Dan and I were expecting a long night. Babies need to eat often, don't understand the difference between day and night, and are generally getting used to living outside the womb. We knew neither of us would be getting a lot of sleep for the next few weeks, beginning with that very first night.
Taking care of sweet Nora ended up being the easiest part of the night.
While were were still in the hospital, four-and-a-half year old Lana got sick. This wasn't a simple cold, it was a full-on craptastic stomach bug that had her throwing up pretty much every hour. Poor Lana couldn't even keep down the tiny sips of water we were allowing her to drink. She stayed in bed with the puke bucket close by, and when Dan or I would hear her heave, we'd go comfort her, wipe her face, and clean out the bucket. I also was the sole meal provider for newborn Nora, so sometimes I would go directly from feeding the baby to helping the big girl. We went through a lot of hand sanitizer that night as well as Lysol wipes. Whatever bug had gotten Lana could not be allowed to touch the baby.
At about 2:30 am, Lana's puke bucket contained traces of blood. That was it - I was done. Regular puke I can handle, bile-y puke I can handle, but bloody puke is completely and totally outside of my skill set. When Dan heard, he immediately put on his shoes and readied himself to take Lana to the emergency room. (The same ER we'd visited weeks earlier after the car wreck.) Dan encouraged me to finally get some sleep. Ha! The last thing I would be doing was sleeping. Between a new baby needing fed and my extreme worry about Lana, sleep would not be happening for me. Fervent prayers happened, constantly checking my phone for an update from Dan happened, crying happened, and taking care of Nora happened, but sleep most certainly did not happen. We started out that evening hoping the new baby would get some sleep, and as it turned out Nora was the only one in the house who indeed did any sleeping at all.
Updates from Dan did come in. Poor Lana was subjected to three different nurses poking her unsuccessfully to find a vein. She was still throwing up and they tried to give her anti-nausea medication. She couldn't make enough saliva to dissolve the tiny pill and they helped out by dripping small drops of water on her tongue. Eventually she was able to keep water down, and later still a popsicle. Five hours after their arrival, Dan and the ER docs felt confident enough in her recovery to let Lana come home.
Lana was weak and tired (she hadn't slept all night either) and was whisked away to bed for the next two days. Those two days were rough on us all. Lana wanted extra hugs, snuggles, and care from Mommy, and Mommy needed to be taking care of the new baby. There were times when Lana would walk by me nursing Nora and burst into tears. Even when Dan or I would engage her in play or conversation, Lana was melancholy and constantly near tears. Her ill body was healing, but we didn't know how to bring back her sparkling personality or happy, enthusiastic demeanor.
Slowly the Lana we know came back to us, and eventually she even decided to like her little sister.
I joked with a friend right after Lana got back from the hospital that one day I'd look back on Nora's first night home and laugh about it. A month later and I'm not quite laughing yet, but give me a few more months and maybe I will be.