Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Weeks Old

I'm sitting on my couch watching the Oscars, and Will is sleeping soundly next to me wrapped in my favorite fuzzy blanket just sucking happily on his paci (see picture below). 8 weeks ago he was not even an hour old. I was dazed in a recovery room trying to figure out what in the world had just happened. So happy. So scared. Just trying to figure out what was going on.

This sweet baby. What a ride. This morning as I was in church with Will snuggly wrapped in the Moby and sleeping against my chest, I remembered this day seven weeks ago...and I wanted to write it down to remember it.

Raw...that is what described January 9, 2011. One week old. My Dad and sister had just left town. Donny and I had had a hard night. My Mom was at home with Hunter and Millie. Will was in the NICU still, and we were heading to church. Before leaving the hospital, Donny and I stopped by the NICU to check on Will. Most of our visits to the NICU were really, really hard for me. They were such a blur.

Anyway, that Sunday morning was the morning the doctors told us that they were suspecting some kind of virus in Will. I can't remember if they had done his spinal tap yet...I think that horrible morning came the next day on Monday...but Will was sick, and the doctors needed to figure out what it was. Donny was very concerned, but I just couldn't handle another emotional burden to carry. Perhaps it was a bit of post-partum depression or just hormones raging on top of being apart from my baby. It could have been anything, but all I wanted to do was get out of that NICU...let the doctors do their thing, and get to church.

We went to church that morning. Staci had already gotten the kids and taken them to Sunday School. So many of our dear church friends were shocked to see us there...but where else would we go? We needed to be with family...and they are truly family. Of course as soon as I walked through the doors, the tears welled up and hardly left while we were there. People continued to tell us they were praying for us and Will, and a simple "thank you" was all I could muster in most cases. I was walking through the fellowship hall in a haze, but I needed to be there. We both needed to be there.

God really used Will's birth and NICU stay to show us the love of the body of Christ through our church. My strongest memory of that Sunday morning was our dear friend, Justin Borger, who was assisting in worship. When he led the congregation in the pastoral prayer, he prayed first for the marriages of the church and specifically for the recent marriage of Jimmy Crandall of our church. Then he prayed for all the families of the church and prayed specifically for Will. With a crack in his voice as he said Will's name, Donny and I both lost it. Donny doesn't cry. That morning, at the sound of his friend mentioning the name of our son who was too far away in a NICU bed, I reached my hand to Donny's back and we both lost it. Our son was not with us. My arms felt so empty. But his name was spoken and known to our entire church. In a way, God gave me the gift of Will's presence in name as he was mentioned in prayer. Our son, who had not been seen by very many people at all, was known...and that meant so much.

Raw...that's the only word to really describe how I felt that day. My son was a week old, and he was not with me. I sat in church without him, and all was not right. Every song sung, every prayer was so raw. Everything had a different meaning, because part of myself was not was back at the hospital. I could have sworn I had an open wound, because it felt so raw to be exposed in my pain and loneliness of not being with my newest son.

But our church was there. Our family was there. And God was there through them. All was a haze, but I knew God was there because of the love of our church family.

Many friends crowded around us after the service for hugs and to ask about Will. I eventually had to sit down, because it was getting to hard to stand (since I was still recovering from my c-section). The crowds dwindled, and our friend Ted and Staci asked if they could take us to lunch. Normalcy. I just wanted some normalcy. So we went to the Olive Garden. We went home, grabbed my mom, and we went out for Sunday lunch.

We then returned to the hospital...still raw...but with newness of hope. We were planning on leaving the hospital the next day to begin long days of multiple commutes back and forth...but we had hope and strength. We were being carried by our God mainly through the love and prayers of our church family.

Happy 8 weeks, Will. I still feel a little raw even with you sitting here beside me. A part of me lives on the outside, and I will continue to trust my God with you.

I will try to chronicle your story as I am able. Please know that I am crazy about you. You have me wrapped around your little finger. 8 weeks and, Lord alone willing, many more weeks, months, and years to hold, love, kiss you, and trust my God in the rawness that comes with giving birth to you and watching you grow.

Now it's time for you to eat...and watch the rest of the Oscars. I'm especially enjoying the movie/musical remix as I finish this post.

Good night. Gonna go hold my little 8 week old...this little piece of myself that is not my own. He belongs to God, and I will hold him even as we are both held by His good arms.

In case I don't get back to blogging for a are a few things about Will at 8 weeks:
  • You LOVE your paci...sometimes won't sleep without it
  • You are still really squooshy and love to be held tightly and in a ball...very womb-like
  • Your longest stretch of sleep is 4 are getting up twice in the night
  • You haven't smiled yet...excited for that day.
  • Your eyes are dark, dark blue. Gorgeous...just like I prayed (and have prayed for all of your siblings).
  • I think you would sleep all day long if someone would just hold LOVE to be held and snuggled...and I love snuggling you.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

One Month Old

One month ago tonight...just a few minutes old.

Our month old.

It's 5:20 p.m. Will is sitting here in my lap awake really for the first time all day (except for eating...he always wakes up to eat). I can't believe it's been a month. I don't know what he's looking at, but he is staring at something to his right just sucking away on his orange paci from the hospital. He loves that thing. He's wearing a rockstar guitar outfit courtesy of Aunt Jenn and cousin Micah. It's one of my faves so far. Hiccups abound. Life is normal....a new normal but gloriously normal.

This past month has been one of the strangest, hardest, and most wonderful of my life. In a way, Will's first 2 1/2 weeks feel like a dream or movie that didn't really happen to me. I remember things quite vividly but also as if I was watching it happen to me rather than experiencing it myself. Here's a little of the story from my perspective...

Sunday morning, January 2...definitely didn't feel great. We spent Friday night the 31st at our friends the Nolls' house for New Year's Eve. We stayed much later than I had planned because we were having such a good time...laughed a lot. Saturday morning, Jan. 1 we went shopping as a family. We bought the one thing I said I needed for the baby: a changing pad. It's the only necessity that we didn't have before the baby was to come. Saturday afternoon/early evening we went to Sea World to see a few Christmas shows before they ended. Needless to say, it was a really full weekend. That Sunday morning, something had changed. I told Donny that I felt like I was carrying the baby differently. Something was different. Little did I know...

I went to church. Feeling the way I did, I would have normally stayed at home to rest, but I did not have to sing in choir, and Donny did not have to assist in worship, so we got to sit together as a family, and I was not going to miss that opportunity (sorry for the crazy long sentence). I was tired, sore, and just feeling weird. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. I would have said for sure I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions. Little did I know...

The minute we got home from church, I asked Donny to do lunch for the kids. I went back to our bedroom to sit in our recliner. And it began...the all too familiar surges of pain I felt with Millie. With Millie, I had to call my sister to ask if I was in labor (because I didn't go into labor on my own with Hunter, so I wasn't sure). This time I knew what those pains probably were. Sitting in the chair, the pain came with some frequency...but certainly it wasn't labor (I thought). I laid down on my bed to see if a change in position would help alleviate the pain. Not so much. I finally called my doctor (who was on call, thankfully). I had just seen her on Friday for an appointment. When I found out she was on call for New Year's weekend, I told her that I hoped she would have an uneventful weekend on call. Little did I know...

I told my doctor I was having menstrual-like surges of pain every 2-3 minutes. My doctor told me to drink a lot of water and give the pain an hour to subside. If it did not stop, she told us to come in to labor and delivery. Funny thing...I was planning on going to the hospital the next week to tour the labor and delivery and baby hall. So we had to look up the hospital and call and ask where labor and delivery were.

The whole way there, I was preparing myself to be humiliated as one who showed up thinking she was in labor when in fact it was gas or something else. The pain wasn't really increasing, but it wasn't going away either. When we got to labor and delivery, they hooked me up to some machines and confirmed that I was indeed contracting. My heart sank, and I tried not to panic. I was 34 weeks and 6 days...and that just felt a little too early. I would have been fine with it in a couple of weeks...but this felt too early. The nurses said the doctor wanted to try to stop my labor by giving me some tributelene (sp?). Well, my heart sank again. When I went into labor with Millie, they gave me tributelene to try to slow my labor, and it did not make a dent in my labor with I wondered if my body would respond (or not respond) the same way. And it did (or didn't). Two or three doses later, my labor was not slowing, and I was continuing to steadily dilate. We were admitted around 3:15 p.m. in the afternoon. By 6:00 or so, the nurses were preparing us that we might be having our baby that night.

As I prepared to give birth and face whatever having a 34 week and 6 day baby would mean, I needed to see my kids. Thankfully, our dear friend Staci had taken the kids to her house. Really, I could not have gotten through this without her and her help. I had Donny call Staci and ask her to bring the kids. It meant so much to get that last "family of four" picture and to be able to tell the kids ourselves that their baby brother or sister was on his/her way. It was so important for me to hug them and be with them one last time before the baby came.

Around 7:30 p.m., my doctor came in to confirm that we would be having the baby tonight. Lots of deep breaths. Lots of arrow prayers just asking for the safe arrival of our little one. The preparations began and in less than an hour I was in an operating room getting ready for a c-section. Donny isn't allowed in the operating room while I am getting my spinal, so he stayed back to put on his operating room gear...and apparently to eat a bite, because Bud had just arrived with dinner for Donny as I was going into the operating room. My doctor was ready to get started, and Donny had not come in the OR yet. It was the most panicked I felt all day. Turns out Donny, Bud, and his son Grey were praying together before the surgery. I'm all for praying, mind you, but man did they cut it close.

Donny arrived. He made it. I really was unsure. Oh, and did I mention he had the camera? I'm not sure what/who I wanted there more - Donny or the camera. It was Donny, of course, but I really wanted my camera there too. My relief was so great. And there we were...ready for the birth of our child. Oh yeah, and we get to find out if he is a boy or a girl. Just a little detail that kinda got lost in the midst of the other unknown factors of the day.

The surgery was great (as good as surgery can be). My best c-section of the three. No pain or discomfort. No nausea. The drape was higher than the one in Lexington. When I had Hunter and Millie I could see my doctor, but I couldn't see Dr. Moore this time. That was ok...just different. She talked to me throughout...and then he came...a boy. Our son. He cried. Loud. It's the same cry he still cries today. I know his cry will change over time, but I am thankful for that newborn cry still. There was so much that was scary and unknown. His cry was relieving, so I cherish it.

My head was spinning...a boy. Was he healthy? What was happening to him? Was Donny getting enough pictures? 7lbs., 60z. Yep, we make 'em big. Can you imagine how big he would have been if I was still carrying him (considering I'm not due until next Monday)?

I got to hold him for a little while on the operating table. They actually let me hold him. I don't remember getting to hold Hunter and Millie. I just remember Donny holding them up to me. But I got to hold this little one. And I held his cheek close to mine for as long as they would let me. I wanted to feel his warm skin and hear/feel him breathing against my own cheek. He was here. I couldn't believe it...and in some ways I still can't.

He was here. He is here. Happy one month my sweet Will. I will process more of this journey as I am able. I am just so happy he is here. The time following his birth was so difficult, but it has made these days now so sweet.

One month. Not taking a day for granted. Praying for many, many more...