Tuesday, the 26th of November 2013, we brought our daughter home from the hospital. We were lucky to have our midwifery team and hospital nurses advocating for us to be discharged as early as possible. Still, we were happy to have the time in the hospital, knowing we had capable people steps away if we needed anything.
Reed brought her first cap and shirt home earlier in the day for Nell to have, hoping that if she could smell the baby before meeting her their first encounter wouldn't be as stressful. Her reaction was encouraging, she snuffled around in them.
Leaving the hospital was a frightening experience. We, two people who up to this point had precisely zero experience with newborn babies, were expected to safely transport this one to our home, and then keep her alive. How could this be right? Our discharge nurse helped us strap Helen into her car seat, a dry run in our room. But then HJ threw up. And oh my goodness, that nurse simultaneously pressed a trigger, released the straps and whisked HJ into her arms and onto her belly (a task that seemingly takes 3 hands), making sure she didn't aspirate any spit up. After we'd changed her into dry clothes, the nurse said it was time to go. If we weren't terrified before, that certainly did it. Clearly Helen was going to puke every time she was strapped into her carseat, and I didn't have the agility or coordination to rip her free and direct all of the puke out, instead of in. Reed had pulled the car right up to the front entrance, and we got all strapped in. Reed drove and I sat in the back with Helen, not daring to take my eyes off her for a second. We had a false start when I saw her making what looked like pukey movements and caused Reed to drive back through the exit lane to the hospital entrance. I'm sure we weren't the first. Reed will tell you, that 15-minute drive home was the longest and most stressful drive of our lives. I think it might only be second to the 3, 40 minute round trip drives to the midwifery 2 nights before.
When we first got home Nelly just seemed happy and relieved to see me. The last time I had been home I was not a happy camper, and I'm sure the atmosphere was tense. After she was sure I was okay, she turned her attention the newest member of her family. We put Helen in her carseat down on the floor, and Nelly made a couple of laps, sniffing around it. I then sat down and Nelly wanted to come sit with me, but I wasn't ready to receive her, so she went back snuffing around the baby. At one point Helen had a noise, which caused Nelly to skitter off for a moment, but she came back and continued to be as good as we could have hoped. What impressed us most was that she never expressed any distrust or dislike towards Helen, as we feared she might. We were not looking forward to having to keep the baby and dog separate on top of everything else, and we so relieved that Nelly was immediately such a wonderful big sister.
Good friends brought us our first meal and visited with Helen, and then we started our lives again. We started our lives. We began our new lives as parents.