Sweet little Maisy Lou is here! She's a she, and she came two days "early" -- which shows that I know nothing. Labor snuck up on me a little bit, just like it did the last two times. I felt a little crampy on Tuesday, but it wasn't until around four in the afternoon that I realized our baby would be arriving that day. "Are you having tontwactions, mom?" Yes, as a matter of fact I am; around five they were mild but regular, coming every 5-6 minutes. Ben came home from work and showered. I called my mom, fed the boys supper, and packed a bag. I think around 6:30 or so we were on our way to the hospital; 7:30 I was checked in and starting to really feel it as the setting sun shone through the windows; 8:30 I was just about fully dilated and saying, how about those pain meds? The anesthesiologist came and gave me what they call an interthecal or somethingorother, which was the bomb of course. So that numbed me up, and I had a nice little chat with the doctor and nurses about that show Call the Midwife while they set up the "baby slip n slide" between my legs. I made some comment about the numbness feeling like cheating because it made labor so much fun, but my awesome nurse Kathy said, "Why not let it be fun?" I totally agree.
Ben and I took some time to admire her and love on her. She took some time to nurse, just a sample -- nothing like the boys who nursed for hours straight. Soon, Cass and Kara arrived and they didn't even have to wait this time; Maisy is too polite to leave her guests waiting and she was ready to greet them straight away. We hung out for a while -- a couple of hours? -- and just chatted and smiled at the star of the hour, and I crunched down about 25 cups of hospital ice chips. That time was a huge blessing for me I think -- time with just the four people I needed. My emotional state could have been much different without you there, so thank you C+K. Eventually we said goodnight, we switched rooms, we sent Maisy to the nursery for her bath, we dozed a little waiting for the return of our girl. (I don't send my babies away for the night; I'm a baby keeper! I'm certain I get more rest knowing they're safe with me.) My night nurse Alie came back around 1:30 with Maisy Lou all dolled up in a matching hat and tiny blanket and was so excited that she asked if we wanted a family picture, even though we were all pretty much asleep. And of course we did.
Maisy was an angel that first night (and every night since). Owen spent his first nights chugging boob milk and then puking it all over himself and me every two hours, and Bob was much the same but with less spitting up because my milk didn't come in with such force. But my girlie is much more sensible; she's not one to overdo it and just sips until she's not hungry anymore. She sleeps pretty much all night (and all day, for that matter). That first morning I finally had to force her awake to eat around 5:30 or 6:00. Ben was still snoozing on the pull-out couch and I was in heaven seeing my baby girl in daylight for the first time. We took it easy, hung out; Cass and Kara stopped by after their big night at the Crowne Plaza with a pink puppy for Maisy before heading out of town. We ate breakfast, talked to the boys on the phone (who informed me that Grandmother was taking them for donuts and ice cream sandwiches for breakfast on their way to the hospital).
Around 9:45, Bob and O arrived to meet their baby sister. I wish we had a photo of Bob as he entered the room, because his smile couldn't have been huger. He was beaming with excitement. Both of the boys climbed right up onto the bed and were all love as they oohed and ahhed over their baby. The scene undoubtedly ranked amongst the sweetest of my life. Their pure love was so beautiful. When I introduced Maisy I showed them, "She has one little hand and one tiny paw." Because that is how God made her was a good enough explanation for Bob; really there was no need for explanation, they just accepted her. They thought her little paw was just as cute as the rest of her and couldn't stop kissing and touching her all over. Owie kept trying to dig her tiny little hands out of her giant sleeves to see and kiss them again.
The boys spent a good deal of time at the hospital that day -- maybe four or five hours altogether? -- and they were as good as you could expect from a four and two year old. Seriously, such angels. They blessed every single person they met along the way with their cuteness, too. I was so proud of my three gorgeous kiddos.
As much as I wished I could just go home that day rather than be cooped up in a hospital room, it was a lovely stay. I was happy -- no hospital weepies like last time. And I felt good -- like totally fine, lucky me. I was so overjoyed at being intact down there that I skipped down the halls singing songs about how grand it was to have my vagina in one piece. Owen did a serious number on me but after Maisy, I wasn't even swollen. Thank you, thank you, tiny girl.
We learned a little from the pediatrician and my obstetrician about Maisy's hand -- that her fingers were "naturally amputated" by what is called an amniotic band constriction. There wasn't much to say. I was sad for Maisy, but so thankful that she was healthy and not in any pain or in need of any intervention.
The boys went home for dinner with my mom and Ben's; they were pretty excited for a double grandmother sleepover, and they were totally awesome about it. Bob had a little sadness at bedtime -- I miss Mom. Why did we leave her and Maisy behind? We should have brought them with us! -- but he pulled through and all was well. Owen cried next, something the grandmas couldn't understand, so they brought him back downstairs and eventually figured out that he wanted his new blue motorcycle; once it was located he climbed the stairs right back to bed.
Ben and I had supper in the hospital, and Big Gram stopped by for a visit, and then we watched Survivor and flipped through the channels a little. (I am so glad we don't have cable because seriously, it's all crap; what is the point?) Ben fell asleep on the little couch and Maisy was asleep as always and I was a little lonely so I went down to fill my ice cup and chat it up with the nurses and entertain them for a bit. One of them was my high school softball coach's wife Reina -- totally rad to catch up with her and make each other feel old.
And then I wrote a little in my journal before I went to sleep snuggling my little sweetie -- a total angel.
Kathy the nurse was well aware that I was eager to be on my way in the morning -- I just wanted to be home, our whole family together! -- and she was a doll making sure we were discharged as early as possible.
It's hard for me to believe, but I didn't shed a single tear for Maisy in the hospital. I felt, and needed to feel, like everything was just fine. Which it is, of course. The waterworks finally flowed when Ben pulled the car around with I Won't Give Up playing (the song in Maisy's video below). A happy drive, a happy time -- but also just a little bit hard.
The week since we've been home has been one of the most joyous of my life; this time feels so incredibly precious that I want to grasp it with all of my might. Bob and Owen are the cutest duo on the planet; I laugh out loud at their beautiful boy antics and anecdotes all day long. And Maisy is the sweetest. The joy and privilege of caring for my newborn baby is simply the best. That newborn smell. The feel of her nuzzling into my neck. Her soft fuzzy skin and teeny tiny bum. Her kitten cry. Her searching mouth. Her bitty grasping fingers and stretching toes. The almost weightlessness of her warm little body in my arms, or on my chest. Oh, I'm so lucky. On Saturday morning I said to Ben, "I think this is my favorite time of my whole life."
But scattered amongst all the dandelions I've also experienced moments of the most profound grief I've ever felt. Moments of sadness for Maisy and the insecurities she might feel or the things she may have trouble doing or the questions she'll have to answer. Moments of doubt, and guilt. You want the best for your kids of course, and fingers are better than no fingers; it's as simple as that. I've had some good cries this week, I won't lie. But the moments pass quickly because I can already see that Maisy will be just fine. I'm glad we're the ones who get to cherish her. And cherish her we do -- Bob and O take frequent breaks from their play to stop by and say, "I love you, Maisy," or "She is so cute!" and I kiss her about a thousand times a day. I will be the very best mama for her that I can be. We are loving our new baby days around here.
So, without further ado... meet Maisy Lou.
video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQCGwRUQWJA
PS. Special loving thanks to the best husband birth photographer ever. I'd say he's available for hire but that might be a little awkward, I don't know.