On December 12, true joy came back into our lives.
The joy that was supposed to come with you, Luke, came with your sister instead.
We went to the hospital and got there by 5:30am. I went to bed confident, feeling Bowie's kicks as I drifted in and out of sleep. I was nervous. Excited. Scared. What if everything somehow changed when we got there in the morning?
But it didn't. We got there, and got moved into a pre-op room immediately. We were greeted by awesome nurses--who knew us. They knew our story. Total relief. They hooked us up to a contraction and heartrate monitor, and everything looked good. They drew blood. Then we waited for the doctors to arrive. It was just daddy and I, and we couldn't wait till we could meet her. Soon. So so so so soon.
Before we knew it, it was 7:30, and I was getting moved into the operating room for the c-section. Daddy stayed behind in the pre-op room while they prepped me. When we got inside, it was SO COLD. It was a cold morning as it was, and that room was beyond freezing. Soon, our anesthesiologist came in, and it was the same doc that was there that night with you, Luke, when I got my epidural. She remembered us too. We waited for the spinal to kick in, and just like with the epidural, my blood pressure crashed pretty fast. I felt like throwing up, but the anesthesiologist was on it and got me some epinephrine to stop it. And before we knew it, the surgery began.
Daddy was right by my side, and he watched the whole thing. I was relieved I couldn't really see them cutting me open, as the smell from the cauterizing kinda made me sick. Mostly I felt drunk. But it happened so fast--And then, we heard your cries.
Finally. Finally. Finally. She was here, and she was alive.
A delivery that we've been waiting for for almost 2 years.
They took her aside to do all her vitals and to get her cleaned up, and before I knew it, Jeff was leaving the room to go be with her. The docs took their time to get me put back together, and then I was also getting wheeled down the hall--into our room--where we could finally be a family together. I couldn't believe it was finally real.
I got into the recovery room, and there was daddy holding her. She was perfect. 9 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches long. Almost as big as you, Luke, but not quite. She had a head of hair as well...and honestly, she looked just like you. I cried. Tears of joy and happiness, all mixed together. They left us alone after a few minutes, and I still felt like it wasn't real. But slowly, reality set in. Our baby girl was here and we were all OK. The relief was indescribable.
Lena Bowie was here.
After the baby-moon, the nurse came in to run a blood sugar test to make sure she was eating ok. All was well. So we were to be wheeled up to the postnatal care 5th floor. When we got there, we got to do the thing we also didn't get to do with you, Luke. We got to ring the bell that rings Brahm's Lullaby at the hospital everytime a baby is born and moved up to recovery. Doing that...made everything feel like it was coming full circle. I hate the fact that we didn't get to do that with you, Luke. But we never left the L&D floor. We just went home.
We got settled in our room, and things started sinking in that everything was really OK. That first day in the hospital, Lena met her Nana and Opa, her cousin Ethan, and Auntie Lauren and Uncle Pooter. The general feeling was relief. Everyone was so relieved that everything went right this time.
That first night in the hospital, they checked her blood sugar again, and it was really dangerously low. Down to 13, when it was supposed to be about 40. They took her to get her formula-fed ASAP, and that was single-handedly the scariest part of our hospital stay. Apparently it's common for bigger babies to have issues regulating their blood sugar after birth, but her's was scary-low. They spent the next day checking her sugar pretty often. Sometimes by actual blood test, but mostly by pricking her heels. I felt so bad--her poor little heels were pricked apart.
By Saturday, it looked like her blood sugar was getting more normal, and we were cleared to really try breastfeeding without supplementing. That day was rough. I didn't have much, and even the lactation specialist kinda just told me to wait till my milk came in. She did give a LOT of valuable info, though, and that was awesome. By that night, my milk had come in, and all was well in feeding land.
Sunday, we got checked out by everyone, and were cleared for discharge around noon. The happiness...when we were told we could all three go home--together...welled up in my throat. I still couldn't believe it was happening. We got everything loaded into the car, and finally it came time to be wheeled out of the hospital. This time WITH our baby.
With a full car seat.
And a full heart.
I cried on the way home, driving down the same streets we drove down after we drove home without you, Luke, just 15 months ago. This was was the way things were supposed to be. Last time, so many thoughts ran through my head as we drove that agonizing trip home...How was I going to get through planning a funeral? How was I going to get through losing you? How would my life continue? Every question seemed so heavy. I had no idea what the answers were.
This time, the questions were so different. They were the same questions that every new parent asks themselves as they leave the hospital. How am I going to take care of this baby? Can we afford it? Will we ever sleep again? Questions that will all be answered...in time. But they were certainly not as heavy as the time before.
I've come to the realization that Lena wouldn't be here without losing you, Luke. In some ways, I hate that, but in some ways, it makes me love and appreciate you, and in turn, her, that much more. It makes me feel like there's a part of you living in her. You were the only two who ever lived in the same place. Maybe not together. But that will always tie you together.
Lena is 2 weeks and 2 days old right now, and she is absolutely perfect. When I look at her, my heart feels full, which I honestly never thought that I'd feel again after losing you.
I know our lives will never be perfect, because of all we've been through. But this is a start to feeling like things can be happy again.
Missing you always, though.