The Good Times

This is why I like us all being home.

I’m making lunch and packing up to go visit Jacob this afternoon.

Lucy is practicing violin, working between piano, YouTube videos, and her metronome to get it “just right.”

I walked by the art room, and Samantha (who could not, would not read this time last year) is reading one of my childhood favorite books, Happy Birthday Moon, to Isaac (in Batman outfit) and Clare (caring for a baby bear).

These are the good times.  Lord, help me remember that!

Another Baby Jacob Update

As of last night, Jacob was up to 4 lbs 5 oz!  He is growing really well, praise God.

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He has had some setbacks with his feedings, however.  They went back to tube feeding for the time being because he hasn’t got the suck-swallow-breathe thing working yet.  He’ll start trying the bottle again in the next few days.

He seems to be doing well keeping his temperature up.  They’ll work him a little harder on that once he has mastered eating.

Please keep praying, we are making progress!  Jacob is a feisty little thing, and he gives the nurses a run for their money.  He would have been 34 weeks gestation tomorrow.  It’s hard to believe he could have had six more weeks in my belly…and we’ve already had him for a month now.

Baby Jacob Update

Good news!  The nurses tried bottle-feeding Jacob last night, and it went really well.  That’s the next step to getting rid of his last tube.  Craig was able to be there (it was the 11:30pm feeding, so I stayed home with the kids and slept.)  Jacob is awake more now and feisty as ever.  3lb 11oz, as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, my milk supply keeps slowly increasing.  It’s still nowhere near enough, but at least we’re making progress.

So thank you for all the prayers (I think there have been thousands sent our way at this point – just from the people who have told me they were praying!) and please keep praying!  Your love and blessings have sustained us over this last month.

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Jacob is one month old today.

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As of yesterday afternoon he weighed 3lbs 10oz.

We’ve come a long way. Here are some of the milestones from his first month:

-Ventilator taken off

-Umbilical IVs taken out

-CPAP taken off

-PICC line put in (that’s an IV from his foot to his heart)

-Humidity turned off in his incubator

-Oxygen taken off

-PICC line taken out

-Feedings “compressed” (a step from feeding tube towards bottle/breastfeeding)

The next steps are to learn to eat and to control his body temperature. And to just keep growing!

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One of the best parts of my day is going to visit him for “kangaroo care,” which means they take him out of the box and put him on my chest under a bunch of blankets. We nap, we read, we listen to the nurses gossiping. It’s lovely.

In another month we can start thinking about when he’ll be coming home. They say most premies come home “at term,” which would be March 6 at the earliest.  True this month went quickly…but another month feels like an eternity.

It’s been a wild, difficult month. I can’t pretend I don’t regret the 12 weeks I didn’t get to stay pregnant with Jacob. It’s true I complained about how big my belly was already, and aches and pains. But I wouldn’t have minded putting up with all that a little longer. It would certainly have been easier.

Still, as hard as it has been, I’ve also cherished getting to know this sweet, feisty baby. We get 12 extra weeks with him, even if it’s only a for an hour or two a day.

I wish he had been born later, and I’m glad he’s here now. I don’t know how to reconcile the two.

But Jacob is a joy and a blessing (just like all our children!) and I’m glad to be able to make this journey to health and [something approaching] wholeness with him.

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Waiting, part two

I wrote an essay on the theme of “waiting” for the Mudroom blog back in December.  You can find it here.

I thought, once this baby was born, the waiting would be over.  No such luck.  We started our waiting game over:

First waiting to meet my baby – I had be strong enough to get from the ICU bed into a wheel chair to make the trip to NICU.

Then waiting to get out of the hospital.

The waiting for Jacob to be big enough and free of enough cords so I could actually hold him.

And we were patient, more or less, and got through all of these.  And waited for each set of tubes to come out of Jacob’s little body.

But then there are the two long waits: one for my milk to come in (apparently trauma and massive blood loss slows these things down…) and the other for Jacob to come home.  Not to mention for him to start eating on his own, wearing clothes, getting out of the isollete (the big clear baby warmer).

God clearly wanted me to learn some more patience.

It’s frustrating, four weeks after birth, to get milk drops at a time, if at all.  Not a problem I’ve had in the past.  But the thought of not nursing this baby – this last baby – is heartbreaking.

And so I’m waiting, again.  And praying.  And pumping.  And eating oatmeal (a galactagogue – add that to your vocabulary!) in every conceivable form.  And praying…while pumping.

I think of St. Zelie Martin (mother of St. Therese of Liseiux), who couldn’t nurse some of her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses until they were old enough to wean, and I am grateful that I don’t live 100 or 150 years ago.  Not only are there doctors and nurses and hospitals which have been able to keep Jacob and me alive, but there is formula.  I would not have to ship off my baby to feed him.

But somehow that’s small comfort.  And I want some big, fat comfort, the kind that comes from a tiny, warm baby falling asleep at my breast.

On the other hand, we’re both here.  Alive, when by rights we probably shouldn’t be.  So maybe I’m asking too much.  But I’m not giving up either.  Not until Jacob has tried for himself, and my body has simply refused.

In the meantime, I’m celebrating every 0.1 mL of milk, and waiting.

16 degrees and counting

This really should have posted yesterday, but I, by which I mean Craig, had to figure out how to post pictures since it’s been so long.  Better late than never, right?

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The view from our kitchen window.

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That is a leaf inside an icicle, if you were wondering.

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And the bush outside the bathroom window.

 

I don’t think I’ve seen snowflakes as fat as we had on Tuesday since we lived in South Bend.  The kids have had a ball (Samantha even got to make a miniature snowman – sorry, no pics of that!) but it has been a little surreal.

And of course all the fun wasn’t outside:

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Craigisms #1

The Scene: We are driving to breakfast after Mass.  An opossum, sadly, has become roadkill, and there is a vulture there enjoying his own Sunday brunch.

Clare: “Do vultures eat live things?”

Craig: “No, only dead things.  They’re like catfish that can fly.”

On Transfusions

There are funny posts forthcoming, but it’s not all fun and games, this almost dying thing.  I’m glad I can laugh about some of it – really, I’m glad I’m here to have the option of laughing about it! – but there were lots of very poignant moments, too.  Which, honestly, are a little harder to write about, but here goes.

After 21 units of blood, while I was still in ICU trying to understand where the last two days of my life had gone, my hemoglobin was still not coming up like is should.  Which I think means my body was refusing to make red blood cells.  So our OB was pretty much shaking his head, and thinking that I would need another unit of blood if the count hadn’t come up the next time they checked.  (I got 21 units, but I’m pretty sure I gave back at least half of one for testing.)

Meanwhile, our dear Fr. Sam came to visit, and brought me the Eucharist.  Oh, did I cry.  Veronica, if you’re reading this, you would have been proud.  I felt bad for crying at him like that, but it was a very moving moment: I was in a hospital bed, tubes coming out of four (I think) separate parts of my body, unable to walk, so completely broken, and my God deigned to come to me.  Himself.  And Fr. Sam brought Him.  It felt like the right time for tears.

Anyway, at the next blood count, after receiving the Body of Our Lord, my hemoglobin was up, just about as much as if I had been given a unit of blood.

Our wonderful, devoutly Catholic OB told us this good news, and said maybe it would be best if he were to just prescribe daily communion.

And honestly, I would have preferred that to the iron pills he did prescribe.  🙂

Things you never think about…

It’s been a long three weeks. The quick update: Jacob is thriving in NICU (he’s 31 weeks gestation now, three weeks old) and soon he’ll be able to try nursing/bottle feeding. My milk has still not come in, so if you need something to add to your prayer list, pray for that to happen soon.
I’m healing slowly. No major set-backs since I came home, which has been a blessing. Just waiting for my body to do the work it has to for me to be able to get back to a semi-normal routine.
I’d really like to start this blog up again in earnest. We have internet at the house now, so I’m out of excuses, and I have had plenty to think about lately. Bear with me, I’m afraid I’m going to work through some of it here if full view. Not sure how great a plan that is. I guess we’ll see.

And the thing I never thought about before:
Choosing outfits. It used to be, “Is this right for the weather?” and “Is it appropriate for the doctor’s office/church/park we’ll be visiting today?”
Now, my first thought is, “Can I easily roll up the sleeves so I can scrub in at NICU?” Followed by, “Well, Isaac just sneezed on this shirt, so I’ll have to change before we go visit Jacob anyway.”
Style? Since it’s all sweatpants all the time right now, maybe I’ll worry about that later.