For the next two or three hours we hung out at home, timing the contractions, which were two minutes apart but not uncomfortable (strange, I know!), eating my cereal, and becoming more excited and hopeful that soon we would meet our little one. When we finally left the house, Tim asked me if it was OK for him to stop at Dunkin Donuts. I told him it was, and I remember sitting in the car thinking, 'What's taking so long in there?' I was just at the point where the contractions were being felt as more than just minor cramps. But when we checked in at the hospital I was still feeling good, Tim was still making jokes and we were both still laughing. I declined the wheelchair ride to L&D. I remember the Asian woman who was being wheeled to L&D along with me. She had a scheduled cesarean for a baby who was expected to be very large, but had gone into labor. She was moaning and her eyes were closed.
I pushed so hard to get her out that I burst capillaries in my eyeballs, back, shoulders and chest. I was a bloodshot mess by the time I was done. A nurse later told me that I would be better at pushing the next time; I wouldn't push with my face so much. Can you believe we were already talking about a next time? Tim kept popping ice chips in my mouth and that gave me so much relief. After 45 minutes of pushing, Delaney Grace came out at 1:02 p.m. Tim cut the cord, and she was laid on my chest.
I remember how strong and sturdy her little body seemed to me. I'd always thought of babies as such delicate little things. She was crying her heart out and her eyebrows looked knitted with worry. I guess that 45 minutes of pushing hadn't been fun for her either. She felt clammy and warm to me. She had a shock of very dark hair that stood straight up all over her head. A nurse asked me if I'd had heartburn during my pregnancy. I said, "Yes." Not only that, I had eaten spicy Indian food once a week, sometimes more, even into my third trimester. I craved it. It felt so surreal to be finally holding this baby girl that I'd been trying to imagine for months. I also recall becoming very cold. I shivered and shook until someone covered us with a warm blanket.
Delaney was a good size for being early: seven pounds eight ounces. That way it's easy to remember -- she was born on 7/8 and weighed 7/8. She was only 18 inches long, on the petite side, and still is. I remember the sight of her next to the baby boy born to the woman who checked in with us. He was over 10 pounds, and the hospital blankets weren't even big enough to swaddle him. His body sprawled, and his feet stuck out at the bottom of his bassinet. By contrast, Delaney was this neat little bundle in the center of her bassinet. I wish I'd gotten a picture of that kid next to her.
Some friends of ours had told us that the first baby would turn our world upside down. Holy cow, did she ever! I was so lost those first several weeks. I bumbled through it in a sleep-deprived haze. I sought advice from anyone I knew, and clung to each bit I received like a lifeline. I felt so inadequate. When she cried, I felt like a failure. Having a newborn baby for the first time was one of the biggest tests of my life. I was determined to breastfeed, but I had so much trouble getting her to latch on. She would cry and cry, her arms and legs churning, her whole body beet red. How on earth was she ever going to latch on with her mouth open in a scream? Then when she finally did latch, my relief was short-lived. She was asleep within five minutes, and then she'd wake up and we'd do it all over again. I felt so lonely sitting with her on the glider in her room in the wee hours watching music videos, because I didn't know what else to watch at that hour. I must have watched Fergie sing "Big Girls Don't Cry" a thousand times. Well, I can tell Fergie, big girls do cry. I know I did.
Delaney made it in spite of my bumblings. And here she is, three years old! She makes us so happy. Watching her grow and learn is amazing. She may be small, but I see her limbs lengthening, and she's losing the pudge of babyhood. She is thoughtful, curious, bright, and full of laughter and boundless energy. She drinks in everything and everyone around her with those big brown eyes and increasingly sharp ears. She loves to talk about her cousins and friends. She sees pretty much everyone as a friend, although when faced with these friends, she becomes very shy. She loves hide-and-seek and 'ring around the rosy.' She loves balloons, movies, books, and taking pictures. She loves sweets. She loves anything that goes -- trucks, trains, planes, it doesn't matter. She loves learning new words. (Unfortunately, they are not always the words we want her to learn.) She loves to talk about her birthday, and I think I've been anticipating "Ju-yy eight" just as much as she has.