Monday, July 27, 2015

Our Little Virginia is a Big Sister

4 weeks ago today we joyfully welcomed Virginia's little brother into the world!  He arrived via a scheduled c-section at nearly full term.  Henry George was born on July 29th at 36 weeks 4 days weighing 6 pounds and 8 ounces and 19.25" long.

I am so thankful for a long, healthy and relatively boring pregnancy thanks to the TAC, lots of precautions, exceptional medical care, and lots of prayers.  I did not spend a single day on bedrest and did not make a single trip to labor and delivery until delivery day.  Still, it was not easy but it was so very much worth it.

Henry did spend his first day in the NICU for respiratory monitoring.  He really was only there long enough for us to see some of our favorite nurses and doctors.  It was disappointing to not hold him in the OR or bring him right up to our room, but we did our best to keep things in perspective and make the best of it.  There was a certain beautiful irony to introduce Virginia to her brother in the same place where she fought so tremendously hard for her life.  It was where we first became a family and where we became a family of 4.

We are adjusting well to life with Henry.  We have learned that there are still some extra challenges with late term preemies but really those things just mean we are more tired (yawn) and are so so minor in relation to the tumultuous first month with Virginia.  Breastfeeding troubles, sleepyness, weight gain, and wonky newborn screenings are the norm for babies born even a few weeks early. We are working through each of these things while getting to know our little guy and adjusting to life at home with 2 kids.  Thankfully my Mom has living with us and helping with toddler entertainment, cooking, cleaning, baby rocking, and diaper changing.  

Virginia absolutely adores her little brother and wants to help with everything!  She is such a proud big sister and takes her role very seriously :)  
We constantly are catching new Virginia-isms - "look at our cuddly little guy"  "he's so cuuuuuuuute" "shh shh shh its ok buddy"

Henry has made our hearts so full and really is just the sweetest little guy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Homestretch - Pregnancy after my Micro-Preemie

I thought I would write a lot more here about pregnancy after preemie.  My intentions were mostly selfish- I figured that writing here would again be my therapy, my way to think through things, and my way to deal with the challenges and emotions.  Selfishly I haven't needed it, so I haven't found the time to regularly talk about this pregnancy or update the few people who still follow along here.  Selfishly I have enjoyed keeping it all to myself, relishing in each day, enjoying all the things that we missed out on last time, and settling myself into the uncharacteristic zen that fills my subconscious during times of uncertainty.  

This pregnancy has really just gone so well.  I think there are a fair amount of people that are surprised we have (nearly) made it to a scheduled c-section, but honestly Heath and I are not surprised.  We went into this with the expectation that we had done/ were doing everything we could to have a big healthy baby.  It meant surgeries, treatments, hard decisions, sacrifices, and lots of appointments but it also meant that we went into this with equal parts bravery and hope.  

There have been a few bumps in the road, a few moments of fear or panic, but generally we have just been counting down the weeks.  Passing each milestone quietly with just prayers of thanks.  We have a c-section scheduled for this Monday at 36 weeks and 4 days - exactly 12 weeks longer than I was pregnant with Virginia.  We are hoping this little guy is ready for prime time, but know we are in the best place possible if he needs any assistance.  I am feeling really great and wishing that I could go a few weeks longer, but have come to terms with the timing - knowing that it is the safest time for both baby boy and myself.  

For now I am just enjoying these last few days of having him all to myself.  I already know that he is pretty laid back, directionally challenged (breech), likes to give high fives and is a cuddler for sure.  

Thank you all for cheering us on.

Friday, April 3, 2015

24 weeks

A few days ago we officially reached our first milestone of sorts.

At 24 weeks pregnant I am:
not in the hospital
not on bedrest
acting mostly like a typical pregnant woman
craving a margarita

At 24 weeks this little boy:
has surpassed his sisters birth weight
is very active in the evenings
is very very loved by Virginia

After a pretty wild and scary first trimester, things have been surprisingly calm.  I am hesitant to even write those words.  However, I am trying my hardest to conquer my own fears, avoid the self protection and actually try to enjoy this pregnancy.  Because hospital bedrest started at 21 weeks with Virginia, we are already getting to experience things that never happened last time.  Maternity clothes, strangers acknowledging me as pregnant, glucose tests, and heartburn are all new experiences.  I am still waiting for that exhale moment, but I don't think that will truly ever happen.  In the meantime we are all just trying to enjoy this time as a family of 3 while we wait for this little boy to grow big for the next 12-13 weeks.

Virginia is doing great and is so excited for her little brother.   She is blossoming at preschool and testing our patience all the time.  She has perfected the art of negotiation and tantrums, but is also wonderfully helpful and sweet.  She is still receiving OT and PT weekly, where she has been working on stairs, jumping, and improving her core strength and also attends a weekly gymnastics class.  We always seem major strides in her gross motor skills in the spring and summer as we spend so much time outside, at the beach and on playgrounds.  Here in Connecticut we are still experiencing the winter that wont quit and are anxiously awaiting some nice outdoor weather.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

one big update

So... Its been a few months.  This gap was not for a lack of things to write about or a lack of life changes.  I could blame it on lack of time or simply being overwhelmed, but thats sorta lame.

We bought a new house in October and spent 3 months renovating it, finding renters for our 1st home and moving.  We are getting all settled into our new digs and couldn't be happier.  It was a fun and exhausting process but a labor of love. Our new house truly feels like a home and we can't wait to make many memories here.

Right around the time that we started the renovations we also found out that we were expecting another baby!  It was a long and frustrating but hopeful road to get to this point and we feel so very fortunate.  The journey started with getting a TAC in March of 2012 and had many twists in turns since then, all in an effort to prepare for as healthy of a pregnancy as possible.

There are no guarantees in life, especially in pregnancy and child rearing.  We knew that, but we also knowingly went into this with open hearts.  The idea of pregnancy after a micro preemie can certainly be a scary one, but something we never accepted as scary.  I wish I could say that I truly trust my body (I don't) but I do trust that we have done everything we can to make this pregnancy a long and healthy one.  There have been many doctors and many opinions that we have carefully sorted through, but now we simply wait and let the weeks pass by.

prayers, good thoughts, juju, karma ...  whatever you throw around, we will take.  We are so thankful for our tribe of family and friends who have been nothing but supportive.  We are hopeful that this wild ride plays out as long and boring for the next 20+ weeks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Virginia!

3 years ago our lives forever changed..  all for the better.

This really says it all....

Monday, October 20, 2014

approaching three

Virginia will be three on Wednesday.  THREE.  let me say that again, T.H.R.E.E. years old.  How in the world did that happen?! 

She is old enough to understand that it is her birthday and she is so so so excited about it.  That alone makes this time, which used to be tinged by much bitterness and pain, so joyous and exciting.  

Her celebrations started on Saturday the 18th with a party that included 12 of her 2-3 year old friends and their parents and continued last night with a trip to the NICU to visit her night nurse and deliver some gifts for the babies currently fighting their battle.  We continued today with a little celebration at preschool and we will finish up on Wednesday with just the 3 of us.. just as it all started.  

What was not lost on me was irony that we started this string of celebrations exactly 3 years from the time that I went from "stable bedrest" on maternal special care to "imminent delivery" on labor and delivery.  Those days are a complete blur thanks to 5 days of magnesium but with brief moments of such clarity.  Moments that I will never forget.  
Those 5 days were physically very difficult, but that paled in comparison to the mental anguish.  In those moments I knew that every hour made a difference but I also knew that realistically we were in an unbelievably precarious position. There was a cloud of nervous anticipation so very thick in that labor and delivery room that week- it was veiled by hope and positivity but was honestly heavy and exhausting for everyone.  
I thank god every day that Virginia and I had the strength to make it those "extra" days, but always wish it could have lasted longer.  always.  

That pain is part of her story and those 5 extra days are part of the celebration.  So we celebrate.  We also hug a little tighter these days, sing a little louder, and laugh a whole lot more.  I wish that 3 years ago I could have known how joyous these 5 days of celebrating would be.  

Virginia's first friends - October 2011 Yale NICU babies

night nurse Amy and those famous NICU doors

 We also celebrated by buying a new house ;) 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

perception and memories

We are in the throes of potty training.  It is a delicate balance teetering toward a power struggle with my very feisty and stubborn girl.  The tactic changes almost daily.  There are stickers, praise, bribery, and yes sometimes ultimatums.  One day last week as I was trying to get Virginia to focus on going number two, I agreed to play music for her on my iphone while she sat on the potty.  Pharell's 'Happy' didnt get it done, neither did Katy Perry's 'California Girl.'  The next song up was Phillip Phillip's 'home' which is our anthem of sorts, mostly because we have made several slideshows to that song.  She immediately recognized the song and had a big smile on her face.  Then she kept repeating a long phrase which initially I couldn't make out.  After her expression became more serious I finally realized that she recognized the song as the one that is set to her slideshow.  What she remembered though was "baby getting boo boo fixed at doctor."  Mind you these are never words we have used while watching that video with her.  The few times we have watched it we have always told her that the tiny baby in the pictures was her, that she was very small and sick, and that we loved her.

Clearly those images and that song stuck with her, but not in the same way that it has stuck with Heath and I.  She clearly knows that the baby in the photos in the first half of that video was sick but she has no idea that it was her.  She also clearly does not remember the 2nd half of the video where she is able to recognize more recent photos of herself.

It is a huge relief to me that at nearly 3 years old her memory is only that of sympathy and concern for the baby in the video.  That she does not consciously or subconsciously remember anything from that time.  We will always be open with her and we hope that she only ever looks at those photos and feels powerful for how far she has come and thankful for the medical care and prayers that saved her.   I know those photos will always foster mixed emotions for Heath and I, but also believe that the same photos will empower her to be the mightiest and best person that she can be.

The same goes for this blog.  I have always been cognizant that one day Virginia may read her story here.  It has been a fine line to straddle and the older she gets the more aware I am of how she may feel about her story being 'out there.'  I can only hope that she views these words in the same way that she views those earliest photos.  I can only hope that she is proud of how resilient and blessed she is.  I can only hope that she continues to do amazing things and changes peoples lives for the better.

And....She never pooped on the potty that afternoon.