I learned to let go of any preconceived notions... life after birth with my preemie.
As I looked out the window of my hospital room after 21 days, I finally saw the landscape change and the trees begin to blossom. I woke myself up every two hours to massage and hand express tiny drops of colostrum for my sweet boy. I had been in that same bed just a day before, but with my baby still with me; still with hope he would continue growing inside of me. Simultaneously, I also felt like the world had been lifted off of me. Like it was finally over. - The past 8 weeks of holding on to that fear of losing him had disappeared in the exact moment I birthed him.
So I did what I do best. I mothered him. At this point, his needs were to have me close, keep him warm, keep him safe, and nourish him. I remember learning all the benefits of skin to skin and providing my milk with my first son- but with Huck- he was 12 weeks early! These were not benefits for my baby, these were essential for his survival!
At first, of course, I was a little intimidated with the wires and surveillance and the beeps. Oh, my. The beeps. But I did it. I had to. I had been a mother before and so I already had that down. I tried to mimic as best I could my first motherhood experience to this. And in most ways, it worked. I thought of our room as my womb. The nurses and doctors were blurs and it was just me and him. For hours he would lay on me and over time, my confidence grew and our relationship grew and I got to know my baby.
But the breastfeeding. And let me tell you, if you have breastfed your baby, that is your relationship with them. Feeding your baby is the way you respond to their needs and as a mom, you play an active role. To have my baby lying on me and seeing him look for my breasts (even at 28 weeks), and not be able to offer him my milk from my own body- that was hard. Instead, I had to wait for the 3rd hour, watch the nurse come in, open the refrigerator, pour my milk into the syringe, warm my milk, connect it to his feeding tube and watch my milk slowly fill the tiny orange tube taped to his mouth and envisioning it going all the way into his little stomach- that was difficult. But I did.
I did all these things not because someone told me to or because of a handout from the nurse- but because I followed my instincts. And writing this now - I wasn’t aware at the time that I was following my instincts- I was just being “mom” and doing what I had to do. I learned very quickly not to compare our relationship to the one I had with my first son, or with anyone else’s relationship with their baby. I learned to let go of any preconceived notions and listen to and respond to my own son’s needs. Because while our relationship might have been a little different from others, it was ours and it was special. And we got through it together.
My sweet Huckleberry. You will never ever know how you changed me. Thank you.