Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More reminiscing...

Yesterday morning a friend of ours became a father for the first time. I'd mentioned him in this blog a couple times before, most recently here. The baby ended up coming about 3-1/2 weeks early after his wife started spotting mid-week last week. She'd had a lot of testing and some false hope that she could go back home, but eventually she was stuck in the hospital for days being monitored, and finally induced. I can't even imagine how frustrating her weekend must have been, just sitting around waiting to dilate. She was having contractions but it took forever to get to the point of pushing. Once she finally got there, it was a little over an hour and she was done. They had a little girl, which we all suspected it would be (it's a karma/irony thing that people who know her father would understand). Being over three weeks early she was on the small side but generally healthy. Apparently the mom spiked a fever shortly before the birth, so the baby ended up in the special care nursery for some double-checking. As with Jacob, any sign of infection will be fought with antibiotics, and if that is the case, she'll be in there for a week or so. Still, by all accounts she was healthy, which is a relief when a baby comes that early...because even if anything past 36 weeks is considered full term, you're still dealing with potential lung issues and other minor complications.

Anyway, my conversations with my friend both on Friday in the midst of the waiting game and yesterday when he called me to tell me the news brought back a lot of memories. They're in the same hospital, and of course, the baby's in the same special care nursery where we spent hours hanging out with Jacob in that first week. On Friday when I found out that all of this was going on, I told my friend a little about the SCN, that the nurses are great and that the overnight room is really nice. Obviously we hoped that his baby would avoid it, but in the event it ended up there, it would be in good hands and it's a nice setup. And sure enough, she did have to go there. I hope it's only a short stay, though, because I would never wish that week on anyone. I'm sure I blogged about it way back when that I can't even imagine how parents of premature or very sick babies do it for months on end. You'll do anything for your baby, of course, but the exhaustion of knowing your baby's sick, spending hours sitting there, and not necessarily doing a heck of a lot else is really tough, mentally and physically. I often wondered where the other SCN babies' parents were. It was rare to see other parents around. Maybe I was the only one trying to nurse my baby. Because Jacob ate every 2-3 hours, it only made sense to be there a lot. Pumping wasn't fun and I wanted to minimize the time he spent drinking out of a bottle. Ironicially, I didn't spend too much time there while I was actually a patient in the hospital. I don't know why exactly, other than that a side room hadn't been offered as an option, and they probably would have rather had me back in my room ASAP so they could do their every-couple-hour checks on my temperature, blood pressure, and war wounds. Plus, I didn't want to miss meals!

Hearing my friend talk about the experience was quite interesting. When I spoke with him yesterday, I could sense the "this-is-great-but-I'm-scared-to-death" slant to his voice. I know it well because I had it, too. You can't help but be excited, because there's been a lot of build-up. You're so tired that you're running on pure adrenaline, but everyone and everything around you is telling you that you should be completely and totally pumped about the birth of your child. And it's not that you're not, but actually seeing your baby changes everything. This little life is all yours and you are completely responsible for its care. It will hold a piece of your heart (a big piece) for its entire life. That is an intimidating thing, particularly when you're still trying to figure out all of the "basic need" things, like how to change a diaper or feed it. It's like, can't I master the easy stuff before having to take on the massive reality of this whole situation? But no, the huge responsibility you just took on is staring you in the face immediately (literally), and while it's all very special, it is the scariest thing in the world. I told Craig recently that I look forward to baby #2 because I think I will enjoy it more. I was so scared of everything the first time around that I think I just never relaxed enough to really appreciate it all. While I know I will still be nervous about having a tiny, fragile baby, at least I will know how to diaper and feed and hold it, so I won't be preoccupied with stuff like that. And obviously I pray that we won't have to go through the time in the SCN again, because I'd like to finally get my token picture in the hospital bed holding my baby and experience my baby's first week in my own home, without having it attached to wires and tubes.

Yesterday morning's conversation took me back to the newness and wide-eyed excitement of those first couple days, and ever since I've been wondering how they're doing. The first couple days (or, actually, months) are a total blur, and when you go through it yourself it's hard to appreciate the immensity of it all. Seeing it through the eyes of others once you've had time to digest it all is very insightful. I just read back on some of my first posts after Jacob was born, and it's amazing how far we've come. It was such a crazy time, and I'll do whatever I can to be a resource for our friend in the middle of his new baby experience. I definitely think this experience is going to change him and help him show a kinder, gentler side (seriously, how much of a smart a** can you be when your entire world is suddenly enveloped by a sweet little baby?), and I'll be interested to see how things go. It's all very exciting stuff and I am so happy for them.

In other news, Jacob is doing well. He's still got his cough (what else is new?) but he seems to be feeling a bit better. We actually had a great evening. He ate well and was an absolute goofball! He was all over the place, laughing up a storm. I'm a little worried he's going to be one of those kids who gets extra hyper when he's sleepy, but right now it's pretty darn entertaining when he gets like that...complete silliness! But anyway, he calmed down almost immediately when we went into his room and he went to bed without a peep. Perfect. He's definitely got his cranky, determined moods where he won't stay still on the changing table, won't leave his inhaler mask over his mouth (who knew a baby could be so strong?), and gets into everything no matter how many times you try to distract him, but I guess that's all part of this stage. Otherwise he's a happy, goofy baby that thrives on attention. He is so cute and such a fun little dude....which totally makes up for the frustration most of the time!

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