Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Meeting Miss Hannah

Dear Hannah,

You're over two months old now! I don't even begin to know where the time has gone, but I do know that every second has been worth it. I've been thinking a lot about your entrance into the world lately and finally wanted to get it written down. The only way it seemed to make sense or come out right, was for me to talk to you about it because it's OUR story.

We went through a lot during the time you were growing in my belly- particularly during an eventful third trimester. After the second preterm labor stay at Strong, I had no idea just how soon I would be meeting you.

The week leading up to you being born started out pretty normal, even with just getting out of the hospital again. I was feeling better than I had in a few weeks, and I continued to work at the office, prepare things at home and go on with life as normal as possible. I honestly thought that I had a few more weeks before I would get to hold you.

Wednesday things started to turn again though. The temperature outside had jumped and carrying twenty extra pounds didn't make the heat any more comfortable. I stayed home from work Wednesday, and tried to relax as you kicked me like crazy. Thursday rolled around and the heat was still draining me but I managed to scrape together a full work day and some errands but was down for the count by the time the evening rolled around. You were kicking downward so hard that I thought you were going to break my water with your foot, or just make me pee my pants. Neither happened, but it wasn't for lack of your trying.

We were really excited for the weekend ahead. Your Aunt Lauri was in town for your baby shower with your dad's family on Saturday, and Heather was going to be coming for the shower and a half marathon too! I went to work Friday knowing it would be a short day and then head home to prepare for a good weekend. During one of my many bathroom trips between client calls, I noticed I was having a little show. Not long after that the contractions started and I was packing my things up to go home and sit down to see if it was going to continue. Of course I had to stop at the town hall and pay our taxes on the way, and subsequently freaked everyone out in there. Pregnant woman walking around one hand on her back and the other on her belly and making funny faces. I wasn't sure if you were coming or not, but we were certainly going to freak lots of strangers out in the mean time.

I called your dad and told him to be on alert, I didn't want him rushing out of work but he needed to at least be ready just in case. Aunt Lauri came over and hung out with us while we relaxed on the couch, and after a few hours the contractions had faded. I figured that this was going to happen quite a few times in the next few weeks until you came- lots of false alarms, and now that I had a better idea of what labor felt like after two hospital stays I felt a little more prepared.

That evening we gathered at your Nanny and Boppa Galeazzo's house to have dinner and relax while chatting about the shower in the morning. I had a small mommy sized glass of wine to calm my nerves and just sat with my feet up until we went home later on. I crawled in bed and fell asleep thinking about how fun the next few days would be.

Around four I woke up with the normal (yet annoying) urge to pee. These bathroom trips had become much more frequent in the last few weeks thanks to you hanging out so low. I crawled back in bed really uncomfortable and felt some contractions. I looked at my phone at the time and randomly started checking to see how far apart they were. I figured it would be like Friday and they wouldn't be regular and would fade in a little bit of time.

I laid in bed while your dad was half asleep next to me. We were procrastinating doing anything about it, because I was afraid of another false alarm. As the minutes passed, the contractions were getting closer, and stronger. I went to the bathroom again, didn't help. I sat in the tub for a shower and tried to relax, the water dripping down on me felt wonderful but wasn't holding a candle to the discomfort that was building by the minute. I dried off and crawled back into bed without brushing my wet tangled hair and just laid there. A few minutes later the contractions were making me twist and turn to try and get comfortable, your dad was telling me to breathe while holding my hand.

As much as we tried to brush it off, this wasn't going to slow down and I finally made the call to the doctor around 5:30. Having had been hospitalized twice already, they weren't messing around and we were told to get there as quick (but safe) as possible.

My bags were already packed and I grabbed a towel in case my water broke, we were ready within minutes. My feet got wet as I shuffled through the dewy grass in flip flops to get to the truck and pull myself up. The stillness of a crisp dark morning was actually calming to me as we got on the road to make our way to the hospital. The music was playing in the car as we drove down the road, like a scene from a movie as your dad was holding my hand and reminding me to breathe over and over. We called my parents first, and dad answered with "is it time?" as I tried to maintain my composure and failed pretty miserably we both answered with a firm "yes". After trying dad's parents for a few minutes we finally got through and told them where we were headed, though I'm not sure the seriousness of it came through as well as we thought it did.

When we got to Strong (a little after 6), we pulled up front and your dad got me in a wheelchair and gave his keys to the guy at the desk (24 hour maternity valet) which was huge...letting a stranger drive his truck! He wheeled me up to the maternity floor where the doctor was waiting for us as soon as the doors opened.

They got me partially undressed and hooked me up to the monitor at the same time as they were checking my cervix, at the same time I was getting stabbed in the arm trying to get an IV. A lot of things happen at once. It was clear to me how urgent they felt this was, and I realized...this was it. I remember asking what the date was, April 29th they said. Very quickly we had five different people around us talking to us. I was further dilated, my contractions were right on top of each other, and you were stubbornly still trying to come out bottom first.

"Emergency Cesarean time"

"General anesthesia"

"Brian can't come"

"Kiss goodbye"

It happened so fast, I was hyperventilating and crying and I admit it wasn't that "Oh my goodness, YAY I'm having a baby right now moment". I was being wheeled away, and your dad was being left alone in a room to simply wait.

It was scary and I wanted him there with me.

There were what felt like a hundred people in the operating room. They were strapping me down, I was having contractions while they put in a catheter, at the same time the anesthesiologist was shoving oxygen mask on my face trying to calm me down. Of course I then had a sneezing attack. Let me tell you it's very hard and uncomfortable to sneeze when you are tied down, hooked up to a bunch of machines, crying, and have an oxygen mask on.

It then truly hit me what was happening. I remember worrying I wouldn't wake up and trying to think what my last words to your dad were (I love you). The anesthesiologist kept talking to me, which helped more than I can say. I have had surgeries before, but the idea of surgery + becoming a mom at the same time (5 weeks early) was overwhelming to me. My brain was being overly dramatic and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it.
One of your first pictures taken of you by your dada!
Waking up after surgery was very lonely. You were no longer in my belly, I had lost my built in companion I had spent 8 months talking to. It was about 8:30 when I started coming around and could make out the time on the clock across the recovery room. The area was eerily quiet except the faint beeping noises from various machines. A few minutes later the doctor had meandered over to me. She had been in delivery and was leaving but wanted to say goodbye. She told me I did great, and that you were healthy and beautiful.

This is about the time I started crying.

A few more people came over and said similar things, and I know it was with good intentions but if anything it made me feel sad and lonely. Everyone else had seen you but me, and I was the one who grew you! People were asking me your name and I kept telling them I didn't know. Your dad and I had narrowed it to two, but wanted to meet you first! The nurses were coming by frequently to perform fundal massages, which is not any sort of a relaxing thing by any means. I kept asking when I could see you, your dad or anyone in our family. No answer ever sounded soon enough in my mind. Around 9:30 I was being moved upstairs to our room, where I sat alone for a little while longer waiting for you or anyone that I even knew.

The door opened and your dad walked in, I think my heart heart skipped a beat just so incredibly happy to see him. Physically and emotionally everything was so hazy, the anesthesia was still having a big effect on me. My mom, dad and sister all walked in too and I became even more emotional. These are my people, and they are your people too. The door opened again and it was my nurse, I think I sank a little when I realized you weren't with her. She assured me that you were on your way.

A little over 3 hours after you entered the world, you finally entered our hospital room. Your nurse Ashley was as sweet as can be as she wheeled you over to me. Your dad was next to me and my family was watching as you got closer. I was crying before you even got to me, I could finally see you and as she lifted you to me I could hear your little noises. I finally held you in my arms as I cried, and I said "hi baby" and gave you the sweetest kiss I could give.
video

Everyone looked at me and asked me about your name and I gave your dad the "I'm sorry I'm about to overrule your name idea" look. I loved both of the names we had (he picked one and I picked the other), but to me you instantly felt like my Hannah.

Miss Hannah Elizabeth.

You were born 5 weeks early at 6:32 AM on April 29th, 2017... less than 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. You weighed 5lb 6oz, were 19.5 inches long and entered the world with a great big cry. The anesthesiologist is the one who came out and told your dad that you were here brought him to the nursery to wait for you. The doctors brought you in and did all of your checks which you passed with flying colors even for a preemie. I'm incredibly sad that I was not there to see your dad get to hold you for the first time but I know you were in wonderful hands. My family arrived not long later and kept you guys company while I was still being operated on and moved to recovery. Your dad was the only non-medical person to hold you before me- something I am selfishly grateful for.

I cannot even begin to tell you how happy your dad and I were that day, we spent the rest of the morning the two of us. Talking, holding you and soaking in the fact that we just became parents! Due to your very early arrival, it was your baby shower day! Your dad left for a while to go to the shower to open presents and see family and friends. You and I got some quality snuggle time and nursing practice just the two of us so this worked out. Everyone was sad we couldn't be at the shower but were so excited that you were here and healthy! Your dad did a great job standing in for us at the shower, and luckily had a great friend show up for moral support.

Later that day your dad came back to the hospital to see us, and he brought me a full size Rubino's sub. I love you and I gladly gave them up while growing you but I won't say I wasn't VERY excited to inhale that thing now! The evening was more time of you, me and your dad- some of my favorite moments. You were doing SO well latching on and nursing- something we didn't expect since you were preemie, but a good thing all the same. You are a great eater, a true testament to you being my daughter :)

Sunday was a day filled with family and friends in the hospital. The morning was spent sipping coffee and catching up with your Aunt Heather. In the afternoon you got to see Nana and Boppa Anderson, Aunt Meg, Uncle Justin and your cousins Alden and Max. Later on you finally got to meet Nanny and Boppa Galeazzo! It was a busy day but a good one.

On Monday we snuggled all day. Quite literally, all day. It was wonderful and you were passing all your checks whenever they came in. Until you didn't. Later in the evening your temperature was a little low after being right on target all day. Being a preemie, they really watch these things super closely. Your medical team decided to bundle you up a little more during the night for sleep and then would reassess from there. If you didn't stay warm enough, you were to be put in an incubator to help you until you could better regulate your temperature on your own.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I saw the nurses face and knew you had been put in the incubator over night. What did this mean? I was being discharged today and you were definitely not. I had to go home without you.

I spent the morning showering and cleaning myself up to feel a bit more human and getting my things ready to leave. My discharge was very...uneventful. I signed what felt like 3000 sheets of paper and I walked myself and my stuff over to the nursery. I spent the day sitting next to your incubator only getting to hold you when you were out to be fed. At that time we went into a small room where we could relax and nurse with you. This room would be like our second home for a few more days.

Going home later on that day wasn't as hard as I thought at the time. I knew you were in good hands, and I also knew that a nights sleep at home would do me wonders. Your dad and I decided he would still work at least part time this week while you weren't home yet. That way he could save the time off for when we were all home together. I think I was just so excited to be home that my brain wasn't letting me acknowledge the fact that you weren't with us. I called to check on you, and fell fast asleep after hearing you were doing just fine.
It's a cute view, but certainly not an easy one.
I spent all day with you Wednesday, feeding you and cuddling when I could. Reading to you through the incubator the rest of the time. It was hard, but I also knew this could be so much worse. You were five weeks early, a little small, and just needed help to stay warm. The blessing of that was not lost on me, but it didn't mean it was easy. I cried the whole way home that night as it finally was sinking in.

Getting ready for car seat test!
My days were spent visiting you and my nights were spent calling the nursery to check on you, pumping so you could be having my milk still, and sleeping as best I could. By Friday they pulled you out of the incubator after weaning you the previous night. We were told maybe you could come home Saturday but that Sunday would be more likely. After leaving the hospital on Friday, we went to the store to find some preemie outfits for your tinyhiney and to get a few last minute things we hadn't had time to get for you before. On the way home we decided to stop at the Distillery for food (because lord knows I wasn't going to cook) and since it was Cinco De Mayo...I ordered a margarita. I originally said I wanted to wait for post-baby drink until after you were home with us to celebrate, but the week was so long and emotionally draining that it almost felt necessary. I drank half of it and felt tipsy (lightweight status) before we went home to bed.

Saturday morning I was filled with hope. I wanted you home and I was determined to make it happen. I had been giving you pep talks all week and filling your head with the warmest thoughts I could to get you going. I patiently waited for the nurse practitioner to come around and tell me what she thought. On Friday they told us the stipulations for your release were that you needed to gain weight (you had dropped to 4lb 14oz throughout the week), your bilirubin needed to level out (you never reached levels for light therapy), you needed to pass a 90 minute car seat test, and you needed to maintain your body temperature on your own for 24-48 hours after being taken out of the incubator.

The NP came around and didn't seem over eager to let you go and said she would feel better if you went on Sunday but allowed us to do the car seat test anyways since you had passed weight check and bilirubin check. She told me that she wouldn't count your temperature against you after the car seat test since you will have spent 90 minutes unbundled.

Homeward Bound!
You rocked your car seat test like a champ (you had to keep your heart rate and oxygen levels in a certain range for the entire 90 minutes to prove you were strong enough), and we decided to take your temperature anyways after just to see. It was perfect! The nurses were all chanting to let you go (I'm serious) to the Nurse Practitioner. We had grown very close to many of the staff members throughout the week, I cannot tell you what a difference they made for us. The NP had been the one to admit you the morning you were born and she said she loved that she also got to be the one to send you home. She said she didn't have a good reason to keep you since you did everything they asked of you.

You were coming home. One week after you entered the world you were finally coming home.

I sat with you in the back seat while your dad drove us home that afternoon, and you gripped my finger the whole way. It was the beginning of the rest of your life with us.

There aren't too many words I could put together to actually describe how loved you are and how much your dad and I have enjoyed having you with us. You were so worth the wait, and the months of growing you, and for every hard second there have been 10 amazing ones. All I can say kiddo, is the best is yet to come.

Love, Mom

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