I caught a glimpse of myself in my son today. He enthusiastically approached a new skill, but when he didn’t get it just right on the first try, he got upset and then stopped trying. Wow…how’s that for a sobering reminder of your own, ahem, imperfections?
That same perfectionist personality trait is what has kept me from posting the past week or so. I just want to encapsulate it all with the right words, conveying our true emotions and letting you in on what life is really like for our little family of three in the NICU. But the right words escape me, and like I watched Struthers do today, I just give up and move on (to mastering something new). But I realize that’s not fair to the hundreds of you out there praying for us and following our story. Nor is it honoring of the only perfect person to have ever walked this earth.
So, the hightlights:
–Struthers spent about 6 days off of CPAP, then was placed back on it for the third time. The decision was a surprise to me, but clearly the right one for our little one. He remained on the breathing assistance for another week, then on December 26, was weaned off again. This was a setback in more ways than one, but we are getting back on track slowly but surely. Another NICU mom reminded me that on and off CPAP was better than on and off ventilator, which her sweet tiny child has experienced twice now.
–The third time on CPAP came with its own set of challenges, namely fluid retention. So after a few very puffy days and crazy weight gains that none of us wanted to believe, he was placed on a diuretic. Only three doses later, our little man looks like himself again and continues to put on ‘real’ weight. We are fortunate that so far, the diuretics have not caused an electrolyte imbalance. Even off of CPAP, they have kept him on a mild diuretic (the High Flow Oxygen he’s on is humidified and can still cause water retention, and he accumulated fluid in his lungs during his second attempt off CPAP), so prayers are that all remains balanced as they check his levels every 2-3 days.
–Struthers has more than doubled his birthweight, and is now 3lbs, 12 ounces! I still am blown away by the fact that I delivered a relatively healthy one-pounder. THAT is perfection. His eye exams continue to be encouraging, and the vasculature is slowly maturing, reducing the risk of retinopathy and other common complications from prematurity.
–Christmas was full of emotion that I’ve given up on perfectly describing! I’ve always loved Christmas Eve candlelight services, but we missed it this year. And I distinctly remember crying at the last two years’ services, begging our God to send me a child. I’m overwhelmed at the reminder that He did this year.
–Sometimes my human perfectionist attitude prevents me from seeing that simple answer to prayer. I kept thinking about the fact that this was Struthers’ first Christmas, and we were missing out on all of traditions and wishes I’d created in my mind for that. I was especially frustrated at the fact that he wouldn’t even have a first Christmas outfit (nothing that fit!), and pictures with CPAP were not appealing. So what makes me break down like no other on Christmas Eve than to walk into my son’s NICU pod and realize he’s wrapped in swaddling cloths? It’s amazing how God speaks to us sometimes…
–Christmas Day we spent the morning with Struthers, giving him a bath and moving him from his isolette to a big boy bed! Then we traveled down to Colorado Springs and stopped in to see Eli’s parents and brother’s family on the way home. The reality that Aunt Cami will now have her own little ‘cousin’ at family gatherings is an encouraging new concept. I love being Aunt Cam, but family gatherings have historically been somewhat lonely in the midst of chaos–I wanted so badly to add a cousin to the mix (and have them be close in age). So this year was different–bittersweet.
–My family flew into town on Christmas, and after picking them up from the airport, I spent only the 2nd night since October in my own bed on December 25. It’s wonderful to have my family here, and fun to show them the growth little Struthers has made since they saw him during his first few days of life. It’s also difficult to feel torn between being where I should be–at the NICU in Denver with Struthers or hanging out with my family while they’re in town and I have the most overqualified babysitters we’ll ever find in the NICU nurses? Once again, I’m forced to give up on my idea of perfection, and just enjoy the time and opportunity. I am so grateful my family is understanding and flexible (and able to handle the emotional wreck I can be lately), and it’s nice to know they are enjoying all Colorado has to offer!
There you go–an imperfect recap of our imperfect week that was planned just for us by a Perfect Creator.
Hugs from Eli, Cami and Struthers