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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Excuse me nurse, do you accept returns?

I might be dwelling too much on my baby turning seven soon.  Seven!

But I can't help it.  Because I just brought him home from the hospital yesterday.  And also, like a million years ago.

I both remember that day with absolute clarity and don't remember it at all.  So it had to be both.

I don't remember walking through the garage door, into our cozy home.  I don't remember who was there.  If anyone.

But I remember lying him down in the bassinet beside our bed.  Tiptoeing out to the kitchen.  Mostly though, I remember the panic.  And the fear.

I remember thinking someone must have messed up.  Because they just sent me home with a real, live human being.  With a small, but definitely living, creature.

They showed me how to change a diaper and give a bath, but they forgot to show me how to keep this thing alive!

I tiptoed quickly back to the bedroom.  Laid my finger gently on his tiny stomach.  When it rose just slightly I exhaled the breath I didn't know I'd been holding.

Alright.  One hour in.  Still alive.  That must be a good sign.

I don't remember what we had for lunch or if we thought to eat at all.

But I remember when he woke up and we decided to get him dressed.  What else can you do with a newborn if not dress him in the thousands of cute, tiny outfits you've had washed and neatly folded in his drawers for weeks?

But his arms were like thick, misbehaving noodles.  And he was just so tiny.  Could we break him?  They forgot to tell us how not to break him!

I don't remember if we gave up, or persevered to get him dressed, but I do remember sitting with him on the couch.  I remember thinking that I should have been holding him close and breathing in his sweet, baby smell.  That I should have been enjoying this moment.  The one I dreamt about for most of my life.

But all I wanted to do was put him down.  I was angry.  And really, really tired.

Why didn't someone give me a chance to catch my breath before throwing me right into the thick of things?

Couldn't they have given me a few more nights in the hospital?  With my baby in the nursery and my husband and I alone in the room, watching TV and sleeping.  Like it should be.

Couldn't they have let me catch up on the full night of sleep that I missed while birthing him?

And speaking of which, couldn't they have given me a bit of time to process the trauma of bringing a tiny human into the world?  Wasn't there someone I could talk to about the pain and the confusion and the fact that when I first saw my baby I wasn't overwhelmed with love because all I could think about was how badly I wanted to sleep!  (Thank you, narcotics.)

None of it was how I pictured and I couldn't even remember what I pictured because I was just so stinking tired!

I don't remember going to bed that night.  But I do remember waking up to my baby's restless grunts.  I remember pulling him into my arms, my head spinning with exhaustion.  I remember the sound that escaped from my lips when he latched and the desire to hurl something across the room (don't worry, not the baby).

I don't remember getting him back to sleep, or lying down myself.  But I remember thinking my life would never be the same.  That normal was gone forever.

And now, nearly seven years later, I can say, without hesitation... I was 100% right.

Each of our babies changed our life in his own way.  But nothing like the first.  Not even close.

We messed up a lot with Aiden.  We did things to get him to sleep that we literally can't talk about now without laughing.  Or crying.

We obsessed about his schedule and worried endlessly about doing everything right and forgot, most of the time, to enjoy him.

But he was our first.  Our learning experience, as we like to call him.

He changed our life completely.  And those first few weeks, those really hard ones, I was learning to let go.

I quite liked our life how it was.  I thought his arrival would add to it.  But it didn't.  In fact, it turned it upside down.  He added chaos and confusion and took away any semblance of a full night's sleep.

But he also added laughter and tears and deep, deep joy.

And I can say now, seven years out, that I would never ever go back.  That our old life just wouldn't do it now.  That free time and quiet and loads of sleep, while terribly appealing, just aren't that appealing anymore.

I'll take the worry and tears, the long nights and early mornings, the constant noise and the crumb-covered floors.

I'll take it all.  Because he comes with it.  And now, so do the other two.

I couldn't have known then.  How worth it he would be.

All I can say is this.

I'm glad hospitals don't have return policies.


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