Happy Birthday?

Today would have been River’s first birthday. I’m not quite sure what to say; happy birthday seems wrong, since it’s not exactly happy. But it’s a day that needs remembering. Like I said, having Lily here definitely helps. But having her here doesn’t erase what happened before. One of my favorite Doctor Who quotes is, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things.ย The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” I’m happy about Lily, and sad about River, and that’s okay. So happy birthday River, we love and miss you.

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Christopher put it well on his post on FB today, so I’ll share that here as well.

“I can’t tell you how thankful, happy, pick a word Liz and I are for Liliana! She makes us smile and laugh everyday. I think that means such much more to us today, the one year anniversary of our loss of River. I count ourselves lucky. To all of our friends and family that have gone through loss and/or fertility issues, we share your pain and I hope that our story with Lily brings you hope.”

This song was one I listened to a lot last year, when I was still in the midst of it all, and having to face trying yet again. I particularly loved the “come on friends get up now, you’re not alone at all” line. It helped that I had people to talk to, online and in real life. I hope that anyone who reads this and is going through difficult times in their journey to have children knows that if they need to talk, never hesitate to contact me. It can be very isolating, but you aren’t alone.

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I hate having to come up with a title for these things

This post isn’t going to have a particular point. It will be just a random collection of thoughts that don’t really merit their own post. Just a warning for you, since I’ll probably jump topics with no logical segues. ๐Ÿ™‚

Having Lily home has been amazing. Yes, we’re really tired. But it’s just the best thing, having her here. It’s hard to remember what it was like before she was a part of our lives, and I definitely don’t miss it. Well, I miss sleeping until I wake up, with no alarm (or fussy baby) to wake me before I’m ready. But even that has its benefits. It’s hard to be too upset about getting up when it means getting to spend time with her. ๐Ÿ™‚ And babywearing (which I LOVE) has helped in a lot of ways. I can put her in the wrap, and more or less go about my business. We’ve played Magic several times (I’m 6-0, for what is the first, and most likely only, time ever), gone out to dinner, etc. I think my only real complaint is that people want to see her, so I have to be much more social than I’m accustomed to. I’m an introvert, meaning I am drained by being around people and need alone time to recharge. So having to be around people more than usual, on top of being sleep deprived, is wearing me out. But I can understand why people want to see her; she’s pretty awesome.

Though speaking of people seeing her, I do really hate letting anyone else hold her. Not because I’m worried (if someone makes me worried holding her, they won’t be holding her anymore), but because I’m jealous. I want to hold her all the time. Part of me (not a huge part, admittedly) doesn’t even like going to sleep, because I’m missing time with her. She’s grown so much already, in just a month, that I feel panicky sometimes. I shouldn’t be wasting time sleeping or eating or doing anything! I should be staring at her, all the time, just in case I might be missing something. It’s a bizarre feeling, and hopefully it at least gets less intense as she gets older and slows down a little on the growing.

Has it been a month already?

Has it been a month already?

We’ve had some firsts to enjoy. She had her first bath at home (she got some sponge baths at the hospital). She seems to like the warm water, but unsurprisingly doesn’t love getting chilly when it’s time to get out. I feel much the same when I bathe. We took her out to dinner for the first time. Her first restaurant was also the last one we went to before she was born (Fuji). It was fun too because it’s a small restaurant, and we go there a lot, so they know us well. They were excited to see that she’d been born and to get to meet her. And our usual waitress is even named Lily! ๐Ÿ™‚ Her first trip to the grocery store was uneventful, not much to report there. But it was our first trip out that wasn’t to go to the doctor, so it was still exciting. She also had her first diaper rash, which was rather markedly less awesome, but thankfully that’s long since all cleared up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bath time

Bath time

A bit cold!

A bit cold!

Christopher got her room (mostly) finished! We still have one wall with no decorations, and want to put a dresser of some sort on that side, but it’s overall done. I love how it came out. He had the large painting commissioned especially for her room. If you look close you can see that there are daisies (remember we called her Daisy before she was born) and lilies in it. He requested those special, because he’s just that awesome and sweet. And my aunt gave us the daisy painting, which fits her room just perfectly. The little square/rectangle fabric pictures will be moved when she gets bigger. I want them on her level where she can move them around and “decorate” for herself. And the second lamp will go on the dresser when we get it.

On Hellobee in particular, but also in general, I’ve found that parents (moms?) get seriously pissy when you suggest that having worked in child care is in any way like having a child of your own. I would highly recommend never even hinting at that on any sort of parenting message board, facebook group, etc, unless you just like being treated to multiple rants about how very misguided you are. But honestly? Having been a nanny has been a huge help. Practically speaking, the day in, day out routine of parenting is exactly like being a nanny, except I don’t ever get to clock out. (Though since I have Christopher to help, I do get breaks.) Emotionally, yes, it is very different. I care about her so much more that I don’t have words for it. And it’s all more exhausting, since I’m getting up with her at night, instead of going home to my own house and uninterrupted sleep. But overall, I just really don’t understand the getting upset about people thinking nannying is at least good training for being a parent.

Similarly, people get even more upset if you suggest having pets prepares you for having kids. Again, yes, very different. The level of responsibility is incredibly higher. The amount of work involved is much greater. But it does give you some experience in being entirely responsible for the life of another being. And the way I feel about my daughter really is very similar to how I feel about my dogs, just intensified by orders of magnitude. Maybe for some people that isn’t the case; I know a lot of people think it’s weird to be too emotionally attached to pets. But for those of us who love our fur babies like children, it’s not that different.

One thing that’s completely random, and slightly TMI, but has been bothering me- I mentioned in the birth story that I had a very small tear. They said that with where it was, there was a part of it that wouldn’t heal back together, even if they stitched it, but that I could get plastic surgery later if I wanted to. I don’t think they said specifically, but I got the impression that the only reason to do so would be aesthetics, so I said that I really do NOT care and have no intention of getting plastic surgery. The midwives said it was up to me, and they just wanted to let me know it was an option, but one nurse who was in the room acted like I was totally wrong and got kind of snotty about it. Like I didn’t know what I was talking about and I would regret it if I didn’t fix it eventually. I am still just bewildered by her attitude. Maybe she had something similar and did get it fixed, so she took my “why the heck would I do that” response as a shot at people who made that choice? I mean, if it bothers me physically or something, I’ll get it fixed, and I have nothing against women who decide that just the way it looks is good enough reason, but I’m not interested. The whole thing was weird.

We met with the lactation consultant last week. She was awesome. She gave us lots of good information and support, and was very encouraging. I had been feeling discouraged and worried that breastfeeding wouldn’t work out, but she clearly thinks that we can get it working with a little time. Lily does have fairly pronounced tongue and lip ties, which are a big part of why she’s not latching well. We should be able to get those clipped as soon as I get her into an ENT. We also got a supplemental nursing system, so that even though her crappy latch means she doesn’t get much milk directly from me, she’ll learn to associate nursing with getting full. She provided other advice as well, but those were the two biggest things. I’m looking forward to continued progress on nursing, and ultimately dropping the pump (except maybe occasionally to make sure I have enough of a stash for Christopher to feed her some, or to be able to go out without her eventually). I also highly recommend seeing an IBCLC to any mom who is having any concerns at all about nursing. It was definitely worth the time and money.

I was a little worried that actually holding my own baby, finally, would make having lost River more upsetting. We never saw her, or held her, or anything, so she was always this sort of hypothetical, potential baby, and I thought that having a baby in my arms would make her more real, and show us what we’d really lost. But thankfully that hasn’t happened. Instead I’m falling very much into that category of being so happy with the baby that I have that I don’t regret the ones I lost as much, because if I’d had them I wouldn’t have had her. Which is not to say that I don’t still mourn those losses, of course I do. But she makes them a lot easier. We finally got our rainbow baby, and she really is amazing.

Pretty much perfect

Pretty much perfect

I think that’s all for now. I do have at least two more topics I keep meaning to write about, but I think they merit their own posts. And Lily is waking up hungry, so I need to go!

At least I have an excuse for taking so long this time

I promised an update on how Lily was doing in the NICU, and now it’s been several weeks and we’ve been home for two. But, I’m pretty sure having a newborn is a good excuse for not updating, so I don’t feel too bad. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’ll go back and cover her NICU stay, just for posterity.

As I (think?) I said in the birth story, they were able to put her on my belly for a couple of minutes once she was born, and again for a couple minutes once she was checked out and swaddled. But after that she had to go to the NICU. Christopher went with her, and went back several times, but I only really saw her for those few minutes initially, and for very brief visits later that day. I felt really good for having just given birth, but I was just too weak to be out of bed for extended periods of time, and she was in her isolette so we couldn’t hold her anyway. (On a related note, I was telling Christopher yesterday that, unlike many people, I don’t consider the day she was born the best day of my life. It was too rushed and crazy, and then I barely saw her. It’s not that it was a bad day, just that there have been lots of better days since.) (Also, since I don’t know where else to note this, they had me start pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock right from the get go. My milk came in within a couple of days, and she’s been on fortified (for extra calories since she’s small) breastmilk almost exclusively her whole life.)

That first day/night she was on CPAP (to help her breathe), but it was more of a precaution. She had basically no breathing issues and was off of it by the following morning (not sure when they took it off). They then had her on a cannula (tube in her nose to give her air), but it wasn’t even on more oxygen, just the same air we breathe all the time, and they took it out that next day (so she wasn’t on any sort of breathing assistance for more than maybe 24-36 hours).

In the isolette, with the CPAP.

In the isolette, with the CPAP

The room she started out in was the NICU at the actual hospital where I delivered. It was pretty much what I picture when I think of a NICU; one big room with lots of isolettes scattered around. I had to sign a form saying I wouldn’t talk about anything we saw there, since we could see all the babies. It was interesting though. At some point that night, we got a phone call to our room saying they were moving her to the Children’s Hospital NICU (it’s connected) because the one she was in was getting too full. I’m really glad I was half asleep when I answered that, so it took me a minute to figure out who was calling, or else I’d have been really freaked out. You really don’t want a call from the NICU in the middle of the night. But it was actually a good thing. For one thing, she got a private room. For another, they wouldn’t have moved her if she wasn’t strong enough for it, so it was a positive sign of how strong she was. The only drawback is that it was (literally) about half a mile away, though all indoors. I was nowhere near strong enough to make that walk, so Christopher got a workout pushing me in a wheelchair back and forth.

But we were able to hold her! We both did kangaroo care quite a bit, which was lovely. It was complicated though, to pick her up. She was on the cannula for a while, 3 different wires monitoring heart rate and respiratory rate, pulse ox monitor on her foot, wire with temp monitor under her arm, and she had IV’s (for fluids) in both arms (though only one was hooked up; I think the other was just for backup). Later they added a tube down her nose into her stomach to feed her, since she was too sleepy to nurse or take a bottle. Though I did get to try to nurse right away, which was nice.

First skin-to-skin!

First skin-to-skin!

Covered in wires and IV's :(

Covered in wires and IV’s ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So I had her on Monday, she moved to the new room that night, and stayed there until Wednesday. I was being discharged on Wednesday, and we planned to check out, then spend the day in her room, then go home for the night. But, happily, a room opened up in another section, and she was able to be moved to a much bigger/nicer room, which had a couch where one of us could sleep. It also had a recliner, TV, private bathroom with shower, etc. So I just went home briefly to get some stuff and to be able to have a car, and came back to stay with her. I was thinking initially that having to go back and forth wouldn’t be too bad, but after seeing what a pain it was the times I did leave, I am SO glad we got that room. It was a lifesaver. Not to mention just having a comfy chair and a TV made the stay much more enjoyable than it would have been.

Unfortunately she almost immediately (sometime Wednesday I believe) started showing some jaundice, so she had to go under the bili lights. That’s very common in preemies, and fairly common in even term newborns, but it sucks. She had to stay in her isolette the majority of the time, and could only come out to be held 30 minutes of every 3 hours. Thankfully she didn’t really mind too much (I think it’s easier with preemies, since they sleep so much, than with a term baby who would be more awake and mad about not being swaddled/held), but it sucked not getting to hold her much. Also, she was on them at night too, which made sleeping in her room a bit tough. But the good news was that she was off them by Friday (so only 2 days), and never had to do them again. They had said that it was very common to have to do them more than once, so I was really grateful that that didn’t happen.

Bili lights suck

Bili lights suck

At this point the exact timeline of things is harder to remember. Christopher stayed with her that Friday and Saturday night, so that I could sleep a bit more. I still had to get up to pump, but not having the zillion beeping monitors and alarms meant I got a lot more sleep at home than at the hospital. He saved his paternity leave for when she came home, so he only did that on the weekend since he was working. And, honestly, I didn’t really like leaving her.

At some point her IV wasn’t working right, so they switched to the other arm (remember she had lines started in both but only one was connected) and took out the first one. I was a little worried the second one would wind up messing up, and they’d have to put a new one in (no fun), but that never happened. And it was wonderful having that hand free. Eventually (maybe 2 more days?) they were able to take out the other, which was even better. The rest of her wires and monitors stayed on till the end, with the exception of the feeding tube in her nose and the temp monitor.

The three things that a preemie has to be able to do to go home are breathe on their own, regulate their temperature on their own, and eat on their own. Like I said, she had essentially no breathing issues, so that one was never a problem. The next thing was regulating her temperature, and the same day she got her IV out she took her first big step on that one. They changed her isolette setting from one that monitored her temperature and changed the air temp accordingly to one that just kept the isolette at a set (warm) temp all the time. Over the next couple of days they dropped the temp in the isolette a little at a time, until it was just room temperature (which was still pretty warm, around 74-76). Once it was clear that she could maintain her temp well enough (with warm enough clothes; she wore clothes for the first time when she was 9 days old!), they were able to switch her from an isolette to a normal crib. That was really nice. It was much easier to get her in and out, and it meant one less beeping monitor to worry about, and one less wire to keep track of. The wire for the temp monitor was also the shortest, so it meant we were able to sit more comfortably far away when holding her without worrying about yanking a wire off.

Wearing her little fox outfit, her first time wearing clothes!

Wearing her little fox outfit, her first time wearing clothes!

Big girl crib!

Big girl crib!

The last thing she had to be able to do was stay awake long enough to take her entire bottle for every feeding (or, I guess, theoretically she could have gotten good enough at nursing to go that route, but that wasn’t going to happen with her being such a sleepy preemie and lazy nurser). As long as she had the tube in her nose, they could just feed her whatever she didn’t eat on her own through the tube. But since we couldn’t do that at home, she had to be able to do it herself before she could leave. That took the longest. It was several days after she was moved into her real crib before they decided to chance taking out the tube. I was SO worried that she wouldn’t keep eating enough and they’d have to put it back. Not only would that just have been disappointing, since I was beyond ready to get her home, it would also have been very hard on her. The only time (to date) that I’ve seen her really scream/cry hysterically (yes, I cried too) was when they had to put the tube back in after one nurse took it out (she didn’t like that it was a long one instead of a short one, apparently. I was beyond furious), so I did NOT want her to have to go through it all over again. But thankfully she did just fine.

Feeding tube...

Feeding tube…

No feeding tube!

No feeding tube!

That was Monday, July 6th, when she was exactly 2 weeks old. I figured at that point that we’d have another couple of days before she got sent home, maybe Thursday-ish. So I was really, really surprised when, during rounds the next morning, the doctor announced that she was going home! The only thing left was for her to sit in her car seat for one hour and not have any breathing issues. Apparently with preemies having weak necks, there’s more of a risk that they’ll not hold their head up at a good enough angle to breath properly. Christopher had just put the car seat in his truck the night before, with the intention of getting it installed in my car soon, so I called him and let him know he needed to come to the hospital right away, and bring the car seat! I was worried about that test, since we were so close to getting to go home, but she did great. She didn’t even cry, which was my other fear. We couldn’t touch her at all while she was in the seat, so we wouldn’t have been able to comfort her. But she just slept right through it!

Then we had to watch a (really hilariously bad) video on infant CPR (taking a CPR class had been on our to-do list for before she arrived!), listen to a lot of instructions from the nurse on things like safe sleep, learn how to fortify her bottles with special formula to give her extra calories, etc. She also had to have a hearing screen. At first they said they might have waited too late to page the person who does that, and they might have left. They were saying if that were the case we wouldn’t be able to leave. I was fully prepared to refuse the screening and do it later (which they might have kicked up a fuss about, but you can refuse anything you want, generally speaking, and I really would have done it asap), but the person had apparently not quite left yet and she came up and took care of it for us. (Her hearing is perfect, in case you’re wondering.) After that it was just a matter of waiting for the person to bring a wheelchair to take us out (me riding, holding her), getting her in her seat, and heading home!

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

And on our way!

And on our way!

It worked out really well too, in that my dad, stepmom, and sister had come up from Memphis that day. My stepmom was able to drive Christopher’s truck home (because I was so not driving her home alone, but we didn’t want to leave his truck at the hospital either), which was a huge help. And they ran to the store for us and got the things we didn’t really plan to need yet, like preemie diapers. And swaddle blankets. Her first swaddle at home was in a pillow case, because it’s all we had! We had swaddlers, but they’re all for normal size babies. Thankfully we now have blankets, two sleep sacks, and a swaddler small enough for her. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Blurry) pillowcase swaddle!

(Blurry) pillowcase swaddle!

This is getting very long, so I won’t go into much post-NICU on this one, but I will say that things are going really well. She’s a super happy baby, and sleeps great. We still have to wake her up for most of her feedings. Hopefully as she gets closer to term and beyond that won’t change too much. Nursing is still not really happening, but we’re working on it, and still have plenty of time. I’m going to meet with a lactation consultant as soon as I can to work on that. Overall we’re just really, really happy. We could not possibly love her more, and she’s just perfect! Being a mommy to this little one is pretty much the coolest thing in the whole world.

Obviously, I have the cutest, sweetest baby in the world

Obviously, I have the cutest, sweetest baby in the world.