The Good Ol’ Days

by Alison Friedman in Baby Land, Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Have you seen the movie “New Year’s Eve?” The one with basically every actor that ever happened who all play characters that are somehow and ridiculously connected and all end up solving their problems to try to make New Year’s Eve the best night, like, ever? It’s a very mediocre movie. Another incarnation of “Valentine’s Day” which had the same tricks up its sleeves (ride that pony, Garry Marshall!). And, really, neither of them come close to my all-time favorite that mastered this concept, “Love Actually.” They’re dumb and predictable movies, but totally satisfy a date night and a need to consume a bucket of popcorn. Okay, so back to “New Year’s Eve.” It’s not that good.

I cried. Big tears. Warm fuzzies.

We watched it at home this past weekend. We were comfy in our PJs, dirty dinner plates still on the coffee table, feet up, Madelyn long asleep in her crib, and there’s a scene with a couple (in what universe would Seth Meyers score Jessica Biel for a wife?) who just have a baby (I promise I’m not giving anything amazing away). So there’s Seth and Jessica, holding their brand new and very perfect looking baby all wrapped up in that famous hospital blanket — you know, the flannel one with the blue and magenta stripes on the ends — and that’s basically the whole scene.

Yes, I cried. I don’t think Bryan noticed. He was probably too busy trying to calculate Seth’s algorithm for locking in such a hot wife from another league and solving for X (Answer: X = out-of-touch casting directors). But there I sat in the corner on my side of the couch and I had to pretend I had to sneeze so that my watery eyes and flushed nose wouldn’t give me away. You know, FOR CRYING DURING “NEW YEAR’S EVE.”

This kind of bothered me. This wasn’t “Schindler’s List.” This was a seasonal rom-com that featured a not-as-cute-anymore, teenage Abigail Breslin and served as a platform to give Lea Michele an opportunity to sing in a film.

Then it dawned on me. The scene with Jessica Biel holding her hours-old baby (who’s actually probably three months in real life) made me really nostalgic for a time in our lives that was only a blink-of-an-eye ago, and so, so significant. Our time in the hospital with Madelyn was extremely sacred and special. Sure, maybe it was the gallons of drugs pumping through my body — and clearly, my brain — but those two days that turned into four while we were in the hospital were days that I — we — experienced the purest form of love and support from each other, strangers (like the hospital staff), and our families (like our parents).

It blows my mind that we went into the hospital as a clueless young couple in our late 20s and in one moment, suddenly there was a baby. No, I didn’t forget that there was a fourteen hour labor and the sudden change of plans to have a c-section and the prep and process to get me settled into the O.R. But just like anything — you take one step to go from inside to outside; you take one bite to go from famished to satisfied; you take one kiss to go from single to married — you go from one thing to something else. A physical metamorphosis, if you will. Sorry for the graphic-ness, but this is how we welcomed our daughter into the world, it took one slice to meet our baby. One moment she was inside me. Another moment, we were breathing the same sterile hospital air.

Moments after that, she was in my arms.

And many moments after that, she was wrapped in that same hospital blanket that the “New Year’s Eve” baby adorned as Jessica and Seth’s new kid on the block.

That blanket symbolizes newbornhood to me. The moment everything changed for us. I see friends become new parents on Facebook — because isn’t that how we all know what’s going on? — and people I haven’t even spoken to since high school; friends of friends from college — and that same blanket makes an appearance and my heart flutters as I long for that same wonder and awe that a new baby brings. I’m jealous that they’re experiencing that same newness and excitement that we enjoyed. I’m happy for them. Friends, strangers, whoever is reading this: embrace this hospital time. I know, I know, Madelyn is not about to get her driver license any day now. The girl just learned how to stand up. But, as gradual as babyhood into toddlerhood is and teenhood into adulthood as I remember, there’s nothing like the first few days of a baby’s life when it seems like life begins — again — for everyone.

I miss our days in the hospital. It’s crazy to even utter — or write — that I enjoyed our time with the beeps and the pulses and the wires and the pain and the interruptions. Bryan and I were treated with the same fragility as our newborn Madelyn. The nurses were patient, tender, and kind. Our families were full of emotion and pride. Our nooks on the Internet poured the love like we never could have imagined. And, the best, Bryan and I were both so new to the same thing and learned together what it felt like to be parents and mutually love our baby, crossing over together from one moment to the next.

Every day with Madelyn gets better and better. Yesterday I thought that I could love her no more than I did, and then today comes and my assumption is ruined and I’m proven wrong. And the nerve she has to get cuter and cuter — my eyes can’t handle such a feast! And that brain that grows as she learns and becomes smarter — I love watching her discover everything new. I can’t even fathom what tomorrow will be like. And don’t get me started on what may be in store next year at this time. My mind can only handle so much explosive love for this kid.

But I’ll always have a special place in my heart and fond memories of those four days in the hospital when the three of us were tucked inside a comfortable and snuggly cocoon with no distractions, and love that poured from every angle. It was kind of like the way we feel when it’s 12:01 a.m. on January 1st and we just had a kiss and Champagne and the rest of the year is ours to own. A new beginning.

Like one that the white flannel blanket with the blue and magenta stripes knows.