Last Wednesday marked both my original due date and Skyler’s first week of life. As has come to be expected, time seems to be slipping through my fingers; I wanted to capture and share some thoughts (and a lot of photos) from Skyler’s first week.
Apologies: It’s an indulgently long record of a week, but I know I’ll appreciate having it one day.
Labor, and those first couple of days in the hospital, already seems a distant memory. Which is a nice surprise, actually, because it took about this long last time to be up and walking around! (The difference between how I feel, postpartum, after this delivery and Hudson’s is night and day.)
That’s not to say it isn’t a fond memory! There’s nothing quite like that dizzy combination of excitement, trepidation (maybe a little dread), joy, anticipation, resignation, and steeled-nerve resolve that the end of pregnancy and the start of labor brings about. Aron and I were happily surprised by its spontaneous start—especially as the suggestion of induction had us both walking the floor for a few hours in hopes that could be avoided!
I was admitted after having dropped off Hudson at preschool, so we face-timed with him after his grandparents picked him up and felt relieved to know he was happily playing with trains, with people he loves. I remembered thinking, early on, that I would be fine staying in the hospital on the long-end of the spectrum for stays rather than rushing home to start caring for two—but boy did that change when it came down to it. I felt so sensitive to how Hudson might be faring with our sudden disappearance and was eager to get home!
Skyler arrived in the wee hours of the morning on the fifth of February, puffy and beautiful, with lungs that prompted the rounding pediatrician to compliment her “survival instincts.” The hospital was wonderful and placed her straight onto my chest and did some suctioning and cleaning with her still in my arms. There she stayed for an hour, before they took her just a few feet further to side for all of those routine checks, for weighing her and measuring her.
I’m sure I would have felt as in love with her as I do regardless, but it’s incredible how—this time—knowing that our charming, completely individual little Hudson grew out of one such infant bundle makes her all the more precious!
We moved upstairs from the large delivery room to one of the private recovery rooms (notable because I had a shared room in New York, and it was horrible!) and did our best to get two or three hours of sleep before sunrise.
Visitors soon arrived to meet Skyler—my parents, Aron’s parents, and friends (who brought us waffle fries! And sundaes! And who took the photo of us holding the baby). And most importantly, Hudson came to meet his sister.
I don’t think that first meeting could have gone better. Aron drove home to pick him up from school and bring him to the hospital so that we could have a brief time with just the four of us (and then Aron’s parents kindly came about 30 minutes behind so that they could drive him back home). I sat far away from Skyler, out of the hospital bed, for when Hudson came in and opened my arms wide to greet him—but instead of coming to me he ran over to the bassinet and, wide-eyed, asked “That my baby sister? She out now?”
We sat with her in our laps on the bed together and he “pet” her head (and still suggests to everyone we see that they do, too) and gave her a kiss. He didn’t want her uncovered, and when he was done he simply asked that she be “put back in bed now.”
You could see that he was registering the change when he didn’t rush to rip the paper off the presents to him, from her, but he was very happy once he did. We chose a tiny Mater and tiny Lightning because, you know, they’re best friends.
I was worried it would hard for Hudson to leave the hospital with us staying behind, but he handled it all in stride. At least that day.
We were discharged the following morning. First Hudson came home. We waited to pick him up until after his nap. But in a cruel twist, Hudson appears to have chosen now to try dropping his nap. He actually started skipping it a few days before Skyler was born and has only taken maybe two naps in the last nine days. I can’t believe the timing.
We sweetened the homecoming with birthday cupcakes for Skyler (he got to blow out the candle).
He seems happy to see her and very interesting in her (and he loves introducing her to visitors), but sometimes she gets too close.
And I can see that he doesn’t love how often she’s on my lap. He’s definitely more fragile, more quick to tears and we’ve been doing our best not to verbally attribute any of the changes in his routine to her. (Though he’s no fool.) But all in all, he’s done incredibly well so far with what is a huge change. We couldn’t be prouder of what a sweet boy he is.
We waited another full day before bringing Sawyer back from the dog-sitter. I re-read those tips I linked for introducing the family pet to the new baby and Aron took a baby blanket in the car when he went to pick him up. And he’s been very sweet, as we might have predicted. He actually tries to offer the baby things! He brought a bone and left it at the foot of the changing table when she was crying, and has tried to offer her his favorite red-dog toy.
Her crying is, understandably one of the most distressing things for Hudson, but he’s finding ways to manage. (You may have caught this video on Instagram? He specifically requested the hearing-protection headphones.) And rather than erupting in tears himself, we’ve actually found him whispering to her, “don’t worry, don’t worry, Skyler.”
His first real taste of it came on an outing to Target (note the celebratory champagne in cans!), when we were desperate just to get out (and get the toddler out) and walk despite the rain. (Another cruel twist? Though I’m terrible for complaining, because we desperately need any rain we can get, it rained non-stop the first three days home and Hudson had a three-day-weekend. The first of two in a row!)
On the upside, cloudy days make for prettier photographs.
So far Skyler is a dreamy little infant… in the sense that she sleeps all the time! I know this doesn’t last forever, so I’m doing my best to just appreciate the ease and portability of that sleepy newborn stage rather than worry that she’s waking enough to feed or that she’s getting her days and nights switched (easier said than done).
She’s in bed with us for the time-being, despite our bringing out Hudson’s mini-crib; she has a keen ability to sense any efforts at putting her asleep elsewhere.
Like most infants, she’s happiest when being held—and we’re happy to oblige. I’ve only had a few instances so far where Hudson wants to be picked up and my holding Skyler means having to say I can’t. And so far, I’ve been able to greet Hudson in the mornings without her in my arms and get out the door in reasonably efficient time.
I’m a little bit terrified for the juggling act that will follow Aron’s return to work this—gulp—Thursday. I’ve been mentally imagining how our routines are going to work (or, in some cases, need changing) when it’s just me at home again.
Tangentially, I have a whole new sense of sympathy and respect for families who have c-sections (or very difficult recoveries) for second (or third…) children! I can’t imagine how much harder this would be if Aron and I weren’t able to tag-team the way we are, owing to my being up and about.
As for myself, I was so relieved about being up and walking so much faster this time. With Hudson, it was ten days before I felt good enough to walk much more than a block—and even then I just made one pass down the Highline. On Monday, once the rain stopped, we all went on a long walk. (Hudson rode his balance bike over two miles!) I have to admit, however, that while I felt great on the way downtown, I seriously lost steam on the way home and conceded to myself that it was an overly ambitious first outing. No harm in taking it slow.
Thankfully, for those times when I did need to just take it easy with Skyler, Aron’s being home proved pretty exciting. He heated up the “tiny pool” to a bath-like temperature one drizzly afternoon; he took Hudson and the dog to the park and library; and he brought Hudson to the train museum in Sacramento (for which Hudson dressed the part).
There were of course some lows not pictured. All of those changing pregnancy hormones meant a few days, right around the end of the first week, where the slightest infraction (or feeling of sibling guilt) would make me cry. The worst was when Hudson got bit by a mosquito right beside his eye and one whole side of his face swelled up. He didn’t look like himself and every time I’d see it my eyes would brim with tears. It was ridiculous! Then Skyler got her first cold on day six. And, even with relatively good sleep (relative for a newborn), it’s all just so mentally and physically exhausting!
Oh, how all of our lives have changed in a week! I can’t believe I get to hold and kiss these two beautiful children. And hearing Aron talk about his beautiful daughter (who, he’ll add with a smile, is good at math) makes me melt.
I suppose, looking ahead, that those emotions that come with labor are still palpable: “excitement, trepidation (maybe a little dread), joy, anticipation, resignation, and steeled-nerve resolve.”
Welcome home, Skyler![All photos ours, taken from February 4-12, 2014]