Blessed with relatively uncomplicated birth events and healthy babies I was released from the hospital within 48 hours of both of our daughters' births. Author Robin Elise Weiss discusses the pros and cons on longer and shorter release times post-birth in her article for About.com titled When To Leave The Hospital After Having A Baby.
I remember with both children wanting out badly, to get back to our own place away from the harsh lighting and unrelenting activity of a busy ward--aspects that are difficult to manage for the patient and admittedly nearly impossible to mitigate for the hospital staff.
But I remember as well, with our first child especially, those first few minutes on leaving the hospital while securing her in the car seat for the first time, feeling a potent surge of anxiety of what had just transpired on passing through the threshold of the hospital's exit--the realization that her care was transferred entirely onto us. And this realization bathed the drive home in what I'd describe as a surreal time-extension and magnification effect.
We lived only about 25 minutes away and it probably did not take too much longer than that, but at every traffic light, the other drivers in cars around us and the pedestrians--all of humanity that presented around us, was distinctly 'more visible' to me. Nothing was as fleeting as the second it occurred in; all of what I was taking-in felt extended, not that it was expressing in slow motion, rather long motion. I felt a deep connection, although actually for only a second or two, to the human being within each face or body I noticed. I am certain this noticing of others had everything to do with my awareness that Brian and I had now contributed to this Whole of humanity; that the whole was now one soul larger and that she was ours to steward and this epiphany was steeped in an imperative that we must do this 'right.'
This potent, almost hyperbolic and sobering awareness shifted abruptly into a super high-focus of Now as we pulled up to the front of our building. I was instantly squared-away, back in real-time, calculating for a split second then executing with complete confidence all of the immediate and absolutely basic next steps like unclipping her, crossing the street safely with her in my arms, fumbling for the keys to the door while Brian saddled up, loaded down like a pack horse with bags and bags of stuff that had some how already accumulated in the few hours since she arrived to this planet from well-meaning friends and family who had dropped by to meet her. And as I crossed through the second threshold in just under an hour, that of our apartment, I perceived the seamless finish of one leg of a journey and the start of another.