And so she has arrived.
And you need no more information than that, really. Though I will say I’m fond of the epidural thing. Made me itchy and dizzy, couldn’t eat or drink for 2 hours after, and lost feeling in one leg… but totally worth it.
We did it! C’est gagné!
I am breathing sigh after sigh of relief. After Louis’ birth I was relieved that the labour was over, almost to the exclusion of all other feeling. (Sensory overload perhaps from feeling every little bit of labour – insanity!) After Elena’s birth I am of course relieved to have the labour behind me, but the experience was much less intense.
The hospital stay was much more difficult here, predominantly because of the language barrier. My french was far from its best these past few days.
The second night was a real low. I knew to expect this but went into it with my usual positive naivete. Elena would fall asleep without a problem. She fed very well. During the day she slept in her bassinet a couple of times. I thought, great napping opportunity… and cue the visitors. Almost all of these were hospital staff with some little job to do or question to ask. Come nightfall I’d had only one or two short sleeps and was exhausted. Elena fed almost constantly from nine at night until nearly midnight. I thought, great! She’ll be all full-up and will sleep for a couple of hours together. But as soon as I put her down she would wake. I managed to get half an hour’s kip while she dozed against my leg, then she wanted feeding again. After that, no such luck. I was wary of waking my room-mate. That’s right: I was sharing a room. The poor woman was in misery post-cesarean. Her baby was sleeping and so Elena and I wandered the halls and then settled in the lounge-area in the foyer. I fed her and cried, desperate for some sleep, and feeling totally out of my depth – what could I do? I could barely communicate with the staff if I wanted to ask for help, and what could they do anyway? This was totally normal newborn behaviour. One of the staff spotted me sobbing away and, miracle of miracles, spoke some English. She mostly listened and then coaxed me to go back to bed, keeping Elena beside me if necessary. Eventually, after 4am, she nodded off beside me and I managed to sleep too, for about an hour.
Sum total for the night: about an hour and a half. I woke itchy and desperate to go home. I grabbed a shower and then Elena was hungry again. It being morning – light and all – she of course went to sleep happily after this feed. Luuk arrived for breakfast around eight and I was still asleep, but so glad to see him, and that the night was over, so he was immediately forgiven.
Went about checking out of the hospital. Luuk dealt with the paperwork and obscene bill (which will be reimbursed by the French government and our insurance… in time) while I fed Elena and thought and started packing up all my bits and bobs.
Elena slept through her first trip to the outside world, and the entire car ride (about a kilometre thanks to circuitous one-way streets).
She was dreamy and sleepy all afternoon and then wanted feeding most of the night again. But this time I had Luuk to help. Unfortunately when she did sleep I couldn’t… stupid eczema drives me up the freakin’ wall. Got upset and tried three different types of creams before my skin finally calmed down. Didn’t help that I was feeling so desperate to sleep – so much pressure, that ticking time bomb of a baby who could wake at any time. Had less than an hour but it’s amazing the difference it made. After that I had no problem nodding off between feeds. Elena on the other hand… well sure, sleeping is easy as long as you’re not on your own in your bed…
Once again I was very relieved when morning came. Louis is paying Elena visits – he is interested in her for a few minutes at a time but its always a very sweet few minutes.
Was it like this with Louis? I suspect he was a little more content on his own.
But my memory is undoubtedly skewed by months of angelic sleep habits… which were hard work to establish in the first place. And that’s what we have to do now – or in a few days once she’s registered that returning to the womb aint an option. I just need to relax and remind myself that I’m not setting any precedents, forming any habits, not yet.
Is is a constant series of decisions, this parenting gig, and exhausting – sleep deprivation besides. Fingers crossed I can get a nap in while Elena sleeps this afternoon. She’s down but not particularly settled now. Later we will probably have visitors and we need to go back to the hospital for some tests they do on day 3 – part of the deal of my going home early was that we return to day. A price I was very willing to pay!
It’s so good to be home.
(ps. finishing this has taken in excess of 24 hours so I’m posting without proof-reading. If not now, then when? I have undoubtedly revealed my true colours: a bit of a let-down to english teachers everywhere…)