Well baby girl,
I am over a week late writing this. But it's only because given the choice, I'd rather hold you.
You are a month old. And I go back and forth between wanting you to stay tiny forever and wanting you to grow grow grow so that I know I am doing an okay job. It's been hard for me to understand that God would entrust me to take care of something so small and fragile and precious.
These pictures are of your first days with us in the hospital. You weighed 7 lbs 1 oz when you were born and were 19 1/4" long. You had a full head of dark hair and a calm, sweet temperament. You had lots of visitors! I'm so thankful for all the family and friends that showered us with love while we were in the hospital. I only got pictures of my dad (your grandpa), my mom and stepdad (your grandma and grandpa), and Jacob and Rachel (your aunt and uncle). But there were so many others that blessed us by coming to visit. I felt so spoiled, and so undeserving. It really opened my eyes to how fortunate we are, and made me realize how much little gestures like these really mean to people. Because they meant a whole heck of a lot to me. Hopefully we can pay that kindness forward.
We had been told that because you were pre-term, and because you had a bit of bruising on your head, that you were at risk for jaundice. I wasn't too worried, because every baby gets jaundice right? The nurse that came in to do your first blood draw was talking to my mom about awful it was for her emotionally when her son had phototherapy. And though I was sympathetic, I didn't quite understand...it's non invasive and it's just lights, after all. My thought was if we had to do it we had to to do it.
But oh my. Once we found out your levels were pretty high, and once I learned that jaundice could cause brain damage, I quickly understood. It was terrible knowing you had junk in you that wasn't good for you…junk that could only be excreted the natural way. Unfortunately, the jaundice made you so lethargic that you weren't eating well, and were therefore not pottying. It was awful knowing you weren't getting the proper nutrition from me, and it was awful watching your tiny two day old hands pull at this weird contraption you had to wear over your eyes. And it was miserable having to watch you lay underneath the lights all by yourself…not able to pick you up or cuddle you except to try and feed you and change your diaper.
There are so many other families that struggle with complications WAY more severe than this after the birth of a child, so I am supremely thankful that you were otherwise healthy and that the chance of this becoming a serious health issue was very slim. But that doesn't change the fact that it is so hard watching your newborn baby be anything but comfortable and content in your arms.
Fortunately, your levels had gone down enough by the next day that they decided to discharge you. So we took you home, and I spent the first of many hours not doing a single thing except holding you.
A few other thoughts about our time in the hospital:
- The doctors, nurses, and hospital staff were all wonderful. The nurse that delivered you was Marie. She was patient with all my questions and gave me a quiet confidence when I became anxious or discouraged. The doctor that delivered you was not my normal doctor, but I knew she was well liked, and deservedly so. She was great. Over our three day stay we met a lot of people…doctors from your pediatricians office, lab techs, many nurses, food service workers, etc...and I am grateful for each and every one.
- Time is relative in a hospital. It's like a casino. People are always awake (both patients and staff) so you never really have a feel for what time it is.
- It's humbling to look back at things that seem insurmountable. I was in a lot of pain the first few days after you were born, and there were times where I felt so helpless to do anything. I became discouraged to the point of tears sometimes because of the pain, but now I look back and think about how short of a time that really was, and how fortunate I was that the only physical hurdle I had to overcome was a little pain.
- My eating habits were pretty terrible in the hospital. We had our delicious meal from Nonna Tata that Jacob brought the first night, but after that it was a bite of a cookie here, a cup of orange juice there. And I inhaled the brookstone chocolates and sour patch candy that I couldn't eat the day before. The hospital brought meals, but they were reallllly early. Breakfast was brought around 6:30 am, lunch around 10:30 am, and dinner around 4:30 pm. I wasn't that hungry to begin with, and especially not at those times. They did have these completely amazing covered platters though that kept the meals warm for hours. That was nice. By day 2, I felt like all I had eaten was carbs, so my mom and stepdad went to the store and brought back a bunch of fruits and veggies. I didn't know at the time that cruciferous vegetables could cause gassiness for breastfed babies, and I ate an entire carton of broccoli that afternoon. Sorry about that!
- I was really sad to leave our little hospital room. I was so excited to take you home, but this was the first place I met you; the first night I spent with you. There were already a ton of sweet, emotional memories tied up in that room. It was so strange to realize, upon our departure, that I hadn't left that tiny room in almost 72 hours. And I had not cared, because you were there.
That's your brother holding your hand in the picture below! His hands always felt so small to me. Next to you now he seems so big and grown.
Here is a picture of your first bath. And a picture of the first time you really opened your eyes for longer than a second.
Some of your sleep habits during this first month:
- You like to be swaddled.
- You sleep incredibly soundly on your dad's chest.
- You sleep like me (with your mouth open). Normally I get made fun of for how I sleep, but the fact that you look just like me when you're asleep now makes me smile
- You like to stay up late! Your most awake and alert hours of the day start right around 11pm.
We had a full three days at home before things got all emotional for me again. We took you to the doctor the Friday after you came home, and they did another blood draw on your little heel. I wasn't really worried, so when Benjamin told me they had called with the results and were sending Cook Children's out to administer more phototherapy, I was floored. I remember I was sitting in bed holding you, and I just lost it. Like, sobbing. Apparantly your levels had risen a bunch, and all I could think was that if your little body wasn't excreting the bilirubin properly it meant A.) I was failing at feeding you, or B.) something more serious was going on in your body.
Praise God your dad was home on paternity leave, because I was a complete mess. I was incredibly vigilant, and we followed Cook's orders to a T, but emotionally I was a wreck. I don't think I left your side except to shower and use the restroom…we even ate most of our meals in the bedroom with you. I just hated leaving you in this thing day and night, not able to give you affection or attention. In a weird way though, I guess it is a blessing that jaundice makes you so tired, because you hardly fussed at all, and were quite the trooper. We actually had to wake you to feed you, and that was another struggle in and of itself. Couldn't really nurse you because you would barely wake, and you had to stay on the light pads at all times. We also had to take your temperature every two hours and track your pottying.
The need for you to be having dirty diapers regularly was so important to your improvement because it meant that you were getting rid of all the bilirubin. But you just weren't pooping! One afternoon, I was changing your (not dirty) diaper, and was in tears because I was so worried. And I know this is going to sound silly, but I feel like God took this crazy moment to show me everything was going to be ok. Because as soon as I started crying again to find that your diaper still wasn't dirty, you had quite the bowel movement. And it went everywhere. Wall, curtains, me, changing pad… And I was ECSTATIC. I mean, I was so overcome with a sense of relief that I started laughing, and called your dad, grandma, and uncle Jake in to come look. I didn't care one bit that we had a huge mess to clean up. Someday, you will read this and hopefully just see another piece of evidence for how crazy much I love you. :)
Cooks came every morning and drew more blood, and your levels began to fall again. When they took you off the lights, I don't think I've ever seen your dad pack something up so quickly. He took every piece of equipment, packed it up, and set it by the front door within 10 minutes…never to be seen again we hoped! We were both so ready for you to be out of the plastic box and in our arms. I took pictures of those days, so that I could remember every bit of your first week, but I don't like looking at them. It's just a reminder of how scared I was, and how much it worried me to have you, this most precious part of me, not be 100% healthy.
Though you remained slightly jaundiced for awhile, the doctors assured us that it had transitioned into breast milk jaundice and would clear itself up in time. I, of course, continued to check your color every morning, and I am still tracking your feeding, pottying, and weight gain. Because you had hard time eating that first week, you lost almost 10% of your birth weight, which I soon learned is a big no-no. I have been taking you to the doctor every Friday for weight checks, and since being off the phototherapy, you have met your birth weight and then some! Just in the past two weeks you gained almost a pound! You still don't eat as much as I think some babies do, but I am trying to trust that you are getting exactly what you need.
Your grandma stayed for a few days after you were born to help us acclimate, and has come back periodically since then. She usually does about 25 loads of laundry, cooks a handful of meals, and finds innumerable things to organize to make our lives easier. Plus she adores you.
You can see what Ellie was forced to do when we kept her off the bed for your first couple of weeks. She was really jealous at first, I think, but she seems to have calmed down now, and she's surprisingly aware of you. I thought in all her excitement she might jump on you or get to close to you, but she seems to know that she has to be careful around you.
Bath time pictures...
Here is your brother reading you a book, your first time on your activity mat, and your first time at church. You love being held in a wrap, and are pretty much in dreamland as soon as I put you in. I've worn you in the wrap every time we've been to church since then, and every time you've slept straight through.
A sweet sleepy picture, and you in your wrap again….
And a couple more pictures that prove you are my daughter...
I love you so much sweet girl. I tell you this all the time, but you are such a gift, and I am beyond thankful to be your mom.