My Little Bear,
You were snuggled up against me yesterday and it suddenly hit me that you are almost 6 months old. In less than a week, you are half a year old and I still remember the day we found out things were more complicated than we anticipated. The midwife’s tears, the incredible kindness of the maternal fetal specialist, the daunting day long trip to Children’s, lying cramped in the MRI machine while I felt you shift and kick.
It’s been three months since your last surgery, and your head is still holding steady. I feel like I can say that now and not fear a sudden emergency. We started physical therapy for you yesterday and I’m eager to see you improve and how you’re going to surprise us. Everyday seems to bring improvement with your motor skills and even this morning you were experimenting with loud squawks.
Every once in a while I’ll have a flashback to the night Little Bear was born. I start feeling that major anxiety rush as I realized there was no stopping his coming. My only clear, sharp memories from that night are standing at the doors waiting for a nurse to come down and let us in, and hoping I wasn’t gushing water everywhere, and then rolling into the NICU room to see my little baby for the first time. I wish that day was clearer but I also recognize that everything happened so fast that I wasn’t able to stay present. Little Bear being 6 months old means that I am also 6 months out from major abdominal surgery and the end of a difficult pregnancy. My body is finally feeling stronger and not as weak or in pain as much as it was those first few months of his life. With all of the times Little Bear has been in and out of the hospital, I have worked hard to make sure I am taking care of myself.
I clicked through several pictures of mamas during c-sections the other day and something hit me hard. I saw myself back on that surgical table, shaking uncontrollably as I tried to keep my eyes focused on the blue sheet in front of my face. My arms weren’t tied down, but I couldn’t help clenching my hands to try to keep from shaking. The anesthesiologist was awkward in my room when he came in to introduce himself before I went back to the OR, but during the surgery? He was friendly, clearly in his element, and carefully monitored me and made sure I was comfortable. He made cheerful conversation with Phil, and honestly, even though I was barely aware of what they were saying, it helped having something sort of normal going on around me.
The c-section didn’t take very long at all, and we did get a glimpse of Little Bear, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what he looked like. I remember feeling him being pulled out, hearing the nurses delightedly exclaim that that was such a good looking head, and then that was that. They whisked Little Bear away and the next time I saw him was in the NICU surrounded by yellow gowned nurses and doctors.
The neurosurgeon that Little Bear ended up with wasn’t supposed to be his neurosurgeon. But boy am I glad Dr. H is Little Bear’s surgeon! He’s amazing and has been nothing but supportive and personable with us as we’ve navigated these rough waters the past 6 months. Little Bear’s surgeon even personally sent me an email after the head ultrasound two weeks ago wanting to make sure everything went well.
We have felt nothing but support from [most of] the specialists at Children’s. Still had hiccups with certain departments, but I would be highly suspicious of the entire endeavor if we didn’t have issues with at least one doctor. It’s hard to believe we’re already 6 months into Little Bear’s earth side journey. It’s both been easier and harder than I anticipated. He is such a little spitfire and I’m watching his motor skills improve daily. We had his first physical therapy session yesterday and we have several specific areas to work on, but he is not as behind as I thought he was. He needs help getting his neck strengthened and his back muscles. With a heavier head, lack of sensation in the bottom half of his calves and outsides of his feet, it’s to be expected that he’s a bit behind with things like holding his head steady or even grabbing his toes.
It feels good being able to actually plan things out a few weeks instead of literally taking it a few days or even a day at a time. Here’s hoping the second half of this year goes well and Little Bear stays stable.