Here I am again, round two. Living the life of a preemie mama in the hospital.
(a reminder for myself; this too shall pass.)
Welcome to the world Oliver Ray! My 34 week baby was 5lbs 4 oz. and growing steadily. He just needs some time to gain strength and eat all of his meals on his own. We've got this, he is a champ!
He surprised us arriving 6 weeks early. For some reason my children are eager to join us months before their due dates. My plan for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) fell through. This little man had other plans, and babies are the ones who choose when and how they enter this world. I have learned that... twice.
Let me first tell you that I couldn't be more grateful for the situation I am in. I am so thankful for a healthy baby and that the reason for our hospital stay is prematurity. This isn't my first rodeo. I've done this before with a baby that was HALF this size and spent triple the amount of time in this nursery with no windows. I truly thought I wouldn't have to do this again. I was hopeful and sure that my full-time job as a hospital mom was in the past.
Life is repeating itself.
I am splitting my time between home and hospital all while healing from surgery. Only this time, there is a toddler at home. I am living in three hour regiments of my son's care schedule. My breasts are attached to a damn pump every three hours, and my sweet baby in-between. I am listening to the silence between beeping machines and doctor visits. My heart strings are being pulled in directions I didn't know existed. I am crossing fingers that each day is a day of growth. I am hoping that each test is passed and checked off the list. My baby is supposed to be growing in my belly, yet is needing to pass a handful of tests? Just no.
It doesn't make this any easier seeing a fist full of wires connected to the tiniest human in my life. Or how about the fact that he has had more pokes and pricks and needles in his short life than most have had in one year. I am ready for that feeding tube to come out of his nose. And seriously, an IV in his head? It's gut wrenching.
But, he is getting cared for. He is in trusting hands. He is growing and doing well. I can honestly say I don't know what it is like to leave the hospital with a newborn. I wonder if I would even know what to do? I am a pro at this hospital mom gig.
It's surreal. Being here. again. Deja Vu.
For all of you preemie hospital parents, a few things I have learned on this journey:
-Try and find some balance in your day. Take time for yourself, time for baby, time for sunshine on your face, and time to connect with someone outside of the hospital.
-Don't feel guilty. You are doing the best you can.
-It's okay to cry. It's okay to laugh. It's okay to swear. It's okay to crave a drink. It's okay to pray. Everything is welcome.
-Be in the moment. When you are getting fresh air, breathe it deep. When you are holding your baby, snuggle hard.
-EAT GOOD FOOD
-Use the resources at the hospital. Find out what they can help you with.
-Share your story. Nurses like to hear it. They connect to you that way.
-Take lots of pictures. It is amazing to look back at the journey.
I keep holding onto all the other mamas and babies that are doing this at the same time. Through the walls, in different time zones, over the oceans, and those who have been here in the past. I know I am not alone. I know so many are preemie parents. SOLIDARITY! We will get through this! It's a time warp, it sucks, its beautiful. Today, we are one day closer to going home.
An update from the mama, 3 weeks later:
We are home! We are now adjusting to our new normal as a family of four. Baby is growing and eating and healthy! We are in the middle of it all, the newborn phase, exhausted.
But at the same time so thrilled to be spending nights all together under the same roof and days snuggled on our very own couch. What a blessing that both of my preemies are doing wonderfully! We are soaking up fresh air and walks by the lake, quiet time listening to music and reading books, and feeling grateful for family and community.
January has always been a difficult month for me with lack of day light and cold temperatures. This year I am looking at it as a gift rather than a struggle. I am doing the best I can to embrace hibernation, eat comfort food, and snuggle my family during this 4th trimester. A time to settle in and focus on the now, a time to just be. These precious and trying times as a new mom pass quickly even when it feels like forever. I am holding onto each moment, the good and the challenging, knowing that we are all home!
By Charity Huot Benedict, Blooma Teacher, Mama, Singer/Songwriter, Supporter & Friend
Read her blog HERE.