paper clips

May 12, 2017

i’m thinking in numbers every day. which is saying a lot because i’ve had a very difficult relationship with numbers my entire life. but numbers now have taken the place of words. it’s day 15. they’re hovering around 740g. yes, that’s grams. to give you an idea, one gram is about the weight of a paper clip. my babies weigh about 740 paper clips. the next time you’re in your place of work find a box of them. they usually come in quantities of 100. hold eight of those boxes in your hand… there, you just held my babies.

they are both eating 9mls every two hours. the breast milk is now fortified and they have added some calories to assist with weight gain. one of them had 3 spit ups but nothing major. he just prefers breastmilk alone. but we need more grams on them. they need to grow.

they had a mother’s day tea group talk at the NICU yesterday. most of us look like zombies. we all look like we’re staring into something somewhere between a fog and sand storm. i felt that particular way about us for sure. it was nice to meet other folks who are experiencing similar circumstances. today, a volunteer photographer took pictures of us with the boys. we should be getting them soon. soon… that’s another interesting word. that place makes a mockery of time. you don’t even feel it when you’re there. time stops in that place.

they are just over two weeks old. 15 days and almost 8 hours exactly. they’ve had their share of moments where they forget to breathe. but they get nudged gently and get reminders from the nurses. hey you, you gotta’ inhale or exhale. but one has to follow the other, i imagine them saying. when they get “nudged” they call it “stim,” short for stimulation. they’ll tap the bottom of their feet with their hands. move them a bit. they explain that the babies forget because of their prematurity.

doctor neonatologist also reminds us that the babies are doing what they should be doing… if, they were still in utero. they wouldn’t have to necessarily breathe because it was being done for them. so we’re really at 28 weeks and 1 day, gestational. many things are still waiting to develop or are developing slowly. their brain circuits are not yet sending the messages because they haven’t matured. it’s mostly neurological. something about the myelin sheath (if you can recall A&P).

they have me thinking a lot about breathing. how often do we live holding in our breaths? for me, these days feel like that is all i’m doing. i’m in a constant inhale. sometimes during the day, to let out some of the air, i find myself putting my feet to the ground. when i need to feel that moment, i literally make a conscious decision to focus on my feet and how they feel beneath me. i need to Live those few seconds. i become aware of place and pay attention to my breaths. i inhale deeply and imagine alveolis expanding in their tiny lungs, branches filling up, expansion. i exhale and imagine their lungs doing the work smoothly. breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.

the normal respiratory rate for newborns is 30-50 times per minute. the normal breathing rate for you and i is about 12-20 per minute. so my babies have to breathe a lot. and that’s a lot of work for a preemie. it’s hard to take deeper breaths too. it’s no different for me either. i find  myself living outside that normal rate when matters of the heart are raw. and this is the most i’ve ever felt rawness like i do in this moment. i feel so fucking vulnerable. it’s like i am walking with my skin inside out.

my biggest exhale comes that moment i get to the NICU and see my Sons. the second i can touch them. and read to them. or sing some silly made up song Mami and i come up with because our canciones de cuna list is super short. that instant when the nurses let them out of the isolettes and onto the center of my chest, i exhale from the depths of my fears.

breathing is so basic, isn’t it?