Etched Forever: Different

A moment in time. Frozen. Forever. Etched forever in my mind.

Staring at my face in the mirror after my water broke in disbelief that this was happening.

Calling my husband and him telling me I needed to go to the Labor and Delivery immediately.

I was only 33 weeks. I was all alone with my 19 month old daughter. My husband was seven hours away. This couldn’t be, shouldn’t be happening.

Dear Lord – Help me.

Alone in my hospital bed. No one to hold my hand. No one tell me it was going to be okay.

Scared. Yelling at my husband that if he didn’t get here before I delivered, I would never forgive him. Crazy, pregnant hormones.

Relieved. My husband arrived.

Contractions. Very Painful back contractions. I remember the nurse asking me to quiet down.

I just wanted relief so I agreed to the c-section.

Scared and Cold. Naked. Vulnerable. Praying for God’s protection. So cold. So cold. And so very scared.

My husband was behind the curtain with me. I was wanting to hear desperately my son’s first cry, so I would know he was okay.

After only hearing a brief cry the silence in the room was deafening. Why couldn’t I hear him? I yelled at the doctor. IS HE OKAY? Yes. They had taken him through the NICU window.

I would not be the first person to lay eyes on my son. I would not be the first person to touch his skin. I would not be the first voice he would hear. Oh. My heart.

Cold. Shaking. I couldn’t breathe. I just wanted the c-section to be over. I started coughing. I couldn’t stop. And I was so cold. They couldn’t tell me if my son was okay. I just couldn’t breathe. Then, darkness. The anesthesiologist put me out after I agreed.

I should be cheerful. Put on my positive mask. I couldn’t let people know that I was scared for my son. Seeing pictures of my son with his CPAP was tough. But he was beautiful and precious.

The bruised hands. The bruised feet. The bruised head. So many pokes on his tiny body. Good, Lord. Why? I was crushed on the inside. This was all my fault. Why had my body betrayed me? Why had my body caused my son to be into the NICU?

I drank Ryan in every chance I could. His sweet smell. His sweet snuggles. It was never enough and sadly, every night, I had to leave my son in the hands of someone else. It should have been at home with me. Nursing freely and without the eyes of others.

Blood in his stools. Nurse, is this normal? Panic was overcoming me again. This can’t be happening. I don’t think I can endure this.

“This could be devastating.” I will never forgot those words. They are forever etched in my mind. Ryan had an infection in his bowels. Oh, Dear Lord – Please help my son. See the train track in the x-rays of bowels? That is a sign of NEC. I could see the two parallel lines on the X-ray. There was no mistaking them.

Another tube. This time down into his belly. Crying. And more Crying. And then more. Dear Lord – What had I done? Ryan just wanted to eat, but he couldn’t, it was to help him get better. A whole seven days with no eating. Just fluids and medicine. His sweet smell went away. He was lucky though. They caught it early and was able to treat the infection before it became anything really serious. Thankful. Extremely, thankful.

It was during this week my husband had an argument. I don’t remember about what exactly, but I think it had something to do with the amount of time I was spending at the NICU and I had a husband and daughter at home that needed me too. Guilt. More Guilt.

Ryan needs me. I don’t know what it is, but there is something different about him. There is something different about him. He needs me. Those words are forever etched in my mind. To this day, these words I think about often. It’s the whole reason I’m writing this.

There is something different about him. Did I know in my hearts of hearts then that he would be different. Why had I thought that?

I’ve been strongly bonded to Ryan since I was able to hold him. Not more than my beautiful daughter. But it is a different bond and something I haven’t yet been able to explain or put into even vague words. I just knew that he would need me and need me in a different way. A sixth sense? Mother’s instincts? God preparing me for our journey that was ahead? I don’t know but that moment is forever etched in my brain. Staring at him in the NICU. Watching him sleep. Holding his tiny hand and promising him that whatever it is he needed from me, I would give it to him.

These past few weeks, I have been coming to term with my son’s diagnosis of Autism. I’ve been processing it quietly – in the confines of my mind. But over the past few weeks, those words keep echoing in my head. There is something different about him. He needs me. My beautiful son. My laughing son. My rambunctious son. My happy son. He needs me…. but I think I need him more than he needs me. I love you, Ryan Scott Grover.

 

Working through the emotions…

So the long time followers of my blog have probably notice a shift in my blog focusing  on NICU resources. I recently became a Parent Support Volunteer at the NICU where Ryan was born. Before Ryan had left the NICU, I always knew it was something that I wanted to do – to give back to other families in the NICU. I must say it was a whirlwind of emotions coming back to the NICU for the first. Just sitting in the training, hearing codes over the intercom system made my heart race. After the training was finished, they gave a us a tour of the NICU. It’s a rather large NICU with the capacity to fit 48 babies. They have 4 different pods – within each pod there are only single and double room with a nurse’s station in the middle. I only had seen two of the different pods while Ryan was in the NICU and certainly never wandered around any of the pods during Ryan’s stay. It was weird revisiting the rooms he had stayed it. They were empty. I just kinda got this eerie feeling and my breath caught in the back of my throat. I didn’t want to step foot in those rooms and I haven’t had to yet. Parents that experience a traumatic NICU stay often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While, I don’t believe that I have full blown PTSD or even a moderate class of PTSD, I have realized that I do have certain triggers and I don’t know if it possible to fully recover from them. My brain tells me that I shouldn’t still have these feelings, but my heart and soul know that I have them. I just don’t think you can ever really just “get over” seeing your child lay helpless and suffer and know there was NOTHING you could do take away the pain. However, with all the said, I must say that I have experienced a lot of healing since becoming a volunteer. Going back to the training night, I cried big tears and heart broke again telling my story. I realize I still have a lot of emotions in my birth stories and Ryan’s NICU stay. I think that in telling my story to a group of other moms who completely understand what I went through was my first step in healing. After a few trips to the NICU, my heart began to feel lighter and no longer was the NICU of place of pain, but it has now become a place of hope, healing, and miracles. It has always been that, but I had only felt a lot of the pain that the NICU brings to a mother’s heart before. I love every minute of the being in the NICU. I feel like I am giving back. It’s one of the few times I am away from my family that I don’t feel the guilt that I may be missing out of something at home. As the director expressed to me so beautifully with empathy, “It fills your cup.” Being a parent support volunteer does fill my cup and overflows into a healing place in my heart hoping that by just listening to other families tell their own stories that I might be helping to heal their hearts as well.

One of things that I was also scared to do was look at the pictures of Ryan’s CD that we mailed to us after we left. These were pictures that Parent Support Volunteers took along with Ryan’s nurses. I was afraid to see some of the pictures on the desk fearing they would bring back some terrible emotions. I often held a lot of my fears about Ryan inside. I was also too afraid if I said my feelings outloud that somehow they would become reality. After going around one night in the NICU to take pictures of the babies for the first time, it gave me courage to look back at our disc of picture. Before that night, I had only looked at it briefly once when it arrived. This first picture is of Ryan when he battled NEC (infection in his bowels) which was the hardest part of his NICU stay. I was holding Ryan in this picture, his nurse thought his little hands under his chin were so cute. That is an anderson tube in his mouth. It was sucking everything out of his belly.

Here a picture a nurse took while we were away. He looks so sweet holding onto his soothie pacifier. This was probably a few days before he was released.

Here is one I believe a Parent Support Volunteer took very shortly after his birth. I love this photo and his tiny little feet.

While some people will never understand my emotions and the pain I have associated with the NICU and probably would just tell me I should be over it by now, I’m okay with where I am. I am thankful to be a part of such a wonderful program that has also allowed me to heal more by serving.

Seasons

Just a thought..

A while ago, I saw a posting talking about how seasons change in lives and friends come and go in your life for different reasons. I think that is just a bunch of bologna that we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better at the lost of a friend. I lost a friend who was once near and dear to my heart and I remember people saying that sometimes we are just friends with people to teach them something or they have something to teach us. I’m not buying into that. Yes, there are things that we learn from our friends, but I think true friends remain friends throughout the ages and seasons for that matter. A true friend knows when you have responsibilities pulling you elsewhere in your life so that may not be as availble as you once were. To say we are just friends with someone while one party or both parties are gaining something and then to call it quits when someone has decided they aren’t gaining anything is just a bunch of crap – that’s not a true friend. You know when you have a real friend on your hand when you can go a timespan without talking and know that friend still loves you the same and you can pick up like you never dropped off. Anyways.. just my two cent thought for this week.

Adding this 08/12/10 – After reflecting on this post for the past day. I realized why I was so bothered by the statements I read about being friends for just seasons. It was what my “dear” friend told me when I had to end our friendship. Yes, I ended the friendship. Some friendships must end and it’s not out of what is benfitting one or not. It wasn’t seasons changing that caused me to end the friendship, but it was me realizing that I was better than being used as a door mat when someone needed to wipe their feet.

Going on Week #3

I never thought Ryan would be in the NICU this long. It can’t believe it has been three weeks since we started this journey. Having this be the second time around for us having a baby in the NICU, I thought it would be similar to Kaylen stay and he would be out in a couple of weeks. Thank God, Ryan does not appear to have any major health concerns, despite being born at 33 weeks and 3 days. He was only on oxygen for about 3 days. Other than that, he just struggled with jaundice which responded to treatment and just learning to eat and building feeding endurance – so really nothing scary. Then, last week, he came down with an infection in his bowels – then my whole world changed and I learned this is a big difference between having a sick baby in the NICU and have a preemie baby that is just working on feeding. And my heart broke again for the umpteenth time in the past three weeks. I will never get use to seeing my baby in pain and not being able to do anything to help or fix it.

It’s been an emotional three weeks to say the least. Having a baby in the NICU is something I just don’t think you can fully get unless you had a baby in the NICU. Just like, you can’t fully understand what it is like being a parent, until you are one yourself. Not many know the pain of having a baby prematurely and having to leave your baby there every day. It’s not meant to be that way. Although I am very thankful for modern technology and the awesome nurses taking care of my baby; and know that my baby is the best place getting the best medical attention and – it doesn’t take away the emptiness and heartache I feel at leaving my baby there.

There is much more I could say, but I’ll just leave it at this. I love my baby boy, Ryan. I’m thankful to God for looking over him and keeping him safe. I’ve been trusting God with Ryan since he was conceived and know, while although I was praying for a full term pregnancy, for whatever reasons they are, Ryan was meant to be born prematurely. I been very appreciative all of the support from family and friends praying for our family. I’ve sorely needed the support for my husband and all the NICU moms who know exactly what I am going through. It’s nice to know that the feelings that I have are common and that other moms know to their core of their very own heart what I feel.

If you have said a kind word to me in the past three weeks, prayed for my family, and offered words of encouragement -know that I have taken all of it to heart and it was all something that I needed to hear and it has helped me get through this difficult time. I’m looking forward to taking Ryan home and regaining some kind of normalcy to our lives.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia