Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reality Hits - Life at Home

Our first day and night at home were amazing.  We were finally able to enjoy our baby with out wires, monitors, or people standing over our shoulders.  It felt wonderful to enjoy what we had expected to do days before.  Something as simple as sitting on the couch with my husband next to me and my daughter in my arms made me so happy.  It was time for Marlon and I to really enjoy our baby girl.  And not just us - our family was finally able to hold and snuggle her too.  My mom was so excited to have quality time with her first grandchild, and my dad would soon be arriving for much of the same.  I am so thankful for my birth experience, because physically, I felt amazing.  Even after running around the hospital for 5 days I barely felt like I had just given birth.(The worst part was those darn stitches!)

Snuggling with Grandma for the first time. * 2/24/11

One of Kennedy's favorite places to nap...mommy's chest. * 2/26/11

My emotions were another story.  The reality set in, and I was a wreck.  I was still getting over the shock, and dealing with the fact that life would never be what we had always imagined.  I loved Kennedy more than anything, from the minute she was born.  Of course I wanted the best for her, and I didn't want her life to be full of challenges.  I didn't know what to expect now, or in the future.  I cried.  I cried a lot.  I had all these hopes, dreams and plans for how we would raise her, and now things were all different.  At the time, nothing made sense.  I didn't understand how this could happen to us, or how I could possibly deal with what was ahead.  I didn't understand it at the time, but I was truly grieving the loss of the life that I was expecting us to have.  Unless you've been through it, you can never truly understand.

It was really hard to talk to people.  I didn't expect them to understand.  And honestly, no one could say anything to make our situation better.  But sadly, there was always something that could make me feel worse.  I didn't want to talk to any else that didn't already know.  I didn't want to relive it all and tell the same information over, and over, and over again.  I even got to the point where I really didn't want to talk to anyone.  I didn't want to hear from anyone else that I just needed to "accept it and move on."  I didn't want to hear that we weren't given more than we could handle.  It wasn't that easy, I wish it had been.  

I wanted more than anything for life to be "normal."  Or at least what we expected "normal" to be.  I wanted to get back on track with breastfeeding.  After all, I had NO plans on using bottles, and I wasn't even planning to use a breast pump for a long time.  And here I was, attached to the thing every two hours.  I had a love-hate relationship with that pump, and seven weeks later....I still do.

I thought I would easily be able to transition back, and would be exclusively breastfeeding in no time.  Day two at home, and it was already proving to be difficult.  Angie and Andrea came over to visit and to help.  I've said it a million times, and I'll say it a million more - I could not have gotten to the point I'm at today, with out their constant support and encouragement. (And of course my husband, but that goes with out saying.  The first week truly brought us closer in ways I never imagined.)

Kennedy and I Visiting with Angie and Andrea * 2/25/11

By day three at home, breastfeeding was proving to be harder than giving birth.  No one ever tells you just how hard it is.  And our challenges certainly didn't help the situation.  It was on that day that Marlon and I made the decision to hire Angie for her postpartum doula services.  Okay, I'll admit, it was mostly my wonderful husband's decision.  He saw that I needed the support.  I had no idea at the time, just how much this would help me.  It was hard to accept that I wasn't going to be able to do this on my own.  It wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.  But then again - most things weren't going the way I thought they would.  Sadly, much of Marlon's vacation time was taken up sitting in the NICU, so when we came home we slipped right into life as usual.  It was hard for him to get back to work, keep up with household responsibilities, and still have time to enjoy being a dad.  I was spending much of my time nursing Kennedy, or trying to wake her up to nurse.  She took her sleep very seriously (and still does.)  I needed help...physically and emotionally.

Having Angie there a few days a week was exactly what I needed.  I was able to make up for the time spent in the NICU and really enjoy my time with Kennedy, instead of worrying about cooking or cleaning.  I was able to finally relax (and Marlon had a little less to worry about too.)  She helped me understand that what I was feeling was normal.  She was there for a shoulder to cry on...a lot.  Soon, breastfeeding started to get easier.  Reality set in, that the chance of me exclusively breastfeeding would be unlikely.  I was still determined that she would get my milk, one way or another.  I had not fought so hard in the NICU to avoid supplementing, just to give up.  I had to come to terms with the fact that I was going to have to be flexible on some things.

I also had to come to terms with reality.  I finally started to accept that life wasn't going to be like we planned.  It was still going to be wonderful.  It would still include most everything Marlon and I dreamed about and planned.  But it would be different.  There would be challenges and road blocks.  All the trips and vacations we planned for the summer would be delayed.  There would be a lot more doctors appointments, and of course - the big black cloud over us - her open heart surgery (at 4-6 months of age.)  But we had a beautiful baby girl, and that was one thing that hadn't changed.  We would be able to teach her things, take her places, and give her all the love in the world.
 Milk Drunk Baby * 2/26/11

I want to say yet another special thank you to Angie and Andrea for the tremendous support that they provided after Kennedy's arrival and our transition home.  Seven weeks later, that has not changed.  Marlon and I cannot put into words just how much it has helped us.  I also want to thank our friends and families who have done so much.  The kind words, prayers for Kennedy, the cooking, cleaning, visits with food, and running around makes a huge difference and is so appreciated.  

1 comment:

  1. Kennedy is one lucky lucky lady to have a great mommy like you!!! Please know that it takes a special person to be as strong as you!! xo