I remember those days like they were yesterday.  It was this time of year, in 1992, and I’d just given birth to my firstborn, a girl.  The nurses at the Long Island hospital immediately checked her out, cleaned her off, wrapped her up, put a beanie on top, and presented her to me like a fine gift.  A gift she was.  

For the next day and a half I felt like a queen, albeit a sore one.  And a little tired.  The staff would bring me breakfast, lunch and dinner, and whoever was on shift would bring Emily to me for feedings throughout the day.  They taught me how to breastfeed, and change a diaper.  Most of the time, Em had already been changed, and my job was to feed her a few ounces during our time together.  Then, the nurse would take her back for a nap.  Em, I remember, was always swaddled up in the hospital-themed-striped blanket, and smelled great.  There was not much for me to do. 

And by the middle of the next day, we were discharged.  I packed up my few belongings, stepped up on the wheelchair, and they placed Em in my arms.  Her Daddy was behind me, glad that all he had to do was push me along the hallways.  When we got to the car, I felt the transition, the responsibility was now passing from the hospital to us.  The nurse wished us luck, and wheeled the chair away, heading back to the swarm of new mothers-to-be waiting in the maternity ward.

My husband had set up the car seat in the back, and we positioned Em as best we could.  She was so little, so fragile, and now it was up to us to take over and somehow make this work.  The ride home was nerve-wracking. I sat in the back, watching each breath Em took, and made sure the car seat straps weren’t too tight.  Every turn and stop seemed to magnify when you’re watching an eight-pound creature; the head shifts, the body moves this way and that. 

Finally, home, to unbuckle us both, and climb out.  Into the house, and gingerly, I placed her on the dressing table, and let out a sigh of relief.  My husband had to sit down.  What to do now?  There were no more nurses to bring Emily back and forth to me and be at my side for every question, or demonstration.  No one to take Em back and forth in between feedings, and swaddle her.  Panic began to crawl up my arms, into my neck, and I took a deep breath.  I looked down at Emily, and she smiled.  Maybe it was a burp, or gas, or whatever.  But that smile meant the world to me.  If she  after all she’d been through, could look so calm and trusting, then I’d be the same.  I felt she was telling me that we were in this together. 

Our first ever Hudson Valley Baby Guide, coming out this month, is meant to be just that.  A reminder that we’re all in this together.  We’ve made sure to cover some issues a brand new parent will have to consider, like getting the house ready for the baby’s coming home day, how to create a lasting friendship between your pet cat and your new baby, and how to take great photos during that newborn phase; some long term planning like the “529” account, and how to take terrific newborn photos.  We hope for this to be the starting point of how you view us here at the magazine.  Not only as a guide for summer camps and after school activities, but as a place to come to for parenting help, a place to bring your questions.  If we don’t know, we’ll find out.  You can always write to me at editor@excitingread.com and let me know how you’re doing as a new parent, or tell us on facebook. 

It’s about 19 years since that fall afternoon we brought Emily home, and right now, she’s in her second year of college. Her sister, now in 11th grade, is right on her heels.  So, we got this far, and so will you. If there is one thing about parenting I know for sure is that goes so darn fast.  So, in the meantime, enjoy every burp, and every diaper change and every smile they give you.