Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's already been/it's only been one month?!?!

Thursday night I felt like I lost my ability to wear the "I'm totally fine and dealing with the fact that my one month old daughter hasn't even been home yet and won't be for at least a little while longer" face.

I've been hanging in there the past couple of weeks and wearing a very brave face and attitude that this is the new normal.  Every day I head out of the house to the hospital and make the familiar trip out of Mundelein down to Evanston, wind my way up the parking garage, stop for my coffee in the Atrium, head down the winding halls to the Women's Hospital, check in, wash hands, and finally see my sweet baby girl. I don't wake up, get out of bed, and turn the corner into the next room to find her laying in her crib.  I pull up a chair next to her incubator, pop open the two little doors that connect me to my daughter, and lay my hand on her head.  I watch the clock to decide when to pump and when she will be due for her next feeding so I can hopefully do it or how long I can hold her before they have to take her vitals again, plan when to eat, pump next, and what time I will have to leave depending on Tera's schedule for the day.  And then I leave.  I leave my four week old, not even to term newborn daughter in an incubator, and I go home without her.  I go home to my other daughter who has only met her baby sister twice.

And Thursday, for the first time in at least a week, it was too much.  The endless amounts of crap that are accumulating around our house was too much.  The clutter and projects we have planned was too much.  Tom's work schedule was too much.  Missing my baby girl was too much.  Realizing that I have only one daughter at home was too much.

I hate, more than I can express, having to leave one daughter at the hospital in order to see my other one.  I hate having to balance all this shit and feel like I'm barely holding onto to life.  I hate feeling like a shitty mom to Tera when she wants to go outside but we're utterly exhausted.  I hate that Tom can't go work out which helps alleviate all his aches and pains.  I hate that we're spending money on gas, parking, and hospital cafeteria food.

And despite all the things that are bothering me now, I shouldn't complain because Zoey is doing better than we ever could have expected by now.  She is officially one month old and it seems like the longest and shortest month at the same time.  I can't believe it's been a month since I went to the hospital not really expecting to meet my newest daughter that same night.  From a rocky first week to being completely off oxygen, taking at least three feedings a day by bottle, wearing actual clothes, and taking her first field trip to the family visiting room, she's met and blown past every new challenge given to her.

And while I could not be more proud of my two daughters and their fights for life, I still occasionally drift back to the thought of: why? Why do my girls have to work so hard? And why do Tom and I have to sit by and watch them fight for everything?  I know it could be worse and believe me when I say I think of that constantly.  I know there are people worse off than us, but at the same time I think there are so many people who haven't had to experience all of this.

So as we move past month one, we are in a much better place, but it's not much easier.  The worry and stress are less, but the pain of walking in and out of that hospital day after day and coming home without her is still very real.  Today Tom coined the term "normies" to refer to the people who actually get to leave with their babies when they get discharged, something we won't ever know.  And that will be a little easier to deal with once we actually get to take her home.  But for now, we wait...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Progress for my girls!

I'm as happy as I can be right now considering my littlest baby is in the hospital instead of home, my bigger girl is exhausting, and the addition to our house has been put on hold.  But seriously, all things considered, we're doing pretty well.

My poor husband is swamped at work again and we're pretty much exhausted and running on caffeine (and alcohol sometimes).  Our life is not perfect, or easy, but we're getting by.  This is a drastically different frame of mind from where I was about a week ago, so I guess that means I'm making progress too.  High five to me for not losing my marbles permanently (although this a constant stage of change for me...).

So why am I feeling so much better these days despite the fact that things in general kind of aren't going our way? Because my girls are making progress! Both of them.

We'll start with Tera since she was the first major obstacle we had to overcome.  The week after Zoey was born, which seems like an eternity ago, Tera went from inconsistent potty training to flat out refusing to go at home.  I would ask her if she had to go, knowing she was dry, she would say no, refuse to try, and then moments later go in her diaper.  We were so tired and stressed about Zoey we didn't have the energy to try and enforce it, but at the same time I felt myself getting more and more frustrated at the situation because we knew she could do it.  Then last weekend we were home most of the day on Saturday and she wanted to put on underwear.  We didn't ask, but she pulled them out of her drawer and wanted them on.  And after prompting her every 15 to 30 minutes she made it the whole day with only one accident.  She had also woken up dry and made it through her nap dry (though I admit we were not confident enough to have her nap with underwear, we did put a diaper on her).

Sunday she spent the morning with Tom's parents while we went to the hospital, but when we got home, she put on her underwear again, and again did great with only one accident.  We knew the work week would be more difficult because she's not ready to be in underwear full time yet, at least not without several clothing changes, at daycare.  But each night she's come home, she's changed out of her diaper and has done really well.  I'm so proud of her progress and hope that we might finally be turning the corner on this miserable experience.

She's also working really hard on speech despite everything else that is going on in her life right now.  She's constantly trying new words and always willing to work with us on her pronunciation.  That kid's work ethic amazes me to no end.  Of course there are times when she doesn't want to cooperate, but considering that she has to work so much harder than many other kids her age on every word she says, her effort is nothing short of inspiring.

And then there's our little Zoey.  Our fighter, our little overachiever; she even wanted to be born earlier than she should have.  This little girl has gone from a shaky start her first few days, to knocking out obstacles left and right.  She's breathing on her own with little to no issues.  She's gaining weight.  She has a heart murmur that is still there, but doesn't seem to be affecting her.  And as of yesterday, at 32 weeks gestation, she's in real clothes in room air, and we attempted a bottle for the first time!  Her eyes are open more and more, she loves to snuggle up on me (and I won't lie, I'm a pretty big fan of it too), and those little lungs that were such an issue for her first week, can produce a pretty impressive cry when she's not happy about something. 

I really don't think I could be more proud, impressed, or in awe of the strength and tenacity of my two daughters.  They really are my heroes.

That being said, I will admit my heart hurts when everyday that I'm at the hospital (which right now is six days a week), there is a family in the elevator that is going home. I know our time will come, but the fact that we haven't and won't ever bring a baby home with us when I get discharged still stings.  The fact that we know the terminology and ways of two different NICU's, sucks.  The fact that I walk by Zoey's room every day and know that while she's in this world with us, but not at home with us, hurts.

But I've gotten to the point, and it was hard the first couple weeks, where I know things could be so much worse.  We are lucky.  Maybe not as lucky as some other people, but lucky all the same.  We have two beautiful daughters that while not completely healthy, are healthy enough.  We have family and friends and coworkers who have shown incredible amounts of support and love for our girls, and us.  We've had people sending gifts for both Tera and Zoey, cooking for us, helping us around the house, watching Tera, and just in general checking on our overall well-being.

At the end of this day I can say that I had time snuggling with both my girls (Tera's time was a bit shorter because as you know, she can't sit still that long) and all things considered, that's not a bad way to spend a day.