Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One month

Exactly a month ago at this time, I was cuddling my newborn baby.  It's hard to believe it's been a month.  The days have gone so quickly in between but it still feels like yesterday.  People check in on me to see if I'm doing "okay."  I'm not sure what okay means.  Is it supposed to mean that I spend my days bawling and grieving (and not "healing")?  Or does it mean that I am happy and chipper and going about my business (and bottling up feelings instead of dealing with them)?  Well, I'm somewhere in between those two points.

I'm probably one of the only ones who hasn't minded this extended winter and the fact that we are going into April with huge snow banks still hanging around.  I'm ok with time moving slowly.  I haven't unpacked my hospital bags yet and have a large stack of condolence cards to open.  It's not that I don't want to do these things or that I'm not going to, I just don't feel like rushing.  Because once I do these things, what's next?  It kind of feels like I'll have to "move on" when all my Naomi tasks are finished and I don't want to do that yet.

I'm also moving slowly because of this.

This is what ~600 ounces of breastmilk looks like.  I'm pumping to donate Naomi's milk.  I pump 6-7 times per day and it takes 3-4 hours per day, and I'm actually pumping right now as I type this.  Now granted, spending that much time at my computer in a day is nothing new!  But it means I get sucked into the interwebz every 3 hours, making it a little harder to get involved in much else during my day.  Not to mention planning my day's outings in 3-hour increments.  I can't even imagine being someone who exclusively pumps AND has a baby to take care of.  Seriously, hats off to anyone who ends up on that path.

Besides the cost of time involved, I'm also paying to rent a hospital-grade pump and buying milk storage bags.  Yes, it's ok to call me a little crazy.  I think that fact has already been well established.  I'm doing this for a variety of reasons of which you'll have to read a future blog post for me to fully explain, but what it boils down to is that I want to.  Simple as that.  It's not fully settled how much milk is going where, but the plan is for some to go to the Mothers' Milk Bank of New England in Boston and some will be shared with local moms.

Thankfully I've had a great milk supply, which will never fail to excite me after all the problems I had with nursing my first baby.  This is from my second pump today (after freakishly low results from my first pump of the day).  It's a new record for me!

Another nice surprise today was receiving this beautiful peace plant via FedEx, from my cousin.  She was my maid of honor and despite our lives taking very different directions and rarely seeing each other, she will always be my BFF. <3  It's probably luck that it came on Naomi's one-month birthday, but I'll let myself assume it was intentional. :)

Physically my recovery has been excellent.  Exceedingly easy.  Although I have to go on record and say that the postpartum fuzzy brain is not just due to sleep deprivation from a newborn like everyone says it is.  I get plenty of consecutive sleep hours and still find myself befuddled by simple mental tasks.  I have only recently regained some ability to do basic math in my head, and most of that revolves around increments of 30 and what numbers add up or subtract to 180.  (My exclusively pumping friends will understand this.)

In my last post, I mentioned the picture slide show for the funeral service that my husband and I made.  We do still plan to share it online.  I've been slow partly for the reasons all outlined above, but also because I want to be extra careful that all necessary precautions are taken.  Once something hits the internet, you can't get it back.  Unfortunately there are people out there who will steal ultrasound and baby pictures and claim them as their own.  They do this for money, or attention, or simply because they are mentally ill.  I just need to be thoroughly sure of what I share before we do it.  I am still eager to show how beautiful Naomi was with all of you.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Naomi's Song

All of my children have had a special song written for them by their Aunt CJ.  Here is Naomi's.  It was written back in November and Naomi got to hear it performed live in our hospital room.

I know people are dying to know "how I'm doing."  Honestly I've always found that question incredibly hard to answer, even under normal circumstances.  How I'm doing right now might not be how I'm feeling ten minutes ago or ten minutes from now.  It's just hard to gauge yourself too.  This morning we buried our baby girl.  This afternoon we went shopping and bought a Cars headlamp and plastic bowling set for our 2yo, and our 6yo bought herself a $40 LEGO Friends set with money she had extricated from family over the last two weeks.  The tone of our lives is changing moment by moment.  From what I hear, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

This afternoon and evening has been filled with a great sense of relief.  This birth has been hanging over me since August 14th.  I spent five weeks on edge, feeling like I might blink and be in labor seconds later, and everything had to be ready to go.  The last week has been a balancing act of recuperating from birth but also trying to get a lot done before the funeral and burial services.  I have not even written out the birth story yet.

Right now, this moment, I feel like someone who has just finished running a marathon.  Or just finished their last final exam.  The grief is suppressed momentarily while the relief from finishing what is likely the biggest event of my life washes over me.

My daughter's life has already completed, but I'm just beginning to tell you her story.  The slide show we made for the funeral will be put online and I can't wait to introduce her to the world.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Tonight we introduce our Naomi Grace to the world, and tomorrow we say our final goodbye.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thank you all

Thank you everyone for the huge outpouring of love and support you have shown.  I was keeping up with Facebook early in the induction process then stopped when things really got going.  After the birth, I of course gave Naomi my undivided attention, which means I now have 186 Facebook notifications to catch up on (eventually!  And I think it may be more as I just realized Facebook keeps resetting the count).  So know that while I do appreciate everyone reaching out, it will be some time before I see it all, and there won't be many individual replies from me.

I plan on writing out the full birth story soon, but the brief version is that the induction was very smooth and easy.  I got one dose of misoprostol at around 9:30AM.  That got things going enough that I did not get any other induction interventions.  My water spontaneously broke at 2:23PM which is when I would say real labor began, and Naomi entered this world at 6:46PM.  As far as labor and delivery goes, it was physically easier by far than either of my other births and I feel fortunate in how well that worked out.

As planned, Naomi went immediately to my chest for skin-to-skin contact after she was born.  She did not appear to be breathing and was limp and lethargic.  I asked if she was alive and was told the cord was not pulsing, so she appeared to have been born still.  After laying on me for a bit she surprised us all with a large gasp for air, then was still again.  She then let out a second gasp, after which I asked them to check her heartbeat.  It was beating!  Brian and I both took turns listening to that beautiful sound via stethoscope.  Naomi then started slowly breathing more regularly and pinking up.  She was covered in a thick layer of vernix so stayed against my chest as her skin eventually soaked it in.

The hospital had a private waiting area for our family that was right next door to my room.  After the placenta was delivered and things cleaned up a bit, grandparents and my sister and BIL were able to come in and meet Naomi.  The hospital chaplain also came and Naomi Grace was baptized.  Big sister and big brother came in to meet her and the entire family stayed and celebrated with us until late into the night.

Naomi was a fighter as despite her dropping oxygen saturation levels and struggling to maintain her breathing, her heart continued beating.  We stayed up until probably around 5AM, thinking she was going to leave us soon, until we finally laid down for some sleep.  Naomi slept in my arms and the nurse agreed to check on her frequently for us so that we could relax more.  We still woke several times before getting up around 8AM.  Right before 10AM the nurse checked on us again, including checking Naomi's heart rate.  Naomi was in my arms and suddenly something seemed different about her.  I could not feel a heartbeat so asked Brian to check.  The nurse popped back in for something she had forgotten, so was right there to listen again with her stethoscope and confirmed that her heartbeat had stopped.  It was a very peaceful passing, and Brian and I are both relieved and grateful that she did not appear to be in any pain during her final moments.  We had another 8 hours with her before saying goodbye at 6PM.

We are planning a funeral service for 5-7PM EST on Monday, March 4th.  All friends and family are invited to join us if they wish to, and there will be pictures and video shared of her lifetime.  The burial service will be held the next day, on Tuesday the 5th, and will be private for family only.  In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to The Shepherd's Crook Ministries, designated in memory of Naomi Grace.  We cannot do anything to bring our baby girl back, but funds donated will help another baby get home to his or her family.