We had a good day yesterday – the rain finished early, and we had a beautiful baptism at St. Charles Borromeo in Grand Coteau. (Worth the trip if you’ve never seen it – the inside is painted and so beautiful.) Below are our family and Jacob’s godparents’ family.
Officiated by Fr. R.B. Williams, O.P., our favorite Dominican. (Sorry, Fr. Thomas!)
All followed by a party at our house – truly so much to celebrate! We counted 31 kids and three priests…didn’t count the adults. And, thank God, no rain! It was a good day. Jacob agreed.
I think it was the second time we visited Jacob after I was discharged from the hospital. I was still hurting a lot, even with more pain medicine that I was really comfortable taking. My moods were all over the place. We came into the dark, noisy (so much beeping!) NICU, scrubbed in, and walked over to Jacob’s isolette. We talked with the nurse, and got ready to “kangaroo” – which means I take off my shirt and they put Jacob on my skin and cover us up with blankets. We stayed for an hour, or a little more. I slept, Craig took pictures and read to us. Then it was time to go.
As we walked out of the hospital, I began to realize: my pain was practically gone. My mood had lifted – there was no danger of a flood of tears at the moment. It had never occurred to me till that moment: the drug my body needed was my baby.
Of course I have known, in my mind, the importance of mom and baby being together, but I usually thought of it as being for the sake of the baby more so than the mother. Then I remembered going back to work after I had Lucy, and again after I had Samantha, and how hard it was to hand them off to someone else for a little while. But I hadn’t had such a visceral reminder in a long time of how much we need each other. My body never forgot. It’s amazing how I make twice, three times as much milk if Jacob is in the room than if he’s not. My body knows.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned before. My body knows how to birth. My body knows how to care for a newborn. It knows how to heal. We are all truly fearfully and wonderfully made, gifted with bodies that, if we listen, tell us how to care for ourselves and each other. Such a gift God has given us.
And still, as much as I loved being home with my other children the rest of the day, as much as I loved spending the evenings with Craig, the hour or two I spent in the hospital with my baby brought peace to my day. I just kept looking forward to bringing our feisty little bundle of peace home with us.
Jacob has been home two and a half weeks now. His due date is in about a week…still a little crazy to think about.
No weight update, unfortunately. But it looks like I should stop trying to force him into premie size clothes. Newborn, here we come!
He’s actually acting very much like a normal newborn, more so than I had expected. He’s spending more time awake, and he’s as noisy as ever. (Did I mention that? Even the first couple of weeks the nurses in NICU commented on how noisy Jacob was – always grunting or cooing or at least breathing loudly. He fits right in at our house!)
We still have follow-up appointments for hearing tests, development tests, vision tests…it feels like a long list. But, thank God, everything looks good so far.
Of course his brother and sisters adore him, and I have to fight for my turn to hold him, or even change his diaper!
Our big challenge right now is trying to transition from bottles to breastfeeding. Which includes convincing my body to make enough milk to keep him growing. Still not even close. So we’re using a supplementary nursing system, plus pumping, which means I spend 3/4 of my day on some aspect of Jacob feeding – pumping, nursing, making bottles, heating bottles, cleaning bottles…and occasionally I eat and/or sleep myself.
We would be up a creek if the girls (and Isaac, for that matter!) weren’t so helpful. Lucy practically runs the house, and she really does at least as good a job as I do. She’s making red beans for supper as I write this. I am doing the very important work of keeping Jacob asleep. It looks a little like this:
So technically I am still writing “while they are sleeping”…but also while they are cooking, dancing, playing violin, climbing trees, sewing, and playing family, or orphanage, or something similar. It’s a full life.
After 58 days, Lucy, Samantha, Clare and Issac finally get to meet their baby brother.
No more afternoons in the NICU (and dropping the kids off at friends’ houses.)
Since he came home Saturday morning, many of our NICU nurse friends and our most fabulous lactation consultant, who really held our hands through this whole process, weren’t there to see us off. But Dr. Cudihy (who attended Jacob’s birth) happened to be there, which was fitting, since neither of us would be here without his help.
Still working on getting my milk supply functional. I’m making enough in a day to be about half a feeding. Jacob’s appetite is growing faster than I can keep up with!
Thank you so much for all the prayers you have showered on us during the last two months! (Not to mention the clothes, diapers, gift cards, meals…it’s a long list.) Now we just have to work out this whole having-a-baby-at-home thing…again. It gets easier, but it’s still new every time. This time around we have so much help – Lucy is preparing formula bottles, Samantha is folding clothes, Clare is (reluctantly) disposing of diapers, and Isaac is showing Jacob his toy power tool set. My mom and brother are here for the weekend, so the dishes are always clean. Everyone if fighting for baby-holding privileges. I think we’re just excited to finally start this adventure together, as a family.
Today would have been 36 weeks. On Friday Jacob will be eight weeks old.
We had hoped Jacob might be coming home today, but he had another “brady” episode (where his heart slows down and he turns blue) so the earliest we can hope for now is Saturday. He is eating like a teenage boy already, and we’re making a little bit of progress nursing, so it’s just up to him now to remember to breathe and keep his heart going until Saturday. If he makes it five days in a row, it’s very unlikely he’ll have trouble with it again, so that’s when the doctors will feel comfortable sending him home.
Friends, family, and strangers have been so generous. We have been given clothes, diapers, wipes, a co-sleeper bed, blankets, burp rags, food…and many things I’m forgetting at the moment. There is no way we can ever be grateful enough for all the love that has been showered on us.
So we’re spending Mardi Gras with friends, and still waiting and praying. I shouldn’t be impatient – when we started this adventure we were expecting Jacob home a month from now. Even Saturday, even a week from Saturday, would still be early. But I am impatient! I am ready for Lucy, and Samantha, and Clare, and Isaac to meet their brother. I am ready for all the snuggling. Not really ready for all the crying, pooping, and waking up at night…but I’ll take it. I’m past ready for this baby to come home.
The writing on the wall:
Jacob officially weighs 5 pounds!
He would have been 35 weeks gestation today…hard to believe he shouldn’t have been born for another month.
His feeding tube was out when we visited this evening. Craig loves feeding him (a privilege he hasn’t had often, since we usually try to avoid bottles.) Jacob has been finishing 7 of his 8 bottles for several days now…as soon as he does 8 of 8, two days in a row, then they’ll let him start feeding on demand. If he proves he will eat enough that way, not just sleep all the time and starve, then he gets to go home. We are so close!
Keep the prayers coming! His siblings can’t wait to finally meet their new brother!
As of last night, Jacob was up to 4 lbs 5 oz! He is growing really well, praise God.
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.
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.