okay babe. This part is supposed to be frustrating."
I want to remember when she fussed while being held and passed from person to person before finally being handed to me. My voice calmed her instantly and in that moment another birth occurred. I felt like a real mama for the second time.
I want to remember sliding her gray and white striped pants on her wiggly body and seeing her in real clothes for the first time. Such a simple act but something I had thought about doing before she was born. So few things transpired like I imagined they would so the little things were huge victories.
I want to remember pumping and our concern for capturing every single drop of colostrum to pass on to Ellerie. "It's hilarious that we are so worried about these drops," Paul said. "Soon we'll be drowning in milk." It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I want to remember on Saturday when I belly laughed over something Paul said and felt like my insides were going to fall out. The laughing hurt my swelled mid-section so much. I realized in that moment I hadn't laughed in days. I had smiled, of course, and felt happy, of course, but I hadn't laughed. It felt good to feel pain that was caused by laughter.
I want to remember the first time I was alone with her and picked her out of her plastic bassinet. We stood in the middle of the room and I swayed back and forth. I made up and sang the first song she ever heard. "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. Mama loves you. Mama loves you. Mama loves you and Papa does too." I sang it on repeat over and over and still sing it to calm her. This is remarkable because I cannot sing.
I want to remember that those first few days were so hard. They often felt impossible as I dealt with the incision pain, major swelling, poor reactions to pain medicine (my body HATES pain medicine) plus the hormonal release that comes from growing and expelling a human being. But I also want to remember that every few hours it got better. My range of motion increased. The fog lifted. The room came into focus. My heart grew.
I want to remember.