Home


January 31st, 2011

That’s where Ian is. He’s currently asleep about two feet from me. I’m starting to realize the NICU is a lot noisier than I realized because he’s been making almost nonstop noise since we walked in the door. I normally get really annoyed with loud breathers and snorers, but I like that he’s so loud. I can’t even describe what it’s like to look over and see him here. On one hand, it’s like “holy crap, there’s really a baby here,” but on the other, I already forget what it’s like without him here, even though he’s only been home for a couple of hours.

He’s already choked once since we got home. Surprisingly, it’s a lot less scary to have him choke when he’s not hooked up to monitors. In the NICU, everything starts ringing and flashing, and I can see what happens to his heart rate. When I happens here, I just sit him up, make sure he’s okay, and move along. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to ever happen again, but I’m feeling a little better about the fact that it probably will.

We thought bringing a baby home was going to be very emotional for us, but it actually wasn’t. There’s obviously still plenty of time for us to be emotional, and I think we were probably too nervous about bringing home to be emotional about how we never got to bring Jillian home. I did get a little choked up about leaving the NICU last night, but it was because I was thinking about how I’ve spent the past 17 days in the same place where Jilly lived her life. I’ll also really miss some of the nurses and doctors. I don’t think I could ever say enough about how amazing the people are there.

So now we’re going to enjoy our little man. The past thirteen/fourteen months were not what we had planned, but I feel like we’ve finally gotten where we’re supposed to be. I can’t say I wouldn’t change anything, and I’ll never stop wishing that we had Jillian here with us, but I feel like we’re going to be okay. Actually, we’re going to be great. We’re going to have the happy life that we promised her we’d strive for and I feel like we have her to thank for it.

Two weeks


January 28th, 2011

I had my 2-week postpartum check up today. It was pretty uneventful. During my c-section, the doctor said it appeared that I’d had a placental abruption. My peri said today that the placenta pathology didn’t confirm it, so if I did have an abruption, it was very recent. Basically, we’ll never know if that’s really what it was or if it was just preterm labor for any number of possible reasons. Because of that, I’ll be on progesterone starting sometime during the second trimester of my next pregnancy.

The doctor who did this c-section also mentioned that my uterus looked thin, and my peri said it was down around my old incision, which is exactly why I was supposed to have a scheduled c-section without going into labor. She said that because of this, she’d like to see two years between pregnancies. I immediately started bargaining, and she agreed that two years between deliveries would be sufficient. I have no idea when we’ll feel ready for another one, but I can live with two years between deliveries. I think.

Things with Ian have been uneventful, thankfully. He’s still not eating, but that’s okay. I’m dying for him to get home, but I know we need to wait. I really hope it’s soon.

I’ve gotten a few lectures over the past few days about not being in the NICU 24 hours a day (I even asked my doctor this morning if Ian’s doctor had called her because they both used the same speech). It’s not even like I am spending a ton of time there. I go in the morning for his feed, come home after that’s finished and I’ve pumped, and then head back by his feed in the early evening. I think I’m probably there more than most parents, but I’m not working and we live really close to the hospital, but I don’t think I’m there THAT much. My doctor assured me that she tells the same thing to every NICU mom she sees and that nobody called her, but I still feel like they’re all looking at me like I’m spending too much time there and not taking care of myself. I swear that I’m fine, though. I could use more sleep, but I have to get up to pump during the night, so that’s not going to happen for a long time.

Wednesday


January 26th, 2011

I’m having a bad day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad, but I needed to come home from the hospital for a good cry. It started last night when we were breastfeeding. Ian screamed and screamed every time we tried to start. He eventually went on, but it was so frustrating to not know what was wrong or how to fix it. Actually, I’m pretty sure I know what was wrong – he was starving, but I’ve learned that getting a baby to eat while he is hungrier than he’s ever been is just about impossible.

This morning got off to a much better start. I found out when I got there that he’d taken his 6am feed from a bottle. That’s what he needs to do to break out of there, so it’s very exciting. I didn’t want to set my hopes on him doing it for the 9am feed, too, but it was hard to avoid. He breastfed for a little while, then he took almost all of his bottle.

And then he choked.

His heart rate dropped. I’m pretty sure that if I’d been hooked up to a monitor, it would show that mine just stopped. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. I pulled the bottle out and sat him up, and he was totally fine, but it still scared the hell out of me. One of the nurses warned me that he’ll do this at home, which didn’t make me feel any better. I know that it happens (I’m 32 years old and still choke on my food on a daily basis), but I still don’t like it.

His doctor came to talk to me after it happened to make sure I was okay. I mostly was, but I broke down while I was talking to her. I just feel like he’s never going to get home. I keep reminding myself that he’s fine, he’s healthy, he’s only struggling with eating because he’s a preemie, and he’s not even supposed to be born yet, but I still want him home. I miss him so much when I’m not there that my heart aches. I wanted to drive over there at 3:00 this morning when I got up to pump because I missed him so much. I just hate being separated.

It’s also disappointing because they kept predicting he’d be home by the end of this week. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I did, even though I thought everyone in the NICU was insane for thinking it was even a possibility. Now I know there’s no chance of that happening this week and it sucks. I know he’ll be home before I know it, but that doesn’t make it much easier. I know things could be a lot worse (that’ an understatement), but I’m still sad. I’m going to spend the afternoon sleeping, watching crap TV, pumping, and letting myself cry. Ian’s doctor told me to go out and treat myself to a new fancy pair of underwear. I think she forgets that I’m less than two weeks postpartum. It’s not the best time for fancy underwear, if you know what I mean. I think I’m going to treat myself to some new yarn instead, and start on my next knitting project for my little dude. He’ll be home to wear it soon enough.

Saturday


January 22nd, 2011

This baby in the NICU thing is exhausting. It’s fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired in my entire life.

Ian is still doing great. We fall more and more in love with him with each passing second and I think he might be the most hilarious baby ever. Sometimes it feels like we spend our entire visits laughing, which is a big change for us. I can’t believe how much personality he’s already showing.

We have learned that every diaper change requires two new diapers. I don’t think I’ve made it through a change without getting peed on. It doesn’t matter that we put a cloth over him. The second we pull it away to fold his new diaper over, I have pee shooting up my arm.

His nurse asked this morning for the name of his pediatrician. She wanted to get started on his discharge paperwork. I can’t wait to bring him home, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared (well, except when we bathed him for the first time the other night). His nurse starting the paperwork doesn’t mean his discharge is imminent, but it’s going to happen pretty soon if things keep going the way they have been. We’re hoping for the end of next week, but I won’t be surprised if it happens later than that.

The only downside to anything related to Ian is how scared Dave and I both are. When he does anything: coughs, sneezes, whimpers, pokes himself in the eyes, cries, screams, breathes quickly, breathes loudly, poops a million times a day, spits up, seems tense, seems relaxed, etc., our hearts jump into our throats. We’re both fully aware that these are things that all babes do, and we both know it’s because we’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop. We don’t like feeling this way, and I said to Dave last night that I just want to be able to enjoy my baby, but I don’t know how or when we’ll ever be able to relax. I know we’ll worry about him for the rest of our lives, but I also know that the level of anxiety we feel isn’t normal. Maybe it’s normal for people who have been through what we’ve been through, but I’d still like it to stop. I guess we’ll keep talking about it with each other and our grief counselor. Hopefully it will get a little easier.

Wednesday


January 19th, 2011

I was discharged from the hospital today. I didn’t think it would be very hard, based on our previous experience, but I was wrong. Right before we went down to tell Ian “see you later,” I was looking at a facebook friend’s baby’s pictures when she first got home. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have looked at them when I did, but I didn’t really think it through. 

I was a bawling mess by the time we left the NICU. I felt a little silly because we live so close to the hospital and we’ll be here all the time (we’re here now), but all the nurses and Dave did a good job comforting me. 

Once I was discharged, I had to leave the hospital in a wheelchair. They have these special wheelchairs for new moms. They’re just big wheelchairs with space in the back for a car seat and tons of stuff. I felt like a jackass riding in this thing, and then felt really idiotic when I was wheeled into the “newborn discharge waiting area” to wait for Dave to pull the car in. I swear that every single person in that lobby was staring at me, and I’m sure they were all trying to figure out where my newborn was. This caused a giggle fit, so I’m sure everyone in there thought I was nuts. At least it made me forget about leaving my little dude. 

We ran home to shower and beg forgiveness from our neglected cats, then turned around to get back to Ian. I got to the NICU before Dave, and when I walked up to the reception desk, the receptionist called Ian’s nursery and asked if he had been moved to NICU A, which they confirmed. MY BABY GRADUATED! I have never been so proud in my entire life. He’s in an open air crib and everything is more relaxed Our new doctor stopped by to introduce himself and said that once Ian learned how to eat, he’d be out of there. 

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Ian then wowed us again. I nursed him for his 3:00 feed, and that little rock star stayed on for well over an hour. He took some quick naps and breaks every now and then, but it was fantastic. The nurse said she wasn’t going to supplement to see if he actually got as much as he should have, and that if he woke up quickly, she’d give him more through his nose tube. We stayed there until about 15 minutes before his next feed (we left to get dinner) and he was still sleeping soundly. 

I’m sure leaving tonight will be rough, but we’ve had such a good day. I’m scared to feel excited, but it’s hard not to be. Hopefully the good days will keep happening and he’ll be home before we know it. 

Tuesday morning


January 18th, 2011

Ian had another great night last night. We went down for his feed time early this morning and tried breastfeeding again. It was a thousand times better than it has been. He stayed on one side for 5 minutes, but then he was off and on the other side for about 45 minutes. He tends to fall asleep, so I don’t know how much he ate, but I’m feeling so much better about it. 

He should be on full feeds at midnight tonight, which means his IV can come out. While this is fabulous and it means one less tube, it also means one more grabby hand. I’m pretty sure I can never wear glasses, necklaces, or earrings again. Once he has the eating thing down pat, he’ll be moved to the intermediate nursery and in an open air crib. Today’s nurse said that this transition happens pretty quickly, so hopefully he’ll “graduate” before we know it. Other than that, we’re just hanging out and getting to know each other. We did kangaroo time for the first time yesterday afternoon, and it was pretty much the best hour of my life. He was so snuggly and comfortable.

I’m being discharged tomorrow, and to be honest, I can’t freaking wait. It will be really hard not being only an elevator ride away from him, but fortunately we live really close to the hospital. If we hadn’t been through our experience with Jillian, I’d probably be a hysterical mess about going home, but we see leaving our baby in the NICU in a whole new light after leaving our baby in the morgue last time. We’ll still be here all the time, but just the thought of getting to sleep at night without having my vitals checked every few hours, hearing doors opening and closing, listening to beeping machines, being woken by helicopters, and hearing other people’s babies cry kind of makes me a little teary eyed. Of course, our animals probably won’t let us sleep after being deserted for five nights.

Oh! One other thing that Dave kept telling me to post that I kept forgetting about: Ian’s name. Some people have thought that his name being the last three letters of Jillian’s name is a coincidence. It was actually totally intentional. At some point after Jillian died, somebody sent me a text about her that got cut into two messages. I got the second part first, so I read a message that said something about Ian. I couldn’t figure out who Ian was, and then I got the first half of the message and realized what had happened. I thought, hmm, we could name a boy that if we ever have one. So we did. We tried another name first, but it didn’t stick. Ian just felt right.

Monday


January 17th, 2011

We’ve been very busy because I just typed “Thursday” and then “Tuesday” into the title box until I realized it’s only Monday. Things have continued to go well, but it’s been nonstop action. It’s hard for me to blog because I can only do it from my phone. The hospital has decided that my blog contains adult content, so I can’t get to it on the hospital’s wi-fi. It’s hard to do much of anything because we’re back and forth every three hours, and it’s like it’s time to go back to the NICU as soon as we finish everything we have to do in between visits (mainly pumping and eating).

Ian is doing great. We got to make our first attempt at breastfeeding Saturday night. It was wonderful. The nurse put him into my arms, and he latched on with no help and started sucking. He gets worn out from it pretty quickly, plus he kept pulling his head back to stare at me, so I’m pretty certain he didn’t get anything, especially because my milk is just coming in, but he did a great job. Yesterday wasn’t so easy. The nurse who was helping insisted on me holding him in a way that was totally uncomfortable for me, then she kept pushing his head into me, then she kept telling me to relax. I don’t think she understood that she was the reason I couldn’t relax – not breastfeeding. She’s a very nice woman but I hope she won’t be “helping” us anymore. Ian and I are both much better at it when we just do what comes naturally to us.  That’s how we handled it last night and this morning, and it was much better. He did pull my glasses off my face at one point, and he keeps reminding all of us how strong he is by doing pushups off my chest. 

In other bodily function news, I have now been peed on twice, and we’ve learned he likes clean diapers to poop in, because he poops immediately after we’ve changed his diaper, plus one time when I was in the middle of changing his diaper. I think his dad put him up to that. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Dave any more than I already did, he told me the lines to the song he sings to Ian. It goes something like “Ian peanut, you are my peanut. Ian peanut likes to pee on himself. Ian peanut likes to pee on mommy. Ian peanut, Daddy’s the only one smart enough not to get peed on.” I’m sure I don’t have the exact words here, but you get the idea. Who knew that a song about pee would make me fall in love all over again?

So that’s how things are going. Our two NICU experiences have been like night and day. One of our nurses told us at one point that the most exciting thing she’d done all day was turn Ian’s head. That was never the case with Jillian’s stay. Dave mentioned this morning how the doctors pretty much ignore us, and how nice that is.  We’ve been very fortunate this time. It’s hard to shake the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. At one point when I was holding my little snuggle buddy, I thought to myself that if anything happens, at least I’d always have the memory of that moment. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to turn that kind of thinking off.

Hopefully things will continue to go as well as they have been. I could sit here and go on and on about how in love I am. I mentioned to Dave the other night that I’ve never been so happy in my entire life. Even though Ian could never, ever, ever take Jillian’s place, the amount of healing he has provided is amazing. When we stare into each other’s eyes, or I see him looking up to lock eyes with Dave, I wonder what I did to deserve something so wonderful. I’m going to make myself puke, but seriously, just thinking about him makes my heart pound.

And with that, I’m going to try to squeeze in a nap before it’s time for him to eat again. I don’t think that will be hard to do, seeing how I’ve nodded off about ten times while typing this. Thank you for all your well wishes and support. I’m sorry to anyone who is emailing, texting, calling, etc. that I haven’t gotten back to. I’m getting out of the hospital on Wednesday, and I’ll definitely have a little more free time then. I’m planning on spending as much time as I can here, but I also need to spend some time at home, too.

We’ve had a big day so far


January 15th, 2011

Thank you all for your thoughts and well wishes. It means so much to Dave and me, and I’m sure Ian feels like a little rock star right now.

It felt like it took forever for me to get down to see Ian. I felt a million times better after spending time with him. He’s pink, he looks relaxed, and he was getting lots of rest. We were able to do his mouth care/temp/diaper routine, which was the first highlight of my day. We never got to do any of that with Jillian, so it meant a lot. He wasn’t a big fan of any of it, and he made sure we knew. His furrowed brow makes me feel bad because he is obviously unhappy when he’s doing it, but it’s so perfect and adorable that I can’t help but love it.

While we were there, one of the doctors from Jillian’s stay came over to say hi. He introduced himself and I mentioned that we’ve met before. He then acknowledged that we had, which made me think he was letting me take the lead on whether we’d address that. He commented on how well Ian is doing and how different this experience will be. He mentioned that they were going to start weaning Ian off the CPAP. That’s obviously a big step, but I also knew it might mean I wouldn’t get to hold him today because we don’t want to overwhelm him. That’s okay though.

While we were there, my peri came in to visit. I’m not sure if she was in the hospital anyway or not, but I was shocked to see her. We talked about the delivery and how much trouble the doctor had removing the cerclage, and then she left. Ian’s nurse’s jaw dropped as my doctor walked out. She said she thought she was my sister or something and that I am a very lucky person to have a doctor like her. I agree. She’s been amazing for the past several months.

We came to my room for some rest and went back down a little bit ago. As we entered the NICU, the doctor mentioned that Ian was doing even better. We got to his bedside and I could finally see his sweet little face because the CPAP was gone. It makes me so nervous to know he’s breathing on his own (even though he’s constantly monitored), but being able to really look at him was amazing. I’m starting to think he actually looks like my other little brother.

Then his nurse asked if I was ready to hold him. Obviously. We got all situated and she placed him in my arms. I melted. He’s perfect. As soon as someone dimmed the lights, he opened his eyes and looked right at my face. It was one of the most perfect moments of my life. He then spent the rest of our snuggle time looking back and forth between Dave and me, and it seemed like he was fighting to stay awake. I eventually had to give him back because we all need to rest, especially because today has been so eventful.

I’m almost afraid to post this because it seems like things are going too smoothly. Obviously that’s a great thing, but Dave and I are both terrified to acknowledge the progress. Hopefully things will keep getting better. We don’t have any idea how long he’ll be here, and we’re both too scared to ask. I think it all depends on how the next few days go. We’ll see.

Ian Matthew


January 15th, 2011

Surprise! The little dude is here. We weren’t expecting him so soon, obviously. My c-section was supposed to happen February 8. He came out screaming his little head off last night, weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces. By the time I got to visit him a few hours ago, he was doing well. He needed a little help breathing, but the doctors said he’s doing as well as they expect a 34-weeker to do, and everyone has commented on his feistiness.

This got really long, but I don’t want to forget a moment of Ian’s birth.

Yesterday started off as a pretty routine day. I had been in my doctor’s office on Thursday, which went from a regular, short appointment to one with two speculum exams, a failed NST, and an ultrasound because my NP thought she saw some fluid around my cervix. They eventually decided I was probably not leaking (but weren’t 100% sure) and everything was great on the ultrasound, so we went home.

Anyway, I went to an appointment with my grief counselor on Friday morning. Ian was being his usual active self. I was just uncomfortable and at one point I said that if he moved any lower, he was going to fall out.

I got home and ate some lunch and tried to get to work on making his mobile. Eventually I was too uncomfortable and decided to take a bath because being submerged in water is the only time I’d felt comfortable in a couple of months. I realized at one point I was really in a lot of pain. I got out of the tub, lay on my left side in bed, started drinking a ton of water, and started timing what i realized were contractions. After several that happened very quickly, I called Dave and my doctor’s office.

They did another NST, which was another failure, but confirmed that I really was contracting. We were sent to the hospital pretty quickly. The on-call doctor and my doctor were about 50/50 on whether to do a c-section or try to stop labor. They decided to try one drug, and if that didn’t work, Ian would have to come out.

My uterus laughed in the face of those drugs. They didn’t even make a dent. I eventually got to the point where, as guilty as it made me feel, I wanted the c-section. Also, a word of advice to any significant others who are reading: like I said to Dave, do not ask a woman if she is having a contraction when she is clearly having a contraction unless you would like some certain body parts wrapped around your neck. Dave, I am sorry that I was so short with you.

Back to the birth story. Once an ER was open, my c-section started. It was nothing like Jillian’s. They were working quickly, but it wasn’t as urgent or scary. Once they started, it didn’t take long for us to hear Ian start screaming. And I mean screaming. Dave later said he sounded like a combo of two of our cats screeching. Even though it’s not a pleasant sound, it’s the most beautiful sound in the world. I happened to be looking at Dave when Ian started screaming, and the look on Dave’s face is one I will never forget.

The doctor held him up over the curtain but it was hard for me to really see him. I just thought he looked big. He continued screaming for a while. Dave went over to him and I could hear him tearfully welcoming him to the world. He scored 9s on both apgars. Dave came to update me and said he was perfect and had more hair than both of us combined, including all over his body. You are welcome, little dude. I take full responsibility for that feature.

Eventually someone brought him over so I could say hello. As soon as he came around the curtain and was being placed in Dave’s arms, my heart caught. It was a feeling I’ve never felt before, not even with Jillian (in sure it’s just because I was so terrified). I couldn’t stop staring at his nose while Dave held him. It’s adorable, bur more importantly, his nostrils were moving because he was breathing. If we had had different experiences before Ian arrived, it’s probably something we would have taken for granted, but last night, it was totally mesmerizing.

He was taken to the NICU for observation. It took an eternity for them to finish me up, and then it took another eternity to get me moved to a postpartum floor, which also meant getting to visit Ian on the way. Dave had already been to see him so he was able to prepare me for where he was: the exact spot where Jillian spent most of her stay. It was weird and difficult at first, but by the time we left, it was comforting. It made me feel like my two babies have a special connection, and I can’t help but wonder if his placement, out of every spot in that NICU, was Jillian’s way of letting us know she’s here with us.

I can’t figure out who he looks like. I did think he looked a little like my youngest brother, but I think it’s mainly because he’s so chunky in our minds. My brother isn’t chunky, but I remember him being born like that, and of course he was also a hairy beast.

I was able to sleep for a couple of hours, but now I’m just willing time away to a better hour so we can go see him. His nurse thinks I’ll be able to hold him this morning, so the next several hours will probably be the longest of my life. We’re scared, but Dave and I keep telling each other that everything will be fine. Hopefully our NICU stay will be short, but with a happy ending this time. I’ll be posting updates, I’m sure.

Everything is fine 2


January 10th, 2011

Don’t worry. I didn’t fall. This time.

We had another trip to L&D yesterday. I woke up yesterday to some bleeding. The little dude was clearly fine, and as soon as they hooked me up to the monitors, he became as active as he was the last time we were there. I was showing irritability again, but they weren’t that concerned because I don’t feel any different than I have for the past few weeks.

The doctor couldn’t tell from the internal where the bleeding was coming from (aside from my cervix), but my cervix is still closed. It’s now soft and definitely getting shorter, which is to be expected.

We then had an ultrasound to check everything else, which was all fine, except that I have some excess fluid. Oh, and my perfect little baby who was head down from 14 weeks on? Breech. Apparently he decided 33 weeks was a good time to flip the wrong way. It doesn’t matter because I’m having a c-section, but now I have to wonder how long he’s been like that, why he thinks my ribs are a helmet, and how long I’ve been poking him in the head thinking it was his butt.

He measured 5 pounds, 7 ounces on the ultrasound. Obviously that measurement could be way off, but dude. I was smaller than that when I was born. He turned and looked at us (well, not technically) during the ultrasound, then opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. Dave and I both melted and started baby talking to the screen. We’re so in love with that little (big) dude.

So anyway, they sent me home after everything looked fine. I feel like total crap and still feel really crampy. I’m taking it very easy, but I can’t get comfortable. I know I don’t have much longer to go and I really want him to stay in there as long as possible, but holy crap this hurts. He can make as uncomfortable as he wants, though, as long as he’s nice and comfortable.