Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spend a moment in my head

It's hard to explain the thoughts running through my head on most days.


A cacophony of noise, never slowing, never ceasing.  I'm extremely observant, often sensing things to come before they even happen.  Many times, I've known a friend was pregnant well before they've told me and only because something in my gut said so.

I've been accused, many times, of being "over anxious," of bringing bad things to reality simply because I "believed" something bad would happen.

What they don't realize is just how many times and in how many ways that little voice in my head has been right.

The year my grandmother died, I mentally began preparing myself for her loss.  My grandmother was exceptionally healthy.  She had never been sick.  She had far outlived my grandfather.  She traveled everywhere and was living the life as a retiree.  That year, I began to have a feeling she wouldn't be with me for long.



She died that December.

The "voice" was right.

I knew from the beginning that something wasn't "right" with my pregnancy with Elisa.  I didn't know what was wrong.  I didn't know why I felt that way.  I thought it was just anxiety because of the two I lost before her.

I had no previous experience to go on, but my mind was screaming at me the week before I left for Arizona that something was wrong.  Even when everyone kept telling me everything was ok.  To not worry.  It would be fine.

And then, there she was, 11 weeks early.



That "voice" was right.

I was strangely calm with Aidan.  I'm not going to say I wasn't scared, because I was.  Because I knew what could go wrong.  I was worried that it would happen again, because I KNEW it could happen again.  But that "voice" was strangely quiet.



That "voice" was right.  He was my only baby to avoid the NICU.

I knew the endometriosis was back and with a vengeance back in 2014.  Even though I was asymptomatic.  That voice, again, was screaming in my head.  But I had no proof.

It took 9 months and 3 doctors before I had proof.  And a resolution.



That "voice" was right.

I knew in those final days with Avery, again, that something was wrong.  I didn't feel your typical excitement at knowing you were going in to have your baby.  That you'd made it again.  I kept telling myself it was ok.  She was 37 weeks.  I'd made it.  I was relieved because I wouldn't be in physical agony anymore.  But I also was terrified, deep down in the recesses of my mind.  I knew something was wrong.  I cried when they were putting the epidural in.  I cried when they laid me back on the table.  I cried when they lifted those sheets.

But I closed my eyes and I took deep breaths to calm myself.  And I won.


But that "voice" was right.

So, what's my point in all of this?  I don't really know.  I know I'm PTSD triggering.  I know it's because Avery's birthday is approaching.  I know I'm physically sick with anxiety, but what do I have to be anxious about?  I know I want to go into a room and close the door and never leave until this is over.

But, until what is over?

So I also know I'll stop that door and prop it wide open.  I'll take deep breaths, I'll square my shoulders, I'll hold my head high and I'll move forward.



And please, if I ever tell you that I know something is wrong, but I can't tell you what it is, don't tell me I'm worrying about nothing.  That it's all in my head.  That my "negativity" will cause bad things to happen.

Because, so far, that "voice" has a perfect batting average.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It seems we've reached the end.

Of a year.  And of nursing.

And sometimes, I really can't believe I made it.

I look back on those first pictures of her.


I remember those cheeks and just how chubby they were.  I remember how I feared I wouldn't make it this time as well, as they fed her bottle after bottle in an attempt to get her critically low blood sugar up.  How I refused to pump since I wasn't going THERE.  This wasn't going to happen again.

But then it did.  And I struggled to catch up.  Worried my milk would never come in since I waited so long to start pumping.


And it did.  And she came home.  And lost weight.  And was labeled as "failure to thrive."


And yet, we fought.  Through nursing and pumping and supplements.  Long nights and even longer days.  Finding out she was both lip and tongue tied, causing her inability to gain weight.


Only to be told by one uncaring doctor that our "parts just didn't match."  And that I should just give up and give her bottles.

But I didn't.

And she thrived.

And even though we are still a few weeks away from officially being a year, I know our journey is done as she gains more independence from me.  And let's not mention the biting...


But we finally did it.  Even when everything was so stacked against us.  The NICU.  The ties.  The weight gain.  The pain.

And while I didn't "fail" with my others, giving up so early as at the end of the day, they were fed.  And thrived.  And were happy.  But I so wanted to get there just once.  And I did.


And now it's on to even more journey's together.



This isn't the end, but the start of something new.  The best is yet to come.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Can it possibly be?

8 months of me?


Seriously, the happiest baby on the block!


I find it hard to put into words the joy you bring to our lives.  When you smile, your whole face smiles.  I can even tell from behind when you finally gift the stranger who is cooing over you with your smile.


Your brother and your sister live for your giggles.


And your kisses.  Your brother loves to get in your face and have you try to "wrestle" him.


But I can see that you can't wait until you can join them in their antics.


Oh, the joy you bring to our lives.  You were definitely a risk worth taking.  And I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Let it go?

Why is it so hard to just "let it go?"  The hypervigilence, the ever watchful eye on my oldest and her growth and development?

Why do three little words hold so much power over my emotions?

Would it be irresponsible of me to stop being so aware of her health and her development?

Is this just a side effect of her premature birth?  Or is this a normal "mom" thing?



This last weekend, I was trying to explain why it was so hard to let go of the hypervigilence I have when it comes to Elisa and her growth and development.  When she's doing so well now, 6 years later.

And think of it this way.  When you have a baby in the NICU, every morning you are greeted with a status report from the doctors after they round.  And every morning for us we were greeted with "She's doing great, but....."

And that but was always followed with some THING we still had to keep an eye out for.  That still could potentially befall her.  That she was healthy now, but things could change in the blink of an eye.

I know my preemie moms understand this.

Even when we were released, we were told how great she had done....but was given a list of things to look out for.  And avoid.  As it could mean life or death to her.

Think of the imprint that leaves on a person?  Walking out, finally after all those weeks with your baby.  Thinking, finally life will become "normal."  Only to be left with that "but" hanging over your head.

And 6 years later, I'm still waiting for that "but."  Is it safe to let go of that but now?  Is it irresponsible of me to let it go?



And I truly am looking for feed back on that.  Is it irresponsible of me to let that "but" go?  To take my eyes off of it and try to find some sort of peace from the fear that this is all a dream?  And too "good" to be true?  That she could have come out of this experience with no long lasting effects? 

Can I finally let myself off the hook?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Honest

"Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest" 
~Francesca Batistelli "If We're Honest"

This song has been pretty popular on the radio station I regularly listen to, and it touched a chord for me today.

Because, if I'm honest, this week has been a rough one.

Trigger after trigger as we are faced with tests that I know in the deepest recesses of my mind are just being done out of an abundance of caution.  And hold absolutely no risk of turning into a reality.

But yet, hold a huge amount of power over my mind.  And my heart.  Three little words I thought we'd never hear since we avoided them so easily in the beginning.  Three words that strike at the very core of a preemie mom's psyche.

Failure to thrive.



If we're honest....

You will never be the same after a premature birth.  


If we're honest....

It will change your life.


If we're honest...

You'll be watching a miracle grow.  Every day.






If we're honest...

You learn the value of a day.  An hour.  A minute.


If we're honest...

You learn not to take that time for granted.



If we're honest...



"I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest" 
~Francesca Batistelli "If We're Honest"


Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Months!

Wow.  I can't believe it's actually been 5 months since you entered our world.  It seems like just yesterday I randomly peed on a stick on the evening of day 28 on a whim.  (Which was just silly, since I didn't have 28 day cycles.  More like 50 day!)  You probably can't even fathom the amount of shock I had when I saw that second line show up.  Faint, but clear as day.  That was a little over a year ago now.  Not like it was unexpected, but I certainly didn't expect it then!

Now, 5 months in, I can't imagine life without you.  You are the perfect ending to our baby days.



You've completed our family and I couldn't imagine it any other way.

You've decided that standing is the only way to go.  I see your mind spinning behind your eyes as you take in everything your big brother and sister do and I can't help but thinking you can't wait to join them in their antics.  I only hope that as you all grow older, they will allow you to join in even with the age difference.

Your laugh is contagious and you give it freely to us.  Something as simple as your big brother getting face to face with you is enough to light up your eyes and spill that glorious sound.  I love, also, how your face is just so full of lines when you smile.  And those dimples.

You also seem to have decided that rolling over is just not something you like.  While you can go both ways, you just want to be on the go.  You can't wait to figure it out.  You are insisting on standing, never mind sitting. 


Napping and sleep, however, are not your strong suits.  You must be so afraid to miss something.  I can understand that during the day...but not at night.  Your momma would really appreciate if you could go back to just one a night wake ups. 

You are growing at your own rate, and I'm trying to let that go.  I don't know why the whole weight thing just hangs on like an unwelcome guest.  You are 12 lb 8 oz and seem to put on a pound a month.








Love you, baby girl.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Apparently...

I never introduced the newest member of our family.

So here we go.  Better late than never?


Avery Elizabeth entered our world on August 21, 2015 at 37 weeks on the dot and 7lb 8oz, 19.5 inches.  I fought hard for her and struggled through intense pain, fought through contractions and extreme exhaustion those last few days to make that goal.  I would have gone further had I been given the choice.


She did NOT come into this world screaming her dismay.  Really, she wasn't quite ready to be here.


We arrived at the hospital at 8 for the scheduled section at 10 am.  Never having made it to a scheduled delivery, I didn't quite know what to expect.  It felt so sterile, unemotional.  I think I was detached and had an odd fear over it.  As much pain as I had been in the last few weeks before her delivery, I still wasn't ready for this day.

They explained that they would take me back to the OR alone to start the the epidural and process to begin the surgery and once they started they would bring Andrew back.  It seemed like it took forever but I was finally laying on the OR table and able to feel nothing but tugging on my belly.  As they were laying me down, I started crying with the overwhelming fear, especially since they still had not brought Andrew back yet.  Which turned to outright panic when I could feel them starting to cut and he was still not in the room.  Was he going to miss this birth too?!  Where was he?  I'll never know the delay but I kept asking the nurse where he was and they kept saying he was coming.  He finally showed up and didn't miss a thing.  That was important, anyway.  And then we were off.

I remember them showing me to her real quick and whisking her off to the neonatologist...and Andrew standing at my arm and looking hesitantly over at them.  I remember them telling him he could come over...and I remember the neo asking someone to call her respiratory therapist.  And I'm just going oh geez.

Luckily by the time the RT got there, she had begun breathing appropriately for her age.   That should have been my first clue.  We were wheeled to recovery where the nurses worked with me to get her to nurse, but she was very lethargic and floppy.  I don't know where my mind was.  Denial?  But I didn't see it.  Andrew did and kept voicing his concerns but they kept saying it was ok and normal.  Once we were wheeled to the mother/baby floor he finally got someone's attention enough to take a harder look at her and they brought her right down to the nursery.

She was shoved full of formula.  So much so she threw most of it back up.  Her blood sugar was critically low.  Formula would get it up momentarily but then it would plummet again.

And so began a back and forth between the nursery, and pre-admission to the NICU for several days for IV sucrose.


I don't know that there are any words to describe my emotions over these few days.  Knocked on my ass but not staying there.  Squaring up the shoulders and once again getting up and putting one foot in front of the other.  Anger.  That I was once again in that place.

Eventually, the fight to control her blood sugar and an inability to transfer enough milk when nursing due to a lip and tongue tie (diagnosed later) caused her to officially be admitted to the NICU.  Officially locked away and in "jail" as I described it lol.  The fight took so much out of her that she began to be unable to control her body temperature and ultimately stop eating.  And forced the issue of an NG tube.  Each item added another complex goal to meet to start the slow, upward climb to home.


Thank God, and I truly can only credit Him, this NICU had rooms for families who were "rooming" in with their babies and another "Julie" of a NICU nurse.  Even though these rooms were only meant for families who were preparing to bring their baby home the next day, the nurse arranged that I be given one of these highly sought after rooms due to my desire to nurse.  And probably also took pity on my state of mind as it quickly unraveled when they started to push the NG tube on me.  And I irrationally asked them if she was going to die since she kept going backwards in her ability to function outside my womb.  My saving grace for this stay was that I did not leave that hospital until she did, 10 days after she was born.



It was a rather awkward place to be in.  She wasn't "pre-term" like Elisa and many of her cell mates, and yet had many of the milestones to meet that she did to go home.  And yet, she wasn't able to go home.  My heart ached for the other moms there, having been in their shoes but feeling distanced from them since she was so old.  This stay didn't have the same repercussions.  There weren't developmental delays to worry about.  There wasn't a compromised immune system.  This was just a blip on the radar.

Since then, she has continued to grow and develop and exceed expectations.  Her weight has been slow to move forward, and she was even given that dreaded "failure to thrive" label.  That is a joke.  But even with this, she is a happy, healthy, amazing 4 month old and the perfect closure to our family.

1 Month
8lbs 3 oz, 21 inches


2 Months
9lbs 12 oz, 22.75 inches


3 Months
10lb 13 oz


4 Months
11lb 9 oz, 24 inches

I love her in so many ways.  I bonded the fastest with her out of all of them.  And despite her NICU stay, she has "healed" me.  She's been my only successfully breastfed baby.  And baby she will always be.

I look forward to watching her grow up.

But not too fast.