Vampire Baby + Breaking Dawn

Oh, how I love these guys!
Especially this guy.

People always lament about the early days of having a newborn, and although verbally I’ve been saying I’m ready for sleepless nights and all of the responsibilities of caring for a little person, there’s no practical way to actually prepare for it. And, man, did we get walloped with REALITY last night!

Everyone at the hospital loved on E.V. so well–from visitors to nurses to other patients–and she was so sweet and mild mannered. A friend of mine who’s a baby nurse at the hospital warned us that on Day Two or Three babies “wake up” for the first time, and that this calm and collected child we had with us in the hospital would disappear. I didn’t believe her. Not Emma Vance! She’s too content in life to barely even fuss for us! Uhhhh…yeah right!

Ryan and I had just finished up our 11 p.m. feeding, then cleaned, swaddled and cuddled our new little girl to sleep, laying her in her bassinet. We settled down to get a few hours of shut eye, but within about ten minutes, she began to fuss. No big. We can handle this. (Which is true, we DID handle it…eventually.)

I’ll save the boring details, but a night of madness ensued. No matter what we did, we couldn’t figure out how to get Emma Vance content! We went through a cycle–feed her, cuddle her, check her diaper/change her diaper, swaddle her, re-swaddle her (man, that is a learned skill!), let her cry for as long as we could stand it, burp her (from swallowing so much air when crying), “pacifier” her, check her “environment”: Maybe there’s too much light? Too little light? Is it too hot? Too cold? Does she not like that particular swaddling blanket material? Maybe a shirt instead of a onesie? Naked?…and so forth. NOTHING worked. And when anything did get her to sleep for a few minutes, it was just that: only a few minutes long.

I’ve never felt so helpless in my entire life. I’m fully aware that sometimes babies “just cry to cry,” however, it’s the not knowing for sure if the crying is for crying’s sake or because I’m not providing something for her that hurts my heart. It was a terrible night, full of prayers and Google and strategizing and handing off. At one point Ryan was so hopeless he actually asked if we should call the ER. (Chuckle.) My nurse friend had reminded me upon check out that I could call her at any time, day or night, if I needed advice, and it got bad enough that I had to literally put my phone out of sight to avoid disturbing her at an ungodly hour; my number one question for her? Is my baby a vampire who just happened to wake up? (And will she always be nocturnal? Dear God, please say no!) :)

In looking back on last night, I’m so thankful that God gave Ryan and I balance as a couple. It was, to say the obvious, an emotionally and physically draining night full of roller coaster sentiments. However, when one of us was breaking down, the other was feeling surprisingly patient and confident. To say the least, if we weren’t “bonded” before, we sure are now. I’ve always known in my heart that trials and tests bring people together, but I’ve never really experienced the closeness that can come from being in the trenches with someone. We were really trying to avoid any real type of sleeping with the baby, but as dawn broke out over a steamy Georgia summer day, we gave in and Ryan spent about two hours with E.V. in a peaceful slumber on his chest. It was my turn to lay down and rest my eyes (we eventually decided to pull shifts, alternating who was trying to figure out how to soothe her), and when I went to check on them, my heart almost burst. Totally worth it.

Of course, it’s been several hours, Emma Vance has been her sweet and contented self all day, and Ryan and I can joke that we’ve made it through the worst of it. I’m expecting Vampire Baby to come out to play again tonight, so cross finger for us, folks. I think we’re definitely better prepared (learning that the Summer Infant Swaddler is at least one key to E.V.’s happiness, as well as some practical tips from the hospital’s daytime baby help line…), and although in the midst of the storm we felt absolutely lost and terrified, dawn burned off the stormy skies and our little ray of sunshine made it all worthwhile.

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