Saturday, December 1, 2012

Salt and Balm

Lydia was three weeks old yesterday.  She is both salt and balm to my wounds, my unhealed, festering, Naomi wounds.  Over the past four years, we've managed to cultivate something of a sanguine approach to Naomi's disabilities, illness, and unfortunate fate, but that doesn't mean the nasty wounds they have lashed into my psyche and soul have healed.  It means I've learned to to discipline my mind to ignore the biting pain most of the time and just enjoy Naomi in all of her Naominess.  It's something of a smiling through tears kinds of thing, or smiling through pain.  Like some sort of self created mental morphine.  The pain is still there, even if sometimes I manage to anesthetize myself to it.  Which is good.  Otherwise, how would I get out of bed every day?  (I wouldn't.  I'd have drowned myself in something years ago.)  But having Lydia and seeing how different she is from how Naomi was, how, apparently (I'm not foolish enough to state definitely at this point that she has no disabilities) healthy and typical she is, even just the passage of these early weeks with her, has re-opened all of the Naomi trauma.  I've relived it.  The first two days after Lydia was born I was high on my new baby and the newness and potential of her young little life.  Then the third day, everything from Naomi's birth and infancy, and first 4 years, hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  I was crushed under it.  The second night in the hospital with Lydia, holding her on my chest, I wept over the pain of everything associated with Naomi.  Every event with Lydia has a tragic shadow event with Naomi playing along with it.  Lydia crying in the delivery room and Naomi NOT crying in the delivery room and me asking, Why isn't she crying?  And being told, Some babies don't.  I am sure some perfectly healthy babies do indeed not cry in the delivery room, but Naomi didn't cry because she was so neurologically immature that she was unable to cry until she was many months old.  Or our wonderful pediatrician coming in the afternoon Lydia was born (instead of the next morning; he knew how anxious we were) and giving her a clean bill of health on her newborn exam reminded me of the very same pediatrician coming to my room the morning after Naomi was born and giving me the list of all the little things that were wrong with Naomi.  All of the little red flags that something was very much so just not right.  Holding Lydia for the first time reminded me of holding Naomi for the first time.  The joy and wonder and curiosity, the outpouring of love and hope and fierce protectiveness.  But it also reminded me that the new mother holding Naomi was going to be bitterly disappointed, utterly devastated, painfully crushed.  That she would weep every day, multiple times a day, for most of the first year of her baby's life.  Catching Lydia's eye for the first time has the shadow scenes playing along behind it of, four years ago, trying for weeks and months to catch Naomi's eye and becoming increasingly concerned that I couldn't, that her eyes roved endlessly and purposelessly.  Nursing Lydia, and holding her, and feeling how vigorous and strong she is drives home to what that first time mother of Naomi just could not have known, having had no other baby of her own to compare to, that Naomi was so weak, and so sick.   Taking Lydia in for her first check up at the pediatrician.  It was the same pediatrician again, a kind and gentle but direct man.  I remember that appointment with Naomi and him trying, over and over and over and over and over again to get Naomi to exhibit the startle reflex.  She never did startle.  And remembering that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  And then she has been balm to my wounds as well.  For the first time in four long years the future is filled with something besides just fear and dread and suffering.  I celebrated Thanksgiving this year, enjoyed it, and felt thankful after several years of ignoring the holiday all together.  Instead of just going through the motions out of duty and perseverance, we've really decked the halls of our home for Christmas this year.  I've been able to look at other children without feeling quite such sharp pangs of longing and desire.  Lydia can't erase the pain, but she does add back some of the joy that was lost.  

Newly born Naomi

We were so happy.

Naomi ended up in an incubator (her 'toaster oven') for a few days because she had trouble regulating her breathing and her temperature.  This meant we got to hold her very little during our 3 day hospital stay.   She was at first only allowed out for feeding.  Going straight from the OR to the toaster oven in the nursery, instead of to my room with me, was the first detour from the way thing were supposed to be.  The second, really.  Her being breech, necessitating a c-section, was the first.  

The first time I held Naomi, 4 hours after she was born, because she couldn't leave the nursery and I, sick with pre-eclampsia and recovering from a c-section, couldn't leave my room.  Rob talked the nurses into putting my in a wheelchair and taking me the nursery because he knew how much I wanted to see her and hold her.

I was so in love with my baby.

Our beautiful baby.  She was a dream come true.  We both wanted a baby girl.

Naomi in her pavlic harness.  She wore it from day two of life until she was 3 months old.  It corrected her hip dysplasia, caused by her breech presenation.  I had a c-section because she was breech and she was breech because, most likely, she was too weak to move herself into the head down position.  Only after being pregnant with Lydia did I, could I, realize how little Naomi moved in utero.

Naomi getting a cup feeding from a nurse.  She was so small and weak that we could not wait the few days it normally takes to establish breastfeeding for her to get calories and nutrients, but had to cup feed her supplementally from day one.   We thought this was 'normal' for babies born a little early and small like Naomi was.  Naomi was born early due to my pre-eclampsia.  After an easy and uneventful pregnancy, everything went haywire two days before she was born several weeks before her due date.  Everything has been haywire since.

Daddy cup feeding Naomi.  He was really good at it and loved doing it.  He got up for at least one feeding every night until she slept through the night.

He was so smitten with Naomi.   He still is.

1 comment:

  1. She was a beautiful baby and now a beautiful happy little girl.