Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Due Date Reflections

Today, my little Reagan is 40 weeks, is full term. We have been blessed to have had her with us for 74 days. What a journey it has been. I can say that while I would have loved to have carried her to full term, the past two and a half months have been incredible. I wouldn't change a thing.... I think.

It's a wonderful thing to be Reagan's mommy, and every day, I am so grateful for her. But, as I reflect on the last 74 days, it's a bittersweet feeling. I look at friends who are having babies or who have recently had babies, and I envy their normal full term healthy deliveries. I envy how they think that their pregnancy experience is similar to mine. I envy how they can blithely go through each day without realizing just how much of a miracle every part of a baby is. (For my friends who are reading this who have recently had or are going to have babies...please please PLEASE don't take offense at what I'm saying--- I'm so thrilled for each and every one of you, and adore your babies!). I envy that they get to feel what it's like to be HUGE with a baby, to wonder if this is going to be the day that your baby makes their appearance. I envy that they go to experience the third trimester.
Reagan on her birthday, Jan. 8th, 2012
You see, I didn't get to do all of those things. My pregnancy experience was so very different from the "normal" experience that one reads about in "What To Expect When You're Expecting". No one ever thinks that their pregnancy is going to be complicated or end early. You're too filled with hopes and dreams for the little one that grows inside of you, that you don't even think about the dangers that exist. After all, those kinds of things don't happen to me, right?
Wrong. After Reagan's birth, I heard from so many friends and friends of friends that had or knew someone who had difficult pregnancy and/or early delivery. It's a hard road. It's a lonely road. It's a road that makes you so thankful for every little thing.
Most new moms don't think twice about their babies' ability to eat on their own or breathe on their own. I didn't. When Reagan was born, she was able to breathe on her own right away, which mean she did not have to be intubated. However, she did go on two different breathing machines. These allowed her to spend her energy growing rather than breathing. The day that she moved to breathing on her own without a machine was a HUGE day for us. I'll never take for granted the fact that my daughter can breathe.
Reagan in February, with her feeding tube.
For the first three weeks of her life, Reagan ate primarily through a feeding tube. Initially, this tube was through her mouth, and as she learned to bottle feed, it was moved to her nose. It's a hard thing to watch your child eat through a little orange tube every three hours from a machine. After about three and half weeks, I got to try putting Reagan to breast. I always imagined breast feeding my child, and to give up this dream was a hard thing. I'll always be grateful to the NICU nurses for letting me have the opportunity to at least feel what that would have been like, and to have that experience, however small, with Reagan. As she grew, Reagan's ability to suck, swallow, and breathe developed, and she was able to feed through a bottle. When she transitioned to a hundred percent bottled fed, we were thrilled. No more feeding tubes. Most new parents never imagine that their child would have difficulty feeding. I'll never take for granted the fact that my daughter can eat on her own now.
In the NICU, I would be able to hear babies from down the hall screaming and crying at the top of their lungs. It was such a sound... but it made my heart ache, just a little tiny bit. When Reagan was first born, and for the first few weeks, she couldn't cry or make loud sounds. They were teeny tiny little sounds that only hinted at what could be. I couldn't wait to hear her cry loudly, because I knew that healthy babies are able to cry at a normal volume. Now, when she cries in the middle of the night, yes, it drives me crazy. But, I'm thankful that she can cry, that's she is physically able to cry.
Most people, when they're getting ready for their baby, hear that babies need one more layer of clothing than grown ups. So, new moms and dads think a little bit about their child's body temperature. Most never imagine that their child's ability to regulate their OWN body temperature is a huge gift. Reagan spent the first five and a half weeks in a isolette in the NICU. Initially, the isolette was set to adjust to her body temperature, regulating her warmth for her. After a few weeks, it was changed to stay at a set temperature, gradually allowing Reagan's body to take over the regulation. It wasn't until she was less than a week away from coming home that she moved to a crib, at room temperature. This was so exciting and huge. For over a month, we had to reach through two arm holes into the isolette to hold her hand, or wait until she was feeding to get to hold her outside of the isolette. When she moved to the crib, we were able to touch and hold Reagan however much we wanted. Moms and dads never imagine that they have to wait until they are told to hold their child. We certainly never imagined that. It's the hardest thing, to ask permission to touch and participate in your own child's life and care. I will never stop treasuring the ability to hold my daughter.
Reagan on Monday, March 19th! Happy girl!
Today, she is a full term healthy baby. Yesterday, she had her "two month" well baby check. She now weighs 6 pounds and 14 ounces, and is 20 inches long. She's healthy, happy, and well adjusted to being at home. My husband and I look at her every day, and think, what a miracle. Yes, all babies are  miracles and blessings. Our Reagan, well, she's an extra special miracle.
Happy due date, my angel!! :) I love you!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Month At Home

Today marks the 31st day that Reagan has been at home. We still have a ways to go before she will surpass her days in the NICU...but we're getting there. The past month has been full of all sorts of new parenting challenges and joys, and neither Edmund nor I would trade any of it. Reagan continues to amaze us every day.
Here's a quick look at the past month in numbers:

Diaper Size: almost to newborn (probably tomorrow or Wednesday)
Length: 19 inches (hooray!)
Weight: not entirely sure (note to self: BUY a scale), but probably over 6 pounds
Amount of Food Consumed Daily (by Reagan): around 500 to 600 ml, about 16 to 20 ounces
Sleep Time: averaging between 3  and 4 hours
Clothing Size: preemies in everything but pants, where she's in newborns. again, almost out of preemie sizes.
Favorites: her lamb chair, pacifier, bumble bee toy, blankets, snuggling with Mommy and Daddy
Milestones:  can support her head (for a few moments at a time but getting longer each day), rolling from her back to one side and back again, grasping things, tracking with her eyes.
Amount of Wine Consumed by Mommy and Daddy: 8 bottles of red and counting....Oops!! :)
Firsts: trip to the bookstore (got Madeline in a board book), trip to the post office, trip to the mall, walk around the neighborhood, trip to the grocery store, well baby check

Needless to say, it's been a great 31 days! I've been keeping busy at home by using my new sewing machine--made a boppy cover, three ruffled bum onesies, and I'm halfway through Reagan's crib skirt. I have a whole slew of projects that I'm going to work on next. :) We're looking forward to having my family visit at the end of the month! My dad and brother haven't seen her since her first week, and my mom since her first month, so I know they're going to be so wowed by how big she is. Yes, they've seen pictures and videos but it's so not the same thing.

And speaking of pictures, here's a few for yall to enjoy!
at Barnes and Noble

see how long she is???

lovin her fingers, pacifier...
and mommy loves the headbands!

hanging out in the boppy with mommy's home made boppy cover

all of Daddy's girls!!
Hope yall are all taking care and enjoying this beautiful spring weather! It was almost 70 here...practically unheard of in Pennsylvania! Loving that we really only had 2 snows (knock on wood) this year!!! :)
Take care, yall!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Months

Two months ago, our precious little girl was born! Happy two months, baby Reagan!
We are so happy that you're home with us every day! It's such a miracle to see you grow and change before our eyes. We know how much you love to be held and snuggle with Mommy and Daddy. We know that you love to hold onto your ears, especially when you're sleeping. We know that you're gradually starting to sleep longer at night for us, which we love. 
Yes, Mommy and Daddy aren't perfect, and we're all learning together how to be a family. For instance, it took us 10 days to figure out which kind of bottle and nipples you like best. 
But no matter what, it's our family and we all love each other. 
Happy two months, baby girl!

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