Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Leo's Birth Story

As I start to type this story, I well up with tears.  I feel like having a preemie caused some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Billy and I kind of joke about it…the PTSD.  But it's real.  Certain little things will trigger it for each of us.  I like to avoid things that make me too emotional.  However, I have a sense of urgency more than ever to capture moments and memories.  I forget so easily.  I want to share these moments and stories with Leo as he grows up.  So here's the story of when Leo Harris was born.  

Leo was born January 10, 2013.  His due date was February 22, 2013.  For those of you who are terrible at math like me, that's roughly 6 weeks early.  I had a very normal, easy pregnancy for the most part.  My doctor confirmed that everything was progressing normally at each checkup.  On January 8th, I felt great.  I worked a full but non-eventful day.  Billy and I made dinner, watched TV, and went to bed around 10pm.  

At midnight…I woke up to a bed full of water.  I was so confused. Did my bladder burst?  Nothing hurt.  I felt fine.  Better change the sheets and go back to bed right?  (Billy is Googling:  What is it like when your water breaks?)  I'm in our attic room getting new sheets.  He suggests I call the doctor, who says, "Um honey…ya better come on in to the hospitaaal."  Well, ok.  But I have to get up early in the morning..  I know this is a false alarm or something.  Can you say, denial?

On the way to the hospital, I start contracting.  It starts to sink in.  This baby is coming.  I'm not ready.  I have no cute bag packed.  I'm in the middle of DIBLES reading testing the entire school.  My desk is a mess. I promised Mrs. Weaver I'd read to her class.  I have no pajamas.  I haven't picked a pediatrician.  OMG.  Is the baby ready?  Will he be ok?  Is he big enough to come this early?  Will they put me on bed rest?  We can't afford that.  I only have 6 weeks off.  How will we pay for this?

Then I just start praying.  I am not in control.  God is in control.
The first lesson of motherhood.  We have to give our kids to the Lord.  They are His.

After a sonogram and a series of tests, the doctor's determine that Leo would be about 5 pounds.  They allowed me to go into active labor instead of trying to slow down the contractions.  They had confidence he would be o.k.  but would most likely need help breathing until his lungs developed.

Then throughout my labor…God gave me an unexplainable peace.  I shed a few tears, but I came to terms that Leo might need special care.  He will most likely be in the NICU…something I never even imagined would happen.  But he's in the arms of Jesus.  We both are.

I tried to proceed with my plan for a natural childbirth.  But after 22 hours…I gave in to the epidural.  Natural childbirth doesn't go so well with fetal monitors, IV's and laying flat on your back.  I had so much fear about getting an epidural.  I mean…they make you sign a waiver that you understand you might have a long list of side effects. One of which is death.  Ugh.  But I knew it was the right thing to do to relax and make it through the next several hours of labor.

Fast forward to 2:42 a.m. and our precious boy was born.  Screaming with strong lungs and making our hearts leap with gratefulness, relief, and excitement.  My doctor knew my longing for skin to skin time when he was born.  She knew I wanted to wait several minutes to cut the cord.  She did her best to let those things happen, but the NICU team was there holding their breath knowing they needed to assess Leo.  There wasn't time to hold him and gaze.  There wasn't time for photo shoots.  It felt like seconds and he was whisked to the NICU.  Where he needed to be of course…but it was heartbreaking.

The NICU became our home away from home.  It's this beautiful, peaceful, quiet little bubble in the hospital.  It almost feels like another planet.  However, there is something so excruciating and unnatural about giving birth to a baby, leaving him in someone else's care, and then going home and pumping breast milk.  We were there for 10 days.  However, 10 days is breath compared to the amount of time many of the sweet families we encountered in the NICU have to endure.  We were so thankful.   Leo was able to breathe on his own.  He only needed a feeding tube for a couple of days and he was able to start on breast milk right away.  He was a fighter.  He was tiny but strong and healthy.  We started to see the blessings in it all.  We had time when the NICU was closed to go get the supplies we needed.  We got one-on-one expert advice from pediatric nurses and surgeons, CPR coaches, and lactation specialists.  It was like on the job training for us.  

Thank you, Jesus, for our precious, tiny boy.  Your timing is perfect. 

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