Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Incredible First Year: {A Letter From Daddy to Daughter}

Jillian Rose,

It was exactly one year ago today that we welcomed you into our lives. There was quite a flurry of activity throughout the day and, even though other people had assured us that we could be in for a long day, I look back on it and feel like it flew by.

After we checked into the hospital, your mother was hooked up to the monitors and we were told to try and get a little sleep because it was going to be an early morning. I settled into the recliner in the room knowing it would be my bed for the next few nights and tried to get as comfortable as possible. Sleep didn't come easily, though it wasn't for lack of comfort as much as pure adrenaline thinking about how soon you would hopefully be with us.

Around 5am the nurse came in and started your mom on the hormone to begin inducing labor. Being a morning person, I was wide awake at that point and knew I would not be going back to sleep again. It's funny to look back on that last night where there were only two of us and think about how much different every night since then has been. Even though you started sleeping through the night very early on, we've still had plenty of nights where we woke up in the middle of the night to check on you. When your mother took you up to Minnesota twice this past year to visit your grandparents, I still had trouble sleeping past 7am simply because I was used to getting my morning wake up call from you.

Getting back to the main story, I don't remember exactly when all your grandparents arrived at the hospital that morning. I know your mom's parents got there before mine since mine were coming from Tulsa, but everyone made it and we began to wait. The waiting is a bit of a blur but I do remember the anesthesiologist coming in to give your mom her epidural. In fact, she got it as early as she did on her doctor's orders and that was an interesting experience but we made it through and your mom continued to progress pretty smoothly.

I almost forgot! Your mother had another agent that the nurse gave her to help her labor progress but it didn't last very long because it made your heart race. That made your mom and me pretty nervous but your heart rate came back down pretty quickly after they removed it and things continued smoothly afterwards.

What I remember most about the day was when it was time for your mom to start pushing. We were so excited that we would be greeting you soon and geared up for the final phase of the process. The nurse helping us gave us instructions and your mom started pushing. I remember thinking that she was really exerting herself (which was evident afterwards because of all the broken blood vessels on her face) when suddenly the doctor came in and started encouraging her to give more effort if she could. Now, your mother is not one to take advice lightly. If you encourage her to do something in such a way that she perceives it as a challenge then you had better stand back because she will get after it with all her being. Case in point: she pushed for only half an hour before you were out. It all happened so quickly that in my mind it was one big blur of movement. I always laugh when I tell people that we went from scrub tech setting up instruments to breaking down the edge of the bed to the scrub tech and doctor draping your mother and then suddenly they shouted for your mom to stop pushing because your head was out! From there, it was a simple task to finish getting you out and start cleaning you up.

Now, what happened next is not entirely clear. In the excitement of having you out and the doctor preparing to hand you off to the nursery nurses, no one really remembers what was said. We're pretty sure the doctor said "No bulb" because the suction bulb they planned to use on your nose and mouth had fallen on the floor. One thing was for sure, your skin was pretty blue and so I was afraid she was saying "No pulse." Either way, your umbilical cord had to be cut quickly so you could get cleaned up so I did not get to take part in that. But whatever needed to happen had to happen quickly so I let it go and tried to take in the moment that you joined our family, 3:52pm December 12, 2011.

I was so thrilled that I bounced back and forth a lot between watching you get cleaned up, weighed, measured, etc. and checking on your mother who needed a lot of stitches to stop her bleeding. By the time you were swaddled and quiet, the doctor was still working on your mom so you were handed to me and the nursery nurses left the room. I held you close, shushed you gently when you fussed a little and thought, 'What now???' Haha, yeah I was a little overwhelmed at that point but I took you over so your mother could see you and then took you to the door so your grandfathers could come in and meet you (they got a little lost in all the excitement... oops). Once your mother was all cleaned up, I (slightly reluctantly) handed you off so that you could get some skin-to-skin time with her. Even though I knew that was important, I still felt deeply honored that I could be the first person to hold you, protect you, be responsible for you... You were so small and fragile, and even though you were still "getting your bearings" I could tell right away you would be a daddy's girl.

I remember taking you home and being so nervous driving on the Lake Hefner Parkway (though I fit right in since everyone else drives 5 under the speed limit on that highway anyway). I remember getting you home, laying you in your swing and looking at your mother as we both thought, 'What now???' I remember taking you out for your first walk around the apartment complex we were living in at the time. I remember your mother being so excited about your first smile (I was sadly out of the room). I remember your first real laugh (and calling your mother excitedly because she was in the other room).

This past year has been a year of incredible firsts for everyone in our little family. Our first beautiful child, first holidays and milestones for you, our first house, my first real job. And now here we are at your first birthday. It's hard to believe how fast one year has gone by. You've been so amazing this year, inspiring me to work hard to finish my degree and excel at my job and thrilling me every day with each new thing you learn. You learn so fast that I know you're going to grow up to be an amazing woman. When I look at you I see a world's worth of potential and it's that potential that tells me you will do great things. Even so, you should know that I will always be proud of you. You are my shining star, my firstborn daughter, and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

Love,
Dad

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