Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I knew from the beginning that Henry might be my last baby. Apart from having high-risk pregnancies and harrowing deliveries, we felt like three children would be a good fit for our family. We hadn't decided for certain, though, and had planned on leaving the door open for a couple of years to see if we might find that our family had room for another child after all.

After our misadventures this summer, however, it would be irresponsible to take the risk of becoming pregnant again. It was a miracle that I stayed pregnant for so long after my water broke. And I don't say that lightly.

What happened for Henry came very close to being very bad. I can't imagine how this could have ended differently and still have been "okay", even though it has been difficult to go through. The decision has been made for us, it would seem. And even though I knew from the beginning that this could be my last go at having a baby, I find that the idea makes me pretty sad.

I wonder if women are always a little sad, or wistful, when it becomes apparent that they've had their last fuzzy headed baby. A friend from college was one of 13 children and when her youngest brother was three, it became clear to her mom that this would likely be her last child. And she was sad. After 13 babies, one whould think that she would be a little relieved to close the door on nighttime feedings and toilet training, but I also think I understand. Of some things, there is never enough. How could you ever have enough of that warm little weight snuggled on your chest, fluffy baby hair rubbed against your nose? After three or thirteen children, it is still the End and I guess you always wonder who that "One More" child would have been.

I certainly feel the loss of the healthy pregnancies and babies that most women expect to have. I try not to think about it too much because it just upsets me and I'm not sure there's anything to be gained by getting angry or sad or feeling like I've been cheated. It is what it is and I'm satisfied by the good outcomes my babies have had. But I need to let go of the fourth baby I felt entitled to choose along with the healthy pregnancies and the robust newborns and the carefree cold/flu season.

It will be a long process, one that starts with moving my baby girl clothing out of storage and into the home of someone who can use it. I walk by those tubs in the basement marked "Girl: 0-6 months" and I know that they will have to go. If you loose your left leg, do you still keep the left shoe when you buy a new pair? There won't be another girl to save it for and I find it as unnecessary as the proverbial left shoe.

It should go, and it will. But not yet. Most of it will likely get saved for my sister in law Rachel, but I am strongly repressing the urge to give it to my friends who have baby girls already. I love seeing the hand-me-downs running around on little ones and it might be too much to have to wait for Rachel to have a baby (who may have only boys!).

Having the choice made for me is one part blessing, another part burden. I'm not sure which has the greater share. After some distance from the events of the summer I'll be able to close this door with greater clarity and peace. I think I'm looking forward to that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Clothing

Do any of you remember wearing heavy-weight sweater tights when you were little?  For two years now I've looked for these tights so Anna can wear her twirly dresses in the winter without freezing her knees.  In lieu of these tights I've put leggings under her dresses, but I'm wondering if these tights are still available.

Also, as of last week Henry was 6 lbs 7 oz.  He gained a whole pound in a week!  This week I'm guessing he'll be about 7 lbs.  He's quite the little man!  Right now his whole world is sleeping, eating, diaper changes and fuzzy sleepers.  Not too bad if you ignore the occasional assault by his loving brother and sister.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tricky Questions

We don't take Henry out much.  He was discharged from the NICU right at the beginning of cold and flu season so we need to keep him out of public places.  Besides, he needs to conserve his energy for growing.  One place I do need to take him, however, is the clinic for weekly weight checks.  The doctor needs to make sure he is gaining weight appropriately and adjust his calorie intake as needed.

We had an appointment last Tuesday and while I was there, something was brought to my attention by the other patients in the waiting room.  Five or six people must have asked me how old Henry is and I had no idea how to answer!  At first, I just said he was six weeks old--which is true--but anyone who has ever seen a newborn can tell that my wee five pound baby is not six weeks old.  Then I said that he was six weeks old, but that he was born premature.  I don't mind sharing what happened, obviously, but I don't know if I'm giving them more information than they want and I'm not always up for a long conversation about HOW early he was, HOW long he was in the hospital, HOW much he weighed when he was born, etc.  I can certainly chat someone up once in an evening, but five or six times?  I'm not sure I'm up for it.

This is really a non-issue, though.  We'll be taking him to the clinic once a week and that will be the extent of his outings until he is larger and his corrected age won't raise so many eyebrows.  And it's not like I find the questions or the conversation offensive or distressing in any way.  It's just a lot to talk about with strangers in a waiting room.  Over and over again.  Sometime, though, it's just hard to know what to say.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Infant Conspirator

I think Henry is conspiring against me.

I'm sure most mothers think this is true of their babies, but I have evidence.

Henry sleeps all day. Deep, heavy sleep broken only by his baby grunts and gurgles. It's nearly impossible to wake him to nurse for most feedings. I am usually able to wake him enough to take a sleepy bottle of breastmilk or formula, but that's it. I'm assuming that this is due to his prematurity and that his alertness will improve as he grows closer to term.

Despite days of bottle feeding and pumping, the last two evenings Henry has decided to be AWAKE! with the ALERTNESS! and in a desperate, crying need to NURSE! and to nurse MORE! Really, just like a real baby.

This is the only time during the day that his behavior resembles that of a regular newborn and I am wondering this: WHY, Henry, WHY would you pick the most aggravating part of a newborn's day to start behaving like a full-term baby?

I'm pretty sure I have enough milk--the other night I fed him as much as he wanted and I still sat down and pumped a record amount afterward. I am left to believe that Henry is sleeping so much during the day so that he will have plenty of energy to keep me occupied from dinner through the kids' bedtime.

If anyone had any theories or helpful hints, I'd be glad to hear them!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Who Would Have Thought

When it grows dark outside, my kids have a game they like to play called "Darkness". It usually consists of them running around the house in the near dark with wind-up flashlights playing whatever games occur to them at the time.

Tonight they insisted on near total darkness, despite the fact that they couldn't find their flashlights. They are pretending to be bats, which consists in them running from one side of the house to the other while saying "Bats!" over and over.

Really what I want to do right now, aside from enjoying their (repetitive) game, is to knit this little dishcloth I started today. Who would have thought a 32 year old woman, in her own home, would knit in the dark with only the glow of a computer screen because two little people want to pretend they are bats in the dark?

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Second Helping of Baby Cutie-Pie

I hope you'll forgive me the indulgent display of baby pictures.  I've waited a long time to have adorable baby photos to share.  The early photos of this child wouldn't have had the same effect as these do.  Isn't he cute?

So far, wee Henry sleeps a LOT.  Normally, this is a trait to be envied in a baby, but the result around here is mostly frustration.  He won't wake to eat like he should and so it can be difficult (read: frustrating, impossible, time-consuming) to get him to nurse.  I've given him two bottles already because I couldn't get him to wake for a feeding and it had simply been too long to let it go any longer.  He's still pre-term (35 weeks last Thursday) so I'm hoping that his drive to eat (and wake) will improve over the next couple of weeks.  Right now he's like the sleepiest newborn you've ever known. . . on valium.  

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The day has finally arrived!  Henry is home!

He came home Friday, to my surprise.  The night before he had his 12 hour scan test where they monitor his vitals to make sure he isn't dropping his heart rate or his breathing and that it's safe to bring him home.  I was worried about this one.  But I'll save you the drama by saying that I didn't think he would pass and that it would be still more days before we could bring him home, but I walked into the NICU that morning and the nurse asked, "So, how would you like to bring Henry home today?"

You bet.

It took way longer than it should have, but finally, FINALLY, Henry was discharged and we could bring him home.

When it came to leaving, I had both Thomas and Anna with me, Henry in his car seat, and several bags of Henry's things to bring home.  They offered to have one of the care assistants meet me out front with Henry and his impedimenta and I happily accepted.  But I looked at Henry, sitting in his car seat, and I considered how many hours it had taken to get him discharged.  Then I picked it up and said, no, I had better bring him with me.  I didn't want to risk the hospital screwing it up and having to spend another 4 hours trying to get him out the door.  No, I was taking him with me.  I could leave his blankets and clothes behind, but I wasn't going anywhere without my baby!

As I drove out of the parking lot I thought of the weeks and weeks I had spent in the hospital (7) and the weeks and weeks Henry had spent in the NICU (5).  I thought about how Saturday would be the first day in months that I wouldn't be going to the hospital.  I remembered it all and I started to cry, though only a little because I didn't want to have to explain to Thomas why I would be crying.  So much has happened and now we can finally try to settle back into our new life. 

I've had a premature baby before and I know that the next few months will be long ones.  But for now I'm not going to worry about it.  For now it's enough that Henry is finally home and all is well again.

Henry and Thomas

Henry and Anna (Henry is just over 5 lbs)