4am

We’re 16 days in to parenting. Whoa. Everyone who sees our girl (well they all think she’s a boy) calls her “so fresh” which is hardly how we feel with our sleep in 2 hour increments.

 

But I don’t want up forget the sweet moments – watching her little eyes wake up for the first time of the day. Her sweet little noises while she eats. The little goat noise she makes when she’s up. The quiet overnight times that it’s just us while Tuck and the cat sleep around us.

There have been plenty of less sweet moments – pain during pumping, milk everywhere, an immediately dirty diaper after changing her, trying to get the right latch every time, the scary moment when we couldn’t wake her up to eat, the sad moments watching her under the blue lights knowing it was good for her, but wanting just to hold our baby.

I don’t want to take these moments – sweet or sad – for granted. I want to hold them all as treasures, even though I know the memory of her overnight puke on Tucker or wetting all over the changing table will fade after we have more days of stories to tell.

I just want to make sure to pay good attention to the time we have right now and not lose our first weeks and months of memories and emotions.

This, this 4am rambling list of things I can remember right now. I love you, Everly, with my whole heart.

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Because Everly was born via C-section, we needed to stay in the hospital for 48 hours standard, instead of just 24. And because she was born late on Tuesday evening, we wouldn’t be released until Friday morning.

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Nurses went in and out – checking things less and less frequently as I went from almost totally immobile to gingerly up and around our suite covered in plastic. They ran some final tests and we prepped to leave Friday morning.

Thursday night, our nurse thought Everly was retracting with her breathing so she grabbed a NICU nurse to come look. Breathing looked fine, but she looked jaundice and thought another bilirubin test should be run. She had already had one that came back low risk, but the nurse was insistent and it was scheduled for 5am.

Everly’s levels had skyrocketed for her young life and tiny size. There would be another test in 12 hours and we might be staying under blue lights for another night in our plastic world. The test came back – her levels were still climbing, but we got to go home with strict instructions about feeding and an appointment the following day.

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The first night home was rough. Feeding was hard. And exhausting. And frustrating. I couldn’t figure out our new breast pump. And I wasn’t sure Everly was getting enough food just from nursing. I texted my sister and she was so encouraging and helpful. She’d been there and she’d cried all the tears and felt all the inadequacy of not being able to feed your little one on your own.

At the pediatricians the next day I cried in a flood of frustration and confusion. How does this thing work? How can we get our girl enough food? Our doctor related. She had also had trouble breastfeeding and assured us that the prime concern is getting enough food for Everly and that we could do what we needed to in order to make it work.

That felt like sweet relief.

We went home confident and took on the next night in exhausting, but regular intervals. The early morning, though, we couldn’t get Everly to stay awake long enough to eat – something they said we needed to call about so after we had done all the things we thought we should – sun-bathing, indirect light, pumping and feeding – we called and were told to head back to the hospital and go to the ER. We got admitted to the NICU and had to watch our sweet girl get hooked up and put under lights where we couldn’t hold her or kiss her sweet forehead.

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I couldn’t imagine spending any more time there past our one night stay for a relatively common issue. Other parents shuffled around the hall (so Tucker told me since I rarely left the room) and I thought of my sister and brother-in-law who spent 3 months watching their boy from a distance instead of in their arms.

Her levels weren’t looking great and we prepped ourselves to have to stay another night, but were pleasantly surprised to be sent home (again). Tonight, I get to write this in a semi-exhausted state with Tuck sleeping on one side, Kitty at his feet, and Everly in her bassinet a few feet away. We’re carefully tracking feeding, peeing, and pooping and our conversations revolve around latches and breast milk.

Today seemed better, but her tests results were the same or a bit higher than when we left the NICU. It feels a little crazy – like we’re doing all the things we are supposed to, but the bilirubin is beating us.

Tonight, Tuck said a sweet prayer – asking that God take care of our little girl and reminding us that we aren’t in control and that God always has been. We head for the night more tired than normal and as ready as we can be to wake up several more times between now and sunrise. Tomorrow is another test – the 9th in 9 days for our little girl – and all we can do is our best and trust that God has been managing all of this from the very beginning.

she’s here

This morning, I cleaned off the last bits of stickiness from my c-section band-aid. It’s been a whirlwind of just over a week and nothing has been as we expected or planned.

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At 10:45am on May 2nd, Tuck and I went for our normal scheduled appointment to hear baby’s heartbeat and get measured. One of the normal mid-wives is on maternity leave so we saw a new visiting nurse practitioner after answering all of the normal “are you bleeding or leaking from anywhere” sort of questions. She noticed that I was measuring small and brought in our normal midwife, Misti, who came back in to see us and confirmed that they’d like to see us back that day for an ultrasound – something that had been mentioned previously in passing as a possibility since I am a small person. Tuck and I both had busy days – extra planning for a split night at REV – but said we could make the 2pm ultrasound work if that is what they recommended.

As soon as we left the hospital, I felt sick. It felt like something was wrong. Any ridiculous Web-MD sort of problem ran through my mind as a possibility. I cried in the car and Tucker assured me that it was normal and told me all of the logical things I knew to be true, but his voice and my logical reasoning were drowned out by dread. Something felt worrying and I couldn’t shake it.

Tucker picked me back up to head back for the ultrasound. James and his robotic assistant who’s name I think James was constantly mispronouncing did the ultrasound. When he finished taking pictures, he asked a series of questions about baby’s movement that day – where it was, when it was, how often – and said that he’d have results in ten minutes… no, five minutes.

So we waited.

When the time came to go over our results, our nurse practitioner – whose name I didn’t even commit to memory – said everything looked good except for the amniotic fluid. It was low and she was going to talk to the doctor. When she came back, she said if the fluid was really that low, then we may be having a baby today.

TODAY.

They were going to get another ultrasound to make sure, but there was a danger with low fluid that baby would sit on its umbilical cord and cut off the needed nutrients. She left and came back in a rush. Spotting my water bottle on the floor, she said not to drink anymore and asked when I ate lunch.

Baby is breech.
You’re scheduled for a c-section.

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The next several hours were a whirlwind of moving room to room, tears, and getting prepped for surgery. So much for our “plan” (which consisted of “do what the doctors recommend”) and the way we pictured our little one entering the world. We had to help the nurses and doctors understand exactly what was happening at first, Tucker went back for our hospital bag that we had packed literally just the night before, and the little life I’d been carrying for 38 weeks was scheduled to be born at 8pm.

We texted friends and family to let them know this wasn’t a drill. I braided my hair – the one part of the situation I felt like I could control – and braced for whatever was next. Nurses, the doctor, and anesthesiologists went in and out, had us sign forms, and told us what was going to happen next. They all asked if we had questions. “Not yet,” we said.

Then it was time. I kissed Tucker and they walked me across the hall in sticky yellow socks to the freezing cold OR. It felt like a weird point-of-view shot of someone else’s life on a medical drama. Getting the spinal block. Laying out with arms stretched and taped down. Machines. Curtain drawn. Instruments being counted. Is this shot really going to keep me from feeling being cut open and a PERSON taken out of me?

They went to get dad and Tuck sat with me behind a blue tarp and held my hand while I shook – still freezing and unable to get warm. Finally, the anesthesiologist said, “Dad, do you want to watch this happen?” Tucker stood up and watched our girl be pulled out – feet…then body… then slowly, the head. I could hear little cries getting louder and more insistent. “We have a little girl!” Tuck said.

They brought her over to be put on the little bit of my chest that was on the awake side of the curtain. We talked about what to name her – find something new? Or the remaining name on our list that we had decided maybe we didn’t like anymore? Everly. Everly Alice. That was it. Our little girl was here.

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