Josiah, today you gave me a special treat. When I saw you, I almost didn’t recognize you. They removed your hat and face mask and have you using a nasal cannula instead. I can see your entire face and head now! You’re on the most minimal support, breathing-wise. I was on cloud nine after our cuddle time.
Your doctor told me they are stopping your feedings for a week to let your belly rest. You’ll continue to receive TPN so you won’t feel hungry. Your belly isn’t as distended as before and I could tell you felt better today because you opened your eyes and started looking for me as soon as I walked in to the NICU, like you usually do.
Mommy is doing a little better each day sweetie. I am only getting about 5 hours of sleep a night, but at least I am sleeping longer than a one hour stretch at a time. I talked to a nice lady today named Dr. Catherine. She is a therapist.
When I explained to her the problems I had been having, she said I was experiencing grief. Grief can include profound sadness and anxiety. She said that I was grieving the loss of a normal pregnancy, the loss of a healthy, full-term baby, and the loss of a gentle birth experience. She said I was also experiencing anticipatory grief.
When she said that, it immediately rang true for me. I burst into tears (which means we can add Dr. Catherine to the long list of Perfect Strangers Mom Has Sobbed In Front Of This Month) and told her that just the night before, I told your daddy that when we were first married, I was afraid to trust him. I was anticipating him hurting me all the time, to the point that I would even become irritable at his kindness. I was unaccustomed, and it took a long time for me to stop expecting him to hurt me or frighten me.
I apologized to your dad. I said I wanted to love without reservation, without fear. And I told him that in the past, I was afraid to let him know how much me means to me, because if he knew, he could use it to hurt me. But your father would sooner amputate his leg with nail clippers than hurt me. He never has, and he never will. I can feel it deep in my bones. It’s how I knew he was the one.
With you, I am afraid to celebrate your birth. I am so scared that I could still lose you. My mind knows that you are doing well, but my heart hasn’t gotten the memo.
I don’t want to be afraid. It’s no way to live, and it doesn’t work anyway. It’s not possible to mitigate the pain of loss.
So I’m working on taking care of myself. Dr. Catherine told me to spend some time outside every day. I know she’s right about this, since spending time outdoors has always helped me feel happier. I was cooped up a lot while on bedrest and in the hospital, under all that artificial light, and I’m definitely deficient in sunlight. I sat outside today and watched your two youngest sisters play, and it felt so nice. You’ll be joining them in a year or two, riding your trike around the driveway.
She also suggested I celebrate the little milestones, not to worry about the future or your homecoming. She said you had proven yourself to be a fighter already. So that’s what I’m doing – feeling happy about the smallest of your achievements.
Physically I’m doing a little better every day. I tend to do too much though, and I keep busting open my incision. But by the time you’re home, I’ll be right as rain and feeling normal again. I can hardly wait.