Happy 1st Birthday, Ryan! Reflecting on the past year…

I can’t believe that a year ago today, I was 33 weeks pregnant and in a few days would give birth to my son, Ryan Scott Grover. This March has been an emotional month for me. I keep thinking back to when I gave birth to this precious boy of mine and the NICU journey of ours. At times, I would even say that it haunts me. After reflecting this past month, I am coming to the conclusion that I don’t know if I fully processed my feelings while he was in the NICU. With all the changes in our family and lives this year, I have been, just running from one circumstance to the next just trying to keep up. While I know that Ryan is VERY fortunate that his complications were few and his NICU stay was relatively short (in comparison to others) a mere 29 days, it was still heart wrenching. I will never forget seeing IVs in his head, an Anderson tube down his throat, and hearing a doctor tell me when we learned he had an infection in his bowel “This could be very devastating.” I still can’t shake the feeling of helplessness I felt at seeing my baby boy suffer and knowing that I could do nothing for him. Boy, how I treasured the moments when I got to hold him and have kangaroo time with (skin to skin time with mommy)…  minutes after having him on my chest, I would start fall asleep. Those were the only times while he was in the NICU I felt true peace. Ryan would just snuggle down on me and he would always fall asleep too. Just feeling the warmth of his skin on mine and how at peace he was with his mommy, it felt like I was doing something for him. I couldn’t  take away all the poking and prodding and all the long nights when I couldn’t just hold him when he wanted me, but, knowing that I could comfort him and make it better for him for just a little while… even if just for a few minutes out of the entire day. I know for most these will be just words on a paper, but I know for all the other NICU mommies, you will know that pain that I am trying to express, but words will never suffice.

And as I look into the eyes of my baby boy who will very soon no longer be baby, I am incredibly blessed.  He can melt me with those big brown eyes of his. I think that Ryan may be a little small for his age and developmentally may be a little behind as well, he is right on target considering he was born seven weeks early. He’ll be one on March 30th, but was not supposed to born until May 15th. He eats table food now and refuses to eat baby food now. He can say mama and dada. He claps his hands. He loves to mimic as well and has been doing that for some time now. He gets into everything these days. I think he’s probably a couple of months away from walking, but that doesn’t stop him. He seems to be very stubborn and strong-willed. He lights up when he sees his big sister, Kaylen. It’s been fun seeing them interact more and more each month.

One question that I have been asked given his prematurity and the fact that Kaylen was premature as well is would we have any more? Would we put ourselves though another NICU stay?  I can’t see the future or what God has in store for us, but I don’t regret any of it. I have been blessed beyond words with these two very precious gifts. As I tell my kids each night: You’re perfect just the way God made you and He made you very special. I believe that He formed them perfectly and I trust in God’s timing in ALL things.

Happy Birthday, Ryan! I love that God chose me to be your mommy. May you always know just how deeply you are love and what a precious gift you are to us.

Psalm 139

13 For it was You who created my inward parts;
    You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You,
    because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
    Your works are wonderful,
    and I know [this] very well.

15 My bones were not hidden from You
    when I was made in secret,
    when I was formed in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
    all [my] days were written in Your book and planned
    before a single one of them began.

Ryan-16 Weeks

Ryan will be exactly 16 weeks tomorrow and I truly have no idea where the time has gone. So much so that yesterday when I counted the weeks on the calender since his birth and it was 16 weeks – I thought there was no way he could be 16 weeks and after some thought, I decided to pull out a spreadsheet and make sure I was counting correctly. And, I was. Yep. He’s four months. A quarter of his first year of life – gone. His newborn days are truly over – which is very bittersweet. Today, we had his four month check up. He weighed in at 13 lbs 7 oz and is 23 1/2 inches long. He is in the 50th percentile for four months old which is pretty good considering he’s seven weeks premature – so he really would be like nine weeks if he was born on his expected due date. I asked the doctor if he was was more like a two month old baby or a four month old baby and the doctor said he is like a four month old baby. However, I think he’s not fully caught up just yet. He hasn’t rolled over yet, but he’s gotten pretty close one time. He is lifting up his head and can pretty much support the weight of his head. We recently started sitting him in his bumbo chair and he can tolerate sitting in it for short period of times before he can’t hold his head up. He was a champ when it came to getting his shot today. He only cried between the time the nurse stuck in needle in to the time I could pick him up – so less than 30 seconds. He smiles a lot now. He started smiling around 12 weeks for small spurts, but now when you give him attention, he will give you a smile. He coos a lot now too. I tell Ryan, “Love You” and he will respond with “A Goo.” He just melts my hearts – especially with all the smiles and cooing. He now also responds to his big sister Kaylen and will smile at her lovingly. Kaylen is such a good big sister to him as well. She always trying to help him – give him his binky and blanket and try to rock him as well. She gives him several unprompted kisses throughout the day. To my worry though, he seems to be a thumb sucker. We haven’t been able to find a pacifer yet that he seems to like as much as his thumb. I just worry about breaking of him of it later. The pacifer you can take away – you can’t chop off his thumb! However, we are very happy with Ryan’s development and still feel very thankful that he hasn’t presented any other major heatlh concerns given his prematurity. I am in a state of shock that he is 16 weeks old. It just doesn’t seem possible. IT REALLY DOES NOT SEEM POSSIBLE. But, it is. *BIG SIGH* I just love these baby days and I just know it’s all going to be over too soon!

Beautiful Kaylen

Tonight, after not being able to send pictures or receive on my cell phone, I finally downloaded all pictures into our computer. These photos go back several years now. This photo in particular struck me and really just threw me back into time. This is the first time that I was able to hold Kaylen. She was born 08/22/08 and this photo was taken on 08/25/08 – three days after her birth. I still remember it as it was yesterday holding her for the first time. As you can see in the picture, my face is very red and very swollen, but some of the redness is from crying at holding my daughter for the very first time. Most of the redness and the swelling was caused by the preeclampsia that I had which caused her premature delivery-being this is three days after delivery-I wonder how I must have looked the day of delivery. The was the other thing that struck me – I didn’t realize just how bad the swelling was until I view this picture on my computer. Now, I realize, it’s no wonder why the doctor delivered me in under a hour of meeting me at the hospital – oddly enough, I always thought it the back in my head that maybe doctor should have waited a few more days before delivering me. I never uploaded these photos and these are the only photos I have meeting my daughter for the first time – I’m so thankful now that I have them to remember such a life changing moment in my life. I remember I was so nervous at meeting Kaylen for the first time. After three days of desperately wanting to meet her and finally be given the okay, I remember feeling like I had to get ready for her. I had to take a shower before I meet her and hold her. I remember being so anxious as Jeff lead me to where to the NICU was and thinking to myself that would it mean I was bad mother if I wasn’t able to pick her out of all the babies in the room – would I somehow just know which baby was mine? I remember clinging onto Jeff’s hand and asking him if he would tell me which baby was ours. For reasons that I don’t know and make me laugh today, he told me no. He believed that I would know which baby was ours. I remember having to scrub in for the first time and being so diligent at the first scrubbing (as other NICU parents can attest as time goes by, you don’t scrub for the full 3-5 minutes each time you have to reenter the NICU) and worrying that if I didn’t scrub enough that somehow I would make her sick. After the scrubbing, I went towards where the babies were and just looked around and, amazingly, I did pick her out from the other four babies in the room with her. And when I sat down and they put her in my arms for the first time, I was overcome with emotions like nothing I had felt before. I remember just looking at my husband for a split second and wondering how had God given us something so wonderful and so amazing and then the flood of tears came. It brings tears to my eyes at this very moment. My love and bond to her was instanteous. I KNEW in that second that I would love her like nothing else and that I would do anything for her. It’s so overwhelming being given such a precious and tiny gift from God – a gift that I knew also meant a lot of responsibility – it is that love and the responsibility that causes such emotions – it somehow just mixes all up into one. To this day, my love for my daughter just grows. I still pray that some how, some way,  no matter what life brings her that she will know and never question without a shadow of doubt just how much I love her – that someday she might know just how much she changed my life and how she helped me to grow into a better version of who I was meant to become – her mother with an undying and unyielding love for her.