Before we knew it, it was time to bring Lily home. It was surreal putting her in real clothes (not the little hospital gowns they gave us for her during our stay) and taking her outside for the very first time. It was also bittersweet to leave the hospital. While we were looking forward to getting back to our own house and our own life, the hospital had grown to be such a special place and it was a little scary going back into the real world to raise a baby. I mean, they just let you walk out of there with a tiny human to care for like it’s no big deal! That’s nuts!
This was the very same outfit I went home in as a newborn.
I totally dropped the ball when it came to packing warm clothes for Lily to come home in. She was smaller than we expected so none of the winter things we brought for her were even close to fitting so we ended up bundling her up in little blankets and Chris’ hat and scarf. We were off to a great start with this whole parenting thing…
Welcome home little one!
First night at home.
The first few days at home were a strange adjustment and whirlwind of emotions. Lily was still quite jaundiced so she slept A LOT. She would basically wake up, eat (if we were lucky), and go right back to sleep. Our first day back we were able to clean our whole house and make ourselves dinner. I think Chris said it best when he said, “I expected there would be a lot more parenting to do as a parent.” Things quickly picked up, but that first day or two was still so strange.
As I said before, because of her jaundice Lily slept all the time which meant that she often wasn’t eating as much as she needed to. We frequently had to put ice on her feet and cheeks to keep her awake long enough for a full nursing session. As a result, my milk was delayed in coming in, which meant even when she was awake to eat she wasn’t getting much. Since breastmilk is the best way to cure jaundice it was an unfortunate and seemingly never-ending cycle.
We had to take her back to the doctor every morning for almost a week to get her blood tested. We did everything we could to try to bring her jaundice levels down so she could stop getting her little hands and feet pricked so many times. I had to pump after every breastfeeding session and then we gave the few precious mililiters I produced to Lily in a tiny cup since she was more likely to stay awake drinking out of the cup than at the breast. We even had to give her a little bit of formula at the beginning just to get things moving in her system to get her bilirubin levels down, but I was determined to make breastfeeding work. I scrimped and saved every little drop I could and finally after a few days my milk came in. The breastmilk combined with sleeping in the sun and priesthood blessings thankfully managed to decrease her bilirubin levels and about a week after we came home from the hospital she was finally a normal healthy newborn.
The pose which won her the monicker “Bug”
And what a newborn she was! Chris and I both realized neither of us have really truly been around newborns much (at least not when we are actively paying close attention). They are pretty awesome. Yeah, they don’t sleep when you want them to, they make noises so confusing you want to pull your hair out, and they make you question everything you know and everything you’ve read, but they are SO STINKIN’ CUTE! I couldn’t get enough of her! Every little thing she did was the equivalent of winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Plus her cute little movements and cute little fingers and cute little froggy legs and cute little smiles! And oh my goodness, the new baby smell. I had always heard people say how good newborn babies smell, but I was completely unprepared for it. That smell would pretty much knock me flat whenever I got a whiff of it (at one point Chris looks over at me and I’m bawling my eyes out and when he gets really concerned the only explanation I could provide was, “She just smells soooo good!”) It was the best thing ever to just snuggle with her as much as possible (except, you know, when I desperately needed breaks because even though they don’t appear to DO anything, babies are exhausting!).
The photo below is a pretty accurate summary of those first few weeks for me:
Probably the BEST thing about giving birth in Norway was the 2 full weeks of paid paternity leave Chris was entitled to. I don’t know what I would have done without him there with me during those 2 weeks! Having him home really helped all three of us transition into this new life we have together. This is a pretty accurate summary of those first few weeks for Chris:
Feeding Lily out of her cup was primarily Chris’ job since she wouldn’t be tempted by mommy. He also became a baby-wearing champ to give me much needed breaks!
Her little faces!
Her funny sleeping positions.
Desi and YJ came to visit and we were brought dinners by many loving friends from church!
During our hospital stay and the first week at home, Skittles had been staying at the home of some dear friends of ours. We finally brought her home to meet Lily. I can’t say she’s been very pleased with the new addition to our household. We’ve got some territorial/pecking order issues to work on, but we’re making progress.
Play time with tired daddy.
First time at church.
Seriously, every little thing a baby does is cute. It’s absurd!
The most surprising and amazing part of those early weeks to me is how naturally I fell into the roll of mother. I have no idea what I’m doing as far as actually raising a child, but one day I wasn’t a mother, and the next day I just WAS. I’m not normally the type to go gaga over babies, but something awakened inside me the moment Lily was born. I can’t say I was one of those moms who instantly fell head-over-heels in love with their baby on sight, but I definitely felt a crazy bond and instinct take over. Everything about her just feels RIGHT. I already mentioned her smell, but it’s more than that. The sound of her breathing, her little cries, even her temperature of her skin. It all feels so natural and so familiar. I feel like I suddenly understand every mother, human and animal, on the planet. Before she was born I was not a mother and didn’t know how to be a mother, but now that she’s here I am a mother and she is MY baby. Even though I have no idea what I’m doing on the surface, deep inside everything just feels right. Mother nature is ridiculously cool :)