Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Friday, December 9, 2011

On An Island.... and not the kind with fruity drinks.

Months before Nash was born, I connected with other women that were pregnant and due around the same time we were. I even pulled together a PlayGroup of eight babies all born within a couple months of one anther. Many of these women have become some of my closest friends. Funny enough, most were strangers…. One I met in our Infant CPR class, others were friends of friends, three were strangers in the hospital at the same time they were delivering. It is remarkable the bond that we share and how quickly some of these women have become the closest of friends.

We have such a unique and special connection being first time mothers together. It is not uncommon for me to send a text at any hour to ask about teething problems, nannies or opinions about vaccines. When our babies were tiny, we gathered over wine to talk about sleepless nights, new gadgets, diaper rash and how our lives were changing as new parents. As they became mobile, our relaxing happy hour turned frantic half-conversations as we chased our crawlers, then toddlers around the house. We confided about ‘everything baby’ from burned bums to bath pooping, crying-it-out to tantrums. The support these women provide is superior to many relationships because we are learning together, encouraging and honest. I think the unspoken rule is ‘no judgment’ which has created a safe forum.

With sweet Baby Shaw, we are hoping to create/join another PlayGroup and hope for a similar experience, but it will be different.  I’ve kept up with other Moms that had babies around the same time as Shaw, but we are going at such a different pace… Then, I’ve connected with Moms at Shaw’s ‘corrected’ age, which I love – but while the conversations are similar to the PG I had with Nash, my worries, concerns and what keeps me up at night are so different. It is just a different intensity. I’m talking oxygen and shunt malfunctions, while others are talking first foods and butt cream (rightfully so). There are also support groups. I belong to an online preemie support group that consists of a chat room for questions and support (which I am very grateful for) but the anonymity is lonely and the ability to connect with someone with exactly the same issues we’re having is rare.

Our challenge as of late is sleep and lack there of. Baby Shaw doesn’t sleep. He will catnap, but mostly he is awake. I wrestle with how this is physically possible, since he is in infant and should be sleeping around the clock. I talk to doctors... I’ve talked to the GI doctor about his reflux. I’ve talked to our Pediatrician about his ability to self-soothe – and the verdict is still out neurologically if this is possible. I’ve asked about our sleep problems to our Physical Therapists (both in NY & NC). I’ve talked to our Neurosurgeon, our Neurologist, our Child Behavioral Councilor and our Early Intervention Coordinator. I talk to my mother, mother-in-law, my neighbor, my walking friend. I really talk to anyone that will listen and may have some suggestions. I even asked the Eye Dr today about sleep problems (She doesn’t have kids and works on eyes and somehow, I still found her input on infant (non) sleep valuable).

Our 10 month old takes 1+ hours to GET to sleep, then wakes 2.5 hours later to nurse. While I am proud of the breastfeeding (I even won a ‘Golden Bra Award’ in the hospital – I giggle as I type this), simultaneously it is a curse.  Most importantly, it is keeping him healthy and he is thriving (19 lbs this week!) So, sleep or not, I will continue.

For naps and nighttime, we walk. We dance. He swings. We play music. We have a sound machine. He doesn’t take a passy (how we have tried). He won’t suck his thumb. We have swaddled. We have unswaddled. We bounce. We pace. We rock. We follow the same ‘bedtime schedule’. We keep the lights dim, talk sweetly, soothe. We’ve tried baths before bedtime. We’ve tried feeding earlier and later. We’ve tried earlier bedtimes and later. We sway. We swing (which makes him giggle). We lie him on an adult bed and stand over him on all fours and bounce (I’m not kidding. This actually works – until I saw Nash trying it on Shaw and thought it may not be the best thing to encourage).

We’re drowning. We’re tired. It has been almost a YEAR of waking every three hours to feed. I tell myself it is ‘just sleep’ and I function rather well, considering. But after this much time, my judgment is beginning to wane, alongside my patience and ability to be a good Mom. (This week, I found a bag of fresh lettuce in our pantry. Hmmm.)

Sleep deprivation takes a toll. You start questioning your ability to be able to calm your child. While I used to relish the midnight feedings with Nash, because they were quiet and peaceful and I had a chance to reflect on how blessed we were. With Shaw, I bounce. There is no peace. Michael and I do calf raises. We squat. We do high knees. Somehow, this soothes him. (We joke that we are getting a much-needed work out).  We also beat ourselves up because we’re doing everything we purposely avoided with Nash. We were such sleep nazis with Nash…. Don’t let him sleep in the car or stroller, put him to bed awake, but drowsy. Don’t nurse him to sleep. Let him self-soothe. Now, our doctors have said (and I quote) “Do whatever it takes to survive”.  That’s where we are – on our island, surviving.

I sobbed so loud this morning at the 4am feeding, that I think I scared Shaw. While he was still crying, he cried a different cry and I think it was because I wasn’t comforting. At the time, I didn’t care. I kept crying. I am tired. I am sad my baby isn’t comfortable and no one can help us.

We live on an island. There isn’t a manual and we are surviving.

I say this not to complain. I know our blessings. After feeling sorry for myself I remind myself that I have close friends suffering an incomparable loss and still others that are trying for a baby. All I have to do is remind myself that we almost didn’t have him and I’m quickly back to feeling grateful (but still tired). I also know everything is ‘a season’ and this too will pass.

I can’t deny that my tank isn’t empty and I’m not my best self. I just long for those sweet, gummy smiles that make the rest of the world (and my fatigue) melt away. Thankfully, they come often. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm tired from reading that...keep up the good work c. Can you qualify for a night nurse thru Medicaid?! Jules