Thursday, March 26, 2015

Feels Like Forever

There is a weird sensation that happens when you have a baby. They have been inside you for all of their existence, and then suddenly they are on the outside of you, and you feel you are not whole anymore. You want to be with the baby, and hold the baby, and just be near the baby at all times. It may be due to hormones, or just how God designed it, or maybe it is just me, and no one else feels like that, but this was a very real and powerful feeling.
When Emma was born, I remember just wanting to hold her all the time. The nurses would take her to get her hearing checked, or check her bilirubin levels, and it felt like an eternity until she was back.
Ezra was gone. He was in the best place he could be, with the best doctors and nurses making sure he would thrive in the world that came too soon for him. I knew this, but it didn't make the separation any easier. Josh was so good at sending me pictures and using FaceTime so I could see Ezra, and he updated me regularly on all that was going on with his progress. I in turn told all my nurses, as Ezra became quite the popular little guy over here!
We had friends who delivered their own little boy very early, and were super helpful with helping us navigate this new world of the NICU. They helped set up a page on Facebook to update everyone on Ezra's progress so they could be praying for him. They even delivered my milk to Ezra at the other hospital! What a blessing!
When I was moved out of the ICU into the women and newborn unit, I was starting to feel better. I was a long ways from going home (I still couldn't even walk, or even stand up! That magnesium sulfate is brutal!) but definitely improving! I was so very thankful my twin sister Tomesia cold come stay with me.
That is actually a really cool part of this story. Tomesia's kids have year round school in the district they attend. About two months before any of this crazy stuff happened, Tomesia and I were talking. We had planned for her and the kids to come up for a visit in the middle of the week. They were off school then, and she took some time off work. It was going to be so fun! We planned all these fun fall activities to do, and she and the kids were going to spend time with us and with our parents.
Fast forward to Ezra's birth; she just happened to come up at the exact time I needed help. if she arrived a day before, I would have been in the ICU and not even known she was there. She came and stayed with me in the hospital, sleeping on those uncomfortable chairs, bringing me my pump parts and washing them after, walking my milk down to the fridge, reminding me to order my meals, listening to me cry over and over again, opening and closing the blinds, getting me blankets and fans when my hormones were surging, etc. Tomesia took great care of me, and my parents spend the days with her children. It definitely wasn't the visit we planned, but I was so thankful she was there.
While I was recovering in the hospital, and Josh was at St. Joe's with Ezra in the NICU, Josh's mom took care of the home front, along with many, many helpers. We had people bring us meals, come help with laundry and cleaning, running carpool for us, etc. There was no way we would have survived without all the help from our families and friends, and church family. I don't think I will ever know all that went on while I was gone, but I am so very thankful. There is something so special in knowing that no matter what happens to me, I know my family will be well cared for.
Josh's mom took the girls to see Ezra. I asked them all what they thought of the whole experience. They said they just couldn't believe how small he was, and they wanted to hold him. Those were my thoughts too! I am glad they got to see him, and I was hoping to be able to see him myself!
The day arrived for me to finally be discharged. I loved those nurses so much, but I couldn't think of anything better than leaving! 
During my nine day stay in the hospital, on top of all my exciting medical problems, I got a horrendous stiff neck. It made me so miserable, that there was a point I was taking my pain killers for my neck, and not my c-section! So on the day that I had been waiting for, the day I could make a break for it and go see my baby, I first had to head to the chiropractor. I wanted to be able to hold him if they would let me, and with the pain I was in, I knew that wouldn't be possible.
With all the forms signed, my parents came to pick me up, and I was a free woman! They took me to the chiropractor, and swing by subway for food, and the pharmacy for all the blood pressure meds I would be on. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication between the hospital and the pharmacy, and they did not have all the pills I needed. This normally wouldn't phase me, I would just skip it for a day, and if it was just pain meds, I would have. They had me on 300mg of Labatelol 4x's daily and 25 mg Hydralazine 4x's daily! The sheer amount of blood pressure pills they had me on just so I could leave the hospital was necessary though, so we had to wait some more! AHHH! I just wanted to see my baby boy!
The hang up at the pharmacy along with a strict pumping schedule I had to adhere to, and Friday night traffic heading towards Ann Arbor made for the longest day ever, but we finally arrived at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, my Ezra's first home.
I knew I missed Josh, but I didn't realize how very much until I saw him on the curb waiting for us to pull up, wheelchair in hand. There was my darling, my love, and I held onto him and didn't want to let go! A sweep of emotions took me, and I sobbed, and ugly cried, right at the front entrance of this hospital, and I didn't care. I am sure I was a mess.
Josh wheeled me to the fourth floor, and after getting my picture taken for a badge, and some paperwork filled out to prove I was indeed the mother, they buzzed me in.
I was suddenly very aware of how little I really knew. Josh was a pro already, showing me the sink, and how to scrub in, where to wash my phone, where our son's isolette was located.
Josh wheeled me over and Nurse Bethie was there. She said they held off doing "six o'clock cares" for me. I didn't even know what that was. Josh helped me up and I stood looking into this plastic box that was my son's whole world. I had no idea he was this small. All the pictures Josh took were nice and close up, so I didn't get an idea of how very tiny he was.
"Do you want to do kangaroo care?" Bethie asked. 
You mean I can hold him?!?!?
"YES!!!" I said emphatically.
This was the moment I was waiting for! They brought me warm blankets, as I took off my top, and they placed this tiny little human on my chest. So many wires were hanging off this little one who weighed less than 1/3 of a gallon of milk!
He was so warm, and as he lay in my arms, I instantly felt calm, and right where I needed to be.
"He's never done that, Tamara!" Josh said.
"What is he doing?"
"He is still, and he has a smile on his face."
Mommy is here, Ezra. Mommy's got you.

The girls' first glimpse of their tiny brother.

Josh said they squealed with delight!

This rainbow was outside my window when I was moved to the women and newborn floor. God used a rainbow as a reminder He would never flood the earth again, and He used it that day to remind me that He was in control of this, and He never lost control. He was not surprised by any of this, and I can trust Him through this storm in my life, no matter the outcome.

Ezra getting a tan! He needed some phototherapy to help his bilirubin levels improve.

Josh sent me this picture and I couldn't stop looking at it! He looked SO big and healthy all dressed up in clothes. He was SWIMMING in those preemie clothes. ha ha!

I'm getting discharged from the hospital!!!

Holding my baby boy!

Ezra the first time I held him. He was happy to see me. 

Seriously, the cutest little peanut!

Josh took me to see a floor on the hospital he would frequent as he prayed. Quite the view!

This is the way Ezra grew. So many little things to pump into his tiny body, as he was not ready to enter the world so early. Not as good as the womb, but they sure helped him grow!

This was Ezra's first home, and Josh and I both grew to love that hospital, and the amazing staff in the NICU.

He's so tiny and fuzzy!

His perfect little hands.

"Hi momma. I am glad you finally got here. I've got so much to tell you! Daddy and I have had an exciting time here!"