Celebrate my 33rd birthday with my newborn daughter at the hospital.
A girl who has set the intention to celebrate each of her 30’s birthdays in a special way.
I woke up at 4:30 this morning, thirty minutes before my alarm was set to go off for my 317th pumping session since becoming a mom. I figured it was close enough to my alarm to just stay up and get a head start on my daily NICU Mom-ing schedule.
I gathered my pumping gear from my hospital side table, elevated my bed up to the most seated position I could (because my ab muscles are on hiatus post-surgical), and opened up my NicView camera to check on my girl: she wasn’t due for another feeding until 5:00am, so I thought I would catch her snoozing.
It turns out she woke up early too because when I logged into her account all I saw was the “A nurse is caring for your child” prompt. I was tickled.
When I was pregnant with Dagny, she turned me into an early bird. For most of my second and third trimester I would naturally wake up at 4:30am wide awake and ready to start the day. Once Dagny was big enough to feel puttering around, I would be awoken by her kicks, rolls, and hiccups around the same time every morning. My heart burst to realize that she and I, now separate bodies and separate rooms, still held this early morning tradition.
Knowing Dagny would be snoozing for a little while after she was fed, I decided to take a shower and get freshened up for the day. About an hour later, I walked over to the NICU for some early morning snuggles with my girl.
I had learned that these sunrise hours were the quietest in the NICU and I had begun to cherish them as time I could with Dagny. For those few moments, it was just she and I once again, I didn’t have to share her with anyone, and we could tell our secrets to one another (though, for now, it’s just me doing the talking).
I rocked in a chair and snuggled my sweet girl while she continued sleeping the morning away.
I took is everything there was about her this morning: her tiny three-pound-fifteen-ounce body, her button nose, her pouchy lips, her long fingers on her tiny hands that she always snuck out of her swaddle blanket.
About 30-minutes later, my husband walked in and wished me a happy birthday. We were all here as a family for the first time in my 33rd year.
After feeding Dagny her next meal, my husband and I decided it was time for us to eat as well. We ordered breakfast, ate, pumped (me not him), and then went back to the NICU for Dagny’s next meal and some skin-to-skin time. #NICUlife
As we started getting Dagny’s diaper changed and ready to eat, I spotted a card on the counter that said “Happy Birthday Mommy”. Cue the immediate tears. The incredible NICU nurses had turned around the second we left the NICU earlier that morning and helped Dagny to make me the best birthday card I’ve ever received. Seriously, I cannot begin to tell you how much we loved the nursing staff we were blessed with.
The rest of the day was spent doing more of the same. Eat (Dagny), Sleep (definitely Dagny), Pump (me), Not Sleep (definitely me).
In the evening, my husband’s family came to the hospital with cakes for both Dagny and I, balloons, snacks, and presents. I cried three more times.
I may have spent my last four birthdays doing incredible things - Disneyland, surprise Minnie Mouse cupcakes and an evening out with my husband in Wyoming, front row at Carrie Underwood and Estes Park , and New York City - but this birthday, sleep-deprivation, post-surgical check-ins, and hospital food by far beats them all.