home sweet home, finally

I am thrilled to report that Baby Z is home, finally!

Last week Z’s pediatric team told us on Tuesday she could come home as early as Thursday if she kept eating and gaining. There was a lot of pressure on that little girl, and me too, since she did better on the breast than the bottle. But I was just along for the ride, and everything was on her time. There was pressure on Mac, as well, since he was returning to work after three weeks off. None of us had any idea how we would make this work, with child care, NICU visits, me unable to drive, and too few able hands.

Then I remembered that last Wednesday was the day she was originally supposed to be delivered — before we realized the placenta issues were so serious — on the autumnal equinox, just after 36 weeks. It seemed like a fitting time for a homecoming, though nothing was yet certain.

I had gotten into the habit of calling the NICU at least twice a day before and after our visits — at night before bed, I’d call to see how she did after the shift change and with bottle feeding; in the morning on our way in, I’d call to see how she did during the night, whether she gained any weight, and to ask about any schedule changes. Talking to the bedside nurse helped me feel connection when I wasn’t there, and gave information to satisfy my mind, even when the news wasn’t great.

We still didn’t know whether she’d be approved for discharge until Thursday morning, when we could confirm that she ate well and continued to gain a few grams. Still, we prepared. What else could we do? Tuesday night, I stayed at the hospital to work with Z on breastfeeding. I gave our tiny new daughter a bath. I watched all the safety videos required before discharge. Wednesday night, Mac installed the carseat and I made up the co-sleeper. We had already washed baby clothes that would not yet fit. Mac had already moved the glider to our room. I unpacked newborn diapers.

Unfortunately Mac couldn’t be there to bring Z home from the hospital. My aunt and uncle were out of town and other family were unavailable. I asked Jaye’s favorite sitter to drive our car and play with Jaye at the cafe while I got Z. So it was a less than ceremonious event, without Mac and Jaye there too. Honestly, I just wanted to get Z out of there before they changed their minds.

Our first moments at home were glorious though. Jaye and I showed Z around, before settling in to the glider for some skin-on-skin time. That first moment of rest was much like the same beautiful moment I experienced more than two years ago, when we first brought Jaye home. I cried tears of happiness, of awe. Relief. But unlike then, I didn’t have Mac to share the moment. I snapped some pix on my phone and sent them to him at work. You do what you can.

These past few days, as we begin our new lives together, have been an adjustment for everyone. It’s been tough, but not in the sense of NICU tough; challenging in a different way, in the way that sleepless nights and constant feeds and caring for a tiny newborn and toddler are tough. Tough in the way one would expect.

For all the worry about her feeding, this baby has a voracious appetite. She obviously has some making up to do. Rather than feed every 3 hours on her hospital schedule — yet eat only half as much as she was supposed to — Z eats at least every 1.5 hours. It makes sense, really. She still eats half as much, but now twice as often. She is growing, and that’s what matters.

Baby Z has already had two post-discharge visits, one with a home care nurse and her last visit with the NICU ped team. By all accounts, she is doing great, gaining weight, and should hopefully have no long term effects beyond this first year. We still need to watch for breathing issues — especially when she eats — and also make sure she doesn’t waste calories crying or trying to stay warm. She weighs over 5.5 pounds — more than a pound over her birth weight, though she is still too tiny for newborn clothes. She spends much of the day either swaddled, or in a diaper laying on me.

Jaye has had an especially tough adjustment, particularly because she came down with a cold the night before Z was discharged. She is very sweet with Z, but it has been really difficult keeping them apart. It is still hard for her, as Mama isn’t readily available. Z needs to eat a lot. Jaye has gotten some special attention from cousins and sitters, but it’s not the same. I’m hoping this part will get easier with time and my recovery.

Aside from that, our (not a baby) Jaye is such a big girl now. Not just compared to this tiny baby, but really much bigger — like she outgrew a whole size this past month — and far more mature. I feel like I’ve missed so much these past weeks, and it’s sad. Jaye understands so much, she is so sensitive, so verbal. She has such an incredible personality. She is truly a light. And guess who is now sleeping in her big girl bed? We didn’t even plan it, but she asked for it. (Now if we could just get her out of diapers before she grows out of them…) Honestly though, I’m mourning Jaye’s baby-hood. It’s not that I still want her to be a baby. I absolutely love the person she is becoming. But I do miss that part of her little life with us. And our life as a trio is now over.

Our first home visitors were Jaye’s birth grandma and teen uncle. They came bearing bags of groceries and gifts for both girls. We are so blessed. So grateful.

Words can’t really describe where I’m at right now. Elated. Exhausted. Enamored. Eternally grateful. Still in awe.

As I wrote the last words on my last post, I found myself crying tears of joy.

“Our family is complete.”

I never thought I’d write those words. Even though I came to feel it with Jaye, I really did. There is absolutely no question that our family was perfect before. I was so happy as a trio, so content. I was a mother. We had a daughter. We were a family. We were finally seeing a future life where we could travel and do other things easily. Not anymore.

Still, as several of you pointed out, those words I wrote before, they are so powerful. They mean so much. They mark an incredibly long journey that started long before this blog. They capture the dreams and hopes and anticipation, and all the defeat, the failures, the challenges. They signify the end of so much pain and longing, and most importantly, the beginning of a new life we never thought was possible.

~ by luna on September 28, 2011.

33 Responses to “home sweet home, finally”

  1. So beautiful. Perfect timing little Z, I think we all could use a happy beginning to experience, I appreciate that I’m able to read yours. Congratulations.

  2. You have two adorable girls! Congrats on coming home.

  3. Luna- I am so absolutely happy for you and your beautiful family! I am so over the moon with joy for you all. You all will continually be in my thoughts and prayers. And you are right, Jaye is no longer a baby, she has grown into a gorgeous little girl- she is going to be an amazing big sister! The picture that ended this post is my favorite- Jaye and her baby sister Z- your family truly is complete-Congratulations!

  4. This makes my day. I am so happy for all of you.

  5. Luna, I am so thrilled for you and your family, and loved the picture at the end of your post. What a great joy to see your two daughters together. I’d had a rather unpleasant day and taking a break that ended with those two gorgeous girls brightened it considerably. I am so happy for you, and loved seeing the adorable Jaye so sweet with her new sister.

    Chris, who usually lurks

  6. Your girls are beautiful and I am so glad that you are home and able to begin your new life together! What wonderful news that Baby Z is gaining weight steadily and growing strong just like you’ve asked her to. Thanks so much for sharing the sweetness of homecoming, Luna.

  7. Oh Luna, I am very glad that Z is home!

    How wonderful that Kaye’s family were Z’s first visitors.

    It is so so marvelous to see the beautiful sisters together at last.

  8. That last photo has me tearing up. Welcome home, little Z!

  9. SO happy Baby Z is home – and that last photo is to die for. Congrats again, sweet lady!

  10. How awesome that K’s family visited you. So happy for you and sending you lots of energy for the coming sleepless nights. Little Jaye must be straddling the big girl responsibility and sibling rivalry – I’m speaking as an older sister! 🙂

  11. Welcome home baby Z! She’s precious and I’m incredibly happy for you all.

  12. Oh you did it, now I’m crying. What an amazing picture.

    Get a sling, it’s some juggling, but you’ll get used to it, and so will J.

    WELCOME HOME, Z!!!!! (Man, are you cute.)

  13. Thats the first thing I changed on our blog “our family is now complete” with Maya is was perfect but there was always that little longing and sometimes alot of longing for a sibling, and now the feeling of complete is so wonderful.
    Baby Z is beautiful, you can really see how little she is with her big sister, such a sweet pictures.
    So gla dyou are home and tired, thats how its suppose to be. Take care.

  14. So happy you’re home. What a beautiful family!

  15. So happy she’s home and you’re all together!! I can relate to much of what you’re feeling about Jaye’s transition and growth and the wistfulness in what you had and gratitude in what you have now.

    We’ll honk on Friday when we drive by. Lots of love!

  16. I am so over the moon happy for all of you! Z and Jaye are so incredibly beautiful–the two of them together really shows how little Z is. I know they’re going to be the best of friends! Your posts are always so touching and always make me smile and sometimes cry (happy tears, of course). Thank you for sharing the pictures with all of us! 😉

  17. So so happy for you and your family. The picture of Jaye and Z is beyond precious.

  18. The pictures really make it real to me. May J and Z be best friends for the rest of their lives – with much joy and happiness.

    It was a tough transition for us too – to go from 3 to 4 and tough on LB no longer being ‘the one’ but we all adjusted and now they can entertain each other and that is a joy too.

  19. So happy for you!!!

  20. I am so glad to hear that your tiny Baby Z is home. Your daughters are beautiful. Congratulations!

  21. I never even knew ‘tears of happiness’ were a real thing until I had my first peaceful, alone-times with my newborn son, when we had a chance to get acquainted and I took it all in finally. Pretty amazing stuff.

    Having so many similar feelings about the big-ness of Coleman and him moving into more of a ‘kid’ role. So weird to feel such simultaneous pride at him growing/learning so many amazing new things, yet that aching pang of nostalgia and a little loss. I know this will come up a zillion times in parenthood, but still…

    Love the photos of your beautiful daughters. Thinking of you guys, and glad the nursing sounds like it’s going pretty well!

  22. Congratulations on her homecoming and on being a family of four under one roof. I am sure there is an adjustment period on many fronts. One day at a time, you will all settle in.

    Complete. What must that feel like.

  23. Wow, what a big day for all of you! Congratulations! And thanks for sharing the lovely picture. It sounds like a time of so many transitions–Mac’s return to work, Jaye’s growing up, everyone getting used to life with a newborn again. I’ve been following your blog for ages and am so happy for your little/big family.

  24. She’s beautiful! And what a beautiful picture of your girls together. I’m so happy for you, luna. You’re going to make me cry.

  25. So glad she’s finally home. Beautiful pics and I hope the coming days go well.

  26. So very, very happy for you. Wishing you all continuing joy and happiness as you settle into your new life as a family of four.

  27. congratulations! what an amazing post…and photo!

  28. Your girls are gorgeous! I have tears in my eyes and joy in my heart for all of you. What a road you travelled getting to this sweet place. Wishing you nothing but the very best and SLEEP!

  29. […] Bringing her home, finally, was both glorious yet unceremonious. This past week has been filled with sleepless nights, endless feedings, toddler tantrums with moments of OMFG how are we going to do this, stolen rest, lots of help, and endless gratitude. […]

  30. Welcome home baby Z. Luna so happy for your family!
    What amazing sisters.

  31. […] week later, I was discharged. After two weeks, we moved back home. And three very long weeks later, we finally brought Baby Z home from the NICU. She weighed just five pounds. Only preemie clothes fit her (which are now worn by […]

  32. […] day 20, the eve of the fall equinox, Baby Z was discharged after improving her feeds without a tube while maintaining growth, if just an ounce or two a day. […]

  33. […] the art projects they did and she learned some Spanish. It was she who drove us to the hospital the day Z was discharged, because after three weeks Mac had to return to work. She took care of Jaye many mornings those […]

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