Thursday, July 30, 2015

first year flashback

How has it been one year already?

I should probably be cleaning up from our day of excitement and partying in honor of Joe's first year of life, but I would much rather do a lengthy blog post about him, so I will. First I'll get the practicals out of the way, the stuff that only the parents and grandparents care about. We had a great day celebrating with our standard morning birthday donuts and presents tradition, which really meant Joseph nursing the jelly filling out of the raspberry Bismark I got for him. Entertaining and kind of gross.

Milestones: He finally started crawling by 10 months and is now into everything and pulling himself up and being chatty and sweet all the time. He still looks like Mr. Jackson from the Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse with his gummy, NO TEETH grin:

Which meant I had an even better reason to push for 1st birthday frozen yogurt for all parties! No one was complaining.

Now I'll wax reflective and be a tad emotional since I am internally reliving everything that was happening a year ago. Relive with me some more, will you?

It was one year ago that I was walking around the hospital wondering if I would be having a baby 3 weeks early, and ready to go home and wait one more week.

I remember so clearly staring at a poster in the hospital bathroom that day which listed facts about how a baby's lungs were not fully developed until 39 weeks and panicking about the fact that my baby might be born 2 weeks shy of that point.

I had always wanted a day time delivery, so they deemed that I was indeed in labor and admitted me to that hospital room, I was thrilled when the sun was streaming in through the windows and at the prospect of an epidural coming my way-- in the day time!

I remember when he came out, with a full head of hair and the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen.

But I knew something was wrong when they put him on my chest because he was making a lot of weird gasping noised and they took him away from me to try to get him to breath normally. It felt like an eternity of watching them put the oxygen mask on him while he screamed and I couldn't do a thing to help.

They weren't able to get him breathing normally without the oxygen and let me know he would be going to the NICU. I still cringe and get choked up when I think about those hours after his birth, sitting alone in a hospital bed, unable to move or go see him because of the epidural. I don't think I have ever cried as ugly I did then.

I had taken all of my uneventful deliveries and successful post birth experiences for granted and even though Bernadette's was not ideal, I did have several weeks to mentally prepare for how not ideal it would be and she was absolutely fine. In fact, as soon as I was all stitched up they put her right on my chest and let me try to nurse her.

For this birth I had not given any thought as to what it would be like to not have my baby boy with me in my hospital bed after giving birth. I never thought about being totally helpless to be able to care for my own little one myself. I became really keenly aware in those moments of how these babies of mine are not mine. That I do not deserve them, I have no right to them, and I cannot keep them alive and well on my own, they are simply on lone, a free and undeserved gift from a Father who does the life giving and life preserving.

I remember this well meaning, albeit incredibly frustrating nurse who *forgot* to turn my epidural off for an entire HOUR, which meant I had to wait another additional HOUR to go see Joseph in the NICU. I didn't get to hold him or try to nurse him for well over 3 hours after he was born. When we got to the NICU he was all hooked up to monitors and chords and his tiny baby hands had been all poked with needles to get an IV in them.

I cannot imagine you moms who have done long NICU stays, and ones where you are actually unsure whether your baby is already, I could not do it-- my heart goes out to you and I am in awe of your strength. I literally could not stop crying that entire night.

I was finally able to nurse him, even with all his breathing chords and his IV, but then I had to put him back in his bed and go back to my hospital bed to sleep while Mike went home to be with the kids.

Now, I usually send my babies to the nursery for stretches when I am in the hospital, and so I have had plenty of post-birth moments of sleeping alone without the baby right next to me, with nurses keeping a close eye on them. But this was different.

He was in en entirely different wing of the hospital and I could not call a nurse to bring him back. They were not going to bring him to me if he needed to nurse. The level of loneliness was knocked up about 1000 notches that night and I think I made it about 3 hours in my hospital bed before I sneaked back to the NICU unit to sit in a chair with Joseph and his machines.

I am so grateful that everything was fine. A bit dramatic, but just fine! I have often thought that I would like a do-over of that birth, but one year into his life and I think I have finally accepted that that was the way he was supposed to be born.

In the end I got what every mother hopes and prays for a perfectly wonderfully, healthy baby. He was and is absolutely perfect.

And I am so thankful for these healthy children who I do not deserve.


  1. My second baby's NICU stay remains the most traumatic event of my life. I am nearly ready for the third baby since him and the two healthy deliveries since have not gotten me past the scared. That she will be early, or sick, is always in the back of my mind in a way that never occurred to me the first two pregnancies. The epidural which would not wear off and left me numb the first six hours of his life - well, the last two have been med-free. And he came home healthy and like a regular newborn! I can't imagine the trauma otherwise. Sorry, I'm not being very positive. It makes all the healthy, breathing days since then all the more precious, and me more grateful for having a new baby snuggled up to me.

    Happy birthday, Joseph!

  2. You poor thing! That must have been so awful, it's a mother's worst nightmare. gkad everything worked out so well. Happy birthday little Joseph!:)

  3. That third-to-last paragraph - acceptance of what cannot be changed. That is beautiful. Are you familiar with the Prayer to the Holy Spirit? Recently I have paused before "I promise to be submissive to everything You permit to happen to me. Show me only Your Will." I simultaneously love and fear that submission, especially in relation to my family. Now I will remember Joseph's story and smile.