The last 24 hours have been filled with important introductions... a little bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder... and some tears.
Last night, just hours after Hope was born, Granny and Aunt Bean arrived to meet her! It was love at first sight.
And Aunt Bean (my sister) picked up something really wild - but not at all surprising. Hope was born at 5:50 pm. If you look at that, it could also look like 5.50 - or 5 1/2. If you know our story, you'll remember that I was 5 1/2 months pregnant when Darcy was lost to a cord accident. It took 5 1/2 DAYS for my body to deliver her in this very hospital. I coincidentally held her for 5 1/2 hours. And, of course, Gavin was 5 1/2 when he died. Hope's birth time is almost like a little sign from our two angels that everything is going to be alright.
Today I got out of bed. I had serious motivation in the NICU upstairs! Ed wheeled me up in a wheelchair and I was able to sit next to Hope - touch her - sing to her - and tell her to listen to her angel brother, Gavin. That he would have great advice on how to behave in order to get sprung from there quickly. Hope is doing great so far. She is on C-Pap and her setting has been dialed down a few times already. It's predicted that by tomorrow she'll be off the C-Pap and maybe on a nasal cannula. I have been religiously pumping hoping to produce breast milk so I can feed her and so far I've been able to give very small amounts of colostrum. Ed has been trying to reassure me that it took a couple days for my milk to come in for Gavin and Brian and I shouldn't worry... but I worry anyway. Speaking of worry, no need to worry about me. My blood pressures came back to near normal, my pain is being managed and I'm staying well hydrated, well rested and Ed has been super-supportive. (In other news, he's also super-in love with his new daughter which is so beautiful to witness)
Being back in the NICU is hard. Ed and I went through 30 days in a NICU with Gavin. And we experienced a ton of medical issues and traumatic moments and stressful hospitalizations with him. Yet suddenly, Hope's every move sends us into a panic. Why is she twitching? Is she seizing? (No... babies have a startle reflex - and that's all it is) I am shocking myself with my fears and anxieties. It's almost like I have PTSD - everything sends me into a flashback of either Gavin's NICU experience or his death experience. It doesn't last long - and before I know it I'm singing to her again.
Hope likely won't be discharged with me - which really, truly, 100% sucks. She has to jump through several hoops before a discharge... and it's all up to her and impossible to predict. We don't know yet if she has a coordinated suck/swallow. We don't know if she'll eat well. There's a lot we don't know - a lot that she'll have to prove before they say we can bring her home. I was crushed to hear that. And it will also be an interesting logistical issue as I won't be able to drive... yet I'll need to be at this hospital which is about 40 minutes away from my house every day to be there with her and either continue pumping or try to breast feed her.
Nothing's easy. But we'll do whatever we have to - obviously.
The best part of today was a visit from Brian and Miss Sara! I couldn't wait to introduce Brian to his little sister. He thought he was just coming to visit me in the hospital - he had no idea that Hope had been born. This is how it went (excuse my deep, very tired voice!)...
Brian was VERY excited to get a light saber - something we had told him he had to be at least six to get. Needless to say, he already thinks Hope is the coolest sister ever.
After I stopped videotaping, he looked at me and spontaneously said, "I'll be careful with it, Mama."
I was so, so happy to see Brian today. And so grateful to Miss Sara for helping us yesterday and today!
Finally it was time to walk (or get wheeled if you're me!) up to the NICU to meet Hope. Brian carefully toted his gift for his sister.
Ed walked him up to Hope and made the adorable introduction...
Ed told Brian that he was not that much bigger than Hope when he was born. Hope is 6lbs, 1oz - and Brian was 6lbs, 15oz. Brian is showing Ed how big he thinks he was.
Brian was pretty mesmerized - and very happy...
...and when he saw his little baby sister yawn, he got the giggles.
Hope's Godmother, Miss Sara, was thrilled to meet her! Hope doesn't realize how lucky she is just yet - but it won't take long.
Brian was excited to show Hope her gift... from him and from Gavin.
It's a locket. Her monogram is on the front...
...inside she will find photos of her family - Mommy and Gavin and Daddy and Brian...
...and on the back is a note that says, "With love from your brothers, Gavin and Brian 2013" It's a good thing I was smart enough to not engrave her "birth month." It would have been wrong!
A family of six we will always be... but to the outside world we are a family of four once more.
After Brian and Sara went home, Ed and I went back up to the NICU to be with Hope. The nurse was about to do some of her routine care and asked if I'd like to step in for some of them. I was thrilled. I took her temperature and changed her diaper. At one point, Hope gagged and spit up on her blankets. A bummer - but not. I finally got my chance to "hold" her briefly while her blankets were changed.
I'll take what I can get.
And I'll be patient along the way, knowing full well that I am again just a witness to my child's journey.
I can't wait to see where Hope takes me. Takes us, as a family.
We are proof that you just never know what life will throw your way. All you can do is hold on.