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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dream Come True

We're home.

And, I don't know if life could get any better. (Well, if I'm being completely honest, I think a little more uninterrupted sleep might be one thing that could be better... but, sleep is really overrated anyway, isn't it?)

Hugh is doing great. He smiles while he sleeps. He has the cutest raspy cry. His fingers and toes are longer than I've ever seen on a newborn. I'm pretty sure they're as long as Ben's are now at five months. (Although, where Ben lacks in length, he makes up for in chunkiness.) Hugh is eating well and even sleeping well - getting some good 3-4 hour stretches every night. I am admittedly not sleeping much during the night since I'm constantly waking to make sure he's still breathing. He has big, piercing eyes that make me think of creamy dark chocolate. (That could be my postpartum needs coming out.) He and I have both come down with a slight cold, with the main complaint being some nasal congestion, which we're both hoping goes away fast. So far, though, he is doing wonderful and we feel so blessed to have him in our family.

Ben has responded really well to a new baby in the house. That first night we were home he was startled a bit by Hugh's raspy cry and started crying himself. He has since gone from startled to curious to entertained. When placed close to Hugh, Ben pats Hugh on the head or tries to grab for any part of Hugh that he might be able to suck on, staying true to his stage of development right now, which seems to be sucking on anything and everything. He is at such a cute stage right now - so aware and curious about everything around him and talking up a storm. He is pure joy!

Marc is... in one word, fantastic. He has been caring for Ben during the night while I focus on taking care of Hugh and myself. He makes up silly songs that make Ben laugh, even though Ben's still much too young to know what Marc is singing about. He is gentle and sweet with little Hugh (and with me, too). He is so good with both our boys and I feel so blessed to be married to him.

My recovery seems to be coming along. My ankles that had swollen to at least double their size while I was down at UCSF, are now back to their normal look. A sure sign that I'm finally giving my body the rest and healing it needs. Full recovery doesn't seem quite so far away anymore. I'm so happy to be home with my family.

After nine months of imagining what our life would look like with two babies so close in age, we're finally living it in the present tense and I'm loving every minute of it. I often find myself laughing at some of the crazy moments and shake my head in disbelief that this is really our life. And, in the middle of that head shaking, I can't keep the tears from falling. I don't know how or why we've been so blessed. My heart is so full. Joy has filled the emptiness that once knew only pain and heartache and fear that motherhood would only be a dream.

My dream truly has come true. Twice now. And twice later. And I am so grateful.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It's 2:40pm and I just sent myself to our hospital "room" (which is really more like a closet with a bed in it). I'm not in trouble, though. I'm giving myself a chance to lay down for a little bit before we make our drive home. 


Last night after I fed my little boy, I was rocking him to sleep, still feeling rather weepy. As my tears fell down my cheeks and onto his, I pleaded with him to be strong and to sleep well so that his body could heal properly so that we could finally take him home. He seemed to look into my eyes knowing exactly what I was saying. And then he calmly closed his eyes and drifted into dreamland.

I woke up this morning feeling much less emotional and resigned to the idea of waiting another day or more if necessary for the health of our Hugh. That is our number one priority afterall. When I went into his room, I was greeted by one of his doctors, who informed me that she was doing a more thorough exam on Hugh like they do with every baby the day they go home. Those were her words. And, I had to clarify that I heard correctly.

Hugh ended up being on the oxygen for only three hours, his chest x-ray came back looking "excellent", and he's currently passing his last test - the car seat test, which is making sure he can make the ride home without his numbers dipping down dangerously low. This final test will be done in about 45 minutes. And, then we're good to go.

I can hardly believe how dramatically things have seemed to change since last night. My heart is so happy. It helped, too, that I got to see my little Benjamin this afternoon. My parents had to take my sister to the airport, so they all stopped by here for a quick visit. As crazy as I know things are about to get, my heart felt so full having all of us together in the same room. That's what I want. I can't wait! Just a few more hours and we'll be home.

Please, please know how grateful I am for all the prayers that have been offered on our behalf. I know, I know, they have made all the difference. My heart is so full. Thank you SO much!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just another 24

I have to keep telling myself that... "it's just another 24 hours." That should be easy enough to handle, right? But, for some reason those extra 24 hours have sent me into a whirlwind of tears and discouragement.

The last couple of days Hugh's oxygen desaturation levels have been dipping during his afternoon naps, which they did again today even though he was doing awesome this morning. They have gone low enough to have the doctors concerned about sending him home just yet. I met with one of the doctors briefly this evening and she laid out what their plan of action is between now and Tuesday morning.

Put Hugh back on a liter of oxygen for the next 12 hours. (He is currently hooked up to it as I write this.)

Take a new x-ray of his lungs in the morning, after the oxygen is finished.

Watch him closely for the following 24 hours to see how his condition improves.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, we'll then be discharged Tuesday morning.

In theory I know this news shouldn't be that big of a deal, but I can't keep the tears from coming. For the last few days I've kept my eye on Monday morning, which already seemed so far away. I guess it's like running a marathon and pacing yourself for those 26.2 and then just when you've almost reached the point of pure exhaustion you're told that you'll actually have to run an extra 7 miles. Seven shouldn't be a problem after finishing 26.2... unless you haven't paced yourself for those extra 7.

I'm just ready to be home. It's killing me to be away from Ben for so long, but I know I need to be here to help Hugh. My body is in quite a bit of pain still and I'm exhausted from all the running around we have to do here. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm also dealing with all kinds of postpartum hormones.

My point is just... I don't know... we need your prayers. I feel so selfish asking for more when so many of you have already done so much. Ultimately we know it's best to keep Hugh here until he's strong enough to come home... we're just hoping that that happens very soon, meaning at least by Tuesday and not another 24 hours (or more) after that.

To end on a bit of a lighter note, I think his sleeping position during his afternoon nap yesterday was meant to show off how strong he is:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Photos

Marc arrived yesterday, getting to hold Hugh for the first time. It has been so nice to have him here with us... now if we could just get Benjamin under the same roof then all would feel right again. Unfortunately the hospital won't allow him to stay here with us. I'm comforted to know he's in the best of hands with my parents and sister while we're down here. But, I miss him like crazy. Monday can't come soon enough. I get the feeling that Hugh feels the same way.

Hugh is such a sweet baby. He is feeding like a champ and is quite the little cuddle bug. I was able to give him a sponge bath last night, which he didn't seem to like very much. We also weighed him and he's now at 8 pounds 12 ounces. All the nurses comment on how he's the biggest baby in the nursery, since most babies in there are premies. I'm still amazed that I managed to make such a big boy. And even more amazed at little Hugh's strength and determination. He is one strong little spirit, following nicely in the footsteps of his big brother.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just a Peek

I just realized I didn't get as many photos yesterday as I had thought. Here are a couple, though, that someone snatched of Hugh and me. I'll get more today of just the handsome little guy that I get to call mine. I'm so anxious to get both my handsome little guys together for their own little photo shoot... literally counting the days until we're all together again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Feels Like Home

Last night, just before laying down for bed, I vomited all over my bed. It came so fast and unexpectedly I didn't have time to make it to the toilet or even the closest garbage can. It was pretty uncomfortable to throw up with the scars and abdominal pain that I'm currently experiencing, but my main concern was that somehow because of this the doctor would make me stay an extra day. I cried a little at the thought, but it hurts to laugh and cry right now, so I tried to keep my emotions in check and relax enough to fall asleep.

Morning came and nobody had come in to say I couldn't leave, so I started packing up. I opened the blinds and saw that the sun was shining for the first time since the day Hugh was born. It felt very fitting of how I was feeling about today. The hospital discharged me and some dear friends drove me down to The City in their very smooth ride. Marc stayed behind an extra day, but will be joining me tomorrow.

As we arrived at the hospital, I saw there was a message on my phone. It was one of the nurses caring for Hugh, letting me know that just hours before they had completely weaned him off the oxygen! That is hurdle number one. 

We got up to the NICU as quickly as possible and found Hugh being snuggled by one of his nurses. He still had some wires connected to him, but he wasn't tied down to one spot. After helping me get into a hospital gown, they handed Hugh to me.

Unspeakable emotions filled my heart and seemed to run through my entire body... and I couldn't keep the tears from coming. I was holding my baby boy, after more than three days of pure torture away from him. 

This was Home. 

We spent the afternoon cuddling. I was able to breastfeed him three times and he is getting the hang of it really fast. He slept on my shoulder while I rocked us both in a rocking chair. He is so sweet. I have another hand-holding baby boy.

I have some pictures of my beautiful boy that I'll try to post tomorrow. For now, I need to get my sleep. I just wanted to pass on the good news that Hugh is healing wonderfully and we will probably only be here for another couple of days. I owe a huge thank you to everyone for the prayers and kind thoughts offered on our behalf. I know we have been blessed because of those prayers for our little Hugh. Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here I Come...

I'll be discharged tomorrow morning and heading straight to be by the side of my baby. I've tried not to feel frustrated about having to wait this long before going down to be with him. I'm still technically recovering, but hoping that both Hugh and I will receive quicker healing being together. It has been so hard to be so far from him. I've received such mixed and confusing reports from his nurses that I'm not really sure exactly how he's doing, but one thing that has remained constant among all the reports is that he is doing well and continues to make small, steady improvements. I'm just hoping and praying that that story continues.

Thank you so much for all the prayers for Hugh and for our little family. We appreciate them more than I could ever express.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Birth Day

Our little boy arrived this morning, on his actual due date.

Unfortunately not without some complications.

After laboring for close to 24 hours (without any pain medication, I might add), I ended up being rushed in for an emergency cesarean. 

Baby Hugh weighed in at 8 pounds 11 ounces. Immediately after birth there appeared to be some rather serious concerns with the health of our little boy. I got to kiss him quickly on the cheek as they rushed him out of the operating room, with Marc following close behind. It turns out that he inhaled some meconium, causing some problems with breathing and adding the risk of pneumonia. 

Within just a few hours after birth, our little Hugh was rushed down to the Big City hospital, two hours away. The same hospital where the twins were born. As soon as I'm released from here, we'll head down there to be close to our newest little one, waiting anxiously to bring him home. And, hoping for the best of all outcomes.

We're holding up, all things considered. It has been a pretty emotional day, not being able to hold my little boy, watching him whisked away to a faraway city, seeing him hooked up to all kinds of machines and tubes. In the midst of it all, we feel very comforted that all will be well. Still, any prayers offered on behalf of our little Hugh would be very much appreciated.

Hopefully we'll have some good news to report in the coming days.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Little Mr. Sunshine

I don't know for sure when this baby is going to make his arrival. It would sure be convenient if I did, though! With my due date just a few days away, I do know that the time is getting closer. And, so in the meantime, I'm soaking up all the one-on-one time I can squeeze in with this smiley little boy. Doesn't he just ooze happiness?

Feeling ever so blessed to have our little Benjamin in our family. He makes our happy moments happier and adds sunshine to our gray days. I don't know how my heart will ever have room enough to love another one this much... but, I hear that's a common feeling when anticipating the arrival of another child. I guess I better get ready for an expanded heart. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seasons of Life

 May 2009, Muir Woods (in a much different season of life)

A little over a year ago I was sitting in a church meeting listening to a very optimistic woman (whom I admire) talk about how no matter what we're going through in life we need to be cheerful. I remember I was sitting alone and felt even more alone as I tried to make sense of the words coming out of her mouth. At that point I was still struggling to carry my burden of grief and loss. There wasn't any part of me that felt cheerful about what I was going through.

I knew there was some truth to what she was saying, and that part of me felt guilty, to the core. Tears filled my eyes and I found myself staring into an opened book in my lap, hoping no one would notice my sadness, especially during a lesson on being cheerful. 

But, there was this other part of me that felt like there was something missing from her well-intended encouragement. I knew the message this woman was trying to convey was only meant to be uplifting, but it just felt like there needed to be some distinctions made between different kinds of trials and different responses to those trials. 

Aren't there differences in weight and scope of trials? Aren't some trials harder and more painful than others? I mean, as frustrating as it is to lose your car keys, it's quite a different burden than losing a child, isn't it? And, in those heavier trials, isn't there a purpose to letting ourselves feel the pain and the grief? How can we properly be comforted if we don't properly mourn? Is being cheerful always the answer?

As I sat through the rest of that meeting, I turned my thoughts to the scriptures and was reminded of the Savior's response upon hearing of the death of his friend Lazarus. He wept. I'm sure he wept, in large part, because of the deep compassion he felt for those who were devastated by his death. They were mourning and his response was to mourn with them. There was no mention in that situation about their need to be cheerful. He mourned with them and then he reassured them of His own power over death and brought Lazarus back to life. It could have been so easy for the Savior to skip the whole mourning part and just display his power to heal. If the Savior felt the need to weep, even when he knew in a matter of minutes he would reverse the effects of death, then there must be some lesson there for us.

A couple of days later I found myself thinking about the famous verses found in Ecclesiastes, made more famous by this song.

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Now, as I sit in this particular season, which is drastically different from the season I was in a year ago, I recognize even more the wisdom in allowing myself the time and the space to fully and purposely embrace the different seasons of life. I'm glad that a year ago I gave myself permission to break down, to weep, to mourn. I'm glad that I went through the stages of grief, even though at times I felt guilty and awful for some of the ugly feelings that would surface. 

There is something about experiencing the hard and the painful in their fullness that have now made the joy and the gladness that much more beautiful.

And, even though my season of mourning has gratefully been replaced with a season of joy, my heart is painfully aware of dear, close friends who are currently in a season of pain and mourning. I wish I had all the answers for why certain things happen, but this I do know... there is a time to every purpose under heaven

So, my dear friends, I hope whatever season you find yourself in, you'll give yourself permission to feel whatever you need to feel, without feeling guilty for whatever those feelings are. It's okay to feel sad, it's okay to cry, it's okay to mourn lost dreams, it's okay if you don't feel cheerful about the painful trials you're required to go through. And, please know that you are not alone in your mourning. Remember it is a season. It has its own purpose. It will have an end. There will be another season around the corner. A season when it'll be okay to laugh, to dance, to heal.

That joyful season will come to those who are still painfully awaiting its arrival. I had a hard time believing it myself when I was stuck in my grief, but my season of joy has come just like I was promised it would. And, I hope that my friends who currently find themselves in one of life's darker and harder seasons, that they'll hang onto hope for the season of joy that will come. Because it will come. I know it will.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Birth Mother's Day

I've been reminiscing a bit today....

Three years ago, today, we received the official news that we were approved to adopt. (Which actually also marks the birth of this blog.)

Two years ago I enjoyed Mother's Day more than any other before it... anticipating approaching motherhood with twin daughters.

Last year I couldn't handle facing Mother's Day, so Marc and I made a weekend trip out of town. We hiked through Muir Woods, had dinner at a delicious little pizzeria, and attended church the following day in a ward where no one would know our story. While motherhood felt more real with the birth of our twins, the reality was that I still lacked the experiences of a 'normal' mother. Visiting the cemetery and using my licked thumb to wash off the dirt wasn't exactly what I wanted from motherhood experiences. I hungered even more for the real thing... the real cheeks to clean with my licked thumb and everything else that comes with being a mom.

Today... well, today my heart is full. For the first time in my life I'm not dreading Mother's Day. All because of a brave and compassionate woman who has played a key role in making me a mother. Tomorrow would be another dreadful holiday if it weren't for our sweet Tracey. I don't know how I can ever adequately express how indebted I feel to Tracey for the gift of motherhood she has made possible.

Today is considered Birth Mother's Day, appropriately so. Today we are celebrating the Birth Mother who gave life to our little boy who we have been "expecting" for the last three years.

We love him. And, we love her. And, we always will. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sacred vs. Scary

* I can't believe I'm really posting a photo of my 38-week belly. FYI, I feel as large as I look.

As my pregnancy has progressed, and I've now completed 38 weeks (which I'm still a bit shocked by), I've found myself reflecting a lot on the only birth experience I've had. As you know, its outcome wasn't anything near what we had hoped for, but I've been surprised at how so many of the details have come back to haunt me. 

I kept a lot of the details of the twins' birth to myself, both the scary and the sacred. The sacred because, well, there are some things that are meant to be kept sacred. And the scary because in those early stages of grief I didn't want to focus my attentions on the awful things I had to endure, for fear of them turning my heart bitter. Now that it has almost been two years, and finding myself anticipating the birth of our next little one, I've felt compelled to revisit some of those awful moments. Not because I want to, but because I'm afraid of the emotional barriers that might get in the way of having a beautiful birth experience this time around.

When I initially wrote out this post, I had compiled a whole list of very specific moments that were both awful and scary. But, somehow writing them out and acknowledging them individually for myself feels like enough for me, for now. I've saved the list, though, and may decide in some future moment to share that list. I just don't know how much good it would do to unveil those moments for the rest of you. Plus, I know Marc wasn't too thrilled with some of my phrases, like, "wincing with every gush of amniotic fluid" and I didn't know how else to say it.

Suffice it to say that confronting my deepest fears and reliving the most traumatic experience of my life has been instrumental in the choices we've made for the kind of experience we want to have with the upcoming birth of our little boy. And, actually, a lot of those choices weren't made based on fear from the scary moments we had, but rather based on the one most sacred part of our experience with the birth of our twin daughters. 

I've spent some long hours over the last few weeks trying to find peace with the awful details, and as I've found peace, I've also found increased joy in the sacred moments that were given to us. As tears have been shed, and prayers have been offered, I've felt very strongly that this little boy on his way has the eye of Divine Providence glued on him. Even as we've encountered some possible concerns (like the 2-vessel cord), I've felt reassured again and again that all will be okay. And, as we've made plans for welcoming him into the world, we've felt guided in the details. 

With only a few more weeks of waiting for his arrival, I feel more hopeful than ever about our impending birth experience, that it will be both beautiful and sacred. And not scary.