Monday, April 18, 2011

Déjà Vu

So remember the other day when I mentioned that my co-worker's wife was due pretty much any minute?  She'd had a false alarm late last week and I saw on Facebook last night that they were back at the hospital for the real thing.  This morning when I got into work I saw the unofficial announcement of his son's birth via his status update, and later in the morning he sent an email out to the office with a link to the pictures he had just posted on Facebook (which I eventually would have seen anyway).  With it he mentioned that his son was having a bit of a rough start due to breathing issues and some fluid on the lungs.  Sound familiar?  As I was reading it I felt like it was nearly verbatim what I wrote just about 34 months ago (two days shy).  Of course, their situation may be a little worse as they actually transferred their baby over to another hospital for observation, which sucks big time as I'm not sure how soon the mother will be discharged to be able to be with him.  God knows our situation threw me off enough...I can't imagine what would have happened had he actually been in a different hospital altogether.

What really surprised me, though, was that I had an emotional reaction to the pictures he posted.  Like, I actually got a little misty.  The reason?  His pictures looked a heck of a lot like a certain set of pictures in my own album.  Down to minute details like the belly button clamp, the types of wires connected to his child, and the stains on the blanket next to him.  Just in case you need a refresher, here's Jacob about 17 hours after his birth... 



This one's never been posted here before, but it gives you a better idea of the overall view... 
See those little brown stains on the blanket closest to the bottom of the picture?  My co-worker's pictures had the same ones.  I have no idea what they are from.  Antiseptic?
I never posted this one before either, because it wasn't actually from my camera and I didn't manage to get it until later, but here's Jacob in his "space helmet".

I never expected to get misty looking at pictures of someone else's baby, at least not in a scenario like this.  Family?  Sure.  Close friends?  Of course.  But a run-of-the-mill co-worker?  Not so much.  But his pictures just took me right back and it totally caught me off-guard. 

Interestingly, this is the second friend that I'm aware of whose baby went through this.  I had never heard of it before Jacob, but have now heard about it a bit since.  I don't know if it's because childbirth class and other sources generally provide two potential scenarios when you go through childbirth class--that your baby is going to be normal and perfect, or that the baby will swallow meconium (in-utero poop) and will need special care.  They never talk about the super-worst-case scenarios (and you know, I suppose that's wise given an audience of hormonal pregnant women who have enough to worry about), nor do they talk about the mild problems like this one.  I just don't recall them mentioning that your baby may aspirate amniotic fluid, won't breathe well, and will need a full course of antibiotics before they can go home.  And while I know these cases may be rare, they're at least common enough to pop up three times in the past three years in my admittedly small social circle.  So, gee, maybe it would be worth mentioning.

I didn't feel like I was particularly scarred from the experience, though as time has gone on and I have a little more perspective on the whole thing, I realize just how crazy everything was and that I ended up missing out on a lot.  For starters, the fact that my first real (post-delivery) pictures of Jacob were at about 7pm that night is just sad.  I know that I went to see him earlier than that because I saw the space helmet with my own eyes (and that's my hand in the picture), but I seriously should have spent far more time with him that day.  I don't know if I was just too sore and tired, or if I was so thrown off by what was happening that I didn't know or think to ask when I could go see him, or what.  It seems like my time with him those first few days was limited to when I was nursing, which is sort of sad.  I certainly didn't feel very bonded with him early on since the nurses were doing most of the diaper changes and some of the feedings.  I felt like they knew him far better than me, and I felt a ton of guilt that a nurse had to catch that he wasn't doing well that first morning.  I know that they're trained for that stuff far more than a first-time mom, and I was in no physical condition to be hyper-attentive.  Heck, I remember panicking that first early morning when Jacob was crying because he was at the end of my bed in the bassinet, Craig was dead asleep and couldn't hear me calling to him, and I could barely move enough to get up and get either of them.  I don't even know how that resolved itself, but oh, that was not my finest motherhood moment.  But again, where was my brain and why didn't I just hit the call button for a nurse?

I won't even get into the insanity of my breakdown mid-week, or the formula vs. breast milk debate and accidental lack of naps that both contributed to it.  Obviously I was not in a clear frame of mind, but I have no idea if it was sleep deprivation, Jacob's problems, my physical state, or parenthood in general that was doing the most damage.  All I know is that my brain was clearly not functioning on high at that point.  That whole early time was spent in a fog, and I will be so curious next time around to see if experience provides any help in that situation. 

I think I've talked about this before, but the sheer fact we spent the first week in a hospital, in a relatively uncomfortable little room, seemed to steal a lot of the moments I feel like I've seen other people have.  For starters, we never had the first family picture in our hospital room, with me looking like crap, because Jacob was whisked away too soon.  But really, I'm mostly talking about the sweet photo shoots of a sleeping, wrinkly newborn on a cozy blanket in cute clothes (or nothing at all), or the calm moments of just staring at your sleeping baby in your arms.  I feel like having that rough week threw everything off, and by the time he was home I was just playing catch-up with everything--house stuff, sleep, getting to know my child, blogging (oops)--so much so that I just didn't enjoy it much.  I wasn't unhappy, just a bit utilitarian, I guess.  My photo shoots were centered around trying to get a perfect shot for his birth announcement.  Feedings were the only time I really held him for an extended period, both because they happened so darn frequently that a break was needed in between, and because I didn't want to spoil him (which, supposedly, can't happen...but the plethora of bloggers I've read who spent months with their baby in a sling or carrier makes me wonder).  I just didn't sit back and take it all in as often as I should have. 

And while I'd like to think I'll be smarter about it next time, there's no guarantee.  We might go through similar problems, for example.  If it happened once, it can happen again, but at the very least I hope it's no worse.  Also, we'll be caring for TWO kids at that point, which is even crazier to think about.  I might be just as deliriously tired and brutally sore as before and only have the energy to do the stuff I have to do.  Sad but true.  But that won't stop me from making a bunch of mental notes and psyching myself up for it so I have plenty of reminders that it's important. 

Next time I don't just want to survive, I want to excel.  I want to appreciate every moment and savor the small stuff, because it will seemingly be the last time around for it.  But I'm getting way ahead of myself.  The point of this post is that I never truly realized how much that time affected me until I teared up this morning.  Those moments came flying back quicker than I could have imagined.  But here we are today with an active, talented and curious little boy who's just two months shy of his third birthday.  We're blessed, plain and simple.

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