Sunday, May 12, 2013

Forever Grateful

I'm writing this from my phone, so I can't guarantee that there won't be any misspelled words or terrible formatting.
I'm laying here in bed, unable to sleep. My husband is sound asleep on his side of the bed, and snuggled at his side is my first son, Sully. Tucked soundly between J & I is Pierce. We're not typically all-night co-sleepers, but tonight Pierce wouldn't calm down. He was just silly, active, talking, bouncing, laughing. No matter what we did, he wouldn't go to sleep. I finally made the executive decision that he was coming to bed with us & so he did. He's been sound asleep for nearly 2 hours, so has his Daddy.
I keep scrolling through Facebook, flipping through Instagram pictures, reading blog posts. Everything about Mother's Day.
Most people talking about their own mothers, several talking about their own children. I've reached over & rubbed Pierce's foot a time or two thinking how amazing it is to know this boy is mine. That I am his mother. That today is my first mother's day.
We weren't raised to give our mother extravagant gifts. We usually made her some horrible breakfast in bed & gave her cards, sometimes handmade, others bought. So, when it came time for me to tell J what I wanted, all I could really think of was a larger memory card for my phone. Apparently 8 gigs isn't enough.
I could care less about gifts , cards that will just get stuffed into a drawer, flowers that will wilt & die.
I found myself reflecting back, just over 8 months ago we brought Pierce home. After spending 20 days in the NICU, we now were full-time parents. Scared to death of this tiny boy, born 7lb3oz came home 6lb14oz, he was so frail, still capable of falling very ill.
I've read birth stories and been reminded how very different our story is. How scary our story was.
I flipped through my literal thousands of photos, see why I got a 16g card? I found the first picture of Pierce, laying in his NICU bed, not swaddled in either of our arms. The first pictures I have of him are precious to me. They are of him, wearing only a diaper,  very dark lighting but I can still see his precious pout. No ventilator, no ivs, no machines beeping & displaying numbers we learned to read all too well. I didn't get to hold him that day, or the following six. Finally, day 7. Day 7, last visit of the day, I held my angel for the first time. I cried the happiest tears I've ever cried. I cried all night at home.
Tonight, I've shed tears. Tears of sadness as I still mourn the imagined perfect birth day for Pierce that didn't go as planned in any way.
Tears of joy. While getting him home was the greatest fight we've ever faced, the largest struggle we've ever overcome, he is home. He is healthy. He is even more perfect than I ever imagined when I dreamed of that baby in my belly.
His smiles fill my heart, his laughter cleanses my soul.
I also cried tears of gratitude. Extreme gratitude for the nurses who fought so hard for him. Especially those first terrible nights. Three nights they talked of flying him to other hospitals. We were in the best hospital in our area, with only UAB or Vanderbilt being higher level NICUs. Those nights he had angels, not nurses. So, I found myself sending one angel a message on Facebook, these aren't people you forget about. I had to thank her for my first mother's day. I truly believe she was Pierce's angel those nights. She saved him from alternatives I refuse to think about. She saved us from knowing how truly bad it was. J has let me know little by little things he kept from me. But I know there are things his angels kept from J too.
Those angels are why I get to celebrate my first mother's day. I will forever be grateful. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

That one post where I sound like a total lunatic...

Ever since Pierce was home from the hospital, heck probably while he was in the NICU, people have said, "We have to have a play date!"  "We have to get our kids together" And people actually expected me to want to have their kid(s) around my baby a week, 2 weeks, a month, after he was home from the NICU.

When those nurses and doctors told us that his first year would be sensitive, I wrote that on my Mama-brain, and haven't wavered.  We were told NO day cares, NO nurseries, NO interaction with sick people, NO interaction with children who went to daycares.  Pierce could NOT get sick.  Under no circumstances.

(Break my heart that the time he DOES get sick, it's because I have a sinus & ear infection and pick up RSV while I'm at the doctor's office...Mom of the Year!)

When you bring home a NICU baby, after the fight to get them healthy and home, you listen to the directions you're given.  You are even more over protective than the mommy who brought her baby straight home, healthy.  

Now that Pierce is 8 months old, moving and interacting more, I have had more invitations to play dates.  In indoor play places of all things.  Yes, please, let me take my babe to a germ haven.  I don't care that there are employees walking around with disinfectant spray wiping things down, they can't get every square inch wiped.  There will always be that one handle that little Billy licked, that one ball that snotty nosed Mindy rubbed across her face.
Yes, this is the way a NICU mom sees the world.  Germs crawling everywhere.
There is always that mom who will take her sick kid to play.
There is always the kid who's exposed but not showing symptoms...yet.  One thing we learned through RSV, it can take 5-7 DAYS for symptoms to show up.  You can be walking around feeling great, but all grossly infected with The Crud, for a week before you're knocked on your butt.
This is the way a NICU mom sees the world.

I won't let him sit in a high chair or grocery cart with out HIS high chair cover.  I will make sure that I wipe the table and even the wall, if he can reach it, with a Lysol wipe.  Yes, I do carry a canister of Lysol wipes in my diaper bag.  I get some seriously funny looks, but have you ever worked in a restaurant?  Do you know that they "clean" the tables with cloths that go into a bucket full of soapy water?  Grab a cloth, wipe the table, toss it back into the bucket.  There's no sanitizing anything, no making sure you actually cleaned the table.  I've done it.  I was 17 and thought it was really gross then.  With more education under my belt, it makes me want to vomit.
The other day we went to a restaurant and I wiped the table down, my wipe turned BROWN.  BROWN people.
I don't let MY utensils touch restaurant tables, why would I let Pierce put his hands on it?!  Those hands go to his mouth, and on those hands ride the germs of the restaurant patrons who sat there before us...

I've had strangers ask if they could hold him.  Um, you don't know me, I don't know you.  NO you may not hold my child.  Please, keep your grubby mitts off of my baby!  I've adopted a very unwelcoming look, and the requests to hold Pierce have subsided!

I'm hoping that once we reach Pierce's one year anniversary out of the NICU I'll lighten up.  But, I make no promises considering that will be in September, just a couple of months before the start of flu season.

I get so tired of hearing people tell me "You can't keep him in a bubble"  GEEZ PEOPLE, he's not even been home a year yet!  He's been out of the NICU 8 months, exactly.
"You can't prevent him from getting sick"  Well, no, you're right, I can't.  However, I'm not going to purposefully expose him to an illness.  Would you expose yourself to a sick person on purpose?  No!  Who would?  So why, on earth, would I purposefully expose my almost 9 month old to something?

I breastfeed so he gets my antibodies, among other reasons.
I keep him home and away from other children to protect his immature immune system.  Especially when you're talking about anything that could cause him breathing troubles.
I'm a protective Mama.
If you don't like it, any of it, hate it for you.