Well, it happened. My little man celebrated one full year with our family.
John Harper, aged ONE!
We were expecting his arrival a little bit sooner than he chose to arrive. John Harper was due on Dec. 12. It came and went. As did the 15th (his "other" official due date.) Then came Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.
my belly, 41 weeks
I saw a midwife for my pregnancy with John Harper. It was an uncomplicated pregnancy, and I prepared for six months for a VBAC(Grady was a cesarean due to size) using Hypnobirthing. We felt ready and excited to welcome John Harper in a completely natural birth. We played this song over and over and over again, and I cried imagining the moment I would get to meet my son.
I awoke with a scream in the middle of the night on Dec. 28. I'd read about back labor. I didn't realize what waking up in the middle of a back labor contraction felt like. Not great. Throughout that night and all the following day and well into the next night I worked to get John Harper to us. After a full 24 hours of hard, hard natural labor, I was at 2 cm. I asked for an epidural, and then after some hard thought, prayer and tears, Adam and I decided that the best way for our baby to be born was via a repeat cesarean.
coupla days old
John Harper Westmoreland Tarleton came screaming into the world at 11:54 pm on Dec 29, 17 days overdue. All 10 lbs, 11 oz, 21 1/2 inches of him. Despite his long journey, he seemed perfect. I was able to touch and kiss him immediately, and they brought him to me to nurse within an hour.
four days old
Within a few hours, we realized he was not, in fact, perfectly healthy. There seemed to be something funny about his latch, and nobody had any real answers, other than to keep nursing him. No one came to check his blood sugar, protocol for babies over 9 lbs., for 26 hours. When it was finally checked at 27 hour old, his blood sugar was 40. He was shaking and a seizure looked imminent. He was given formula, and stabilized. Then began a cycle I am still trying to forget. I would pump for 20 minutes, getting a few milliliters (yes, drops!) of breast milk (my milk hadn't come in yet because of the cesarean) and then Adam would feed him from a tiny cup. We then gave him formula. I got up while he ate and washed the pump parts. And this cycle had to be repeated every two hours-- meaning about an hour in between the time I started and the time I finished--24 hours a day. It took three days for him to be able to stabilize his own blood sugar, even on an almost exclusive diet of formula. I look back on those weeks-- and I had been through the shock of a newborn before-- and I don't know how we survived.
meeting Grady and "Grady's John Harper"-- his enormous baby doll
There's more to the story, too, that isn't worth talking about anymore. It was a hard, hard time. Breastfeeding is so, so important to me, and it seemed like John Harper needed all the benefits my milk could provide even more than other babies. We saw lactation consultants, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and an infant chiropractor. We heard words the words "cerebral palsy." People have asked me if I cried a lot. I didn't. I knew that if I let myself fall apart, even for one minute, I wouldn't get myself back together.
six weeks old
We kept on keeping on. I kept putting John Harper to my breast. I kept on pumping. He began to eat less and less formula and more and more of my milk. But his jaw was clamped shut as if it were wired, and his little body still seemed like a board-- he was completely stiff and we couldn't get his arms and legs to bend.
And then, when he was 4 weeks old, he began to run a fever. I took him to the doctor-- the pediatricain we saw told me to take him home. The next day I was sitting in the emergency room holding my blue baby, watching him struggle to get air, seeing him held down while he had vial after vial of blood drawn, have a spinal tap, a chest x-ray. I was alone. Adam was with Grady while we waited on someone to come watch him.
I didn't know what the next day would bring for us. It's the most afraid I've ever felt.
really little-- I think this is prior to the hospital, but I'm not sure
He had pneumonia. He spent days on oxygen, hooked up to wires and buzzers and I sat in a chair next to his hospital crib that looked like a cage. After a week, we came home again.
And then the weeks went by, and then months. When he was 3 months old, he began to latch on during nursing. We held our breaths while the lactation consultant weighed him after he fed. I breathed a sigh of relief that he was getting milk. And slowly, slowly, as his little mouth practiced opening and his little muscles worked, his body began to unkink. He rolled over. He rocked on all fours. He crawled at 6 months, 1 week and 3 days old. And nobody talked about cerebral palsy anymore.
First frosted cupcake. It was really yummy.
And so today we celebrate one year of John Harper. And we are almost ready to say goodbye to an old year and welcome a new one in.
Goodbye to a year of hospital stays (there have been two more, but thankfully he's been fine every time), fear, worry and stress.
Hello to a new year of wonderful with my wonderful boy.