(In our last installment, I'd been ministered to by a wonderful "bonding nurse" in recovery, and was snuggling my little baby boy bundle).
We were still there when my parents and Maggie were ushered in. I'd debated letting Maggie see me in recovery, but figured since they were right there and I didn't want GrandJan and Papa to meet the baby before her, she could come see me (I think they wouldn't let Paul walk out with the baby or it didn't occur to me to ask). . This was a mistake. I tried to show her the baby, but all she was interested in was the wires and tubes and her clearly out of it mommy in the bed. Her big blue eyes stared at me over the bed rail, and she kept asking, in a small clear worried voice, "Mommy? Are you okay?"
Finally, she gave Will, still on my chest, a cautious glance. "That baby is soo cute…" she said. "When is Will going to be born?"
We explained to her that the baby is Will, and she gave us a clearly skeptical look, but accepted it.
The rest of this part is a little blurry, because of the dopiness from the drugs and the generally feeling awful. I remember my parents holding Will each in turn, exclaiming in delight, and my father getting teary eyed as he kissed my cheek and congratulated me. I remember Maggie pulling Paul away to go play and hearing them on the other side of the curtain while Paul explained to her that unfortunately there was not a lot to play with here and no she couldn't climb on that empty bed. And I really remember being completely unable to follow the conversation or much of anything.
Finally the nurse came in and said they were taking Will off to the nursery, so I was able to lay there in peace as everyone cleared out to follow him, and attempt to will my recovery to speed along. Last time I was so chilly and could not get warm; this time, I was hot and sweaty. The recovery nurse kept laying cool washcloths over me, which felt wonderful, and encouraging me to close my eyes if I felt like it. My blood pressure kept going up and down, which had happened last time too. And something I forgot from having Maggie until right then: Apparently the gold standard for recovery is the ability to wiggle your toes. If you can do that, they'll spring you. Because of the emergency nature of her birth, I was scared and numb from shock and just wanted to see this baby already. I felt like if I couldn’t be with her they might switch her up with another, lesser baby or lose or steal her or something. This time, I'd seen Will, held him, even let him sort of nurse so I was more eager to just feel good than to get up to my room and get my hands on my baby. I knew I'd see him again shortly, and like we'd been imprinted with each other.
With Maggie, I actually tried to lie my way out of recovery, claiming I felt great and could totally wiggle my toes until the nurse called me on it. This time, I still felt pretty crappy when they decided I was clear to go. I did vomit once from the anesthesia, I think still while in recovery, again, blurry. I do remember Paul came back with me and fed me ice chips and tried to joke around, and went with me to my room .
So I got moved, and a funny thing I don’t remember at all from Maggie's birth is that they throw you on an elevator with regular staff and go right along the balcony I remember walking along while heading to Maggie's sibling class, which looks out plain as day over the deli and Starbucks in the hospital's main lobby. I asked Paul "did they DO this last time? I don’t remember this being quite so, ummm, public." I was just there recently buying breast pads and peeked up into the lobby, wondering if I could see a woman being wheeled along just as I was that day.
Strangely, none of the mother-baby unit looked familiar from last time – I couldn’t even remember the entrance when we were there for sibling class
When we had Maggie, the new South Tower had just been opened and our childbirth class nurse told us they referred to the mother-baby unit as "the Hilton" because it was so nice, and this time it was nicer still. Because all those 50 rooms they'd built to house two patients per? Somewhere in the intervening three years, they'd all gone to private rooms. So we had a huge room complete with two flat screen TVs all to ourselves. A nursing assistant and the nurse who was going to become my BFF for the next three days, Patti, hefted me onto my bed and got me settled, and somewhere in there Will was brought in, flowers from Paul's office were delivered, and my parents and Maggie joined us again.
The rest of the day was taken up with attempting to nurse, attempting to sleep, and later another visit from my folks and Maggie, who was still pretty shy about seeing me all hooked up to monitors and IVs and such. After awhile, the four of them, Paul, my parents, and Maggie went of to have dinner and I slept, Will in his little baby bucket cart next to me.
One of my powerful moments with Maggie's birth was suddenly falling in love with her at the hospital — I so clearly remember the moment it happened, while nursing her in the dark quiet that first night. I didn’t have the same thing with Will – instead, it was instant joy and recognition on first laying eyes on him (instead of great relief and dull wonder when they showed us Maggie), and feeling good and normal and complete, like he just belonged here with us and of course he was my son, just like the sky is blue or my dog is annoying. Maggie's birth felt like the incredible end to the infertility story — Will's feels like the beginning of something not yet known.
Paul says he'll never forget how I looked that morning, that I had kind of a glow about me like I was very thrilled with life; and I remember telling him at one point that I was as happy as I had ever been, ever. Our dream had come true – two children, and even the configuration we used to say we wanted, a little girl and then a little boy. There's a picture of Maggie sitting on my lap while I nursed Will my last full day in the hospital, and I was just so filled with joy to be cuddling both my children I just could not stand it.
There's been challenges since I got home; everybody's been sick, nursing hurts like a bitch, and my contention I would not get PPD this time turned out not to be true (and will be the topic of my next post, I acted fast and am doing much better already). But overall, I feel incredibly blessed and lucky for my little boy, and the girl who came before, and the man I did all this with. Th other night, all four of us snuggled into Maggie's bed for the bedtime ritual, both kids next to each other. Maggie started at and snuggled her brother, and Paul and I looked at each other, smiling. "Our family," he said.
And it's lovely.