First of all, Rich and I would like to thank all of you SO MUCH for your phone calls, emails, and blog comments. We love and appreciate you, and have been so busy learning how to care for a newborn that we have yet to respond to most of you. Please forgive us if you’ve called or emailed and we haven’t gotten back to you yet…we are deeply grateful for your love, support, and prayers. Thank you!
If I could sum up the past two weeks since Alana came into the world it would be something along the lines of “oh-my-gosh-this-parent-thing-is-so-much-harder-than-I-thought-it-would-be.”
Yes, the past two weeks have had their share of trauma, and I would like to document everything in a blog post, before this season fades and gives way to new seasons, and time dims my memory of this crazy time. And I am positive that time must affect one’s memory, or there would be a large number of families with just one child! As it is, the majority of people decide to have more than one…which means that the blessings must outweigh the challenges 🙂
The trauma really began in the hospital (as it does for most women!), when my body actually labored for 24 hours and gave birth to a baby and subsequently received almost no sleep for a couple of nights while I was poked and prodded by hospital staff all throughout the night. Did they really need to take my blood at four in the morning and my blood pressure every hour???
But the real trauma started when we tried to leave the hospital. We had always been told that we needed to have our car seat “safety checked” before going into labor because the hospital staff would not let anyone leave unless the car seat was installed properly. Well, not only did they not check the installation, the man who wheeled me to the car didn’t even know how to help us put the baby in it! We tried to put Alana in her car seat and realized that her body was literally too small to fasten the straps. Not only were the shoulder straps just too large — even when completely tightened — but the leg straps didn’t even come close to being able to restrain her tiny legs. We stood there in the parking garage, attempting to outsmart our car seat, while little Alana flailed her little limbs and grew more and more agitated. The more she cried the more stressed I got. That is one thing about being a new parent…we are not used to the crying yet, so it is very upsetting at first. When we realized that the man who wheeled me down would be of no help, we made the decision to fasten her the best we could and pray our way home (rather than spending the next half hour trying to track down someone who did have a clue).
God saw to it that we arrived home safely, and I slowly emerged from the car, hurting almost too much to walk myself to the front door.
Once inside, my mom and I were unpacking in my bedroom and suddenly Alana began to choke. We looked at her, and it was obvious that she couldn’t breathe. Her mouth was wide open, and no noise was coming out. She began to turn bright red, then white, and as mom and I struggled to find the bulb to suction whatever was choking her, she literally turned blue. I panicked and began to cry while my dad hugged me and prayed. Rich walked in at that moment, found the bulb, and he and my mom began suctioning Alana’s throat. They were level headed and efficient, and soon Alana coughed and was breathing again. But it was too late for my nerves. I was a wreck. It was the scariest minute of my life, and it felt like an eternity. We assumed that she still had some amniotic fluid in her lungs from birth the day before, and thankfully, we’ve not had another episode like that again. But I was jumpy with every choke Alana uttered.
Once that ordeal was over, we spent the evening rehearsing everything that the lactation consultants had taught and shown us while at the hospital. I don’t know what I would have done without them. We had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding at the hospital, and they saved the day. Alana and I are getting to know each other, and we are both learning together…but wow…all of my assumptions about breastfeeding coming naturally and without a glitch were far from reality. But I’m committed. I’ve always wanted to breastfeed, and we are getting the hang of it! My sister flew in late that night and joined me in my bedroom, got to meet Alana, and hear about everything that had transpired so far. It was wonderful to have my family here.
The next day was equally distressing. Either from catching someone’s sickness (or possibly from the stress and lack of sleep), I was sick with stomach problems all day long. I felt so sick that I couldn’t take care of Alana very well, and I was so thankful for Rich and my family and all the help. I thought I was going to have to go straight back to the hospital since I couldn’t eat a thing and I felt so weak! Rich and I prayed for God’s grace and strength all day and that prayer continued into our week (and it continues now). I was much better the next day, though still weak, frazzled, and tired!
The remainder of the week wasn’t as stressful, but when Sunday came and I said goodbye to my family, I thought I would fall apart. Then on Monday morning, Rich took my wonderful sister back to the airport and he went to work. I went from a houseful of help and support to…well, total loneliness. I was alone at home with a newborn. I was thinking…”Now what???” Well, the absolute dependency of a newborn turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was so busy feeding, changing diapers, doing laundry, and getting in naps whenever I could that the loneliness wasn’t as intense as I’d feared.
The second week was not nearly as stressful, as Alana and I got into a routine and began to know what to expect from each other. We still aren’t supposed to be in public much due to germs and giving Alana’s immune system a chance to strengthen, so we took long walks around our neighborhood, ran a few errands, and enjoyed some visitors at the house. Rich even took care of Alana while I got out with my in-laws for a few hours last Saturday! Man, I feel like a woman!
Amid the stress, physical exhaustion, and emotional/hormonal fluctuations, I have so many things to be thankful for: I am incredibly thankful for a smooth labor and delivery, a healthy and beautiful baby girl, my incessantly supportive husband, my incredible family who cooked and cleaned all week for me (and even took turns waking up to help with the baby), and friends and family who have prayed, brought meals, and visited.
And so, that is a (lengthy) recap of the first two weeks in the Smith household as I’ve experienced it. It’s been exhausting but energizing, non-glamorous but beautiful, and messy but covered in God’s grace.
“The Lord has done great things and we are glad.”