Monday, December 12, 2011

The Baby Blues Diary

This is not the amazing positive birth I had promised to post.  I’m not capable of writing that post right now.  Instead, this is a post of how I am feeling at this point…with Ian in the NICU for the 10th day.  As per usual lately, my feelings aren’t pretty.  But I’m out of apologies, so feel free not to read it if you don’t want to.

I am fighting hard to keep my “baby blues” from becoming post partum depression.  I’m not sure how you figure out where that line gets drawn, but I at least am aware that there is a line and am looking for it.  That has to count for something.  I’ve spent a lot of time crying (make that sobbing until my throat is raw) over the last week and a half and, just when I think I am getting past all of the emotions, something happens that sends me back into a tailspin.  I’m trying to stay away from the edge of the abyss and so I am doing what all of the NICU nurses have said I should do…I’m journaling about my feelings.  Sure, I’m journaling on a public blog…but I think getting these toxic thoughts out of my system is really the point…not keeping things private.

I am REALLY thankful that I have Ian.  It was a long journey and every time I look at him I think of where I’ve been and where I am now.  I can’t put into words how blessed I feel when I look at his face.  I have never been so in love in my life.  I get it now…how women can find the strength to pull cars off babies.  Why women will literally kill or even be killed to protect their children.  Whatever force it is that creates that bond, it is a force that kicks in immediately at the first sight of your child’s face.  Perhaps that protective instinct, that desire to do anything to shelter your baby from all things bad in the world, is what makes having your baby in the NICU so hard.

Don’t get me wrong.  Ian is getting amazing care in the NICU.  By and large, I love the nurses and they seem to truly care about Ian and his progress.  I love the neonatologists…who are the most patient and caring doctors I’ve EVER met.  Ian is exactly where he needs to be so he can get stronger.  My brain knows that.  My heart doesn’t care.  Logic goes out the window when every fiber of my being screams at me that I can’t leave him, as I take the long walk down the hall from the NICU to the parking garage.   That walk never gets easier.  I still cry every time I make it.  And, while the first time I made it (2 days after Ian was born, on the day I was discharged from the hospital) was the hardest (I crumbled in the elevator and The Prince had to hold me up while I sobbed in front of complete strangers), it is still devastating to leave the hospital without my baby.  It feels like I’m losing him, every time.

I think things have gotten worse the last couple of days (from a mental health perspective), because we had been told Ian was coming home this last Saturday.  He had been a little rock star and was holding his own temperature, eating from the breast and from the bottle like a champ, and was doing everything the doctors would ask from a term baby.  No one could believe how fast he had progressed.  So, there was no reason to keep him.  Then, when we carried in his car seat and “going home outfit” on Saturday, the nurse greeted us with the bad news.  Ian had a “setback.”  The doctor came in and explained that, overnight, Ian had started sleeping through his feeds.  Unless he had two solid bottle feeds from me on Saturday, he was going to have to stay.  He wouldn’t eat anything for me.  I prayed, I begged him to perk up and eat for his mommy, I tried every trick I’d learned over the  first week of Ian’s life to get him interested in sucking, and then I bawled my eyes out as he slept through the half hour they gave him to “complete his feed.”  The doctor saw how upset I was and said she would give him a second try before putting his feeding tube back in.  He didn’t wake up for his second try.  I can’t explain in words what that felt like.  It wasn’t just about the disappointment of him not coming home.  It was pure raw pain at seeing Ian take such a big step backwards and frustration at seeing him with that damned feeding tube in his nose again.  He hates that thing and I hate that he has to endure it.  And there is nothing I can do to fix it.  Nothing I can do to take his pain or sleepiness away.  I tell him that he is just teaching mommy a lesson in patience, but the truth is, I don’t think this is a lesson at all.  This is just one more sucky, crappy obstacle being placed in the way of me finally bringing my baby home.  Only this obstacle is so much worse than the others I’ve faced in my journey because this one affects Ian, too.  Life can shit on me all it wants, but I take exception to it dragging my perfect innocent baby into the mix.

As a friend wrote to me (and many of you kind blog commenters have said), this will all be a distant memory soon enough.  Like the pain of labor, I will forget how much this hurt and will just be consumed with love and happiness when Ian gets home.  I also know that I am so so so so so so blessed that Ian’s only trouble is that he is too sleepy to eat as vigorously as he needs to.  All around him are babies on methadone and morphine because of drug addicted mothers, babies recovering from surgery, and babies who will spend months in the NICU because they weigh a couple of pounds at birth.  We watch as parents cry because they live hours away from the hospital and can only see their babies a couple of times a week.  We are really blessed that Ian held out for those three weeks that I was on bed rest.  We are really blessed that he is doing so well.  We are really blessed that we live 15 minutes from the hospital and that I can spend 8 hours a day with Ian.  I know all of this and I truly am trying to hold on to gratitude.  But sometimes, the pain and frustration of this situation makes it too hard to hold on to anything…even hope. 

I’m going to end this post now.  I’m not so sure that writing these feelings down has helped.  I think I just feel stupid now, seeing how irrational and ungrateful I sound.  But hopefully this is a process and I will feel better eventually.  If not, I apologize (I guess I did have one apology left in there) to all of you who are reading this and ask that you just ignore my blog while I wallow in self-pity.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happily Ever After Has Arrived!

I promise to write a longer, more complete post about our little's prince's birth story very soon.  But, for now, I just wanted to let everyone know that our son, Ian Andrew, arrived on December 3, 2011, at 11:10 a.m.  He was 33 weeks and 2 days gestational age.  He weighed 5 pounds and 11 ounces, and measured 21 inches long.  He is staying in the NICU for awhile (a fact that is killing me as I prepare to go home from the hospital today...without him), but he is doing so well that we are hopeful he won't have to stay there for more than a few weeks.  As I said, I will be sending a more thorough post soon.  For now, I just want to fully embrace every second of these amazing first days of Ian's life...of our new life together.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Long-Overdue Baby Shower Post

I'm not feeling particularly well today, so I thought this would be a good day to post the pictures of my baby shower.  There probably won't be as much narrative as I had originally hoped to offer, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

The Theme was "Mama's Sweet Lil' Pumpkin."

I had to ask our neighbor to buy this pumpkin off her porch on the morning of the shower, so I would have time to decorate it before the shower.  I had gone shopping a couple of days after Halloween, assuming that pumpkins would be on sale.  Instead, they were all gone.  Luckily, our neighbor is an incredibly nice woman and she was more than happy to give me the pumpkin, free-of-charge, when she heard what I would be using it for.

The shower was held at The Prince's family's restaurant.  I think the theme tied in perfectly with the comfy and quaint atmosphere of the restaurant.

I tried to stick to more of a fall theme, with touches of "baby boy" stuff, as opposed to a barrage of all things baby.

But, so as not to forget the reason behind the shower, I threw in some light blue accents here and these Martha Stewart tissue poms (not as quick and easy to make as you would think).

I don't have pictures of the actual favors, but I have extra favors, so someday I will take and post pictures of them.  Until then, here's the thousand words... The favors were vanilla-scented, light blue candles in baby food jars.  I bought them from a single mother who makes them and sells them online.  I then had a graphic designer on design labels for the baby food jars, with personalized information about the shower and our baby (ex.- ingredients were things like love, giggles, happiness, etc.).  I printed the labels out on a color printer (it is a lot cheaper to buy a design and make your own labels than to buy pre-made labels), cut them out, and stuck them on the jars.  They really looked like baby food labels until you looked at them closely.  I also cut out designs matching the theme of the labels to place on top of the jars' lids, so they would say "Thank you" instead of "Gerber" or "Beechnut."  Next, I placed them individually in orange bags, hole-punched a small hole in each bag to gather the top of the bags, and threaded a ribbon through the hole and a favor tag I had printed.  The favor tag gave info about the shower and, on the inside, had the following poem:
"Here's a candle for you to light,
Once the stork has made its flight.
With the flicker of the flame,
Please send hugs and kisses in our baby's name."

I'm biased, but I thought they were cute.

 People were so generous and the baby got so much cute stuff.  I blame all the gifts for him deciding to try to pop out four days after the shower...he couldn't wait to wear all the adorable outfits and play with all of the cute toys.  We also asked people to bring books in lieu of cards, so we could build the baby's library early.  The books we got were fabulous and I have been reading to the baby a lot during our hospital stay.

I had to add some pictures of this Baby Shower Biker Bunny that my sister-in-law's sister-in-law (not sure that what makes her to me...friend I guess) made out of burp clothes, bibs, diapers, receiving blankets and bottles.  It was ADORABLE and I am definitely stealing it as a gift idea for showers I go to in the future.

This is me opening a gift of hand-crocheted baby booties, cap, coat and blanket, made by The Prince's great grandmother for him when he was a baby.  The Prince was a June baby, so he never got to wear them, but The Prince's mom saved them for the day that he had his own baby.  When she pulled out the gift from our baby's great-great-grandma, I couldn't help but cry.

One of the many highlights of the shower was when I opened this gift.  My mother-in-law commented that it was too bad that they don't have these jumper things that hang from door frames for adults, as they seem like so much fun.  My dear friend piped up "Oh they do.  They just don't really get used for jumping...though I guess they could."  My mother-in-law (who tends to be quite prim and proper) didn't get what my friend was talking about for a few seconds, but once she did, she laughed to the point of crying.  My friend apologized and said "Sorry.  That was probably inappropriate."  My mother0in-law replied "Oh, we like inappropriate here."  Never would have seen that coming!!!  After the shower, my mother-in-law commented that I have really great friends...she's right!

One of the many books that people were generous enough to share.

And, finally, I am posting my favorite picture from the shower.  I don't look particularly good in it, but I don't like how I look in any pictures.  Still, it is my favorite because it is one of the few pictures that exist of The Prince and I together, and I think it captured how truly happy and blessed we are feeling about this pregnancy.  I'm not sure how a picture can capture that...but I feel like this one does.
On our way to happily ever after...finally.
I want to say thank you, again, to all of my IF friends who came to the shower.  I know how hard it can be to come to a baby shower when you are battling with IF, and I know it wasn't easy for you to come celebrate with me.  But as I said at the shower, you were all such a huge part of The Prince and I making it this far in our own long journey, I couldn't imagine celebrating this victory without all of you.  I can't wait until I am attending each and every one of your baby showers.  Thank you for making the day of my baby shower (a day I had dreamed about for years and had almost given up hope would ever come) one of the best days of my life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

33 Weeks...and Still Cookin'

33 Weeks!  I can’t believe I’ve been in the hospital 21 days already.  It’s not that time has flown by…not by any means.  But, if you had told me three weeks ago that our baby was still going to be safe and sound in my belly at 33 weeks, or that I would be able to survive 3 weeks of hospital bed rest, I would have said you were crazy.  And yet…here we are.

As with most things in life that initially seem insurmountable, this experience has been both stressful and empowering.  The range of emotions I’ve been through, the possibilities that The Prince and I have had to consider with regards to the health of our baby, and the physical demands of being in some state of labor for this long…it all seems like a weird dream in retrospect.  Or, maybe not a dream.  More like someone else has taken over my body and shown a strength of will that I’ve never possessed.  At every step of the way, I kept thinking “I can’t get through this.”  But I did.  And now, there is an “end” in sight…a more hopeful end.

The doctors have said that, if the baby looks good on next Monday’s ultrasound, and the baby and I exhibit no change in condition, we can go home at 34 weeks (one week from now!!!).  I will still be on bed rest and I will likely still be dealing with these stupid incessant contractions, but I will be doing it from the comfort of my own bed…with no roommates except my two little pugs (whose company I appreciate a lot more now) and The Prince (whose company I always appreciated). 

The Prince has said for the last two days that his gut is telling him that the baby is coming out any day now…that we aren’t going to make it to 34 weeks.  But my intuition is telling me the opposite.  I feel like the baby changed his mind about coming out and now he plans on staying in for the long haul…that we may be back to an induction on January 10th.  We’ll see who is right.  At this point, it is pretty clear that the baby is the boss in this matter…and he’s got a mind of his own.

In an attempt to make this 33 week milestone as “normal” as I can, here is my little update on all things baby/pregnancy this week.  First, the baby has hiccups all the time.  He gets about five bouts of hiccups each day.  I timed one bout…it lasted 37 minutes!!!  Poor little guy.  The nurses assure me that he doesn’t mind, but I know how much I hate hiccups and it is hard for me not to feel bad for him.  The baby also has a habit of moving away from the fetal heart rate monitor and he has gotten much better at it over the last three weeks.  It is taking about five minutes to find him now and sometimes, as if knowing what the nurses are looking for (movements), he goes to sleep as soon as they start the non-stress tests.  On those occasions, the nurses make me chug some juice and then the baby perks back up.  The Prince is worried we are creating a sugar addict, but I think the baby is just showing the beginning of his personality.  We’re in for fun times.

As for me, I was weighed again this morning and I’ve lost a total of 8 pounds since being admitted to the hospital three weeks ago.  I have not adjusted to the hospital food (although I choke most of it down now), and my blood sugar still runs low if I don’t “cheat” and eat the snacks that The Prince and my friends bring to me.  This morning, as I put on my “civilian” clothes (I manage to get out of the hospital gown some days), I realized that I have a serious baby bump now.  I’m not sure when that happened.  Some time between last week and this week, I developed a ton of stretch marks and a protruding stomach.  It’s pretty weird that I’m so happy about that.   I also have another area of my body protruding more than normal…the “ladies” are HUGE!  I keep thinking that they can’t get any bigger and, as if to prove me wrong, they grow another inch.  I can’t fit into 4x sports bras…and there just isn’t really anywhere to go from there.  I am currently stuffed into a 4x sports bra and all I can say is that I am really glad I don’t have to go out in public like this.  My breasts are also super leaky.  When I get into the shower or bath things just flow now.  Oddly, I am happy about this too.  I think it is because we are now so far along in the pregnancy, our baby might be able to suck shortly after birth…meaning this new development in my body won’t be going to waste.  Three weeks ago, the leaking seemed like a cruel reminder of the difficulties our baby was going to face with eating, digestion and nutrition.  Now… I have hope.

With regards to the “labor” stuff…my contractions are measuring consistently between 2 to 5 minutes apart.  They seem to get closer together each day, but the intensity isn’t increasing at a regular interval.  Some days are better…some days are awful.  I’ve adjusted my mindset about pain medication.  I’ve really had to.  I still catch myself saying things like “I’ll break down and take the medicine,” but I now know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking something to take the edge off.  Whatever I have been doing, it has kept the baby inside and it has kept his heart rate steady and healthy.  I just have to trust that the doctors know what they are talking about when they tell me that being in constant pain is as bad for the baby as any side effects of the pain medication.  I know I “want” to believe that line of reasoning, and I am looking for evidence to support it, but I still think that it is telling that the only time the baby has shown any problems was on days that I had struggled through without any pain medication.  Hopefully, I won’t regret the decisions I’m making now.

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I want to thank everyone again for your support.  I know it wasn’t my fortitude that got me through the last three weeks (or the pain medication)…it was the strength I was able to muster because people were standing behind me and beside me, urging me on and telling me they believe in me and my baby (cue “Wind Beneath My Wings”).  It was a Coldstone milkshake, gummy fruits, stinky feet popcorn, books, flowers and other deliveries.  It was friends’ humor, well-timed sarcasm, shared tears and words of comfort.  It was by blog readers’ shared stories of hope and constant encouragement…even when my posts got redundant and borderline incoherent.  I’m sitting here, at 33 weeks, because others gave me the strength to make it this far.  So…again…thank you.