Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Soaking Up Mommyhood

Today was a day I will never forget. I went to the hospital solo while G stayed home to work. I knew Elise transitioned to nasal cannula yesterday, so I couldn't wait to get to the hospital and check out her face; a body part that is so precious to parents, but we couldn't see it while she was on the CPAP for almost 3 weeks.

Look at meeeeee! 
How adorable is she?! Yes, all parents are biased when it comes to the cuteness level of their children. I undersand that now. However, I must be honest and say I was the opposite for the longest time. I secretly worried whether or not Elise would be cute. Would her eyes be puffy from being on oxygen? Would her nose be permanently wide due to the CPAP prongs? Will she look like us or will she have the "preemie" look for her whole life? Many times I would get upset at myself for questioning her looks. I felt like I was being a bad parent, but I just couldn't help my mind from worrying. When a person is sent through hell for the first several weeks of their life, you can't be certain of anything. When I let myself focus on her looks (rather than a monitor screen or a doctor's face) I found myself 'hoping for the best' rather than being completely certain she would be adorable.

Worry no more! I couldn't keep my hands off of her today! I kept kissing her little nose and rubbing her very soft hair. And those lips...those lips!...those were kissed off too. Since she weighs just shy of 3 pounds, I think 'bottling her up' in a little soda bottle would be appropriate, especially since I have to leave her at the end of the day. I don't believe any soda bottle is the color pink....hummm....I am starting to envision a way to pay off these NICU bills...

Today was so very special because I got a slice of mommyhood, a craving that has been around for a long time. I held my daughter and got to move her around in my arms. This was huge because before today, we had to hold Elise in the same position and very still so her apparatuses wouldn't come apart or fall off. Sometimes she was very fussy when we would hold her. The CPAP would either be rubbing her nose wrong or there would be tension on the tubing. All of these issues would take some joy away from holding her, simply because you were worried about making her uncomfortable, something you tried so hard not to do.

Now when we hold, we still have her leads (measuring her heart rate and oxygen levels) and her nasal cannula tubing, but that's it! Holding her today was fantastic!

I also got to give Elise her very first bottle today. I was so proud of her when she took in 5 ml's of milk. It's fascinating to think how babies must learn the SSB method (Suck, Swallow, Breathe). Think about it...SSB comes very natural for us, but not for a 33 weeker. The nurse and doctor were very impressed with Elise's first try with a bottle. Dr. Ben Saad's words were "Wow!" when he learned she took in 5 ml's on her first attempt. You could tell she was tuckering out towards the end. Her eyes became heavy and her oxygen started to drop. She turned a not-so-lovely shade of blue and that's when it was quitting time. She bounced right back to her pink little face shortly after turning blue, and at the same time, turning Mommy's hair gray. I may have gray hair in 2 years when I turn the big 3-0, but every strand will be well worth it...and very memorable.

The entire time she was eating from the bottle, her eyes were bright and big...staring right at me. I started to get choked up soaking in the moment and thinking about how far we've come during our NICU stay. I also thought about the words my preemie mentor had emailed me yesterday regarding bonding with a NICU daughter:

There were many days I wondered if I was anyone different to her. Did she know that I wasn't just another nurse, therapist, doctor, or specialist?? Now I know. She knew us all along. Now, our daughter is like an additional appendage on my husband and me. We bonded in such a non-traditional, unique, and intense way.

I felt the truth of these words today. Everyone always says that a child knows his/her mother's voice from being in the womb. I worried our situation might be different because Elise only spent half a pregnancy in the womb and when she came out she certainly didn't go straight into my arms. I felt Elise studying me today while she was sucking on her bottle. Hopefully she was thinking, "Now I can finally see my Mommy's face just like she can see mine." I certainly was studying her.

I was so excited to come home and share all these stories with G over dinner. He is very excited to go with me tomorrow and get his slice of daddyhood.

Goodnight Moon

G & J & E


  1. She truly is a beauty!! :)

    I used to think the same as your mentor but once we were able to hold her you could just feel that connection! It is so amazing being a mommy! :)

  2. Amazing, just amazing! She is for sure being watched over. And she is beautiful mom!

  3. More tears and my love .... and camden says she is a present :) and he wants to play with her:) lol