We made it. Right now it is the morning of our third day with Emilia home. Lauren is sleeping on the couch with Emilia while the two cats, the dog, and I stand watch. I’ve quickly learned that terms such as morning, evening, and night are relative when you have a baby in the house.
This past Friday I went over to the hospital in the morning after taking care of a few last-minute errands. Lauren had an appointment in the afternoon with a lactation doctor so we took advantage of one last nurse babysitter and ran out to grab some diapers, wipes, and all the other little odds and ends the hospital previously provided for us. When we got back to the hospital we brought in the car seat so the staff could give it the green-light for use.
Before discharge, we were provided with a lot of information by our nurse. When to go in for immunizations, the risks of respiratory syndrome virus, car-seat tips, and many other little things that slip the mind right now. As I sat there listening to her I felt like my dog who, after being presented with a treat placed on the floor in front of him, is told to stay to prove his dedication.
After the information session, I was asked to put Emilia into the car-seat so the nurse could check that we knew what we were up to. I dutifully plunked Emilia down into her seat, fastened the web of clasps and buckles, then smiled to myself with the knowledge that it was perfect. Unfortunately not, the nurse returned to check out my handiwork and gave me a failing grade. She showed me how the buckles had to be tight enough that only a single finger can fit under the shoulder and how to roll up some blankets to give Emilia’s tiny head a little more support. Eventually, we were deemed fit to leave and our nurse snapped a quick celebratory picture.
Before leaving Lauren took some time to say goodbye to all the staff she had become so close to over the past month. There were some tears involved and we were invited back for “Preemie Day” in November. With that, we were done. I carried Emilia in her car seat out of the hospital, our family finally together and destined for the rest of our lives.
Despite the lack of sleep things haven’t been that bad at home. The hardest part is figuring out how to get anything else done around the house while dealing with Emilia’s feedings, changings, etc. Finding time to cook, do laundry, clean, walk the dog, get groceries, and more suddenly take on a whole new logistical depth. What did people do before you could order your groceries online?
Out of the pets, the cats were the ones who needed the most adjustment. When we got home they were banned from the master bedroom which they protested throughout the night with their tiny little paws reaching under the door and waving back and forth. Archer seemed rather relaxed about the whole thing. He tried to give Emilia a lick or two but other than that he just likes that he gets more cuddle time alongside us on the couch when she is being fed.
Right now Emilia is on a three-hour feeding schedule which she sticks to fairly well. She wakes up, summons the breast, then gets a little bottle time from dad while mom pumps out the remaining milk. She seems to be quickly moving towards only needing to be breastfed which will be nice for Lauren as it will shorten the amount of time we have to be awake during the night. I’ve taken some shifts of just bottle-feeding her so mom can get some sleep but Emilia doesn’t always appreciate my efforts. Then there is the whole debate on how to heat up bottled milk: whether you even should, microwave or no microwave, bottle warmers, etc. The internet is full of anecdotal suggestions which, with the exception of the obvious BPA considerations, proves that this debate will likely rage long after I’m gone. I just keep it simple and throw it in the toaster.
Yesterday we had a visit from the public-health nurse as part of the hospital’s discharge procedures. They come by to see how you are making out, ask if you need any help, and assess the baby to make sure there are no issues. As Emilia still has another month before she should have even appeared in this world it will likely be a while before she can do any visiting. We were warned that her immune system still isn’t that great and to avoid venues with large amounts of the public. This was a blow to me, my plans of attending various bottled milk heating protests now ruined, but at least we were told that short walks outside are okay as long as we protect her from the weather. In what was one of my finer moments I asked the nurse why my spray bottle, the one used for the cats when they scratch the couch, wasn’t working on Emilia when she cried. We laughed and laughed, well… I did anyway.
In an attempt to celebrate both my nerdiness, as well as Emilia’s birth and Lauren’s birthday, I last month commissioned the creation of a pendant for Lauren. My hope was that it would be ready for her birthday but that didn’t really work out. They did, however, manage to finish it just in time for Emilia’s release so I was able to give it to Lauren just before we left the hospital.
The bottom two stones are aquamarine, Lauren and Emilia’s birthstones, while the top is blue topaz, my birthstone. There is a channel in the back of the top stone that lets a chain loop through so it can be worn as a pendant. I didn’t have a chance before showing Lauren but eventually, the back of each stone will have our first names engraved there. The general thought behind it was that, like the Triforce, the three of us together can make the world a reality to match our hearts. I know, muuuushy. What can I say, fatherhood made me a bit squishy.
Anyway, that is about all of the time I can squeeze in to write at the moment.
Thanks for reading and we look forward to Emilia meeting all of you!
Damon, Lauren, and Emilia