Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Rest of Jack's Birth Story...

I think I've mentioned this before, but I must say it again.  I like keeping my babies very close to me after they are born.  I think about their little journey from a comfortable place safe, dark, warm, and filled with the familiar sound of Mama's voice and heartbeat to a place that is cold, full of light, where they aren't held so snug, and where the sounds are new and unfamiliar.  And, I just want to hold them close to my chest and talk to them and make sure (if only for my own sake) that they feel safe.  So, even the bassinet beside the bed feels too far away.  While we are in the hospital, I sleep with my new little ones on my chest resting against my skin.  And, we always sleep very well this way ~ both of us.

Knowing all that, you can imagine my absolute sadness when the nurse told me that Jack would have to stay in an isolette in the nursery for 24 hours.  I had just given birth and tried to nurse (and for the first time, my newborn didn't nurse on the first attempt!) and then the nurse tells me he won't be able to room in with me.  I was so sad.

So, so sad.

I kept telling myself that he was healthy, and I should be so thankful!!  But, I just wanted to hold my baby.  And, I couldn't turn off the tears.  They began at that moment and remained most of the day.

A few hours later I was told that he was retracting when he breathed.  Later they told me his respirations were 80+ a minute.  Twice they consulted NICU.  And, thankfully twice NICU didn't think his condition warranted moving him to the NICU.  For two days they kept him on monitors in the nursery.  And, for two days, I heard the sounds of the nurses wheeling bassinets down the hall to all the other mothers while I sat in my room knowing that my baby was. not. coming.  My heart goes out to all the mothers who have ever had to do this.  For years I have taken for granted that when I had a baby I would get to have my baby with me.  Now, my heart hurts in a special way for all the mothers who have babies in the NICU ~ who don't get to go home with their babies.  How hard it must be.

I wore out the hallway walking back and forth at feeding times to the nursery in Erik's button down shirt (to make skin on skin easier), my maternity jeans, and my new purple slippers my parents brought me.  Over and over, day and night, every 3 hours, I walked to the nursery, held my Jack, and tried to get him to nurse with no success.  I had to manually express colostrum for the nurses to feed him via a tube and a syringe.  And, my heart was broken.  I was so thankful that he was healthy, but I was still sad.  I think it was just all so unexpected.  I didn't expect to have him so early, and I didn't expect the experience to be any different from my other births.

I worked with the lactation consultants and was told he may not be able to latch until around the time of his due date.  I had never not nursed a baby, so this was very difficult for me.  Especially after we got home.  Now at feeding times, I had to attempt to nurse him which usually did not work, feed him a bottle, and pump.  Doing this and taking care of 4 children was such a challenge, and doing it at night meant I got very little sleep.  We took a week and a half off of school, laundry was backed up, my house was a mess, and I was exhausted.  But, we kept on keeping on.  And, week by week, life got a little easier. Now, my little man is 6 weeks old, and he is nursing only!!  I still give him a bottle every now just to keep him taking it.

Two, things that this experience has taught me are. . .

#1 A new and very real empathy for mothers of NICU babies as I mentioned before.

#2  Empathy for moms who have trouble nursing.  It is emotionally difficult when your baby won't nurse.  Poor Jack just couldn't latch, and it was obvious that he preferred the bottle.  Call it hormones, but that hurt my feelings a little bit.  I wanted him to want me. Nursing is an emotional thing.  I'm not sure why it is, but it is a very intimate, special gift from God, and when it isn't working and you want it to, it is just plain hard.

But, as always, there were sweet gifts from God even in the hard.  My boys were BIG helpers!!  And, they learned a new skill.  They learned how to feed Jack!!

They took turns and loved every minute of their turn...

Joshua even learned some super skills...

They will be great daddys one day!  My boys love babies, and I'm so proud of them.  Now they beg me to let them feed Jack, but I rarely let them!  I'm making up for lost time ~ enjoying every feeding myself!!

I've never ventured too far out into the world of pumping and bottles, so my counters took on a new appearance with Jack ~ now cluttered with all my pumping accessories!  And, my freezer, oh, dear heavens!  I long for ice cream!  My boys want popsicles!  But, we just don't have room for those

things right now!!! Ha!  The freezer is literally filled with bags of milk!!  I used to buy frozen bags of chicken breasts.  Now I have to buy fresh meat and use it before it goes bad because I have no room to freeze it!!!  I doubt I'll ever use all the milk I've pumped, but I will not throw it away!!!

In retrospect I have learned a good deal over the past month.  I realized about a week or two after Jack was born that I could not do all that I was doing before he was born.  I would have to let some things go. When you have four children, you feel you've already let too much go.  But, I knew I had to let even more go, or I'd fry myself.  I had to let others help me, and that is not always an easy thing to do.  Erik and I put our heads down, and we pressed on, and now things are getting easier, so very much easier!  And, we are now officially done with Excelsior for the summer, and I am winding down the rest of our subjects dropping a little more each week.  And, Jack is such a joy to us!  It has been a different journey this time.  A journey with unexpected turns and unfamiliar twists, but we are so thankful to be here and on this sweet journey with our new little man!


Sam said...

This is a beautiful post.

I nursed my oldest for 14 months, but with my youngest (who is 7- months now), I was unable. I felt similar to your description and continue to feel guilty sometimes. Seeing your photo of all those frozen bags of milk gave me a pang. I so wish my baby boy could have had all that. I am so, so glad it's worked out for you in the end.

Congratulations on your beautiful new son! :-)

Sunshine said...

That first picture of you -oh it makes me want to reach through the screen and hug you! Bless your heart. This is such a beautiful post. I am SO happy for you and your sweet boys that you all are embarking on a wonderful summer! Jack is so so adorable! Sunshine

Jessica said...

What a beautiful post, Erin!

Great job persevering with breastfeeding Jack! So glad to hear that you no longer have to pump.

I exclusively pumped for 12 months with my eldest daugther & it was the hardest thing I have ever done!

And beautiful pictures too!

Jennifer said...

You could donate the milk.

Mary Jo said...

Congratulations, my friend. :) He's beautiful. My oldest was in NICU for a week after her birth and I would pump milk and deliver it to the hospital every day for feeding her.

And you will probably end up using all that milk! ;)

xxx Mary

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Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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