Sunday, May 6, 2012

Flashback: Grief and Joy

(This post was originally published on November 4, 2009 on my first blog. You can read it here. It has been updated and edited from its orginal version. At the time of the writing, Georgie was 11 months old and I was pregnant with Cole. I am reposting this in honor of our March for Babies, which is today)
Someone once told me that once you are a parent, you can understand how pure joy and pure grief  can co-exist. I didn't understand it then and I didn't fully understand it when Joseph was born. Not even when Camille was a baby, did I get it. I mean, I understood pride and grief. I am so, so proud of my kids when they master a new mildstone but I grieved a little for the fun, sweet stage they were forever leaving behind.

Then Georgie was born. And I got it. I did. I was so joyful my baby was born but I grieved so much because he wasn't with me. I was joyful when I pumped milk, but I grieved because there was no tiny mouth guzzling it directly from my breast. Everything, everything was a swirling mixture of those two strong emotions.

[In 2009] Georgie's nursing story was recently in LLL's New Beginnings.  I wrote it because I was asked, because there is a need for successful preemie nursing stories and because I thought maybe I could give hope to someone else in my situation.

Last night, when I got home from group [therapy], Adam told me someone named "Beverly" had called his parents looking for me. We were confused, because as to why someone would call his parents looking for me since we have different last names. And they couldn't know me very well if they didn't know my husband's first name! But, yet, the name sounded familiar.I took her number and promised my husband I would call her back.

This morning I had a fleeting thought, "I think that is the NICU's lactation consultant." And it was.


We had a wonderful conversation. She thanked me for sharing the story and for being brutally honest. She said that alot of mother's go home breastfeeding and tell her that they continue but, of course, you don't REALLY know. On a professional level, she was happy to know that one of the preemies DID go home nursing.

And I am JOYFUL that Georgie's story could make someone else happy!

She asked about the troubles we had, which were touched on in the article. And I was brought back to that HORRIBLE month where my baby slept for hours on end and had to be forced fed. I remembered vividly standing in the hallway of the church where LLL met, telling my friend, "I'm not convinced he's home to stay." It took all my willpower to not burst into great, gluping sobs as she hugged and me and promised me he was home for good.


I remembered being scared and fustrated when Georgie's bili levels wouldn't go down. My doctor promised me that he would request a bili blanket to do home photo- therapy for Georgie so, no, he wouldn't have to go back to the hospital. I trusted my doctor but I lived in fear and grief.

It is the most gut wrenching, GRIEF-filled thing to take your baby home and then fear he's going back.

The LC said that they have a parent group at the hospital so they can get feedback from the parents on how to better serve them. She said the problems I had with him coming home were due to his gestational age. Honestly, I don't remember them telling me he could have problems gaining or with his bili levels. That doesn't mean they didn't tell me; there are chunks of time that I don't remember. And would I have listened? I was so filled with JOY at FINALLY bringing my baby home that I really didn't give a damn about anything except getting HOME.

When we got off the phone, I was glad I had to take Camille to dance class. I couldn't sit around crying; I had things to do. I'm going to pick Joseph up from school and go to the mall since I need some shirts. I think we might do lunch too and then get their hair cut and pick up some medicine for me. I need to be busy and forced-feed myself joy or I will fill up with grief

I don't know why it made me so sad. I think it was the vivid memories, the retelling, the reminder of how HARD it was. It's the fear that we will be back there, the fear that this baby will have it WORSE than George. It's the grief.

Georgie's story needs to be told. There needs to awareness of what happens to late term preemies, what is normal and what isn't. People need to know you can nurse but it will be a long, slogging road. People need to know the JOY in every birth, no matter what the gestation, but the GRIEF too, that comes with seeing a child born too soon.

When I got off the phone, I picked up my big little guy, hugged him and kissed him, because at the end of every grief there is always, always joy.

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