That's how many hours there are in a week. Our first week home, I think I slept for eight of those 168 hours because I couldn't take my eyes off of my daughter. I was afraid that if I closed my eyes she would disappear. Of course, my body eventually demanded that I rest and I surrendered, but that first week was a blur of feeding. Every time she cried, I fed her. I had a single task – put weight on the baby. I didn't want to supplement with formula so I pretty much never stopped nursing. I was focused and dedicated. It did the trick and one night, my milk came in with a vengeance.
I got a splitting headache and it felt like all the liquid in my body was being violently redirected to my chest. I couldn't drink enough water and was hungrier than I'd ever been in my life. Thankfully, my father-in-law cooked some fabulous meals and I would do my best to stuff my face before the baby would demand milk, I mean, my attention. My husband did his part in reminding me of the tips and tricks from the lactation consultant, but for the most part it was up to me and the baby to get it right.
Additionally, I had to deal with the physical recovery of giving birth. I felt like I'd been turned inside out! I thought that I'd be able to hop right out of bed since I'd had her naturally but that was definitely not the case and that first week was the worst. I ventured out of the house once and that was a mistake.
We'd gone to an outdoor festival. With port-a-potties. Port-a-potties are not your friends when you're less than a week postpartum. We also went out to eat, where I got stuck in the restroom for over half an hour because I had, *ahem* 'sleepy bowels.' Now I understand why women are advised to take it easy and stay home for a bit following childbirth. It's not to snuggle in with your newborn. It's to avoid port-a-potties and so you could be constipated in the privacy of your own home.
I was also on the lookout for postpartum depression. I'd purchased some so-called new mom happy spray and I doused myself every few minutes because I was so scared of what might happen if I didn't. I'd read stories, I'd talked to my friends and I wanted to do everything I could to give myself the best chance for success. Placebo or not, it worked and I made it through with only a normal amount of the weepies.
Yet, even though I watched my birth video at least ten times the first few days, even though I looked at the hundreds of pictures, I still couldn't believe it was real. I couldn't believe I'd actually given birth to a real live human being. I probably should have been scared but I wasn't – I was excited! I felt like I'd crossed the finish line of the longest, toughest race of my life (so far) and I won! I got the best trophy in the world and I couldn't wait to celebrate! I think that's why I slept so little. I kept waking up to pinch myself (don't worry, I didn't pinch the baby) to make sure it wasn't a dream. Then I would look into her face, inhale her perfect scent and know that it was all wonderfully, fantastically real. I was a mother.