How things change in just a few days. As I type this, Caroline Francesca is sleeping peacefully in her daddy's arms while Sam snoozes upstairs. I'm sitting here thinking that this is what women mean when they talk about how deliriously happy they are after having a baby. I always assumed they were just on more pain meds than me. Around this time in Sam's life, we were frantically trying to get him to nurse through jaundice while having him on a light bed at home, and I was having frequent crying jags and feelings of total helplessness. This was hardly Sam's fault - The birth had been long and difficult after an induction, and I was dealing with the aftermath of a birth experience that was in many ways the opposite of what I had wanted.
By comparison, Caroline's birth was picture-perfect. We suspected that I was in labor on Thursday night around 6 when I started having regular (but manageable) contractions, and made the call to send Sam to Erik and Laural's house for an overnight visit. We drove to the village and strolled around, popping in Starbucks and Bartells to wander around, me periodically leaning on Mark to breathe through a contraction. We were disappointed when things started to slow down, and we headed home where I planted myself on the bed to watch Grey's Anatomy. As if on cue, at 10 I started shaking, threw up once, and set in to strong contractions. I labored at home for two hours, we headed to the hospital around 12, I got in the tub at 1:15 to ride out about 20 minutes of serious transition contractions and my water finally broke, I felt the urge to push and got back into my room, pushed for 10 minutes, and out she came! It was obviously serious work, but the entire experience was delightfully fast and manageable. As I was getting in position to push, I looked at Mark and the midwife and remember saying, "I can't believe I get to push already!" There's even a picture of me with a big grin on my face between pushing contractions. And when she was finally on my chest, I was overwhelmed with joy.
And since then, she has been a delightful, calm, sweet baby. When she cries, it's this unobtrusive, hey-could-you-help-me-out sound, low and almost musical. She drifts off to sleep easily, and when she is unhappy it's been easy so far to figure out what she wants and how to fix it. Last night, she even let us sleep 4 hours in a row. I know that all of this isn't just her - I know much more now about how to handle a newborn and have much more realistic expectations. But I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everything that has happened over the last few days, for everything that she is, and for everything that our family has come to be through all of this.
Now, Sam...the final piece of this puzzle that is our new family. I will never forget the look on his face when Mark carried him into the hospital room to meet Caroline. He was completely taken with her, wanted to hold her right away, and got mad when Mark took away "his baby." On the way home, Sam and I were waiting for Mark to bring the car around when I looked over and caught Sam gazing at her in the car seat with a look of naked adoration, then he reached out and gently pulled the blanket up to her chin. I thought my heart was going to explode.
She's about to wake up, so I need to wrap this up but will continue later with some more about Sam and Caroline. I'll end by saying that although I'm tired, and although I know that we'll all have our ups and downs in the coming weeks, I never thought I would feel so happy and complete as when I look at all of us together, our new little family.