The Nightcap

Living in a constant state of anxiety and feeling like you do not even know yourself is so hard when you’re also trying to love on your new baby and be a good mom to your toddler and a good wife to your husband and a normal friend to your friends and a good family member to your family. I didn’t even know how to be good to myself, so feeling like I needed to be good for other people felt like a stretch I could hardly make yet one that was expected of me. Why couldn’t I just be normal? Why couldn’t I be the Mandi everyone knew? Why couldn’t I be predictable?

11.16.19

“My anxiety has calmed down a bit. I think I’m starting to level out, which is good because I have just not been myself. There’s a part of me that thinks going back to work will be good for me. I need purpose and structure outside of my kids. But there’s also a part of me that is anxious about missing the precious, little moments with my babies when I’m working.

Around the time of my 6-week postpartum follow-up appointment, I reached out to a couple of friends and let them know I was experiencing some postpartum depression.  While naming what was going on to my husband cracked the door to healing, sharing my experience with friends gave that door another good shove. My friends’ responses, while different, were both overwhelmingly understanding and supportive. One reminded me of just how common this is and that I don’t need to view myself as being abnormal despite feeling abnormal. The other said that she, too, had experienced PPD and acknowledged how hard it is, but reminded me how temporary it is in the grand scheme of things. I am blessed to have such great friends in these particular women, that they then journeyed with me through the rest of that viscous hormonal cycle, reaching out from time to time to check in or offer ways they could help.

Living in a constant state of anxiety and feeling like you do not even know yourself is so hard when you’re also trying to love on your new baby and be a good mom to your toddler and a good wife to your husband and a normal friend to your friends and a good family member to your family. I didn’t even know how to be good to myself, so feeling like I needed to be good for other people felt like a stretch I could hardly make yet one that was expected of me. Why couldn’t I just be normal? Why couldn’t I be the Mandi everyone knew? Why couldn’t I be predictable?

Near the end of my maternity leave, my husband, two kids and I spent some time in Northern Michigan at a family-favorite vacation spot. Getting away from our house and just being in a different place with no expectation to do anything other than just simply be there worked wonders on my anxiety. We got horrendously snowed in, but we made the best of it, marveling at the sight, taking overly bubbly bubble baths, building snow forts and feeling as though we were the new cast of Survivor.

In the same week, I also prepared 13 freezer meals for my return to work. I noticed that a part of my life that causes great anxiety for me even without PPD is meal-planning and preparing. I started doubling up on dinners every few nights, making one for that night and one for the freezer. While we wouldn’t even end up immediately whipping those out and heating them up, just knowing I had them available if I needed them helped ease my mind about my return to work.

In short, naming what was going on and sharing that with people made space for me to acknowledge what I needed to do to get through it. Did my PPD go away the minute I made peace with those words or shared them with my closest confidants? Absolutely not. In fact, as I recount these times a year later, I know that I still catch glimmers of it here and there even today. While I imagine some day I’ll be completely through it, I now know what it’s like, and I hope I’ll extend grace upon grace upon grace to any other woman who has to go through PPD on top of the already incredibly difficult task of being a mom to a fresh baby. It doesn’t quite seem fair that on top of your major new role in life you should also be trying to figure out who you are now, why you seem so different and why you think the things you think and feel the things you feel.

A part of me has felt like PPD was the nightcap to my pregnancy experience. Let’s finish it off with one more shot of something difficult.

In the stats: 
Adjusted Age: 4 weeks, 5 days
Actual Age: 8 weeks, 1 day

PPD

The fall of 2019 was a hard season. Ears deep in a mountain of personal turmoil, I was also struggling to bond with my one month old baby. In hindsight, I can attribute that struggle to many things (like his NICU admission/experience), but I’m lying if I don’t say that amidst all that was going on, I had become one of the ten percent of women who experience postpartum depression.

10.28.19

“I think I’m finally in a place where I can admit I’m having some postpartum depression…

The fall of 2019 was a hard season. Ears deep in a mountain of personal turmoil, I was also struggling to bond with my one month old baby. In hindsight, I can attribute that struggle to many things (like his NICU admission/experience), but I’m lying if I don’t say that amidst all that was going on, I had become one of the ten percent of women who experience postpartum depression.

In regards to our baby, things were going fine. Win was eating and growing and sleeping and being so cute. He was fussy a lot, but babies are like that some times, so we gave him grace.

It took me several weeks of feeling “not myself” before putting two and two together and calling a spade a spade. I’d always known postpartum depression was common, but now I know it’s a misnomer as well. I didn’t feel depressed. I had no urges to hurt my baby like they say you’re going to feel. I felt extremely anxious and indecisive and nowhere near as though my son was an extension of myself.

When I forgot to pack my daughter’s blankie for Grandpa and Grandma’s house, I literally could not decide if I should drive it over there before nap time. When my son’s flailing arms and legs were getting in the way of a middle-of-the-night diaper change, I had a panic attack. I was constantly counting down the time I had left on maternity, completely freaked out about whether or not I would be able to return to work a functioning adult. I was tired all the time – no matter the amount of sleep our kids allowed us at night.

I was rational much of the time, but I knew I was being irrational in every irrational moment I had. I just could not, for the life of me, flip the switch to rational. Some days were fine. Others were nightmares. Not many were all that great.

I danced around the words “postpartum depression” for a few weeks, telling my husband, “I’m just not myself,” and putting on a happy face for everyone else.

Depression? Not me. I would never!

But admitting to myself that maybe something is wrong right now (and will be ok again some day when I’m a little more postpartum), and maybe what people call this doesn’t actually sound like what it is, and maybe, even if it did sound like what it is, that would be ok, too – was a huge first step in the direction I needed to go.

It took me a while to say the words to myself. It took me longer to say them to my husband. But naming what was going on, opened up a level of acceptance of myself that cracked the door to healing.

“I don’t want to miss out on these times because I’m hormonally imbalanced. I just want to enjoy and love on my kiddos.”

In the stats: 
Adjusted Age: 2 weeks
Actual Age: 5 weeks, 3 days

Slightly Monumental

In the world of premature babies, there are preemies, and then there are PREEMIES. My son is a preemie. My daughter is a PREEMIE. As the parent of a PREEMIE, we often struggle to consider other preemies “true preemies”. When other parents want to relate to (or commiserate on) our experience of a premature birth, it’s hard to engage in a conversation of two experiences that are so vastly different.

10.14.19

“It’s Win’s due date. It seems much less monumental to me because he’s never seemed like a preemie.

In the world of premature babies, there are preemies, and then there are PREEMIES. My son is a preemie. My daughter is a PREEMIE. As the parent of a PREEMIE, we often struggle to consider other preemies “true preemies”. When other parents want to relate to (or commiserate on) our experience of a premature birth, it’s hard to engage in a conversation of two experiences that are so vastly different. Statistically speaking, of the 10% of babies who happen to be born premature only about 6% are born before 28 weeks. So for every premature kid (born before 37 weeks gestation) we meet, only about 1 in 167 of them can understand what this was like for us. (And yes, we have met some.)

While I’m grateful my kids will forever be bonded by their premature births, they are the perfect example of those vastly different experiences. I’m incredibly grateful my son did not have to undergo the experience his sister did. After his brief NICU visit, he came home a pretty normal baby. By his two week checkup, he weighed in at 8lbs, 2oz – a very respectable weight for a two week old baby.

At this age, my daughter was still receiving milliliters of breastmilk – not ounces – through a nasogastric tube. Win, on the other hand, was eating like a champ. He knew when he was hungry (and boy, was that often), and he ate as much as he wanted. I didn’t have to set alarms to wake us up in the middle of the night to remind him to eat and grow. I didn’t have to count the minutes he spent breastfeeding to know he was getting enough. I didn’t have to pump, bottle feed and record to the nearest milliliter how much he’d taken. I didn’t have to track wet and dirty diapers to confirm his output was good. Win was an eater. He was a big boy. There was a certain side of anxiety I did not have to experience this time around, and that felt so good.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 40 weeks
Actual Age: 3 weeks, 3 days

Home Again

Approximately 36 hours after the approximately 36 hour NICU stay, we were discharged to go home. By that point, we couldn’t wait to get out of there, but the 36 hours between the NICU and home were not exactly uneventful. It’s not as though we were bored.

9.23.19

“My babies are sleeping under the same roof…

Approximately 36 hours after the approximately 36 hour NICU stay, we were discharged to go home. By that point, we couldn’t wait to get out of there, but the 36 hours between the NICU and home were not exactly uneventful. It’s not as though we were bored.

Both sets of grandparents had come to meet Win while he was still in the NICU. Post-NICU discharge, we spent two more nights at the hospital. By night two, a little problem had escalated and robbed us of really any sleep at all.

On the 22nd, we had three groups of visitors – some friends and two of our siblings/spouses. Somewhere in the midst of visitor group two, my body decided it was going to feed an army. I had had a breastmilk overproduction issue with my daughter but, exclusively pumping at the time, it was relatively easy to manage and resolve in time for her to catch on to breastfeeding at six months old. This time around I was set on skipping the exclusive pumping bit. Win had been doing great with nursing any attempt he’d made since birth. But then this.

It’s not uncommon for a mother’s milk to take a few days to come in (especially in the event of a premature birth). It doesn’t even usually come in regulated in the perfect amount for baby at the perfect times he/she needs to eat. But in literally a matter of an hour, on day two, I found myself uncommonly engorged. I was swollen, rock hard to my collar bones. I was recovering from a surgery that extracted a 7lb baby from my body, but I was begging for pain meds that could alleviate the situation in my chest. We called on the lactation consultant (LC) who began putting together a plan for me. We strapped diapers packed with ice to my chest, which I wore during visitor group three because I couldn’t fathom attempting to suck this up for the sake of my pride.

The level of engorgement was beyond belief. The LC acknowledged that this was one of the worst cases she’d ever seen. I began worrying that this might cause irreversible damage to a part of my body I would be relying on so heavily in the many months to come. Could I actually pop? I needed to get this under control fast.

After our visitors left, I began a power-pumping approach – 15 minutes pumping, 15 minutes icing, 15 minutes pumping, 15 minutes icing. I was encouraged to do this for hours until I began to see progress. The LC feared that if we didn’t remove the milk, I would face a more serious issue – mastitis. I’d briefly experienced mastitis with my daughter, and while I did not want to land there again, I also knew from my experience with my daughter that my body tends to quickly replace every drop of milk I remove.

Breastfeeding works by supply and demand. If you’re fortunate to be able to breastfeed well, your body will supply the breastmilk your baby demands. So when we introduced our middle man, the pump, it was as if I was asking my over-eager body to supply milk for the demands of Win and the pump. I dutifully did as I was told for approximately one hour. Not only was I experiencing excruciating pain, but I was also dealing with extreme doubt. There was no way this approach could work for me.

I eased up on pumping that evening, only pumping when I could no longer handle the pain and needed even just the mental relief of withdrawing milk from my overstuffed breasts. We closed our eyes that night in failed attempts to sleep many times. Around midnight, I woke up from a three to five minute slumber in a panic attack. My chest hurt so bad, but I couldn’t sit up to communicate it because my incision was also painful. And so I sobbed, my breath escaping me in exhaustive shallow blows, my heart pounding, my body sweating. I thought I was going to throw up, but I didn’t want the muscles that had just been rearranged to make way for a baby to have go through those motions.

Once calmed down, I decided the hospital was not the place for me. I’d taken care of engorgement on my own before, and I could do it again. I needed to be home. I needed to be away from the LC who didn’t know how to handle my situation, the nurses who woke us up for various checks, the bed that wasn’t mine. I needed to be able to relax – to be comfortable. If I could just stick it out until the morning, then I would become another cog in another wheel.

And I made it to the morning. We had the pediatrician circumcise Win and approve his discharge to go home. We pushed our nurse (one I’d met during my stay two years prior during my pregnancy for my daughter) to get my discharge going. And then we, our baby, and the 100 or so ounces I’d already pumped were off. We drove home and were soon reunited with our daughter.

Being home didn’t immediately alleviate my engorgement. I continued to ice and pump when necessary, but it gave me hope. We were a family of four. But now our life as a family of four could begin. My babies were sleeping under the same roof. We were home. Again.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 37 weeks
Actual Age: 3 days

The Cog in the Wheel

When Oaklee rounded the corner to lay eyes on her brother for the first time, I completely lost it. The height of this moment was everything: my “big” NICU grad meeting her brother for the very first time as a NICU patient himself. I was so happy to see her. I was sad to see her in the NICU. I was excited to show her new baby brother to her. I was flooded with emotions. 

9.21.19

“It’s frustrating to have this start. We’re exhausted and angry, making for a stressful situation on top of a stressful situation.

If I learned anything in my first NICU experience, it’s that you have to be an advocate for your child. There are times when you might actually know what’s better for your child than the nurse or doctor who gets paid to know what’s best – to make decisions about and care for your child.

So at 7:00pm on the 20th, almost 12 hours after he was born, when I was finally allowed to hold and feed my baby, I told the nurse I forbid bottles. Bottles make feeds easier on babies. I didn’t believe Win needed the easy route. He would eat, and he would eat from me. And if I wasn’t there because my own recovery required me to be in a different building, she would have to call me back. She would have to call me back at 7:00pm, at 10:00pm, at midnight, at 3:00am, at 6:30am. Oh, she would be seeing a lot of me.

I vowed to be the cog in the wheel. I was not along for the ride this time. We made it very clear that we did not feel our son needed to be in the NICU. We would not be playing their game.

Had Win’s initial blood sugar not been an issue, we would have skipped over the close monitoring that comes with the cords and sensors of NICU life. We would have never known he was slightly tachyneic. We would have never known his blood sugar was dipping into questionable territory and rising every few hours. His little heals would not have had to be poked. He would not have needed an IV, pumping him full of man-made “nutrients”. We could have held him skin-to-skin sooner. He could have relaxed with us instead of being on his own his first hours in this bright, cold, scary world. And his sister wouldn’t have had to go back to the very NICU she started in to meet her brother.

It’s not as though Oaklee would remember anything about the NICU, but I knew seeing her there again would be hard for me. We put off her visit the first 24 hours, hoping to be out of there before she met her brother, but it was starting to feel like she needed to come despite our location.

When Oaklee rounded the corner to lay eyes on her brother for the first time, I completely lost it. The height of this moment was everything: my “big” NICU grad meeting her brother for the very first time as a NICU patient himself. I was so happy to see her. I was sad to see her in the NICU. I was excited to show her new baby brother to her. I was flooded with emotions.

She leaned over and gave me the stuffed monkey I’d bought for her to bring to Win. She tickled his toes. She kissed his forehead. She was quiet and confused and observant.

And we were a family of four.

Hours later Win got the okay to be discharged. He teetered on the edge with his blood sugars, but I truly believe they saw our determination and knew that we knew he’d be fine. We exhaustedly waited for our escort back to the other building, and settled in by about 10:00pm for whatever sleep we could get.

We’d done it. We got him out of the NICU. We may not have come off as the most patient, the most understanding, the most gracious people. But we just wanted what everyone wants. We wanted to snuggle and love on and be with our newborn son. And we’d seen enough in the past to know that he could not only handle that, but probably benefit from it, too.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 5 days
Actual Age: 1 day

The Kiss

For probably 20-30 minutes, there was a back-and-forth whisper of whether or not Win would go to the NICU. But my husband and I knew this territory all too well. He would go. It’s an easy place to get into. And once you’re in, it’s hard to get out.

9.20.19

“How quickly we went from over-the-moon happy to pissed.

A continuation of C-Section in 4 Min.

It was 8:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019. As I clung to my minutes-old baby, safe and warm on my chest, the nurses buzzed around us testing, whispering, questioning.

Winslow’s blood sugar was dangerously low – 18 mg/dL – an automatic admission to the NICU. I think I physically felt my spirit drop through the floor. How quickly we went from over-the-moon happy to just pissed off. After a glucose gel failed to instantly raise his blood sugar, the nurses suggested formula for an extra boost. He was an hour old and I had a bottle of formula thrusted in my face to feed him (a route I’d never intended to take). Win did what I didn’t have the guts to do – refused. But then the nurse suggested we force the formula into him and began explaining the process of a nasogastric tube for a gavage feeding. I was honestly offended as she flooded my mind with painful memories of my daughter’s first months. “We’re familiar,” I cut her off with the only couple of words I could manage to get out.

For probably 20-30 minutes, there was a back-and-forth whisper of whether or not Win would go to the NICU. But my husband and I knew this territory all too well. He would go. It’s an easy place to get into. And once you’re in, it’s hard to get out.

At last the call was made; Win would be admitted. And before I knew it, some stranger was holding my baby near my face asking if I wanted to give a kiss goodbye. Again. No, I didn’t want to give a kiss goodbye. Because I didn’t want to have to say goodbye. I wanted to snuggle my baby and enjoy that moment with my husband. But that infamous kiss sealed the deal again. A stranger walked away with my baby again. I sat in the recovery room without a baby again. My desires for my baby and me were stripped from me again. Someone else got to make the decisions about my baby again.

It was hard not to be disappointed in my son despite the fact that he not only did nothing wrong, but the situation was also just so far beyond the control of a human, let alone one who is minutes old. However, phrases were thrown out like, “If he could just get his blood sugar up,” pinning the pressure on him as if raising his blood sugar was something he could do on command. To say he was “failing” tests implied he was in a situation where, if he just tried a little harder, he might succeed. The language, in this moment, was unfair. It set the tone of my initial relationship with my son. And then the actions came into play. They took my son away from me, and they brought him to a place I loathed and essentially kept me hostage in another building, waiting on an incision check, before allowing me to see him but telling me I couldn’t hold him or feed him.

Post-cesarean, you have to prove silly things like your ability to pee, walk and eat before you can leave your room. When your baby is in a different building than you, that means you have to prove you can pee, walk and eat before being with your baby. Never in my life have I been more motivated to pee, walk and eat. Get. It. Over. With. I need to go get my son out of there.

Within his first hour in the NICU, Win’s blood sugar stabilized, but then he became a bit tachypneic. Had he not been sent to the NICU for his blood sugar, his minor tachypnea (something many people experience without ever noticing) would have gone unnoticed. We were smack dab in the middle of the viscous cycle we begged God to help us avoid.

“Feels kind of like he just needs his mom if you ask me… I think Win went in at a point where he could have done better with us than in the NICU.”

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 4 days
Actual Age: 0 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 11
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 19

C-Section in 4 Min

It was 5:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019. My husband and I grabbed our bags, headed to our car, and quietly slipped out of our neighborhood. As we drove the mostly empty highway toward the hospital, we tried to predict the size of a 36 week baby. Would he be big enough to host lungs that could keep his little body going without help?

9.20.19

“As I walked into the non-emergency entrance to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning for the birth of our son, I glanced at my phone. ‘C-Section in 4 min.’ The moment felt too simple. In 4 minutes, I would check in with the nurse waiting for me. I’d change into my hospital gown and meet with my doctor and anesthesiologist. I’d walk into the operating room, and after a quick procedure, I’d come out with a son.

It was 5:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019. My husband and I grabbed our bags, headed to our car, and quietly slipped out of our neighborhood. As we drove the mostly empty highway toward the hospital, we tried to predict the size of a 36 week baby. Would he be big enough to host lungs that could keep his little body going without help?

We parked our car in the parking ramp we were told to use and walked towards the door. I glanced at my phone. “C-Section in 4 min,” my calendar reminder read as if this were as simple as a dentist appointment or dinner party. I took a screenshot as I took in the weight of this moment. These 4 minutes, these are the final moments. We walked through those doors as 2. We’d walk out as 3.

As we walked the hall to OB Triage, the woman at the end was waiting for us. Expecting us, she knew my name. She checked me in and led us to the room we were to get prepared in. I changed into my gown, put my hairnet on, had my IV started, chatted with the nurses, my doctor, the anesthesiologist…

As 7:30am rolled around, I walked with my nurse into the operating room. I hoisted myself onto the table. My doctor held my hand as the anesthesiologist administered lidocaine and then my spinal that was literally over before I knew it. They helped me lay down, brought my husband in and got to work.

One labor and delivery team, the anesthesiologist, a NICU Nurse Practitioner (just in case) and my husband. Together, we brought my son into the world less than 20 minutes after the procedure began. As the doctor removed him from my womb, he cried. And I cried. Because I forgot that was a thing healthy babies would do at birth. He cried. He had breath in his lungs. He was doing it.

The doctor held up my son for me to see. Through my tears I took in his tiny, scrunched up face. His long arms and big hands. His pinkness. My boy. There he was.

They measured him, assessed him, wrapped him up and handed him to my husband who held him by my face as the doctor finished her part with me. And then the three of us made our way to my recovery room, and I was finally handed my son. Winslow – Win – we snuggled skin-to-skin. He filled his tiny belly up with milk as I filled my big heart up with love.

It was 8:00am on Thursday, September 20, 2019.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 4 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 11
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 19

The Final Hours

we buttoned up any project we had left, packed our bags and took Oaklee out to ice cream to cherish our final moments as a family of 3 before dropping her off at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We drove home to an eerily quiet house – one chock full of a palpable anticipation of the events coming the next morning. 

9.19.19

“Taking a hot second to try to breathe and reflect in the middle of a crazy week. Tomorrow, we will have a son. We will become a family of four. Oaklee will have a brother. I’ve got all the emotions. I’m mourning the loss of Oaklee’s only childness. I’m anxious about the procedure and baby boy’s development and overall health. I’m trying to soak in what could potentially be my final hours of ever being pregnant. I’m thinking about the nursing journey ahead – a journey I just concluded with Oaklee only 4 months ago. I’m wrapping things up at work and at home. I can’t believe this day is here. I can’t believe we made it. I honestly thought we wouldn’t.

I have no idea what to expect of these next 3-4 days. I don’t know what to pack. I don’t know what the procedure or recovery will be like. I don’t know how Oaklee will do away from us or when she comes home to a baby brother. I don’t know what our hospital visits will be like…

But I feel like I’ve done everything I can to prepare ourselves for this. For the most part, I’m ready. We will figure out anything we didn’t prepare for, and we’ll make accommodations there. We’ll be fine.

Praying for a safe, healthy and happy arrival of baby boy… TOMORROW.”

On the 19th, we buttoned up any project we had left, packed our bags and took Oaklee out to ice cream to cherish our final moments as a family of 3 before dropping her off at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We drove home to an eerily quiet house – one chock full of a palpable anticipation of the events coming the next morning. 

We turned in early that night – attempting to get any sleep we could before our lives changed at the crack of dawn.

We’d made it. Our baby would be born on the day agreed upon by us and our doctor. He’d be early, sure, but he’d be as late as possible.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 36 weeks, 3 days
Doctor’s Appointments: 11
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 19

The Week of Threes

It was the week of threes. At 33 weeks pregnant, I was 3 full weeks from birth week, had 3 more Makena injections to endure and had 3 final trips to make to the doctor. Our time as a family of 3 was drawing to its close.

8.26.19

“Our days as a family of 3 are rapidly approaching their end! I can’t say I’m a fan of pregnancy, so I will welcome that end and look forward to the joys and challenges of loving and parenting this little guy. Praying like ever he will not see the NICU like his sister. I’m feeling optimistic…

It was the week of threes. At 33 weeks pregnant, I was 3 full weeks from birth week, had 3 more Makena injections to endure and had 3 final trips to make to the doctor. Our time as a family of 3 was drawing to its close.

We started really pushing the bucket-list items we wanted our two-year-old to experience before we’d presumably bunker down a bit for the fall and winter. We took her up north to go canoeing, we had campfires, we took her to the toy exhibit at our public museum, an aquatic center, the local children’s museum, the community fair, a wild animal park… it was go, go, go.

It felt like we were really crushing the whole soak-up-these-final-moments-as-a-family-of-3 thing. And I had everything I needed in the nursery except the baby.

Really our only major downfall was still having not decided on a name. In the grand scheme of things, it felt like we were sitting so well. We’d overcome so much and appeared to just be cruising toward the peachy keen birth experience we’d dreamed of – though I can’t really say a repeat cesarean was ever truly a part of my dreams. But could this really be possible?

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 33 weeks
Doctor’s Appointments: 10
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 16

Expanding and Contracting

Babies born at 32 weeks usually do pretty well. At 34 weeks, a solid NICU team can do everything on the outside that mom can do on the inside for a baby. At 36 weeks, your chances of sending your baby to the NICU drastically decrease. Staying as far away from that NICU life as possible was my only motivation to stay pregnant.

8.19.19

“I’ve had some contractions, though nothing to cause me to go in yet. Kiddo’s moving around like crazy. Just 4.5 weeks until we get to meet him!

At 32 weeks pregnant, I was 4 weeks into a third trimester (territory I’d never traversed before), 4 weeks and 2 days past the gestational age we delivered our daughter at, and just 4 weeks and 4 days from meeting our son.

A natural planner, I crocheted my way to pregnancy-induced tendonitis making all the baby things I wanted for my son. I’d sewn a quilt, burp cloths, baby toys, etc. I stocked up on diapers and cute baby clothes when I found them on the cheap. Aside from having a name for our son (which is arguably one of the most important and challenging parts of preparation), I was ready.

I was also expanding.

Between the heat of summer and being pregnant, my body swelled up like a balloon and my morale deflated. Woof. With just 4.5 weeks to go, I could not imagine another 4 after that like a normal pregnancy. I’d already been contracting, but they’d been the kind of contractions where you drink a glass of water and lay on your side for an hour – not the kind where you rush to the hospital. And while I clung to this concept of staying pregnant as long as possible, I was also just very ready to not be pregnant any more.

Babies born at 32 weeks usually do pretty well. At 34 weeks, a solid NICU team can do everything on the outside that mom can do on the inside for a baby. At 36 weeks, your chances of sending your baby to the NICU drastically decrease. Staying as far away from that NICU life as possible was my only motivation to stay pregnant.

I started worrying that I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to visit my son if he was sent to the NICU. How could I go back after spending not only so many days, but so many of my darkest days there? I was counting on carrying as long as allowed, on the genetics that were on our side for the size of this baby, on the Makena Injections that would help me stay pregnant, on the pleas I made to God. 

Please, don’t send me back to that NICU.

We were getting so close to our goal – 36 and 4. I was finally allowing myself to feel a little optimistic.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 32 weeks
Doctor’s Appointments: 9
Ultrasounds: 4
Makena Injections: 15