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Friday, May 11, 2012

Aidan's Birth Day

Aidan Mikal was born on November 27, 2005. He was 7 weeks early, and weighed 3 lbs 11 oz. We had just celebrated Thanksgiving with my family at Mom and Dad's house. I wore a funky sweater that stretched over my big belly. How I love a big belly full of baby! I felt very cute, and very thankful that I was still pregnant, since my first pregnancy had ended at 29 weeks. The doctors had assured me that my preterm delivery with our twins was a fluke, and that this pregnancy would be fine and full term. We went home after a great turkey dinner, counting our many blessings.
The next day, Alex and I decided to putz around the house, clean up, rest up. Suddenly I felt some cramps and had some bleeding. My heart sank. I just knew where this was headed. My regular OB was not on call because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but I called the OB who was covering for her. She said we needed to get to the hospital right away to check and make sure everything was ok. Luckily, the hospital was two blocks away, something that had come in very handy during the years we lived in that sweet old house. 

Jonah and Ben were just 3 years old. I saw in their eyes that they understood something bad was happening, and they were desperate because Mommy was leaving suddenly. They had extreme separation anxiety and anytime I went anywhere, even the bathroom, it was major trauma to the boys. So I was scared to death for my new baby, and so sad for my older boys who I had to hurt by leaving suddenly and unexpectedly in order to help the new little baby. There was no time to explain to the boys what was happening, or prepare them.

We left the boys with grandparents and went to the hospital. I was checked in and after my initial exam was given fluids to stop the contractions and drugs to speed up Aidan's lung development in case of early labor. I was so torn emotionally. I was in disbelief and terror that this was happening to me again, and yet I had been on this roller coaster before and knew what to expect. It almost felt like not such a big deal, because Jonah and Ben had been born so much earlier than 33 weeks, it felt like a gift to be this pregnant.
I was still bleeding and wasn't allowed to move except to go to the bathroom. My mom came and sat with me and knitted a prayer blanket for our new little baby. She had to hurry, because he was fast on his way! Alex tried to stay with me as much as possible and be home with Jonah and Ben and reassure them that everything was ok and Mommy and Daddy hadn't abandoned them. It was a tricky balance. I desperately wanted Alex by my side, to comfort me and face this terrible ordeal with me. He is my strength and I knew I needed it during those hours. But I knew our little boys at home needed Daddy's strength too. More than I did. So I let him go.
Alex went home at one point and was going to have Ben and Jonah come back with him to see me, because I had been at the hospital for a couple days and they were missing me. The doctor came to check on me while he was gone. My bleeding had slowed a lot over the past day, but suddenly picked up again. The doctor was trying to decide what to do. She had talked with me about a VBAC, and I was all for it. Aidan was going to be small, so the risks were fewer than if he was a big baby. Suddenly, Aidan's little body went into distress. It kept happening, where his heart rate would decrease. We would find out later that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his shoulder. 

The doctor said she wasn't sure what to do. (This was not the same doctor who delivered Jonah and Ben, and not one that specialized in high- risk pregnancies since we didn't have any reason to believe I was high risk). I looked at the doctor, who was about my age, completely appalled. I could not believe she would say those words to me, even if she had thought them! I completely lost all confidence in her. I said to her "Listen, I've been down this path before. I know that you need to do an emergency C-section right now!!" Especially since our new little baby's heart rate kept decreasing.
The doctor agreed with my 'clinical assessment' of my situation, and decided that was what we should do. Mom called Alex to tell him not to bring the boys to see me, but to come back right now because I was having a C-section. Once again, I was wheeled to the OR. Once again, waiting to see Alex's blue eyes above a mask come to hover over my head. Reassuring me that no matter what, we'd be ok. 

Aidan was born at 11:11, on 11/27, weighing 3 lbs 11 oz. 11 is our lucky number, I'm pretty sure. Since Alex and I were first dating, we'd say "Oh, it's 11:11! Make a wish!" Our wish certainly came true that day. Sweet, feisty little Aidan made his entrance into the world and we've never been the same. He didn't need a ventilator, the drugs had helped his lungs develop quickly. Aidan was in good health, just very very small. He needed to stay in the NICU for 3 weeks to grow and learn things like how to drink from a bottle. I was in disbelief that this had happened to us again, and that again I had to leave the hospital without my baby. Again my arms were empty as I was wheeled to the exit and Alex drove our car up to get me. Again.
Suddenly I was thrown right into the middle of having Mommy Guilt. I couldn't spend every waking moment of the day with Aidan at the NICU like I had when the twins were born, because Ben and Jonah were home and needed me too. Aidan had nurses to take care of him, that's true, but in my humble opinion there's no one as good for a baby as his mama. It was so difficult to be at home with the big boys, knowing that Aidan was two blocks away, alone in his incubator. Or to be at the NICU snuggling with Aidan while knowing that my three-year-olds were at home missing me. I wondered what the trauma of all this chaos was going to do to all three of my boys.
Aidan finally came home after 3 weeks. He had an apnea monitor like Jonah and Ben had had. Everything with our NICU experience with Aidan was a little bit fuzzy around the edges. Yes, we were scared he would have problems long-term. Yes, there were beeps and heart dips and breathing halts, but it didn't seem as Crisis Mode as it had when Jonah and Ben were born. Aidan seemed huge compared to his brothers when they were born so impossibly small. Had Aidan been our only preemie, I'm sure it would have all seemed much more terrifying. But for good or bad, we had been down this road before. I knew all the questions to ask. I knew what tests would be done. I knew what signs of trouble to watch for. We had to get trained on the apnea monitor before Aidan came home, but we knew all that too. Been there, done that. 
When I finally left the hospital with my third little boy, I felt nervous and fulfilled all at the same time. Worried about how I was going to care for my two older boys, with their therapies and doctor appointments and challenging needs, and now my new baby, with all his baby needs, his apnea monitor, his doctors appointments...every time I have had a new baby, my brain feels totally overwhelmed with the magnitude of what has just happened. What I will have to remember to bring places for another whole person. How I cannot forget to bring the new person, himself. How I have to get three kids in car seats, two of whom flip out if they're away from me for a second- and one infant. How any time a stranger even looks at my three-year-olds, they melt into a big pile of mush because they're sensory and nervous systems are still so bonkers. How in the world will I do this, I wonder.
Ben, Aidan, Jonah
When we brought Aidan home from the hospital, Ben and Jonah were not in the least impressed. They had seen their new baby through the window of the NICU, but weren't allowed to go in and be with Aidan. I don't think the whole reality of the new baby situation had set in for the big boys. When Aidan was carried into our home, sleeping in his carseat, they looked at him from afar but were scared to go closer. My mom and dad had been watching the boys while we picked Aidan up. Dad loves the story of how Jonah had told him before we arrived that Jonah was NOT going to say hi to the new baby. After Aidan had been home for a little while, Jonah came up to Papu (Dad) and whispered "I said hi to Aidan!" Dad chuckles with joy every time he tells that story. 

Eventually, Ben cautiously got closer to where Aidan was, still in his car seat sleeping. After studying his little brother, he turned to me and declared "I think we should bring Aidan back to the hospital to live with his nurses now." Hm, if only all our problems were that easy to fix, Ben. 
Ben, Alex, Aidan, me, Jonah
I remember sitting in a chair, in pain from my C-section, in tears because I was so overwhelmed with the daunting task of being a mama to these three little boys. Somehow, we got the hang of it. I figured out how to push the twins in the double stroller and pull Aidan in his carseat in the grocery cart, all at the same time. I figured out how to get three kids to bed without Daddy being home. I found ways to balance our therapy and doctor's appointments, with three boys in tow. It slowly became our new "normal", and I cherished each moment of being a mama to new little Aidan. I would hold him in my arms, feeding him his bottle and rocking him, and feel so blessed that I had the privilege of loving this little baby. That I had the chance to hold a baby while I fed him, instead of having to feed twins who sat in carseats, a bottle in each of my hands. I realized this is what it is like to just have one baby at a time, and as many things as I loved about having infant twins, it was an experience I truly enjoyed- having just Aidan to hold and snuggle and love.
"Aidan" means 'little fire'. When I was pregnant with him, I could already tell he was a fiery little guy. He would roll and kick and do summersaults. He would do jumping jacks and cartwheels. When he was born, he grew and thrived and got stronger, and we knew we had given him the name that was meant for him. He is a little fire, from the top of his spiky hair to the soles of his sensitive feet. Our little Aidan couldn't wait to enter the world, and we've been so blessed ever since to have him in our lives.

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