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?

#52essays2017

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day 5

May 1, 2017

we were discharged from the hospital yesterday. it was a very long day. we left our hearts on a NNICU unit. i’m trying to wrap my head around the next few months. adjusting to this sort of in-between worlds. i find myself trying to create a balance between all the emotions my body is experiencing. the mind is a traitor when the heart feels weak. but you already make me stronger.

i am learning to navigate a life that feels like i walk on a tight-rope daily, no net or catch ropes. the core of me must strengthen in this new role.

walking out of here without you is the hardest walk i have ever had to take. but you have so much growing to do my little big Loves. and so i need you to know and understand two very important lessons right now.

first, you have each other. you are just a few feet away. let that Love that is inherently yours and yours only through your shared experience be a guiding Light, especially when your Mommas are not present. feel each other’s energies and know that life has blessed you with a first mate. that is a beautiful thing.

second, you will always be protected by our Love. this means that our Love for you is so immense that it will keep you safe. Mami and i are standing firm in our Faith that your stay there will be one of the smoothest, most amazing and speedy growth in premature babies that place has ever witnessed. remember that you are Miracles. you are divine intervention. you are wonderful. you are my children and have by nature inherited a protective order.

i am always thinking of you. i wear wristbands that state that i am a newborn guardian. and guard you i will. even when you cannot see me, you can always feel my Love. listen to and pay attention to your heart beats closely. it is there that you will find the Love your Mami and i have for each other. a Love that is gentle but strong. a Love that is patient. that Love will be the one you carry for your lifetime. in your hearts you will also find the Love we have for you. this new Love transcends all the others. this Love required expansion. it required a stretching of heart muscles and an increase in blood flow. my heart strings are pulled towards you constantly.

we will be there every day to remind you that you are not alone. we will call your nurses to check in often throughout the day. candles have been lit in so many places around the world for you. the village is praying, chanting, meditating, and sending positive thoughts to each of you constantly. you have so many people who Love you that have never met you. but that’s the thing with Love, it doesn’t need to know to feel. Love is a constant action. Love like breath is always moving in and out. in and out. Love, like breath oxygenates cells.

inhale and exhale my beautiful children. grow and strengthen in Love and courage.

and while we are apart, let my Love hold you close. your beautiful Lights are shining in this world and the clarity of each of you is radiant.

i Love you deeply Diego y Andrés.

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#52essays2017

first letter

April 29, 2017

Diego y Andrés,

you decided to arrive swiftly and gently. you were letting us know pretty early on that you were going to get here a little sooner than expected. and while your Mami and i were looking forward to meeting you, we wanted you to stay in a little longer because well… the longer you stayed in there, the better your chances of surviving this crazy world out here.

but you had other plans. and decided to come in on the 26th day of April in a taurus moon, en caul…

when the doctor said your Mami was dilated to 4cm and that we would be doing a cesarean section, i felt a rush of anxiety and complete fear take over every part of my body. in Mami’s belly you were completed protected. but outside of her body, things would look a lot different for you at this point in your gestational age.

originally they had told us everything was stable… and in the span of three hours, everything shifted. they started telling us all this information about what they were going to do and the resuscitation room and the NICU and all the things that could go in every direction… i couldn’t grasp the information much less process it because in that moment the fear of loosing you was exponential. my ears shut down. every cell in my body was on edge.

they took your Mami to the OR and left me in a room with this paper suit to go over my clothes, a mask and some footsies over my sneakers. i have never perspired more than i have in that outfit. i don’t think more than ten minutes passed between the time they took Mami and the time the nurse came to get me, but i felt like at least three hours had gone by and they hadn’t come to get me. a knock at the door startles me, the nurse says follow me and proceeds to give me all these instructions about sterility and hands at my sides. i entered this sterile, cold room (which i appreciated in that outfit), and Mami was already on the OR table. i sat on a silver stool right behind the curtain and at her head.

she was struggling with anesthetics because they made her awfully nauseous. once that settled, she was a Warrior. she meditated while everything was happening. she took deep breaths and surrendered to trusting that God was present. i know she could sense my anxiety. she looked at me and with complete ease in her voice said, “God didn’t bring us this far to abandon us now. all is well.”

the doctor asked me to stand up and look over the curtain. and there was Diego squirmy and beautiful inside your amniotic sac… you were pure perfection. and then Andrés, two minutes later, same as your brother in your amniotic sac… you were pure perfection (i’ll write to each of you later how rare your births are and their meaning). each of you were taken to the resuscitation room. a nurse came around and said she was ready to escort me into the room. i kissed your mom on the forehead and she said, “go be with our babies.”

when i went into that room, the energy rushed in my body sat in my knees. i bent them a bit and allowed myself to feel the ground beneath me. i felt shaky but sturdy. i took a deep breath and found myself looking at Baby A, mi Diego. as an entire NICU team worked to intubate you and stabilize your very tiny 1 lb 12oz body, you were fearless. and your cry was soft but strong. i turned around to see Baby B, mi Andrés, weighing in at 1 lb 14oz, your cry was musical, a lullaby… and your entire team went through the same motions. i was in awe of your absolute perfection in such small bodies.

you stole my heart in each of your first breaths.

as i write this, i count… you have been alive for approximately 60 hours. we have been Mami and Mamá to two amazing Guerreros. such courage you two have shown already.

this Love i feel for you is unlike any Love i have ever experienced -and this Mamá Loves hard and deep. you fill the spaces were hurt resided. in the miracle of both of you, my heart is healed from any hurt i have ever been exposed to. you are the tiniest biggest Loves of my life.

I Love you. I Love you.

#52essays2017