I began typing this entry with one hand while I fed Bingo, on her one week birthday. I’m trying to finish it today, a full week later. Bingo’s first week disappeared so quickly that it’s already becoming a blur of emotions and new experiences. An attempt to document:
Friday, November 22nd: As I lie on an operating room table, shaking from the anesthetic, Bingo is pulled from my abdomen. She is smirking. In the recovery room, I continue to shake as the midwife (which one?) asks whether I’m ready to do skin-to-skin. I say no then, a minute later, yes. As I look down at her, Bingo is placed on my chest. She latches on. We’re moved to a room shared with one other family. I think I sleep. Though I don’t remember much, photos show that our friends V and the Doctor visit. I’m hooked up to an IV and a catheter, I can’t sit up or turn over without help, I’m terrified by my own lack of strength. Sea and I share the narrow hospital bed, and Sea walks a crying Bingo through the hospital hallways most of the night.
Saturday, November 23rd: We have new roommates, the first family having disappeared in a flurry of social workers and a quickly stripped bed. The new roommates have a son, twelve hours younger than Bingo. They are feeding him formula, and keep calling the nurses to bring them more. Finally, one of the nurses snaps, “You need to hold him”. My catheter is removed and I leave the bed for the first time, still unable to move without help. Sea goes home to shower and find bigger clothes for Bingo, who is long with a big head. Diet Coke and the student midwife visit, their familiarity infinitely comforting in this sterile environment. Less comforting is Bingo’s weight loss, which is at 10% of her birth weight. I nap with Bingo on my chest, waking up occasionally to find her looking up at me.
Sunday, November 24th: The night between Saturday and Sunday is long. Our roommates play Bollywood films loudly on their laptop until three in the morning, I have a catheter reinserted and re-removed, a nurse comes by at two in the morning to show us how to give Bingo her first bath. The nurse doesn’t seem to care that it’s a ridiculous hour of the morning: in this hospital room without a window there’s no real difference between 2am and 2pm. Though I’m exhausted and in pain, I pull myself over to the corner of the room to see Bingo’s first bath. She cries until she’s put in the water, where she’s instantly calm. In the morning, the Doctor and another friend visit. Only a few hours later, a nurse comes by to check that we know how to use the car seat and then we’re released. It feels totally surreal to be leaving the hospital with a baby, who is now ours. At home we order pizza, I introduce Bingo to my parents via Skype and we try to sleep. I have no memory of Sunday night, but assume that it involved little sleep.
Monday, November 25th: Diet Coke and the student midwife come by. They weigh her and frown at each other- Bingo has now lost 12% of her birth weight. Diet Coke talks about supplementing with formula, and the student midwife promises to come by again the next day for a recheck. Our friend comes by and teaches Sea how to use the Moby Wrap. With Bingo held close against Sea’s chest, we walk to the grocery store—a walk that usually takes seven minutes takes more than twice the time. People smile at Sea and the baby, ignoring me hobbling behind them.
Tuesday, November 26th: Bingo nurses all night, crying inconsolably if unlatched for even five minutes. I hold her, nurse her, and don’t sleep. When Sea wakes up in the morning and asks how I am, I begin to sob, dripping tears onto the still nursing baby. Desperate, we give Bingo an ounce of formula. She sleeps for two hours. When I wake up, my milk has come in. Later, the student midwife comes by: when she asks how I am, I begin to sob again. She hugs me and, in a soothing voice, tells us how well we’re doing. She offers a remedial breastfeeding lesson and weighs Bingo, who has gained an ounce. After the student midwife leaves, Bingo sleeps for another two hours. I think I’m going to marry the student midwife.
Wednesday, November 27th: Bingo sleeps in a couple of two hour stretches overnight, and I again vow to marry the student midwife. Later in the afternoon, I even get to nap as Sea sings the Beach Boys to Bingo downstairs. The sleep helps, though I still feel physically terrible. A rash covers my lower back, a side effect from the epidural, and it hurts so much when Bingo latches on to my chest that I see stars. On the bright side, I can roll over in bed and get up and down more easily. We celebrate the first night of Chanukah: Bingo’s first holiday.
Thursday, November 28th: The student midwife comes by, and finds all three of us in a much better mood than on Tuesday. She weighs Bingo, who has gained five ounces! Sea’s mother comes into town. I have never been so happy to see my mother-in-law, ever. They take Bingo for a walk and I sleep again. The reintroduction of REM sleep makes everything seem better and easier: I spend the evening sitting in our warm living room as Sea’s mother coos over the baby. Bingo and I both sleep in three hour stretches overnight, and Sea’s mother holds Bingo in the morning so that I can sleep some more.
Friday, November 29th: Bingo is a week old! We take her on a walk to the nearby department store. While Sea and her mother shop, I breastfeed in public for the first time sitting in the shoe aisle. I feel awkward and uncertain, but more focussed on Bingo than on the stares (either approving or hostile) of the stranger who walk by. I feel like I’m finally beginning to get to know our daughter, who is already growing.