Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Luke Is Three Weeks Old!

Is this the face of a miracle or what?

Daddy sure does think so!!

Three weeks...very hard to believe! It seems like such a long time he's already been here...almost a month! Holy cow.

It also seems like we were just in the hospital. Just counting the weeks until 38. Just baking goodies for the doctors. Just waiting and praying for a healthy delivery.

Again, time confounds me.

He's still just so sweet. I know every parent says that about his or her baby, but honestly, Luke is just so sweet. Mellow...gentle. Laid back. Just precious.

I think the jaundice is finally working its way completely out because he is staying awake more often. Still not as much as I'd like when he's eating, but better. He's finding his voice, too...sadly we found this out when his tummy hurts. Last night his tummy was really bothering him and he actually cried! Like, really cried...we saw tears! Even that was hardly anything, though--we call him everything from Baby Kitty (exactly what he sounds like) to Little Alien (because when he actually DOES cry, as he calms down, especially with his paci, he starts getting all gurgly with his noises and it sounds like he's talking alien!) to Baby Bird (since we feed him like one and his little arms and legs are like bird arms and legs). Last night, we gave him some of the tummy drops and that seemed to help his fussiness. He slept for his 4 hour stretch (abbreviated only because I woke him!) and after that, and eating, he went on for another 4 hours and 20 minutes (which is about 20 minutes longer than I wanted, but tried to coordinate with John's getting up so he could have his last bit of sleep too!) Those drops are great!

He loves baths!!! He doesn't fuss (which is not unusual!) but seems to really like the warm water, just like Mommy! I have been pregnant for almost 20 of the last 23 months and nearly EVERY day, I thanked God for hot showers and warm water! Luke loves having his hair washed and rinsed the best, again much like his mommy!

We are still working on eating. He is getting better with latching on, thankfully, but only with a lot of try, try and try again! He's a little tongue curler (thanks, Daddy!) so we are now working on tongue exercises to help there too. He is eating a bit more, and we are supplementing with the little periodontal dropper--about 4 ounces extra a day. We'll weigh him again tomorrow and at this point, if he's not gaining with the round the clock feedings and the extra food (breast milk), I don't know what I'd do differently. Pump to bottles, I guess. Everyone says it gets easier between 4-6 weeks, so that's what I am hoping.

I am jealous, if not completely skeptical, about those who say breastfeeding is the easiest and most natural thing in the world. It may be the most natural FOOD, but I'm surely not finding it the easiest process. I've told John that if I wasn't so worried about his feeding, I think I'd be a great bit more relaxed and not as stressed as I sometimes find myself. Easier said than done to not obsess over it so much--I just want to make sure he's doing as well as he can possibly do. I seriously, seriously wonder how mothers of multiples do this, or young mothers. I'm almost 38, lots of life experience, educated, supported beyond measure...and STILL am befuddled by this 6 pound sweetheart who SWEARS he's hungry but then decides to wave off when abundantly showered with food.

His cheeks are getting more full, and he is definitely growing in length at least, if not in girth! The preemie outfits he was wearing still are good for his weight, but his loooooooong little legs are just too long! We've moved into newborn sizes, and they are still blousy, but even those are getting a little short for him! His feet are filling the footie part and he's pushing his toes right to the end! Long and lean, we grow them...long and lean! His legs are SOOOO long (over half his body!) and his fingers are very, very long as well. Just skin and bones, though!

He's sleeping so well in the evenings. Even when he is awake after a feeding or something, he is quiet...bundled up in his swaddler and little hat, paci in mouth--all you can really see are his eyes and they just roam around, very alert and very inquisitively, until he starts 'talking to his angels' and falls asleep. I'm praying that we get his weight gain and food issues under control because he would surely sleep for great stretches through the night if I let him. That will be nice!

I just love him. Every day, at least 50 times, I just find myself having a hard time believing he is really here and really real. I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for his life and his existence, but honestly, still in disbelief that he's home with us. There are some days the shoe dangles less than others, so I guess that's a good sign, but it's always there...dangling and taunting, almost daring me to believe fully that we will raise him and even maybe see his children one day.

I'm working on letting my heart fully go there. It's still hard when I can barely look at pictures of Matthew without crying. Or even tearing up as I type about looking at pictures of him. God forbid I start talking about him without it being quick and in context like, "We bought that for Matthew, and Luke ......" or "When I was pregnant with Matthew, it was like....but with Luke, it was...." To talk about how much my heart still (and even more, if possible) aches for Matthew just envelopes me sometimes.

I know many might think this should be a time of sunshine and roses...and it is.

But it's also a time of heartache and longing...everything I experience with Luke is like an imprint with a hot rod on my heart of everything I will NOT experience with Matthew.

Little Bit is stirring....and swearing (ha ha) he is hungry. We'll see. Off to get his baby bird food ready...I'm posting some pictures from his third week. He gets at least 100 taken a day, seriously!

Sweet Little Luke, Mommy just loves you so much. You are more precious to me than I think you can ever know....

This picture brings such tears to my eyes...this is one of my sweet, sweet students from several years ago. A precious and amazing little boy. He and his mommy came to visit and I just love how he's holding Luke, yet Matthew is still in the background. The night we had Matthew's funeral, John told me that he would have wanted Matthew to grow up just like this little boy. Me too.

Cousin Ellie bought him this outfit...one of the few that fit the first week and a half. Still fits in pounds, but WAY too short for those long legs!

Daddy loves this boy, let me tell you!

From his first bath a bit ago....

He got some pictures taken with our sweet friend Krissy. He was SOOO good, even though he did all the peeing and pooping all over Mommy (what does one expect when the baby is not wearing clothes?!) and let Daddy hold him naked for a long time! Kris did our amazing maternity pictures--seriously, what talent in that fabulously adorable woman!

"I don't know why Daddy has to micromanage Mommy's cooking. I think her food's great! I'm out! Of course, Mommy only had to beg, borrow and steal to get me to eat enough!"

So intent on his Daddy!

"Nothing on tv. Guess I'll nap!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sixteen Whole Days!

On one hand, that seems like a long time!! Luke's already 2 weeks and 2 days!

On the other... S*I*X*T*E*E*N D*A*Y*S! Holy cow, he's so little!

He is still little. We saw the pediatrician on Tuesday for his two week check-up. He was about an ounce and a half shy of his birth weight, so we were ordered to eat more, eat more often and bulk up. In consulting several people, including lots of lactation consultants and moms who exclusively breast fed, Luke's fine. Neither John nor I are big people and long and lean may just be the way he rolls. In fact, he already gained 3/4 an inch in length in two weeks!! His legs are VERY long and his fingers and arms are super long too. I think growth curves are curves for a reason--and not everyone falls right in the middle.

Of course, I'd rather have heard, "Super. Don't change a thing!" but since I didn't, we saw another lactation consultant today. All is fine, we just need him to stay awake longer than 5 minutes and eat more often. He'd go 5, maybe even 6 hours if I *let* him between feedings...which sounds nice in theory for sleeping at night, but I'm constantly waiting to hear him stir or waking him up to make sure he's eating ok that I don't really sleep anyway.

We'll try to eat a bit more often, pump to be sure we make enough, and supplement if we have to--feeding the baby being the first and most important concept. He's doing all the right things with regard to diapers and such; he's just sleepy (still working on the jaundice) and a bit lazy and mostly, a nibbler like his mommy. Daddy is very, very worried about this since my motto is Eat To Live and his is Live To Eat....I'm sure Luke will be fine, as he was ALL ABOUT food in utero!

He is so sweet...so mellow! He still hardly ever fusses, and even when he does, it's not much of anything and usually only with a diaper change or changing clothes. He still has what we are calling 'conversations' with those we don't see. Again, not sure of the theology, but I am just not having any doubts that he's 'interacting' with his angel (Matthew 18:10) and even his cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), which I know include his brother, grandmas and granddads and I always tell him to make sure they know we love them and miss them still so much. I don't even know how to explain it, but it makes my heart swell every time I see him do this.

The days are still bittersweet. Grief doesn't end because amazing joy begins. They coexist and can really tear one up.

I just love him so much. SO.MUCH.

But, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being scared. I told John that I sort of feel like I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop...which, if you know me in real life, you know is how I sort of have always lived.

The thing is, Matthew dying WAS the other shoe dropping. There's a big difference between *waiting* for it to drop and actually knowing what it feels like when it drops. Once you know, the fear of it dropping again seems to be magnified about a million times.

Or it seems like it to me.

I know what it feels like to lose a baby. I know what it feels like to not be able to hold him and tell him he'll be ok and to mean it. I know what it's like to ache for the feel of a sweet little newborn in my arms.

It's the most horrendous pain I pray I will ever have to know. Knowing how THAT is, I am just paralyzed with fear sometimes because I can only imagine the intensity of pain should something happen to Luke. I don't know how to word it without sounding like I would miss Luke more because I've held him and 'know' things I never got to 'know' with Matthew....that's SO not the case. It's just now that he's here...and is so full of promise and hope and restoration, I'm terrified to lose that TOO.

It's such a hard thing to describe or explain. In any event, I just pray daily for the ability to just enjoy every moment without apprehension. Okay, I realize that is NOT going to happen, so I actually just pray for the ability to enjoy as many moments as I can without apprehension.

There are so many sweet ones. I'm grateful.

At two weeks:

Luke is still AMAZINGLY strong! He was lifting his head and neck and turning the afternoon he was born and we were all surprised. He only continues to get stronger...he is also sort of rolling to his side, which worries me a hair since he's strong, but not strong enough to pull himself back!

We are working on more feeding...although Grandma called today and told me that his Granddad at 5 weeks was the same way--noted to be needing more nutrition and to be fed every three hours with complementary milk...just like the lactation lady said Luke was like this morning! So...it's not just mommy's nibbler appetite that affects his eating!

He still smiles a lot...and sneezes a lot...and has the hiccups a lot. He does NOT fuss a lot, spit-up a lot or have many blow-outs. He's just such a good, sweet spirited little one.

I know I use it a lot, but don't think this word can be overused:


A few pictures...blogger is driving me nuts with uploading. Someone commented about a better way to upload? Can you recomment and help??!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The One I Wish I Didn't Have To Write....

To quote John, "There's something especially cruel about going to buy flowers for your dead baby son's grave to celebrate the birth of his brother."

I wholeheartedly agree.

I'm sure I won't even begin to cover what is going on in my mind, nor what has been since Luke was born. There's just too much, and the emotions and feelings are just too complicated and intertwined for me to be able to do more than just get them out, much less be articulate in doing so. We figured that the attempt, at the very least, would give me more 'cry about it' opportunity, and there's not much more than that than we can think of me doing to work through it all.

I should preface by saying I feel a horrendous amount of guilt in these feelings. (I know, what's new?) Seriously, though, when I have this sweet little face to love on and hug on, I realize this might verge on the edge of whining and some who read may feel that I am not nearly as grateful as I should be....I just feel like there are some topics that are not really talked about--with regard to having a healthy, living and breathing child after one has lost a baby--like the fact that the world sort of seems to expect you to all of a sudden be so overjoyed with the blessing you have been given, you are magically healed of the hurt you've been going through up to this point.

It doesn't.

Or, that the blessing of another child who so strongly resembles the child who died is also such a strong, strong reminder of what you'll never see grow in that lost little one.

Or, what you imagined you lost (because you never even got to hold him) in your first child just throbs inside of you and makes your heart hurt almost as much as it did when he died because you now know (sort of) the reality of what you lost and it's a million times worse than you've ever imagined. You realize you didn't even have a clue.

At least I didn't. I guess I figured that I'd lost more and more deeply than anyone, even John, because it was ME who carried Matthew...ME who kept him alive and felt every little kick and jab and knew his personality more than ANYONE ever could. I lost more than anyone, and I pretty much felt like there was nothing I could imagine that would be worse than my feelings.

I figured that all the lost hope and dreams were just about the worst thing I could ever imagine losing. No one but me could know those as intimately and with my perspective but me.

Until I was able to hold Luke. And feel what his soft little body felt like in my arms...what every inch of his skin feels like and not just his shoulder and cheek. Until I was able kiss him and tell him I loved him and know he heard me...to be able to tell him that I would take care of him and let nothing happen to him...to drink in the smell of his little neck and every nuance of every stretch he makes.

Until all of that...and so much more...I guess I just really had no idea of how much I could miss Matthew.

I just had no frame of reference, save my imagination, for what those things felt like...and how desperately, desperately, desperately I still want to be able to have those things with Matthew too.

I've cried more in the last few days over how much my heart hurts than I have in months. I told John it's sort of like I'm losing Matthew all over again--realizing now what joy there is in all that is Luke--and knowing it will not be with Matthew.

It's hard.

Dr. Polko, God LOVE her, said they'd been concerned this might be...especially with Luke looking so much like Matthew...and is keeping an eye on the PTSD aspect. Right now, we are still in the normal 'Baby Blues' stage--where it is completely appropriate to cry because the Target cashier tells you to "Have a nice day," just in response to all the hormones one has raging through.

There's certainly not a concern about postpartum depression right now either--Luke is the highlight of our day and I can't imagine functioning for any other reason right now but to tend to his every need and want. He is doted on, fussed over and loved upon pretty much from the time I open my eyes to the time I close them.

Dr. Polko was very adamant in differentiating PTSD from Baby Blues or Postpartum...and more where I am these days. I am constantly having flashbacks to the days we lost Matthew...more the day, I guess...and the pictures (all I have, really) that we have from that time. There are times when John is holding Luke that I will literally have to tell myself to breathe (sound familiar?) because the reality I am looking at so closely matches the pictures of John holding Matthew as he died...after Matthew died....I hold Luke and snuggle him and literally just cry thinking about what would happen to my heart if I had to give him back too. I can't imagine it.

And that then leads me to John...and how unbelievably difficult it must have been for John to have that with Matthew--a sweet, precious little miracle right there in his arms...and he had to watch him take his last breath.

And give him back to the nurses.

And leave him there.

By himself.

I've always appreciated what John did that night for our son...but I never, ever could have imagined how hard that had to have been. In my most vivid of vivid imaginings, I couldn't come close.

Until now...and that's just barely....because the reality is that Luke is healthy and happy and fine. There is no reason to believe that he would be anything different, and so even though I now have a bit different perspective of just what John lost that night, it's still tempered with the joy I have in a sweet smile Luke gives, or a little wiggle he makes...John didn't even have that.

So....like I said, I am sure this doesn't even hit the surface of what I am trying to put words to, but it's something. I'm trying to sleep when Luke is sleeping, but again, flashbacks and heartache make it hard to sleep. Working on that...I'll go back in a week and see how things are and John and I will continue to see our grief counselor for a bit, especially since it seems there's a whole new dimension to grief we are now dealing with and which we never expected.

They tell you how healing a new baby is. They tell you how joy will fill your heart again. They tell you that there's nothing like God's grace in a newborn life with which you are entrusted.

That's all true.

They just don't tell you how all of that makes you realize, again and even more deeply, if possible, what you lost in that precious child you never get to raise.

And how much that hurts.

Still praising God for my boys...and so grateful for the love and prayers and support of so many. I finally got to look at my email and FB messages today...over 2400!! There's no way I can get to all of them, but here I can at least say how thankful for them we are. There's just something about knowing you are covered in prayers and good wishes and love that really lifts one up in an indescribable way. My cup runneth over.

Now...off to a bath. For Luke, that is. He liked it at the hospital so we'll see how it goes here!

More sweetness....

I'm wearing ANOTHER hat?

Mommy thinks I wear 12 days old pretty well. And look, I found a paci!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some Luke Love...

I'm HOW old??????

Daddy thinks we are in matching 'clink' outfits. Mommy did NOT plan this, but loves how it worked out anyway!

Working on my jaundice by getting my tan on. Daddy's chest is great for this!

It sure is hard to be 10 days old!

He's just so sweet...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Fastest Week Ever!

That's what I feel like this last seven days has been...the fastest week EVER! Luke was born a week ago...and yet, is still just 39 weeks. He's doing amazingly well and we are so grateful! I was worried about possible NICU time, but we were just so blessed with good health and no NICU need from the start!

We went to the pediatrician yesterday and Luke had gained back 3 oz. since we left the hospital. He was 5 lbs., 10 oz. when we left the hospital and was 5 lbs., 13 oz. yesterday--which was only 3 days!! Needless to say, he's eating well, we think. It's hard to tell with a breast-fed baby, especially with a lazy little feeder, but he's gaining appropriately, pooping and pee-peeing appropriately, and doesn't seem to be starving so we guess all is well. As I found out after Matthew died, I'm good at producing milk, and Luke enjoys the fact that he doesn't have to work much to eat.

Slowly but surely we are working on the effort he puts forth and it's discrepancy between the amount of effort *I* put forth!

Luke is such a good baby. Really...he is SO mellow. Dr. Sweeney said if he was anything like he was in utero, he'd be feisty as hell, and yet, he's SO not! He still moves around a good bit (when he's awake!) and is SUPER strong still (John said, "No wonder you kept saying 'ouch' and telling me he was strong! He IS strong!), but other than that, he's sooooooo mellow and sweet. He hardly fusses at all--when he is getting his diaper changed or we have the nerve to dress him in warm clothes. He loves, loves, loves being swaddled and we are actually double swaddling--a receiving blanket swaddle and then one of those cheater swaddlers that are totally worth the money for just the convenience of the middle of the night, if nothing else. He's pretty easy to console, and today, found his fingers so I have a feeling this will make consoling him even easier.

He sleeps a lot. A LOT. Most of the day. And night. It's just in the day, he doesn't seem to mind his bouncer or glider (LOVE his glider! Thanks, Jen!) and for some reason, at night, he'd prefer to be held.

I'm willing to oblige. He is just so sweet.

We've been calling him Little Bit or Little Peanut because he is just so little. I don't think I've held a baby quite this little. Even friends with twins had babies that were a bit bigger than Luke is now. I love how teeny he is and how snuggly he is when I hold him. I love that my voice and my touch calm him down in a way that others sometimes can't make happen. Obviously, I just love him. He doesn't have very many clothes that fit him--which is funny since he has SO MANY clothes!! That's ok; I know he'll be grown into them soon enough so I don't want to rush a single second.

Cloth diapering is going well and John totally became a true believer yesterday at the pediatrician. Dr. S. opened the disposable diaper we had on Luke (since we were traveling, John reasoned) and there were all these gel crystals from the diaper. Gross. John has since decided that even traveling, we can make cloth work. I knew he'd come around! He DID have a big blowout today, and John said, "Are these diapers going to do this all the time?" I think the issue was that Little Bit is a LITTLE BIT and it was, for lack of more polite language, a pretty wet and juicy poopy that went right through the his little leg hole because of his little chicken legs. It went all over John, the sofa, his blanket...it was quite humorous for us both. (More for me, since he did it to his daddy and saved his mama!)

Daddy wants it to be known that Luke is very photogenic. I second that. He smiles a lot and is pretty alert--when he is awake! John is loving taking pictures all the time, and so am I. Very easy to do a picture a day, which is my goal for Luke, as well as for this year.

The dogs are adjusting well--Dixie is really sort of the guardian--letting us know the baby is crying or whatever. It's funny that SHE'S the one who is doing this! Sam is wonderful with kids, but he has no idea of what to do with baby-babies and doesn't understand why the attention is no longer on him. He is even more bull-in-the-china-shop than he normally is, so we sort of watch him carefully around the baby. He'd never intentionally hurt him, Sam's just not aware of how big and goofy he is.

I'm tired. It's a good tired, of course, but I'm tired. Mom and John are around, which gives me some opportunity to nap some during the day, but when I try to sleep, my mind races and images come flashing back to me over and over. It's a story for another day. Still figuring all the emotions that go with these days out.

Luke, Luke, Luke how you are loved!!! We just can't even begin to tell you. Birth stories and doctor visit updates and more pictures to come....


Mommy kisses me and I kiss her back!

Hello, bright-eyes!

"Am I wearing ducks????"

My mommy can't get enough of me!

On the way to the pediatrician. Am I cute or what?

I just finished eating! YUM!

Dixie is keeping watch...not sure of what to make of things!

Mommy says daddy is a baby-hog!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Pictures

Well...it's been busy, to say the least. We've loved every second. I want to write about the day Luke was born and so does John, but we're just now navigating life with a few hours of sleep, eating and diaper changing, so it might have to wait a few days.

Needless to say, it was a beautiful and wonderful day.

Again, we cannot say how loved and supported we've felt over the last few days...well, longer than that, really, but certainly in the days leading up to Luke being born and since. Thanks to everyone who has friended us or asked us to text about how Luke is doing--it's so easy to update that way, and these days, all I have time to do! In fact, as I type, my inbox has 1688 emails...my FB messages? 347. I cannot possibly express enough gratitude for the support and encouragement and just want to apologize upfront for not being a bit better about updating and messaging back. At least 3 times a day, John says, "I don't get it. I don't understand why so many people care. It's just unreal."

I don't know what to tell him, other than through tears, that it's obvious our sweet boys have already made big impacts on this little world. We are truly humbled.

I don't have the time to fully write all I want to, but I have to write this or else I may forget and I just hold what happened this morning so precious. Around 6 this morning, Luke was about to start a feeding. (Oh boy, feeding....but another day!) John was sleeping beside me, and it was just getting light. I was basking Luke in...amazed that this sweet little boy was in my arms and just so grateful to God for that very second. Luke was sort of waking up, half smiling, half rolling his eyes around like he was possessed...all in all, just making sweet little faces. We've talked about how much newborns smile in their sleep--make all these expressions--and we wonder what they are thinking of and dreaming of. Someone once told me that they really believed that in those first few days, they are still so connected to Heaven that the smiles and sweet looks are just reflections of that connection. I told Luke that I didn't know if that was true, but if it was, and he maybe...just maybe was somehow communicating with his brother, I wanted him to let Matthew know how much we loved him and missed him and were so grateful for them both. I kissed Luke all over, and kissed him some more and said, "If you can, please give these kisses to Matthew for Mommy..."

My sweet boy puckered back. It was as obvious and evident as anything I've ever seen--Luke puckered back and I have no doubt those were kisses from my Matthew.

Kisses from my boys this morning...the most precious way to start a day.

Speaking of precious...here are some pictures! They are of various times and dates, but just wanted to share some sweet baby Luke!