Dear James

Dear James,
 Today you are three!  I forget sometimes that you are still just a little boy, you are so independent and grown up sometimes.  You’ve always been one to make your mark and make yourself known.  You even tried to steal Isaac’s birthday!  However, when that didnt work you made your own excitement, you were supposed to stay put and I was supposed to enjoy my leisurely 12 week hospital stay, instead on day three you caused all kinds of excitement and sent mommy into emergency surgery.

I was strangely not all that scared to welcome you at 25 weeks and 2lb2oz.  I had done this “NICU thing” before, we could handle it, you’d be okay.  We knew God was holding your hand.  And He truly was.  You still amaze everyone that you had ZERO issues, just a few “normal” things.  You needed NO therapy at all.  And you are SO smart.  But I’m not surprised, I knew all along what a miracle you were.  You see, we’re used to miracles in this family.  You were conceived after two miscarriages, even though I miss those babies I never knew, they were watching over you and sent me you.

Sometimes as the middle child you get forgotten.  But you are such vivacious child you could never be truly forgotten.  You had to become a big brother before you were two, but you can handle it. The phrase “thats just James” is spoken often in our house.  You are the one with the bumps, the bruises, the “troublemaker” as Isaac says.

You are my farm boy.  You’d drive the tractor and feed the cows all day long.  Your older brother would just rather design the automation to do it for him.  I’m so proud of you, I cant wait to see what you become.  As you turn three, please remember you are still mama’s little boy and give me a few snuggles here and there OK?

Happy Birthday My Jamesy Boy, my James David, mama loves you bunches and bunches.

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Dear Isaac…

Dear Isaac,
Today you turn 6!  I need two hands to show your age now.  When did you get so big on me?!

You are our oldest.  Our first miracle.  You taught us so much. You’ve always had your own plans in life.  And as exasperating as that is sometimes I hope you continue marching to your own drum. Your traits that frustrate me most sometimes will one day be your greatest strength.

You came into this world defying odds.  Babies your size dont always come out screaming and as full of life as you did.  All 2lb 14oz of you.  I didnt know then how scared I should have been, all I knew was that I was finally a mama.  I spent your first day of life missing you terribly.  You were two weeks old before I held you. But I loved you from the first moment.  You were so handsome and tiny.  I didnt care about the tubes and wires, just that you looked a little like me, but were tall like your Daddy.   We were a family of three.

They day you came home was an amazing day!  63 days you were away from us.  I was so happy to have you home with us.  It was a little scary but we got by.  You made me and your Daddy grow up.  We had to be the adults.  You taught us that.

Today you are about to start first grade.  You are so smart, way smarter than you show people even.  You are so full of life.  And a whole lot stubborn, but I figure stubborn is what got you through the NICU and through a lot of life’s trials.

Being the oldest sometimes you have to share a lot of things. Sometimes you get “forgotten” when your brothers cause trouble.  But know you are never forgotten, and you are loved just as much.  You are special.  You are the oldest which has a big role, you have to set an example.  Its tough, I know, I’m the oldest, but you can handle it.  You can handle anything.

Happy Birthday, Isaac Terry, my big boy, my first baby.  Mama loves you a whole lot.

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James’ Story-77 Days in the NICU

James’ NICU stay is probably more of a blur than Isaac’s.  James had fewer issues, but he was smaller.  I had a 3 year old at home.  I had major surgery.  I hadnt emotionally recovered from Isaac’s birth yet.  I knew too much.

After James was born, thankfully he and I were in the same hospital.   However, we were on different floors, no room left on 2nd floor, and the recovery rooms there were prioritized for women who could actually have their babies in the room.  When your baby is a preemie, the mother doesnt matter too much, intentional or not.  I had a good breast pump in my room, and hubby and the Daddy across the hall (with twins in NICU) would meet about the same time every night for the bleary eyed milk delivery job.  The first couple days I was so sick I really didnt even feel like going to see him, the wheel chair ride made me sick.  After a day or so I started walking down, riding back.  Then I walked the whole way.  Then I was well enough to go home to the other half of my life.  I was now a mother of two, having to choose between my two sons that were 100 miles apart.  A three year old wondering where mommy was, and a my fragile newborn who I barely knew.

Leaving the hospital that day was hard…I was given instructions to not walk too much, dont travel too much, yet I had a baby in the hospital and a 3 year old at home.  I just nodded and was thankful for a prescription pain medication. Life had to go on, I had to manage, the mother didnt matter.   I was discharged (which meant they HAD to put me in the car).  We went and bought me a new breast pump, and I walked back into hospital I just left to tell James I was leaving.  When we stopped at WalMart to fill my prescription I ran into a friend who asked me “whens that baby due?”.  Um…November but he’s 4 days old….yes, it happened again…no, I’m not sure why.  Yes, he’s doing ok * fake smile and positive attitude* he’ll be home before we know it…

James’ NICU stay was pretty uneventful for a 2lb baby.  He had no brain bleeds thanks to the Magnesium Sulfate I was given.  One of his eyes was fused shut, just like a puppy, but it opened up fine,his retinopathy cleared up fine.  He had no surgeries in the NICU, but was sent home with a “follow up when he’s bigger” surgery appointment.  He had bilaterial inguinal hernias, which was quiet disturbing in appearance but were corrected without event when he was 6 months old.

The days blured together.  The travel got monotonous.  The exhaustion grew. I again,called a lot.  I cried.  This wasnt supposed to happen twice.  I must be the world’s worst mother for this to happen. I failed my children in the most basic need, I couldnt even keep them safe in the womb.  I hauled my coolers of milk to Little Rock in 100+ degree heat.

I didnt even bother trying to nurse, I  knew how. I nursed Isaac.  My sole goal was to get him home and quickly as possible and I knew a bottle would do that fastest.  I knew I could figure it out later.  He would take bottle better  from me than anyone else…so I again took the vow of not going home without him. I left work one afternoon telling my boss I was probably beginning my maternity leave and that I wasnt leaving without him.  I was told there wasnt a room in room so  I said I’d get a hotel and be there every 3 hours. Next shift nurse found us a room, telling me that this didnt mean we were going home…well he started taking those bottles.  We prayed hard.   We were told,ok maybe Wednesday.  Then the doctor rounded.  He said we knew what to do…we were heading home.

77 days. 11  weeks  August 1 to October 17. . we were taking our 6lb baby home.  All my children would  sleep under the same roof tonight.  We’d be a family of 4.  We had survived this ordeal again.  We made it.  James was taken outside for the  first time in his life and placed  in the backseat of our car.  We pulled out of the parking lot and no one was chasing us for “stealing” a baby.  We left Baptist Health NICU for the last time.

First Time Holding James..he was3 weeks old

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My 3 Boys

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First Outfit, which was also Isaac’s first outfit.

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Just a cute little guy, about 2 weeks shy of coming home.

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First few  moments home.  Life feels complete.

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Isaac’s Story-63 Days in NICU

This leg of our journey has been harder for me to write.  Parts of it seem such a blur, but parts of it seem so vivd just like yesterday.  Strange things have a way of triggering feeling and emotions….pressing 2 on an elevator, the hum of the automatic paper towel dispenser like at the scrub in sink, seeing the Baptist Hospital on the Little Rock skyline…funny how those things can give you a tug and a knot in the pit of your stomach.

Isaac was in the NICU for 63 days.  8 weeks.  2 months.  July 29 – October 1.  Summer into Fall.  In the NICU…2 hours from home, 100 miles away….

I was discharged from the hospital just as soon as I could convice the doctor I was fine.  During my short stay at the local hospital I made several phone calls. I called the insurance company and added my child…imagine their shock when they asked when he was born..I said “a few hours ago” and then they confirmed I was the mother?!  Yes.  My baby isnt here, what else am I going to do?  It was the only way I felt in control…take care of stuff…be in charge…I’m the mother, why don’t I feel like it?  It was pre-smart phone so I couldnt play online and I wasnt a big texter.  Hubby went to take care of a few loose ends at his job so he could be away for a while.  I didnt have a breast pump and  no one bothered to talk to me about that, guess they thought there was no need.  So I sat…alone…a childless mother, totally lost.

Once discharged, we took quick showers,  packed quick bags, and headed to Little Rock.  We had someone else drive us because we hadn’t slept any.  We got to Little Rock, roughly 12 hours after he was born.  During one of the only 2, 30 minute time periods you couldnt go into NICU…shift change.  I had waited all day to see my baby, and he was on the other side of closed doors while I sat in waiting room….  We saw him.  he was tiny.  He was blue (bruised).  And machines were breathing for him.  He was beautiful.  He had a cute upturned nose.  He had a head full of dark hair with a double crown.  He looked like me.  We were told lots of information I’m not sure  I heard.  We left to go home, re-group, and come back to stay in town for a while.  I was told to call any time I wanted…I called a lot.  On the way home we stopped at Target and purchased a breastpump.  The next morning we developed a love/hate relationship and I began the journey of nourishing my child…with milk he wouldnt receive for a few more weeks.  But it was something that mothers did, and I was a mother…and one day I’d feel like it.

We spent first week in Little Rock.  We learned lots of terms like: Intraventicular Hemorrhage, which is a brain bleed that presents on 4 levels…1 being minor, 4 being the worst..in the coming weeks we would learn he had a grade 2, then a grade3, then a grade 2, then it would be gone.  Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is where babies retinas arent attached yet because they arent ready to be born, in the coming months he’d have regular check ups by the eye doctor, even after he came home.  But we would later learn he had perfect vision and was normal.  Patent Ductus Arteriosis, PDA…the valve in the heart that connects baby to mother, its supposed to close, when it doesnt they medicate, we medicated, our baby was sick, the meds werent working….then one day, about halfway to Little Rock for a visit we were told he needed surgery…he was weak and sick and the valved needed closing…surgery would be first thing in the morning.  So after a visit we went to WalMart and bought toothbrushes and deoderant and clean clothes and spent the night in a small sleep room so we’d be there.  The night before the nurse let us hold him…it was still pretty early for that but with surgery there is always a risk…and they like to let parents have the chance to hold their child…just in case.  He was almost two weeks old.  I  removed my shirt and wore a gown.  He snuggled on my chest for a few hours.  It was one of the best moments in my life…I could  smell his head, feel his cheek.  He was mine.  The world stopped…I was  a mom….I was his mother….he was my child.

Surgery was uneventful, took less than 30 minutes and he began immediate improvement.  His color got better.  He was irritable.  He started weaning off meds.  He got milk.  He  started trying to take a bottle.  He got to try to nurse.  The  trip became routine.  The exhaustion grew.  The impatience grew.  I took him clothes and washed his clothes…it made me feel like I was really a mom.  I called first thing every morning.  I called at my lunch break ( I was back at work parttime). I called when I got off. I called when I  went to bed.  I called when I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare.  I called when I pumped…and pumped..and pumped.   Then one weekend I had had enough…I asked if we  could room in and try nursing more often..we walked into the unit and he looked at us and yanked out hid feed tube…it never went back in….nursing didint  go so great, doctors want numbers and schedules.  So we tried bottles, I’d figure out how to nurse him when we got home…..and I had a talk with him…pleaded with him to show them he could do it and come home.  I prayed really hard..and vowed to not leave the hospital without my baby.  It took about a week but he started taking those bottles…I’d pray through every one….come on…40 oz in 30 minutes…dont spit up.  I was on pins and needles every bottle.  Then one night the nurses started pulling the equipment out of his room.   The doctor came in the next morning , we had our bags packed.  He asked us if we were going somewhere…I told him “home I hope”.  He started the paperwork….

I held my breath through the hall…was this really happening?  We got on the elevator..the doors closed…no one ran out and stopped us.  We put him in the car…still no one chasing us yelling.  We pulled out of the parking lot…I checked behind us…  We got on Interstate…they were really letting us take this 6 1/2 pound baby home.  Home. A family of 3.

A Family of Three (he’s a couple days old here)

Family of 3

 

First Time I Held Him (Almost 2 weeks old)

 

 

 

 

 

Mom

 

 

About a Month Old, his first taste of milk.

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Boy

 

Going Home!

 

 

 

Going Home

First Few Days at Home

At Home

James’ Story-His Birth

When Isaac was around two we decided we’d try this again and start trying for another child.  We got pregnant pretty quickly this time, exciting.  However I miscarried very soon into pregnancy.  Then we got pregnant again two months later, I also lost that baby.  Then a couple months later pregnant again…and James was conceived.

We watched things closely.  Got weekly progesterone shots.  At last ultrasound around 23 weeks everything looked great for our baby boy #2.  We were happy, healthy, pregnant, and about to celebrate Isaac’s 3rd birthday.

On Isaac’s birthday, I was feeling great, frazzled because I was tired and all the work I had to do for his amazing (small, family) party I had planned for when I got home from work.  I left a bit early, picked up some lunch, and headed home.  Since it was the 3rd anniversary of our first preemie I was a bit paranoid.  So I called the doc over some minor symptoms, she was also paranoid and suggested I get checked out.  This was NOT in my birthday party plans, but I called everyone and said “its probably nothing, but I’ll let you know if party is a bit late, but dont worry I’m sure everything is fine.”

Got to hospital, joked about about I was probably crazy, nurse checked me.  Said she was having trouble, got head of L&D.  She checked me, checked again, went and got doc.  Doc checked and said, yes, thats what it is…5 cm…go see if we can get a helicopter.  And, again, while everyone was bustling around, my world stopped…I accepted this happened once, but no, it does NOT happen twice…not on the same day…no way no how.  Then the IVs were started and I got loopy…

Helicopters once again were not available, so I got a lovely ambulance ride.  100 miles with lights and sirens…this time I had a smart phone and could text and message people on the way.  Ambulance drivers were rather amused at how laid back I was…I was not in active labor, I was told with hospital bed rest I might actually make it pretty close to term, and if not, I knew where we were going…it was all ok right?

All checked in, told to settle in for long haul, things looked good, and we wouldnt deliver for a while.  I was really annoyed to be missing Isaac’s 3rd birthday though.  He came to visit me that weekend and ate the cake off my lunch tray and we called it a party.  He finished potty training while I was there.  Klay bought me a new lap top so we could skype.  My friends bought me a Kindle.  Klay went home and had Isaac’s birthday party and videoed it for  me.  Everything was going good…for 3 days…

Klay was visiting…he got held up on an errand to get me something (new houseshoes I think) and decided to go ahead and stay the night.  After dinner I was on my regular nightly monitoring…baby did a big flip…I laughed…then nurses came running in because they lost his heartbeat…they finally found it. Then monitoring resumed…then my back started hurting in waves…then I went to rest room and there was blood…nurse called the doctor….

Doc checked me…and looked concerned…he checked again…yup,thats what he felt…feet.  He said they’d get someone in to give me an epi but all he felt was feet so I must be fully dilated.  But since he was footling breech and small we’d go ahead and deliver.  I told him I didnt really need/want the epi unless there was a reason and he said that was fine.  Off to L&D we went….

So we went to deliver…I pushed…we broke my water…then doctor panicked and said prep for C-Section….baby was out to his waist…but I wasnt anymore dilated..I was only 5cm.  NICU nurse showed up, told me she’d take good care of my boy.  I told her his name would be James. I was wheeled to OR…I told anesthesia that that IV burned.  I woke up in recovery looking for my glasses.

Baby James was here, 2lb 2oz , 13 inches long and taken down the hall to the NICU.  A short while later I got sick.  Then I was wheeled to the NICU, I got sick again.  I peeked in at my baby.  I was then taken a couple floors up to recover…alone.  Not pregnant.  No baby.  But at least we were in the same building this time.
I had come to terms with being a preemie mom, but lightening doesnt strike twice right?  This was absolutely not supposed to happen again…no way no how…but it did.  We were here, again…

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Isaac’s Story-His Birth

We are “Preemie Family”…we have two preemies and one full term baby.  This is a part of our story…

The day Isaac was born started out like any other…I had no idea my life was about to be forever changed.  I woke up, told hubby that my back hurt and went off to work. I liked the outfit I wore that day, so comfy and I felt pretty cute in black capris and black and white sleeveless top.  My back ached all day, weird that it seemed to be in “waves” every 20-30 mins..but hey..I was 28 weeks pregnant..your back hurts then right?  And you “just know” when you are in labor..this didnt hurt THAT bad. Went to a meeting at lunch…I stood…none of the “community leaders” wanted to give up a seat for a pregnant lady.  I got an extra big drink at lunch on my way back to work..I must have been dehydrated or something. \

After work I met hubby at the hospital for the first half of our childbirth class.  She mentioned to call doc or go to hospital if ever had anything timeable.  After class I told her my back was  hurting in “waves” ever 15 minutes…she asked how bad..I said not too bad. She asked if my tummy was tightening, I told her no. She said to go home and put my feet up and drink a big glass of water.  (She would be apologizing to me a few hours later when Isaac was born).

We went home, I put  my feet  up and hubby went to his home office to work on some stuff.  My back was really hurting.  I tried to go to bed, took a Tylenol PM and laid down.  It was really bad.  I felt like I needed to use the bathroom but couldnt.  I spent a while pacing and whining and going to bathroom.  FInally I told hubby I didnt think this was right and maybe we should go to hospital  He said ok, let me finish this up.  I went to restroom, there was blood…we left immediately.

I got to hospital.  Was checked…I was 10cm and doc could feel him….while everyone around me began running and wringing their hands…my world stopped.  You dont have babies at 28 weeks…  I went to the doctor..I took my vitamins.  I got pregnant on purpose..this doesnt happen to people like me.  I asked if he’d be ok…they said they’d try everything they could….

All the helicopters at all the hospitals in the state with NICUs were out busy…I wasnt the only mom having a preemie this night.  Most of the ambulances were out busy.  But Baptist had an ambulance and an on call transport team and they headed my way.  I was asked to try my best to wait until they arrived…I later learned no one thought I could do it.  But the NICU team was his best hope…so I didnt push.  I got a crash course on breathing and the condensed version of the second half of childbirth class I’d never attend…I was apparently pretty good at it.  Hubby was an awesome coach..though at the time I thought he was mean when he yelled at me to breath and not push…but it kept me focused.

NICU team arrived 3 hours later…I pushed a few times and he was born.  Thankfully he came out screaming, I looked up long enough to see him leave the room.  He weighed 2lb14 oz and was 13inches long.  I wouldnt see him again for an hour while he was stablized, intubated, IV started, and in an isolette.

He was brought back to me an hour later, I touched his hand.  There would be no holding for a long time. I was given a book with “what happens now”.  Told what floor he’d be on and how to get there.  Told they would call me in a few hours when docs saw him and stabilized him.  Then he was wheeled out of my room, to go 100 miles away.  I was alone…no longer pregnant.  No baby.  My life had just went down a path I never ever expected…and never ever wanted….

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