Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bringing Home Baby

Last week, at this very hour, we were bringing our 8 day old son home from the hospital 6 days later than planned. We were physically and emotionally exhausted, and full of trepidation about bringing home a child, hooked to a monitor, who may or may not go several seconds without taking a breath.

The first night home with him was terrible, but terrible in the most mundane way. He was up every hour, wanting to eat, be changed, and swaddled. We changed his clothes 4 times that night, and I was bearing enough milk to feed a set of quints. In spite of having hardly slept at all, his father and I welcomed the break of dawn just so we could consider that first night at home behind us. That night, his breathing monitor did not sound once.

Since then, we've adjusted to life as a family of 4 one small step at a time. We're re-honing our diaper changing skills, adjusting for the different anatomy contained within. Our forearms are remembering how awkward it can be to carry the car seat, and my mammaries have not forgotten what it takes to condition themselves in order to sustain a thirsty, thirsty infant. When I slid him into his sister's old sling for the first time last night, the sweetness of a baby nestled against you was with me again instantly. Tonight when the sling was the only place he found solace, I remembered how invaluable that worn piece of fabric strapped around my shoulders can be.

Last week at this time, I felt frustrated. Frustrated that after 8 days in the hospital, I still was not certain of why my son was hooked to a machine monitoring his breathing and why, even that morning, he had still been given extra oxygen to keep the levels of oxygen in his blood high enough. Frustrated with my own body, which seemingly can not carry and nourish a newborn with no initial deficiencies. Frustrated that we were, yet again, bringing home an infant with feelings of joy mixed with fear that they might not be okay on their own. Frustrated with how incompetent I had felt that week, trying to be a parent to two children in separate locations.

But if there is anything that coming home to a busy 3 year old and a newborn is good for, its to take your mind off of anything that has anything to do with yourself. Since we set foot in that back door 1 week ago tonight, there has been little time for waxing on about personal frustration or even fear. Perhaps that's for the best. Conrad's breathing monitor has yet to sound for a real medical emergency. Just loose wires and once the heart rater monitor went off when he was really pitching a fit about a diaper change. This does not necessarily mean that he's entirely out of the woods, but it does assure us that his health concerns have not grown more severe. In fact, in spite of how our son almost always has wires dangling out the bottom of his t-shirts, and we have to administer prescription medicine to him 6x a day -- as one day ebbs into the next, its almost possible to let the fear and frustration of what was last week dim. What we understand now that we didn't understand then is this...high level reflux and periodic breathing is a minor concern in comparison to living each day with all the "love" that Ella Rock has to give a newborn. Just tonight, as he was crying in my arms, she ran to him, arms outstretched to take him, saying "I'm sorry brother. Come here. I will take better care of you." Some days I feel like little more than a poorly paid wet nurse.

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