Staying in the hospital for 48 hours after delivery becomes a blur of spreading the news to family and friends, acquainting yourself with your tiny stranger and soaking up that new life, visitors coming and going to ooh and aah over your new arrival, lots of photos, pain medications around the clock, nurses constantly in and out of your room to check vitals, teaching your baby how to latch, after-birth contractions that are just as painful as being in labor, meal deliveries, consultations with the pediatrician, midwife, and hearing specialist, and trying to catch some sleep somewhere in between all of the commotion.
It is an adrenaline-packed, exhilarating, painful, joyful, exhausting experience.
There is something so special and sacred about the hospital stay. Having done this three times before, I knew exactly what I was in for and how I needed to take advantage of every moment. Even if the post-baby hormones were flying and sleep was minimal.
I was so grateful to be up and about after Finn’s delivery, especially since I was flat on my back during my last hospital stay because of spinal fluid leakage. I could barely even hold my last baby when he was born, so I didn’t take a single moment for granted this time around.
I spent the second evening alone with Finn so Troy could get some sleep at home and take the older boys to school in the morning. The hype of all the visitors died down and I treasured that one-on-one time so much.
There were plenty of hospital stay rituals that completely met my expectations the fourth time around.
But nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotions that hit as I dressed Finn in his going home outfit and our hospital stay drew to a close.
I buckled Finn into the same infant carrier that each of my newborn babies have used and nostalgia completely consumed me. I realized that it might be the last time I ever packed up a brand new baby to go home. And suddenly I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay in that peaceful hospital room indefinitely and not let the experience be final.
I knew we couldn’t stay in the hospital forever. But the thought of putting that chapter of our lives behind us was heart wrenching. Especially because I knew the chaos that awaited us at home.
I set the infant carrier on the windowsill and gazed out at the mountains, holding on with all my might to those last moments alone with Finn.
I probably could have sat at that tiny hospital room windowsill for hours. I so badly did not want to let go. But Troy finished loading up the car and came up to get us, ready or not. I watched him carry our new baby through the empty hospital halls, just like I have with all of the others, and that was it.
And nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of bringing baby #4 home.