Here we are, creeping up on four weeks since Carter was born. Four weeks that he's been in the NICU. That's three longer than Brycen was in the NICU. I'm not really sure how we're doing this. When Brycen was born and he was in the NICU for those nine days, the entire time I thought my life was completely over. I cried myself to sleep every night and sobbed every time I saw one of his pictures. It was the longest nine days of my life. Now we're here with Carter, who has been in the NICU for 27 days. Twenty-seven! I can't really wrap my head around that. The Lord is truly watching out for us right now. I believe that He is making it possible for us to get through all of this, because on paper we should be completely and uncontrollably a mess.
On Monday night Carter had a wonderful nurse named Sarah. She was very social and friendly. At 10:00 she set up Carter's food in the feeding bolus and got his feeding tube all connected and ready to go. As soon as she turned it on, she came and sat down in the chair next to me and asked me how I was doing. I told her I felt really good and that I was surprised at how well I felt so fast after having a C-section. She looked at me and, unconvinced, she asked, "How are you really doing?" She told me she had been talking to Tyson and that he told her I have had some days that were better than others, emotionally. She explained that she knows what it's like to have a baby in the NICU (she has had two babies in the NICU like us) and she talked about how one of them was in the NICU a lot longer than the other. She asked me how I really feel and this is it:
The weeks since Carter was born have gone by quickly. And I'm so grateful for that. Brycen's stay was so awful for me, yet Carter has been in the NICU for weeks longer and I've held it together much better. I feel like Brycen was born prematurely because Carter was going to be, and Brycen's birth prepared us for Carter's. The days leading up to Carter's birth were all meant to be and fell into place. That night in Idaho Falls when I felt those horrible pains I could feel the spirit telling me to go back home to Ogden. I got checked when I got to the hospital there and nothing. As hard as it was to deal with the pain for the next few days, it was meant to be that I went back to the hospital on Saturday and got checked again. By doing so, the nurse started me into labor. And during all this time my placenta was slowly detaching itself and abrupting. I was in the worst pain of my life after the nurse checked me and went home to try to live through it. I couldn't go back to the hospital or I'd get turned away. What could I do? Tyson gave me a blessing to help us know what to do. That blessing led us to be prompted to call Scott. Scott picked up the phone immediately and talked Tyson through my symptoms, resulting in what he believed was a kidney stone. What a blessing that Scott picked up the phone so soon. I wouldn't have gone back to the hospital if he didn't think I might have a kidney stone, if I wasn't in labor. By the time I got on the table and Carter was delivered via emergency C-section, my placenta was completely detached and he was in distress. I found this out two weeks after he was born. If I had stayed at home long enough for my placenta to completely detach he would have died and I would have had to deliver him at home. Who knows what would have happened to me. And now here he is, safe, healthy, and doing better and better each day. I have a lot to be grateful for and I know that the Lord made it possible for us to have a healthy baby. Carter was meant to come at 32 weeks and the events leading up to his birth prove that. We were being watched out for. We don't have any of our family here for emotional support or to watch Brycen. We're alone almost 100% of the time. We live in an apartment on the third floor and I had an incision that made it difficult to walk up and down the stairs. We don't live super close to the hospital. For a week I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts and I was scared of that. Brycen is back home with us in Utah and my time with the baby has been cut down drastically. Our baby has been in the hospital for almost a month. We should be a mess right now. Nothing adds up to being "ok". Yet somehow, I'm getting through this and I'm doing it well. The Lord has made these last weeks go by quicker and that alone has been a HUGE blessing. The days where Brycen was in the hospital might as well have been weeks. They felt excruciatingly long and tormenting. And here we are, doing this. We're doing this. We've been doing this. And I don't know how. After one week I felt really good, physically. I was getting up and down the stairs better but still needed help. After two weeks I felt really good, and now I feel great. What a blessing. We have felt very alone over the last few weeks, just Tyson and I and now Brycen is thankfully here again. It was so hard having Brycen gone. That first week wasn't as bad because I was in the hospital for half of it. But once I left and came home, my life felt empty without my children. Brycen came back with my mom and Amber and still things didn't feel the same. I was emotional and struggling. There were people around me but I felt very alone. I was still healing so it was hard to interact with Brycen. He left again for another week and things got really hard again. I had the ability to go to the hospital as much as I wanted, but it was almost too much for my mind. Not only was Brycen gone, but watching Carter progress hardly at all, if at all, was almost too much to handle. I spent sometimes six hours a day at the NICU with Carter. While it was so wonderful, I needed to free my mind for a little bit. But I was also feeling a lot of guilt, knowing that my time with Carter would soon be minimal. I felt so guilty leaving him there all by himself all day long. Brycen coming home was so great. Yes, my time with Carter got cut down a lot. But I've been able to get into a routine again during the day and it feels good. I spend the late evenings with Carter and snuggle him till almost midnight while Tyson and Brycen are safely at home asleep. Brycen keeps my mind off things. This experience has brought Tyson and I closer together. We're doing this and we're fighting through it. There's no doubt we've been struggling. Thankfully one of us has a meltdown while the other is feeling good and strong. There have been maybe two moments where we both crumbled at the same time and thought this time in our lives is unbearable. But we've gotten each other through it.
The frustrating part about this experience is the present. Carter's current status is slow moving. When he was around one week old and eating more and more to slowly make his way to trying a bottle we were so excited. The doctors would come in and talk to us and they were all so impressed with his improvements. And each one would say how the frustrating part is yet to come. I knew what they were talking about: the part where the baby would start eating more, but somehow not be able to get it fast enough. The time drags. When they'd say that, I would brush it off and think to myself about how awesome that would be and I wouldn't be frustrated. I would be excited. I was totally wrong! Once Carter got to the point where he would eat a full bottle, be gavaged, eat 20cc's, gavaged, gavaged, etc I realized we were there at the frustrating point. And I was totally frustrated. This is the point where we can't have any expectations and just let him do his thing. We can't force him to eat more bottles in a day or eat more from his bottle each time he's given one.
We're not sure when to expect Carter home. He'll be able to come home as soon as he can eat all of his feedings from the bottle for 48 hours and also gain weight. No one can say when that will be except for Carter. He will do it on his own time. And if he has an "incident" where his stats drop when he's supposed to be discharged, he buys himself another week in the NICU automatically. We're praying that doesn't happen. In the meantime, we have to take this one day at a time. Otherwise it's just too hard. I can't explain how hard it is to have a baby in the NICU. I wish I knew what it was like to bring a baby home at three days old. We get to be the people that bring home a week old baby up to an over a month old baby. And that's ok. This is just how things have worked out for us and we work through it how we can.
This hasn't been easy by any means. We can post Facebook statuses all we want about the sunshiny weather, my latest batch of cookies, or the Olympic trials. But beneath it all are two people who are struggling to keep it together for their own sakes and for the sake of their children. We save the tears for the walls of our home. But we're doing this together. And all we can be is grateful. We've left the stage of feeling anger about everything that happened and we've moved onto being grateful. As hard as it was to be in that much physical pain, it had to happen. It all had to happen to ensure that Carter would be born safely. We've been so incredibly lucky that he's done so well. He's had and continues to have hiccups here and there, but we know that this is just a temporary time in our lives. We have to keep telling ourselves that. "This too shall pass," as my dear friend Amber sweetly reminded me about a week after Carter was born. I'm grateful for that reminder.
We have had so many wonderful Facebook messages, e-mails, cards, texts, etc that have brought smiles to our faces. It helps to know that so many people care about us. We can also feel many prayers on our behalf. Thank you to all of you who have supported us and continue to do so. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's small, but it's there. We're so grateful for a loving Savior whose spirit we feel everyday. What a wonderful feeling to know that we're not alone. We feel blessed to have two wonderful sons. And we can't wait to bring our little Carter home.
Kiersten-Baby turned 9
3 weeks ago