Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dear Little Four ...

Your name means 'my heart', but I had no idea how fitting that name would be when we picked it for you just 2 months before you were born.   It amazes me that just one year ago I was just reaching my 25 week of pregnancy and feeling an unusual sense of relief; now the doctors had a shot at saving your life if (but in my heart I knew it was really when) you came early.

These past few weeks (that are leading up to your first birthday) have been filled with more nostalgia and bitter sweet emotion than I am used to.     Some days I am overwhelmed with memories of the anxiety, contraction after contraction, pain filled last 14 few weeks of your pregnancy.   I think that deep down I knew, since that first check up where they couldn't find your heartbeat, that something ... something was different.   I should have prepared myself to let go of my expectations of a 'normal' delivery; but with my last baby, I so desperately wanted one drama free, trauma free, normal baby experience.    I wanted a fear free labor and delivery, and to go home with my plump sweet little boy in my arms.

I did not want to discuss your potential life threatening complications and chances of survival with all the specialists in between my contractions while waiting for your daddy to get to Boston.    I did not want to weigh the pros and cons of letting labor continue while the chances of life threatening infections for myself increased with every contraction that passed.   I did not want to remind the doctors I had three more children at home that I needed to live for, because as those words came out of my mouth I was sick with guilt.   My body was failing us both.    I needed you inside of me, and you needed to be there.  But even with the best, and most miserable drugs available, my body would not cooperate.    I wanted to give you what I gave your siblings: the best possible start to life.

I wanted to hold you after you were born.   I wanted to smell your newborn scent and hear your newborn sounds, but you can't do that in the NICU plastic box.   I wanted to figure out who you looked like; were you more me or your daddy?   I wanted to show you off to our friends and family, but you can't do that hooked up to all your leads, tubes, breathing devices and IVs.   I wanted to bring you home with me when I left the hospital.  I wanted to wake up every couple of hours to a hungry crying baby in the middle of the night.   I wanted to get nothing done during the days because newborns take a lot of time, but you wouldn't have lived if I took you out of your plastic womb.

Instead, I was wheeled up to the NICU floor hours after you were pulled out of me.   I waited days to hold you.   It was days before I could even really tell what your face looked like with all the tubes.  I had a crash course in brain bleeds, oxygen levels, CPAP, feeding tubes, residuals, bradycardia, and the metric system by your team of doctors.    I sat and cried with the nurses and your daddy.    As a woman and mother, I felt like a failure.   You weren't supposed to start like this.   My heart hurt for you, and I was fragile.   One small move and I thought everything would fall down around me.

It has been almost a year now.   We have had more hospital stays, doctor visits, tests, quarantines, and specialists than I was prepared for.   Even though I feel a huge sense of relief at almost making it through your first year of life, I still don't feel like I can exhale.   I still feel traumatized, scared and guilty.    I still vividly remember the sounds, smell and feel of the NICU.   The awful beeping and alarms.   The long walk down the hallway to the elevator.   And the 'T' in the hallway as you walked off the elevator.   Your daddy and I went right, towards the locked down, monitored, parent eating and waiting lounge of the NICU; while other parents and friends got to turn left ... to the normal maternity wing.

I may still be grieving the circumstances of your birth, but you are my hero, little four.   My strong, little rockstar, and I pray we get to celebrate many many more birthdays with you.