After 5 days in the hospital Søren was released with a paper sack full of antibiotics, a sheaf of discharge papers, and a hesitant goodbye from his doctors, tempered with “we’ll be here all weekend if anything happens”. Huzzybee and I dragged the baby, our suitcases, and our frazzled nerves back home. Friends began asking to visit (some were deterred when I demanded to see their vaccination history and take a nasal swab before they could walk in the front door). Then the weekend passed, Huzzybee went back to work, and baby and I were left alone to get acquainted.
Here are some of my discoveries in in my first hospital-free week at home:
Trying to feed a newborn an array of medications with a syringe is hard. They mustn’t taste very good because he wrinkles his little nose and scowls with each taste. One of them smells like strawberry bubble gum and is pepto-bismal pink. He hates it and spits it out, leaving pink stains all over the collars of his onesies. Worst of all, they make his tummy upset, and usually about an hour after he takes them he squirms and strains in pain while his stomach rumbles ominously.
Going anywhere is difficult. Not that he’s hard to take out in public – in fact, he is an extremely well behaved baby (note: older and wiser mothers tell me that this is simply because he is a newborn and can sleep through a demolition derby if he wants to). It just takes such a very long time to get out the door after I feed him, change his diaper, bundle him up, cinch him into his car seat, and then turn the car around once or twice to grab miscellaneous items that I forgot to put in his diaper bag.
Newborns don’t do much. Yes, eating, sleeping, and pooping are activities – they even involve my participation, but they aren’t much fun. I tried to read him a book this afternoon to mix things up but he squeezed his eyes shut and squawked until I fed him again.
My husband and I have started going to bed at 7 p.m. Søren sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed, and when he falls asleep, Huzzybee and I dive into bed for as much shut eye as we can manage to squeeze in before the little nipper decides that he is hungry again.
I spend a lot of time staring at my baby’s face, which is the cutest face on earth. I always promised myself and others that if I had an ugly baby I would be honest and admit it. Nothing is more awkward then stammering out “oh…she’s so cute…” to the parents of an ugly baby. However, my baby is not ugly, he’s the cutest baby on the planet. now I wonder…is it true? Is he objectively cute, or does becoming a parent make me blind to baby ugliness? How can I waste so much time just staring at him? Does that unnerve him?
My baby has an internal switch that wakes him up from his nap the minute I try to sit down and eat a meal. He can be sleeping soundly, but the minute he hears the tinkle of a fork against a plate he’s awake and crying. I am trying to learn to eat one-handed while bottle-feeding a baby, but so far all I have managed to do is spill gravy and cranberry sauce all over Søren’s pajamas.
I like being Søren’s mom. As a Reluctant Matron, being happy and satisfied staying at home with a mute, drowsy infant is downright confusing. My vision of myself three weeks after giving birth was as a bloated, sobbing disaster, cocktail in one hand and baby in the other. Perhaps the days in the hospital didn’t just heal Søren’s body, perhaps they healed me as well…gave me some time to discover what I know to be important – in a graphic and dramatic way.