I was “that” new Mom. Especially with our first. I not only wanted visitors at the hospital after I gave birth, I absolutely expected them, complete with flowers or balloons to announce our good news. I’m not exactly sure where that expectation, of it being just what you do, came from. We certainly didn’t overd0 it with our friends, always calling ahead, making sure it was a good time best as you can figure with a newborn, and staying just long enough to meet their baby and share our love. Maybe it was too many sitcoms growing up where the completely pulled together new mom is wheeled out of the hospital all smiles with her newborn surrounded by doting nurses and a proud husband holding those gifts.
But then I read the books. You know the ones that tell you everything you had absolutely no idea existed, which of course makes perfect sense since you’ve never had a baby before. Things like you are actually pregnant for 10 months ~ that’s entirely not fair by the way ~ and details about how your body would change in ways you never knew it could. I was terrified to learn how literally everything could hurt my new baby (insert new mom drama here) and decided up-front that there would be absolutely no children at the hospital to meet my newborns. Not even on a good day would I risk exposure to the human petri dishes little kids can be.
Not a single hospital guest could touch my child without washing their hands and putting on a gown first ~ I’m totally serious ~ and had I thought of it, I probably would have made them wear a mask. Yes…I was that concerned and it absolutely applied to my own mom, too. Once home from the hospital, the baby was hands off for all handling by little ones and any adults had to be very special (and clean) to hold them. If they had made them back then, I would be that mom with a little ring on the car seat handle that says “Wash Your Hands Before You Touch.” I promise you these little rings exist. My daughter’s classmate has a little one with a big age spread just like we did. That baby is all over town, in and out of school. And clear as day that little ring reminds you, “Hand’s off dude ~ I don’t want your germs!”
And then I had my own little ones who wanted to hold the baby. Two precious big brothers all set to meet their new baby sister. By this time I was 8 years into the motherhood gig, had earned a few badges for emergency room visits (6 to be exact by the time one of our boys was just 3) and children sick with the stomach flu simultaneously creating a symphony of washing linens, buckets, and Lysol. I had it covered and knew that our final baby would meet her brothers soon enough so absolutely Grandma, bring them to the hospital. What’s the worst that could happen?
She was born midday and looking back, I realized she had a bit of trouble swallowing after a few feedings. Not to worry, we’d get the hang of it soon enough…because by now I’m pro. The boys came after dinner and I couldn’t hug and love on them enough. They held their sister and we all marveled that we somehow had arrived here. We sent them home smothered in kisses with promises to be home in just a day or two. As I’m settling in for the night, my Mom calls. Shortly after their arrival home, our oldest vomits. Not just a smidge, but full on “Dude you are sick!” vomits. Just a few hours later, our daughter is whisked to the NICU for massive reflux, choking and turning blue after her feedings. She stays for 5 days, an 8 pound 5 ounce beauty with a hair bow among the tragically ill babies around her. I am checked out without my baby in my arms, making plans for family and friends to take care of our boys so I can live at the hospital while we figure out if she will get the hang of this on her own or if we are in trouble.
Short story, she ends up fine, just able to vomit like the exorcist and soak my clothes to my undergarments if she wants too, not exactly a skill I recall fondly. I end up even more worried than ever about respiratory germs and therefore making my sweet boys literally change their clothes in the laundry room every day when they came home from school, taking shoes off in the garage first and all kinds of hand washing. They still got sick that year…both in elementary school it’s just the way it is. In fact I was sickest of all with borderline pneumonia and battling thrush for 2 months needing major meds to take that away, too.
Yet somehow, even with all the germs we personally delivered to her hands, feet, and sweet little mouth, that little baby girl was as healthy as a horse, except for when she spit up just because she could.
Childbirth is such an incredible moment, and I’d love to know what went through your mind when you held your baby for the first time? By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs October 17 to November 13, 2011. A random winner will be announced by November 15, 2011.