Thursday, March 24, 2011

40,320 Minutes

40,320 minutes. 28 days. 1 month. 

However you measure it, it's still unbelievable that my Catherine has been a part of this world for that long. I look at her and I am mesmerized by her mere existence. 

In one month, I have watched her gain strength as she struggles with the weight of her own head. I have watched her eyes focus more with each passing day, studying the details of my face as I talk to her. I have learned the subtle differences in her cries and have adapted (as much as possible) to her (our) sleep schedule. I have already folded and put away the first of her outgrown clothes as she is quickly surpassing "premie" stature.

I looked at pictures from the hospital today, from her first moments on this earth, and I wept at the realization of how quickly a month has passed us by and at how much she has already changed. I want to freeze time to make sure I can soak it all in. I want to hold her tiny body against mine until the feeling is saved to my memory forever. I want to breathe in that intoxicating baby smell that cannot be reproduced and savor the impossible softness of her skin. I want to record the sweet sounds of her sleeping in my mind to recall when she no longer sleeps beside me. 

And as I lie awake in anticipation of the 3:30 a.m. feeding, I want to put this moment in my pocket and keep it forever. Because an entire month has passed in seconds and I just can't wrap my mind around it.

1 day old (2-24-11)

1 month old (3-23-11)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Weeks Ago...

Three weeks ago, I couldn't tell you how many milliliters were in an ounce; my laundry did not consist of mostly tiny pink things; and my days were not divided into two hour increments or measured in bottles and dirty diapers.

Three weeks ago, I had no clue how to operate a Diaper Genie (and still really don't...); I ate meals and typed using both hands; and Johnson's Baby Cream was not part of my daily beauty regimen.

Three weeks ago, I didn't know what the weight of a tiny person asleep on my chest felt like; and I didn't realize I could spend minutes upon minutes upon hours just watching someone breathe.

Three weeks ago, I didn't know how much my heart could expand or how incomplete my life was until now.

Three weeks ago, February 23rd started off as just another day...
Until my life changed forever...
Just three weeks ago...

Happy three weeks to my sweet Catherine. It's amazing what can change in just a few weeks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hello World

Today, I received an email with the subject line: 37 Weeks: Ready. Steady. Almost time. They must not know my Catherine.

While today marks my 37th week gestationally, I sit in awe of my 9 day old daughter. We are officially new parents. Four and a half weeks earlier than expected.

Last Tuesday night, just two days after my baby shower, something wasn't right. Husband was four hours away for work and I was home alone, miserably dealing with what I thought was an intolerance to a change in my diet. I drank tons of water, took an emergency trip to CVS for some Milk of Magnesia and V8 Splash, and talked to my mom on the phone about how unbelievably uncomfortable I was. I soaked in a warm bath, tried breathing exercises, and listened to calming music. Still no relief. By 4:30 a.m., I had only slept in 15 minute intervals due to some cramping, and I felt something unfamiliar. 

My water broke. In my bed. While Husband was miles away.

Apparently those "cramps" every 15 minutes were contractions and I was officially in labor. Alone. At 35 and 1/2 weeks.

I called the hospital to let them know I was on my way (as soon as I could find someone to come get me) and began calling my list of emergency contacts. As my friend with the crazy early work schedule, Ryan was quick to answer her phone at such an ungodly hour and she and her husband were in my driveway in minutes. She raced to the hospital with the ease of Earnhardt, emergency flashers on, and got me safely to labor and delivery where they immediately admitted me into triage and began to monitor my contractions.

Worried by my early labor and convinced they could stop my contractions, Ryan called Husband to update him, telling him not to worry because they were pretty sure I was not having this baby right now. However, within minutes of telling him that, my OBGYN entered the room, looked at the ultrasound and, not liking the lack of movement she saw, told me to get ready for a C-section because we needed to get this baby out now.

Shock. Anxiety. Fear. Words just can't adequately describe the immense feeling of helplessness I felt as nurses, techs, and doctors flooded the room and prepped me while wheeling me down the hallway. Would this baby be okay? What could possibly be wrong? I had followed all the pregnancy rules obsessively and still, this baby was coming way too early and without her Daddy there.

They wheeled me into the OR, gave me a spinal block and moved me to the operating table. I waited anxiously as I felt pressure and heard the doctors on the opposite side of the sheet. They had my little girl, but the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck and twice more around her little body. My water breaking early had been a distress signal from my little girl. Ryan held my hand and I waited for that reassuring sound to fill the room. I needed to hear my baby cry. Finally, I heard her. The most amazing sound in the world. My daughter's cry.

5 pounds, 2 ounces, 19 inches long, and a head full of dark hair, Catherine Elizabeth made her debut.

They brought her to my side so I could welcome my daughter to the world. She was pink and perfect. Her deep blue eyes open wide. I looked at my daughter and simply said, "Hi baby"; and then watched the nurse take her directly to the NICU for observation with Ryan by her side. Tears streamed down my face as a wave of emotions rushed through me. Ecstatic that she was here safely, terrified that something could still go wrong, overwhelmed that the past three hours had resulted in Catherine, and upset that Husband had missed it all. It was official. We were parents.

I type this one-handed, as my other arm happily occupies my healthy nine day old daughter. I watch her breathe, watch her purse her tiny lips like her Daddy. She has my eyes and his eye lashes. She coos softly and nuzzles her chubby cheeks closer to mine. I am hopelessly in love with this tiny little girl. 

Welcome to the world, baby Catherine. We've been waiting for you our entire lives.