The night before Noah was born I was admitted to the hospital to meet with the anesthesiologist and have my blood work done since the surgery was scheduled so early in the morning. Kirsten and Hans had arrived early that morning and were instantly in “Grace mode”. Kristoffer stayed home to have an evening with them and left me to have some quiet hours to myself at the hospital. I greatly appreciated doing three People magazine crossword puzzles that I had been saving, writing in my baby journals, watching a few of my favorite episodes of The Office, eating a quiet dinner alone, and sleeping pretty well during the night. When Kristoffer arrived at 6:30 the next morning, we were both really excited and relaxed (can you be both at once?), and very ready to meet our baby.
The surgery was delayed because of some staffing issues in the operating room so our anxiety built up a little, and we were very relieved when the show got started. Everything started off well as I was sitting up to begin getting anesthesia. The doctor had to give me two extra doses of local anesthesia because I still had feeling when she went to give me the epidural, and apparently watching me get those shots didn’t go over too well with Kristoffer. He hadn’t slept much the night before because Grace was up a lot, he had eaten breakfast very early and had been standing up waiting with me for quite awhile so was perhaps also a bit dehydrated. When I thought he was bending over to make eye contact with me, he was really trying to hold himself up. At some point he made eye contact with my doctor and said something about not feeling well. Next thing I know, the lower half of my body is completely numb but all of the doctors and nurses are rushing to lower a passed out Kristoffer to the ground. That’s right, the poor guy fainted L I got really worried about him but of course there was nothing I could do, and once he woke up and I knew he was OK, my reaction was to start laughing. Like: belly laughing (even though I couldn’t feel my belly) / tears streaming down my face / nervous but relieved laughter (which did turn into a bit of weeping just before the surgery started). The doctors eventually laughed too (although not as hard as me) and reminded Kristoffer that he is not the first expectant-father to faint on the job. He was given some sugar and some tea and some water and a chair to sit in next to me while Noah was delivered.
Luckily, that was the only drama of the day! Very shortly after Kristoffer was all sorted out, I felt all of the weird tugging and pulling that I felt the last time and in just moments I heard Noah’s cry. I had been praying aloud, just like last time, and his doctor brought him over to show me right away. It was such a relief to hear his cry and see his squirming body. I remember my first two thoughts about him were that his umbilical cord was so long (I didn’t see Grace’s) and that he had my father’s nose! Kristoffer went with Noah and the doctor so that he could be all checked out; they brought him back a few minutes later so I could look at his face and touch him for a few minutes while my surgery continued.
Apparently I am a chatterbox during surgery (surprise surprise), a joke between my doctor and the anesthesiologist by now, and we continued to chat while Kristoffer went to the nursery with Noah. Eventually I asked for something to sedate me so that I could rest a little. I was never completely “out” but was definitely in a happy place where I was so grateful that this beautiful boy – the one whose pregnancy gave me a real run for my money – was safely in the world. We remain very pleased with and grateful for the good medical care I received here in Nairobi and for the fact that we've had the same team with us through the births of both Grace and Noah.
I know that I stayed in the recovery room for a shorter period of time than I did after Grace was born, for which I am very grateful because I just couldn’t wait to hold him! He was able to latch on and try to breastfeed right away, although it took 3 days before I had anything more than a little bit of colostrum to give him. The next few hours were a bit foggy: I did call all of my immediate family members, although I don’t remember speaking to most of them. I was in and out of a fuzzy happiness until the afternoon when I faced the pain, got out of bed for the first time, and welcomed Grace, Kirsten and Hans to come and meet Noah.
Grace’s reaction to her brother’s arrival and the details of her first week of her life as a big sister deserve a blog in their own right (which I will get to eventually), but I will say now that her initial introduction to Noah could not have gone better. She calls him "Oah" and kissed him and touched him and (luckily) didn’t have to see him breastfeed that day so her anxiety was kept at a minimum. Part of me wonders if she was just relieved that all the mystery and waiting were over and this “baby” we kept talking about was finally a reality that she could see and touch. We could not be more grateful that Kirsten and Hans have been here to make this transition possible for Grace and for us; keeping her on schedule and giving her 100% attention and love. There is absolutely no way we could have survived this week without them - they are super grandparents for sure!
We got home from the hospital on Tuesday evening after Noah and I were doing well breastfeeding and were both given the all-clear by our doctors. Our first 3 nights at home were challenging because Noah thought he was born in Boston instead of Nairobi and was sleeping/eating according to the wrong time zone. Additionally, after we came home from the hospital I had some pain-management issues. While my c-section recovery is going really well and seemingly quicker than the first time around, I had a much harder time dealing with post-anesthesia issues, specifically a painful spinal headache. So we did head back to the hospital on Wednesday for a few hours of help and since then I have been feeling much better. Last night we gave Noah a late-evening bath, which he loved and which helped him get on a better schedule for the night. I woke up this morning like a new woman after actually having gotten some sleep!
So what do we know about Noah so far? Well, to date: he is extremely quiet; he is a slow-patient-infrequent eater; he likes being in the car; he loved taking a warm bath; he didn’t really cry much with his first vaccination and didn’t cry at all when he had blood drawn today; he has an extremely strong kick which was well-noted by the hospital nurses (and which I have been saying for months); he has a little bit of dark hair – looks like fur! – on the top of his ears; he was born with very long fingernails and I think he has my toes; he makes the occasional super-sweet little baby noise; he has dark blue eyes that sometimes look gray; everyday he is alert for a little bit longer during which time he seems to be a very good and intent listener; he has not met with too much success yet but is aspiring to be a thumb-sucker; he does not seem bothered by the fact that his sister has taken possession of almost every gift he has been given.
I suppose I should stop writing now, or maybe I never will, except I do want to document one more thing. As a second-time mother, I had plenty of moments during my pregnancy when I wondered if it was really possible that I could love another child as much as I love Grace or in the same way. As with many other parents I have spoken to, I worried that I would not be able to bond with my second child right away or feel the same instincts that I felt the first time around, and I was fearful of short-changing this little baby right from the start. But one week into motherhood-par-deux, I can honestly say – with extreme relief in my heart – that it was, without a doubt, love at first sight. After only seven short days it is completely impossible to imagine our world without Noah in it, and that is truly the sweetest thing.
I know these pictures are belated, but here are (more than) a few precious moments from Noah’s first week.
BEFORE (at the hospital)