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Posts Tagged ‘preemie parenting’

Kayleigh’s fight ended yesterday.

She was  born premature due to preeclampsia.

My prayers are with her family.

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It’s not how I planned.  But then again, what is?

Bubba Joe is officially weaned from breastfeeding.  He has been since LG was born.  (LG = little girl)  But again, it is not how I planned.

You see, I nursed him through my pregnancy.  Again, not exactly what I intended, to get pregnant and nurse.  But getting pregnant with Bubba Joe took some time.  I expected it to take more time with LG.  (But thanks to the baby vibes at my sis’s house – and maybe her hot tub to help us relax … you get the picture.)

So when I found out I was pregnant, I purchased the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing produced by the Le Leche League International.  It helped debunk some of the ideas out there about nursing while pregnant and gave ideas on what to do when baby comes, including nursing both children and even weaning.  I found the book very supportive and as always, went along with BJD and my approach of letting Bubba Joe guide us in when he hits certain milestones.

But then, my pregnancy was complicated.  I was hospitalized.  BJD brought in Bubba Joe every few days to nurse – at that point we were fearful of having a preemie.  The first hospital stay I was 27 weeks pregnant.  Not even in my 3rd trimester.  Because of the preemie fear, I wanted to ensure my milk supply.  Weaning was not an option.  No!  Instead, I wanted to make sure I had more than enough milk.

But then came the struggles – do I have Bubba Joe nurse more often? That meant his dad would have to bring him into the hospital more.  That meant Bubba Joe would be exposed to lots more germs.  Which could mean he would get sick.  Which of course, meant that if we had a preemie, we’d be struggling with a little one in the NICU and a sick one at home.

We didn’t have a preemie.

But when LG was born, BJ was sick.  Ugh.  Bronchitis.  Again. 

He had it for at least 1 week before I was hospitalized and it lasted an additional 3.  I was in the hospital for 1 week after LG’s birth.  That meant we were home with him sick for 2 full weeks. 

Coming home was a struggle.  His ped had told us he was highly contagious for the first 10 days of being sick  and if LG caught what he had, she would surely have breathing difficulties. 

BJD and I went back and forth and back and forth.  We did the math.  It was over 10 days from his initial signs.  We had “planned” on him bringing his sister home with us from the hospital.  But like most of our plans …

Bubba Joe hadn’t nursed for my entire last hospital stay – 10 days total.  Prior to that, he nursed mostly at nap time or bed time.  Some days, he wanted “milk” more often.  Other days he wasn’t interested.

And today, he’s weaned. 

He asks for “milk” more often recently.  But BJD and I both agree that he’s done with nursing and sine the weaning happened more or less, well, naturally, we didn’t want to risk creating a monster.  Bubba Joe understands that mama’s milk is for LG.  And he’s surprisingly okay with that.

I’m so proud of my little man.

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Lying here, late at night, I listen to you breathe.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

It’s a normal breath.

Without raspiness.

Without struggles.

You breathe so peacefully.

Sleep so soundly.

Sometimes I forget how hard it is for you to breathe.

That you struggle.

That you have retractions.

And then, there are nights, many many nights (thank you God for these countless nights) in which your breathe is natural, uninhibited.

I love listening to you breathe.

Just as I enjoy watching you breathe.

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Memorial Day weekend, 2006, Bubba Joe came home from the hospital.  The weather was beautiful.  Spring had sprung in Ohio and the color green was everywhere.  BJD and I were anxious and excited.

But we had no clue what we were doing.

While Bubba Joe had relatively no to normal complications for a preemie – he was born at 34 weeks gestation, required no breathing assistance, needed to learn to eat while breathing (meaning he had a NG tube down his nose), and jaundice that required 5 days of lights – we had no idea what being a preemie parent meant.

Or how different it would be to have a full-termer.

You see, while Bubba Joe had little NICU time, he has since had lots of issues – mostly stemming from his weakened immune system.  I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go into all the details.  But at nearly 3 years of age, we (BJD and I) are exhausted with Bubba Joe always getting sick.  We’ve gone to a homeopath here in Germany who has started a regimine of meds to strengthen his immune system.  We just started it so we’ll keep ya’ll up to date.

The point of all this is I never realized how hard, difficult, no, how stressful life was as a preemie parent was.  Especially those first few weeks.  You see, we had to wake him to eat.  I had to pump after nursing (and kept track of how much he took from either side), give him a bottle of expressed milk, daily vitamins, clean the pump parts for next time and get rid of all the gas, all the while hoping we hadn’t overstimulated him, making it that much more difficult to settle him (and hence, allow for a decent rest time for us). 

In short, it sucked.

With SoJo (maybe that’s the name I’ll use for little girl – or SJ for short) it’s all different.  When she started having lots of gas, I freaked.  Yup. I freaked.  Was she also allergic to milk protein like her brother?  Was she also colicky like her brother?  Did she also have reflux that will require meds like her brother?

When she started spitting up through/out her nose, I freaked.  Had we exposed her too quickly to her brother (and one of his many illnesses)?  Would she be able to breathe?  Would she have lung problems like her brother?

And I spoke with friends.  And I spoke with our midwife.  They all reassured me that SoJo is normal.  All these things – gas, spitting up including spitting up through the nose is normal.  I knew other things were normal – like switching her days and nights.  But these other issues – well, they’re all I know as a parent.

I realize now, of course because it’s hindsight, just how life was with Bubba Joe.  How I should have immediately sought out some additional support – some therapy or something – and really pushed for it.  Instead, I waited.  And I allowed myself, er, my brain to do what it does best – to overwork itself, to overthink things through, to overreact. 

Part of the difference now is definately experience.  Experience as a mom, experience as a preemie mom.  And of course, age.  Location has little to play with it, because surprisingly my inlaws provide support but I don’t think that’s what is making the difference.  Perhaps the greatest difference though is having what is called a “wochenbett” (the 8 week postpartum period) in which a midwife comes over as needed and just answers questions, provides advice and support. 

I will always be a preemie parent.  Because in spite of the fact that the issues Bubba Joe has/had can be found in full-termers, the combination of them PLUS his being born early makes it different.  Yes, your child may have been overstimulated easily, but that plus the reflux, plus the dairy allergy, plus having been born 6 weeks early … well, every situation is unique.  (And this doesn’t mean that another’s situation is easier, it simply doesn’t equal mine.)

Being a preemie parent means that I am in constant awe and amazement that things really can be well, less stressful.  As BJD said last night, it isn’t that it is easier with a full-termer, it’s that it is 50% less stressful. 

SoJo is outgrowing her newborn sized clothing (Bubba Joe was almost 3 months by the time he outgrew them).  She’s gaining weight beautifully (almost 9 pounds at 4 weeks, up from 6 pounds at birth – Bubba Joe was over 2 months age (non-adjusted) by the time he hit this weight).  She’s alert, interactive and enjoys the stimulation of being held.  She loves the swing (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves being swaddled (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves looking at black and white books (took a long time for Bubba Joe to be ready for that). 

And mostly, she’s just a different baby.

I am so very thankful for so many things.  Mostly, I am thankful to have the opportunity to parent a full-termer.  Would I do it again? Hmm … we’ll see.  Right now, I’m grateful to have what I have.  And I plan on enjoying it … but for this moment, I’m off to nap.  She’s asleep and Bubba Joe is going down for his nap too!

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Bubba Joe is sick.

Again.

I’m sitting home with Bubba Girl, while Bubba Joe’s Dad and Bubba Joe’s Oma take him to the good Dr. Braun.  Fortunately for us, Bubba Joe loves Dr. Braun.  He even asks to go and visit with him.

But today, I’m scared.  Maybe it’s all the hormones raging through my body post-delivery.  Maybe it’s that in spite of breathing treatments and cough medicine, Bubba Joe still has a bad cough and even started wheezing.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m torn between caring for my 2 children. 

Whatever it is, I’m sad.  Sad that Bubba Joe wanted me to go with him.  I can’t.  Sad that because of stupid preeclampsia and his subsequent premature birth, he’s always sick.  And sad that I just don’t know what to do. 

And yet I’m doing something.  I’m caring for my young daughter – who, by the way has gained 1 pound in 1 week.  Yup.  That’s my girl! (and my milk!)

I fear that BJD will call and say that they’re on their way to the hospital.  You see, Bubba Joe has been fighting something for 3 weeks now.  It all started before I was admitted just over 2 weeks ago and just when it looked like it would get better, it hasn’t. 

When I came home with Bubba Girl last week, I immediately recognized that Bubba Joe had Fifth’s Disease.  Cool.  I felt okay being home with a newborn because I know once the rash is present, he’s no longer contagious.  But now, this time … I have no clue.  BJD says it all sounds the same – how would I know? I’ve been an absentee mom in Bubba’s life, taking care of his sister (and damn do I feel guilty about that).

Life with 2 is hard.  No, it really isn’t that hard – life with 2 is hard when 1 is sick.  (And I pray it remains at only 1 being sick – I really worry about  Bubba Girl getting sick and starting this damned cycle all over again.)

***sigh*** For now, all I can do is sit and wait for BJD’s phone call to tell me all is okay.

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I just read this on another blog:

” Why is it that when we are depressed it doesn’t matter what we do to get out of the depression. We stay there until our body and mind decide for themselves to come out of it.”

Last year, I ran away.

I knew it then.

But I understand it now.

I ran away from all the monsters. You know who I’m talking about: Grief, Regret, Anger, Dispair.

But they followed me.

Only I also ran away from my family. And being away from them allowed me to find the strength within to fight each of these monsters, when my body and mind were ready to.

I’m in the middle of a funk. It happens every year at this time. Well, this is only the 2nd year I’m really going through it – 3 years ago I never expected my life to be like this.

God I miss my dad.

3 years ago we (mom, dad, BJD, my sis and her fam) all went to North Ridgeville’s Corn Festival. Dad and I split some bbq ribs (which is HUGE because I have this meat fetish – I can’t eat anything if I know what it once looked like). They were gu-uuhd. Then I had some of Sweet’s sweet corn, festival lemonade and some sweet stuff.

That night, dad suffered a massive stroke.

That night, my world collapsed.

But I didn’t realize it.

I stood by his side, every day, for 6 weeks, praying for my soul to stay strong so that my dad could lean on me and get better.

I fought with my mom about him coming home – that was all he really wanted – to be home. Oh to be home and to be able to take a shit in the toilet. Maybe that’s all he really wanted – to not wear a diaper and have someone else wipe his ass.

I was willing to give up my career, my marriage, my everything, just to make my dad whole again.

And that bastard of a monster called Regret, still lives on in my head.

Oh I know that I did all I could.

I know that. (do you?)

But it’s just like being a preemie parent – you know there was nothing that you could have done to cause the premature birth of your child (and subsequent health issues) but you sure do seem to enjoy beating yourself up about it.

So this is my 3 year anniversary of not having a dad anymore.

This is my 3 year anniversary of when my mom changed everything she physically could to escape, of having a hellish pregnancy, of my family just disintigrating and me not having a clue why, of losing my faith, of finding it again and of making the decision to move to Germany.

This anniversary will end on September 25th, the day my dad died.

Though realistically, it will only end like that stupid Green Day song “When September Ends”.

God, I am SO thankful this next baby isn’t due in September.

I hate September.

Only to be followed by October – which BTW, my birthday is exactly 1 month from my dad’s death date – October 25th, to be followed 1 week later by dad’s bday – Halloween.

At least I’m here in Germany, where autumn is cold and rainy (just like winter) and not in beautiful (and I mean that honestly) NE Ohio, where autumn still remains my favorite season with the vibrant colors and the smell of frost and the preparations for winter and snow …

But now my depression from the last 3 years is gone. My mind is stronger. My body is too. And while I still mourn all that I lost, I can live. Because that’s the one thing my dad can’t do anymore … live.

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