"I don't know how you did that! Taking care of a newborn all by yourself in a hotel room! I couldn't have done it."
Numerous people express these sentiments to me upon our return home with Esme.
"Well...I didn't really have a choice," I reply.
I'm sure before all of this craziness happened if someone had told me that I'd be spending 10 days with an infant in a hotel room, the majority of those ten days alone with her, I probably would have fainted at the prospect.
Fainted dead away.
But the truth is that once we get to the hotel and it's just Esme and me...I'm more relaxed than I have been in almost three years.
After the insanity of our failed adoption in March, getting the news of Esme's birth on the heels of Hurricane Irene and the mad rush of getting myself to Florida, after the agonizing and waiting, making the final pact with K, nasty Nurse Stink Eye, the signing of the papers, the clueless attorney, and finally (painfully) saying goodbye to K...being alone with Esme in a clean, quiet hotel room seems comparatively easy.
"I didn't have a choice," I reply to the folks amazed by my ability to take care of a newborn alone in a hotel room. "But honestly, compared to the two and a half years of waiting and everything else that happened on our adoption journey...taking care of her turned out to be the easy part."
Esme is a quiet baby.
She sleeps most of the time wrapped up like a burrito. Over the course of two days at the hospital I have become adept at swaddling. She cries when she wets her diaper and when she's hungry. However, I am extremely grateful that she is apparently one of those babies who, when a need is addressed, immediately stops crying. She isn't one of those babies who gets herself all worked up.
Our room is spacious with two queen sized beds, a decent sized sitting area and a tiny kitchenette. Because we're in Orlando - Land of the Evil Empire Disney - hotel rooms are plentiful and cheap. A room this size and quality near where we live would be in the hundreds for just one night. But here it's affordable. And conveniently the hotel is right across the street from Target. Anything I need is just one minute away.
Our first night together as mother and daughter is relatively quiet. Upon our arrival in our temporary home she sleeps in the portable bed-top sleeper while I get all of the various baby stuff set up in little stations around the room. Once that's done I sit next to her on the bed to watch her sleep. Wrapped up burrito-style she is very still, although from time to time she moves her little head in a circle and her mouth opens wide in a silent cry. And then she settles back down into deep sleep.
Do newborns dream?
"Hello, my little burrito," I whisper to her.
Some part of my brain thinks that I should be panicked about being here on my own with her, but I'm not. She's quiet and content. I'm quiet and content.
I send text messages and photos to Chris and our families. She sleeps, eats, makes wet diapers, and occasionally opens her dark-brown-almost-black eyes. I'd like to think she can see me, but I know from my reading that she sees virtually nothing at this point in her life. Her world is made up of sound, taste and other physical sensations. Like most newborns, she isn't crazy about being naked. Her skinny legs and arms flap manically when I change her. Her way of saying, "Holy crap it's cold in here!!!"
"I'm sorry, my little burrito," I say and try to dress her quickly. The teeny tiny newborn clothes are simply gigantic on her. Every time I change her I can't help but be delighted by her big feet. Well, giant for her...they are tiny little feet, but look ginormous on her pencil skinny legs. She has long, slender toes.
When she is awake, I lay her the length of my thighs and just gaze at her. Every little movement is adorable. She makes soft smacking sounds. And sometimes she sighs deeply.
I touch her face, her hair, her hands and feet. I am certain that she is the most perfect baby ever and tell her so, "You are the most perfect baby. Ever."
She doesn't reply, but looks in my direction with wide unseeing eyes. And sighs deeply.
I'd like to think she understands that already after just a few days I adore her with every fiber of my being.
No matter how tightly I wrap her into her burrito blanket cocoon, her left hand inevitably makes its way up and out of the top of her swaddling blanket. She sleeps with her fingers pressed to her cheek. This just kills me it's so sweet.
"I think we should call her Houdini," I say to Chris. "Her left hand will not be contained. She gets it out of the swaddling every time I do her up!"
He laughs, but it is obvious that he is incredibly sad to be missing her first day away from the hospital. Her first day as part of our family.
"You'll be here tomorrow," I say trying to ease the ache, knowing it doesn't help.
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