Our Autumn Mary Swanek was born via csection on Tuesday, May 26th at 1:03 pm weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 20 1/2 inches long.
|Three days old and ... a dimple!?|
We checked in at Hoag at 10:30am and waited in a room. A nurse came in and started an IV, we met the anesthesiologist, and changed into our gowns. I didn't know if Nathan would be able to stay with me for her birth because he feels nauseous and faint when medical procedures are involved. About a year ago, during an IVF informational seminar, Nathan left the room and was gone for quite awhile. Thinking he had been gone too long for the bathroom, I went to check on him and found him sitting outside, feeling like he was going to pass out. He has also passed out giving blood before, in front of a young girl who will probably always remember that day and what smelling salts do.
While I hoped he would be able to stay for her birth, I didn't have my hopes up too high because of this. As 12:30pm approached, they took me into the operating room to give me my epidural while he waited outside the room. I've heard that needle is really long, but fortunately cannot confirm or deny this. It was pretty quick and painless. As my legs were starting to feel warm and go numb, I heard someone say "Let's bring the Dad in early, to see how he does." We had warned them of his condition, and if they were going to be picking up his passed-out body, I suppose they wanted to do it sooner rather than later.
They didn't have anything to worry about. He remained by my side the entire time, reassuring me. In what felt like no time at all, someone from beyond the blue sheet said "You're going to feel some pressure" just like his sister told me they would when it was time for the baby to come out. But, it seemed too soon for baby. I turned to Nathan and asked that can't be it, can it? And then we heard her cry. A strong, beautiful, healthy cry which was so reassuring to hear. That's her! That's our baby Autumn! Nathan left my side to take pictures, and before I knew it, a nurse asked if I wanted to hold her, and she was placed on me, skin to skin.
Nothing can prepare you for how holding your child for the first time feels. No amount of dreaming and imagining it over the past 10 months or even a lifetime prepared me. And no words can do it justice either. Anything I try to come up with to describe how I felt seems beyond inadequate. Suffice to say, holding her was the moment my world changed and life finally felt complete. This is all I need; all I will ever need, I thought.
So much of our lives are spent on reaching goals. And once we reach a goal - graduation from high school, for example, we move the goal post a little farther back and set our sights on a new one. For the first part of our lives, high school graduation and officially becoming an adult seems the end-all-be-all. But no sooner do we switch our tassel from right to left and we have a new goal: graduating from college. Once that is complete and our degree is in hand, we realize we need to attend graduate school. Then, we want a job in our chosen career and oh yeah, on to finding a husband.
But now that I have Autumn, I don't need anything else. It seems my whole life has been spent working toward this one moment. So much time and effort spent achieving my own goals, finding the perfect man to be a husband and father, creating her, and now, finally, holding this new life in my arms. And all of the potential and hopes and dreams and possibilities that she represents and has laid out before her. Life could stand still forever now and that would be just fine with me. Seeing Nathan holding her after leaving the operating room melted my heart. He was staring at her and when I asked him to look up for a picture, absolutely beaming.
I could have been a Mom long ago, but not with the right person. Not with a person who would be the right kind of father: the kind of father she needs and deserves. Someone who is kind and patient and loving and funny. Someone stable, who is already planning for her future, giving her the house we live in now and half of the property in Oregon. Someone who treasures her. Finding him was worth the wait, and so was she.
After a short time in recovery, we were taken to my room where I would stay for the next three nights. When we were back in my room, Nathan gave me my "push present" a recent invention probably brought to you by the same women behind babymoon. I unwrapped a beautiful diamond and emerald necklace (our birthstone, since we're both born in May) to be passed on to Autumn when she's older. I love how sentimental he is, and Autumn will too someday.
Autumn was still sleeping on me skin-to-skin when we started receiving visitors and I just couldn't give her up until they had to take her to weigh and swaddle her. Nathan's Mom was there, my Dad and brother visited, his sister Brittany stopped by as did my friends Delia and Ann-Marie. Some people limit visitors the first day, even family - but they love Autumn just like we do, and were a part of the journey.
Starting in the hospital, Nathan was a huge help and a lot more hands-on than I expected. Even when a nurse was there to help, he took charge changing and swaddling her. They gave us the option of sending her to the nursery, and Nathan declined. She was a complete doll and only became fussy on day three because she was not getting enough nutrition from me. As soon as we started supplementing, she started seeping like, well, a baby.
We stayed in the hospital four days and three nights and it was so exciting coming home that Friday afternoon. On the ride home, I sat in the back with her, so I could watch her. We went for a walk that night, just around the block, with Nathan holding her in his arms. The first of many. We have walked with her in the stroller every day with the exception of the day I had a fever of 101 from mastitis.
Nathan continued helping that first week home, and even took many of the night shifts, staying up until 4am with her and bringing her to me when it was time to feed and changing her afterwards. I was prepared to be completely sleep deprived and stressed out. I imagined us taking turns pacing around the house at all hours trying to console our crying baby with only our limited knowledge from a 15 minute Happiest Baby on the Block video we watched. "Shushing" her loudly, swaddling her tightly and getting out the vacuum cleaner or blow-dryer for the white noise. I wondered if we would have time to shower, eat or even talk to each other.
But, it has been amazing and I have to say, pretty darn easy compared to what I was bracing myself for. This further credits my theory that low expectations are the key to happiness. I thought we would be searching for ways to console her and instead, we have a perfect angel that has to be woken up half the time to be feed! Not to say those times won't come, but as for now, she is sleeping over 20 hours a day and only cries when she's hungry. Then, she's right back to sleep.
The only struggle we had was breastfeeding, which I really wanted to do. I threw in the towel after my second failed lactation consultation at Hoag during which she only received 4cc of milk, when she has been consuming 3-4 ounces. My production was super low in spite of pumping every 3 hours around the clock and I had scabs. Yes, scabs. They said redheads are much more sensitive and I was truly in pain with every attempt. What was supposed to be a bonding experience was torture for both of us, with her becoming frustrated as I tried to get her to latch deeper by pushing her tiny, crying face to me. As soon as I let go of the emotional this is what's best for her and I have to do it part, things have been much better. Nathan is able to stay up with her and I'm able to sleep more. She sleeps more soundly because she is satiated.
We treasure the times when she is awake, because they are so few and far between. We talk to her and tell her about all the adventures she has ahead of her while she holds amazing eye contact with her furrowed brows. We love singing "You are my Sunshine" to her and earlier this week, she has began responding to our voice. While on a walk the other night, I said her name and she moved her eyes to look at me. We love watching her fall asleep, how she sometimes sleeps with her tiny fists both up by her ears and how she stretches when she wakes up. Sometimes, she dreams, and makes the cutest sounds and movements. We wonder what she is dreaming about since her experiences are so limited. I love the sounds she makes when she's drinking the bottle, and how her little hands wander up to her face, but grip your finger tightly instead when offered to her.
I know this newborn phase will pass far too quickly, and so I am trying to soak in every moment and commit every little thing she does to memory, or at least social media.