Friday, 15 May 2015

:: the frustration of being sick ::

Our sweet little girl is already 12 days old! So much has happened over the last 12 days that it feels both short and also very long. This past week has been a really tough one from my point of view. I started getting a cold a week ago on the girls' birthday and it grew worse over the subsequent days until gradually disappearing very slowly. I was able to squeeze in a quick visit with Elea on Tuesday, feeling well enough at that point and wearing a mask. Though since then a cough appeared and the end of the cold has lingered on. Usually I'm the one in the family that manages to escape most of the bugs that pass through, but I know this time around it has been a result of a very tiring, stressful week that took it's toll physically, mentally and emotionally on my body and it's been incredibly frustrating to wake up each day and still not feel 100%.

I know how important our presence is for our baby, and even more so how important it is to have plenty of 'kangaroo' cuddles (skin to skin). This contact has so many benefits to these tiny babies, as you might imagine! Just being close to mum, hearing her heart beat, feeling her warmth and smelling the familiar smell is of huge comfort and helps so much with baby's development. It's been pretty hard to spend days at a time without seeing my little girl and letting her know I am here and missing these opportunities to hold her. I know the best thing has been to stay away so she doesn't catch anything nasty, which is the last thing I would ever risk. But I've been afraid that subconsciously she would notice my absence and it would affect her. It has helped to know she has been very settled on a whole, particularly with her breathing. Eti has been in each evening after work and had long cuddles, which she has really loved. She cried almost every time she had to be put back in her bed! Knowing that she was seeing her Papa every day made it a lot easier on my heart! And one of the senior nurses reassured me that they also take care of her and give her lots of love and care in our absence.

Today I have felt almost 100% well and have been able to go and see our beautiful little one. She's looking so good and putting on weight, despite not being on milk feeds at the moment due to a tummy bleed earlier this week. There are a few things that are being monitored quite closely by the medical staff - possible concerns - but things that with time and growth will either prove themselves to be legitimate, or, as we pray and hope, nothing worth worrying about. This roller coaster ride is so tough on the emotions! We have to try not to let our non-medical minds wander into all worst-case scenarios, but find that quiet space of peace and have patience to wait and see, trusting and praying all the while that all will be well no matter the outcome. And as our sweet one grows I pray for many hours over the coming weeks to cuddle her and talk with her and spend time with her until we can bring her home.

On the home front my mum is our hero. She moved in with us just before I went into hospital the first time, and will be with us until Elea is home in July, all going well. She has made a lot of tough sacrifices in her choice to do this, but her presence has been such an incredible help (plus I love her company!) and stability for our other three little people. She has kept them in great routines and run our household single-handedly for much of the time. Our three have done so well but it's also been understandably unsettling to have mummy disappear in the middle of the night to go into hospital (twice) and then have to share our time with their little sister who is in a hospital across the city from our home. Having mum here to keep them settled and secure has been an amazing blessing. I'm acutely aware of my inability to thank her equally in return for as much as she has given, knowing it's not easy to run someone else's home at the best of times. We're so thankful for a mum who puts her love into action and carries an incredible load to serve us.

Here's to a healthy week, plenty of cuddles with our littlest,quality time with our precious three at home, and much encouragement and refreshment for an awesome Superma!

Monday, 11 May 2015

:: on swings and roundabouts ::

So much has happened since my last post many months ago! I never meant to leave this little space unattended for so long, but never really found the words to put to any of my thoughts, so kept putting it off until now as we're embarking on a journey that almost requires words to be written down to help process each day.

A week ago today we had a déjà vu experience. I was just over 31 weeks pregnant and couldn't sleep because of uncomfortable tummy tightnings...which hadn't happened during my pregnancy until then. After having a complication-free pregnancy with Théo I was pretty confident that the girls' was just a one-off and they came so early because they were twins. But this 3rd pregnancy ended up being the most complicated and stressful of them all! After a close call at just over 24 weeks and two weeks in hospital, every day passed was a milestone. So it was wonderful to get into the 30's! But a week ago I soon realised that that was as far as we were going to get and our beautiful little girl was delivered by emergency caesarian not much longer after arriving at the hospital for an assessment.

We're thrilled to welcome Eléa Agnès Joy into our family. Her original birth weight was noted as a healthy 1690g, but when she lost 330g within her first few days, the doctors decided there must have been a mistake and put her back at approximately 1500g. That did seem more realistic, given her tiny size! She's perfection in miniature and our only dark-haired baby. We were a little shell-shocked with the quick turn of events that morning, but just so thankful that she was alive given the timing of getting to the hospital that morning and realising I was well and truly in labour with very little time left to spare, and learning of other factors later that could easily have led to stillbirth. I think she was more shell-shocked to have suddenly found herself out of her safe, cosy little home. A few minutes after birth she stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated, which was very scary for Eti who was there with her. Thankfully she recovered and after being put on the ventilator for a few minutes, she was back on the CPAP.

One thing about premature babies in the neonatal world is that it really is a rollercoaster ride. In the first days there are highs but plenty of lows. Eventually, as time passes, the highs continue in increasing frequency, and the lows start to slowly disappear (in our situation - not all unfortunately). With the passing time, and having to learn how to live one day at a time, the scary moments of the past start to fade and, with our girls, I soon got to the point that they were healthy and thriving like other babies their age, that I had very few memories of those early days that held so many doubts, tests and scary unknowns. It's been a bit of a shock to have to revisit those memories in the reality of another precious tiny baby, albeit one who started life at 1500g rather than 700g, which is a more encouraging place to start from.

I find myself longing to hear the word 'normal' as often as I can with any updates on Eléa's progress. 'Abnormal,' on the other hand, is the word that brings with it a lot of fear and it can be very hard to keep my mind from wandering to all the possibilities. Today I've heard 'abnormal' three times and it's been really tough on my emotions. Also being the third day in a row that I haven't been able to go to see her because of sickness doesn't help! What does help is that the Neonatal consultant (the top doctor) and specialist nurse are not too concerned, which rests my overworked mind somewhat, especially because I know from all his very serious questions and investigations that he would not hold back on saying if he was concerned. There are a lot of 'wait and see' situations, so we can't do much but wait and pray for the best outcome for sweet Eléa. And I have to ask myself what I expect and how I would respond if things don't match what my idea of 'good' looks like. We are surrounded by friends all over the world who are praying, as we were with the girls, which is an enormous encouragement. Just knowing we're not alone and that they are holding us up and sending us words of truth and life mean so much.

So, here we are a week into our new journey and so proud of the enormous effort our Eléa has given in her first week of life. She has had a few stable days in a row now, which is wonderful. Her lungs really struggled for the first couple of days but seem to be strengthening, and she has been so brave with all her blood tests, numerous IV lines being put in and taken out, scans, and monitoring. We're thankful she's in the very best place she can be right now and that the medical team are really taking her situation seriously, looking at every possibility. They can't give us any promises or hope in these early days, which is typical in the Neonatal world, but we can trust that they are doing their best, and we can find our hope in a good God who loves each of us beyond our understanding and look for the many things to be thankful for each day to help combat the fears and worries that are quick to move in.