Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Emotionally Damaged

One month and a few days

So Kaia is still chugging away in the hospital. We are still working on breast feeding, still working on getting off the oxygen...just like we have been for the last two weeks. Not that I'm rushing her...but it would be nice to get at least one of the two of those things on the 'accomplished!' list. I allowed them to give her a bottle last night for the first time, just to see how she'd do. She took 25 mls before pooping out and she needs about 50 for a full feed. She's also not interested in waking up to feed every 3 hours yet, so we are only attempting oral feeds 2-3x a day. She latches well (with a nipple shield), so that's a plus. She just doesn't have the strength or energy to take a whole feed.

Kaia's also still on 25 to 50 mls of oxygen, but seems to be holding steady on that (more often in 25mls rather than 50 the last couple of days). I would be willing for her to come home on oxygen...but she would have to get feeding 'ticked' off the list first. She was fitted in her Pavlik harness last week. She's been a bit constipated since then so while it's great that it's hopefully pulling her legs into a position to fix her dislocated hip, it's restricting her leg motion enough that she can't stretch and for some reason it seems to be making her all 'bunged' up. *Sigh*. If it's not one thing it's another.

Brian and I are also finding ourselves somewhat 'emotionally damaged' to use a phrase from the movie we saw on the weekend (Friends with Benefits...funny, go see it if you are looking for a good romantic comedy). Brian's birthday was this past Monday and over his 'birthday weekend' he just didn't seem to be in the mood. He was down and kind of grumpy. When I asked him 'what gives?' his response was that he honestly didn't know. He was sad and couldn't tell me why. He explained "I'm just not as happy as I used to be".

I get it. I do. Before early 2010 he was a happier guy. More carefree. More positive. The past two years have really taken a toll. We are finally experiencing some happy with Kaia...but it's still hard and stressful having a baby in the NICU. We also have some worries about raising a former preemie, and one that might require hip surgery in the coming year, no less. We are massively grateful for her, don't get me wrong...but Kaia is only herself. She cannot 'make up' for the loss of Aidan (no 'next' baby could) and the stress we have lived under these last months (or years if you want to look at it that way), lingers.

It's weird. You would think after all we've been through that life's troubles or unknowns would bother us less. I mean, really, Kaia's here...she's done AMAZINGLY well considering what our initial prognosis was. I'm healthy and recovering well after the C-section. I'm pumping huge quantities of milk (1L a day or more) so Kaia is being fed well. My awesome online friends (that's you!!!) helped me buy the stroller I've always wanted and it's sitting in my living room ready for Kaia's arrival. My 'real life' baby shower is this weekend and I'm sure I'm (or rather Kaia...) is going to be spoiled with presents from all my friends and family. You'd think nothing could bother us...

And yet I find myself maybe once a week having a 'bad' day. Where I don't sleep well. I'm frustrated and down. Where stupid things bother me. Where I worry about money, worry about Kaia excessively, worry about my extended family. Feel stressed by Kaia's medical issues. You'd think none of these things would touch me at this point. I got what I wanted, and I'm over the moon grateful. Why so glum?

I thought about this last year after Aidan died. How you'd think having a dead baby would make you kind of immune to all the other disappointments or difficulties in life. At that point you KNOW there are worse things, so why get all upset over something comparatively small? You'd think those things wouldn't matter. But they do. Almost more so. Somehow, in the short term at least, big stresses in life magnifies all of life's other struggles. Hence my cry fest in June last year when I couldn't go see the new Twilight movie on the day it came out (pathetic I know).

So, now I find out, on the flip side, that when you finally get that longed for baby after a massive up hill battle, while it is wonderful and great and she is awesome and so loved...the stress of the past and the stress of a new baby doesn't magically melt away either. The scars are still there. Comparatively small things are once again magnified. Hence, yesterday at the end of a bad day, when I got out of the car and scratched myself on my neighbours rose bush thorn, it was the last straw and I broke down crying (I know, I'm such a baby).

I know someday, probably sooner than I expect, Brian and I won't feel quite so emotionally damaged. Things will roll off our backs more easily. The stresses of every day life won't seem so monumental. We will be more centered and things will just 'flow', or at least not feel so stressful.

It's coming. I know it is.

We just have to be patient.

Does this ring true for you too?


  1. It certainly does.

    I've had lots of experiences similar to those 'scratching myself on the neighbour's rose bush thorn and breaking down' moments. And I don't think it is because you are a baby. I think it is because there is only so much one human being can take and having a baby die and a baby in the NICU will push you pretty close to that edge so that it will only take something tiny to push you right over.

    And I think it's only natural to still feel stress of Kaia's medical issues. I know that I thought I would never worry about J because I wouldn't sweat the 'small stuff.' But it doesn't work that way, it's still scary and worrying.

    Strange I was just saying to my hubs this evening, "Can you believe that all THIS actually happened to us?" You couldn't make our stories up and it is not surprising that we might feel a little emotionally damaged by all that has happened. And, yes, your hubs nailed it. Just not as happy as we used to be.

    And you are a pumping MACHINE! That's an amazing amount, Kaia certainly won't be going hungry!

  2. I know what you mean; it just feels like the entire universe is out to get you.Everything just adds up, big things, little things, it doesn't matter.You are crushed by neverending worry, fear, and despair.It seems it will never end.I feel completely attacked and under siege by life and my constant misfortunes. I can certainly sympathize with how you're feeling.It's overwhelming.

  3. I haven't lost a child, but having a child in NICU is traumatic. Everything you're going through is normal. The day you bring her home will still be an amazing miraculous day. Everything will look completely different after she's home, after a few surreal days. It does get better. Congrats on the pumping! That's a fantastic amount!

  4. I know I am still emotionally damaged - and this is 6 months after the birth of my rainbow baby!

    I don't mean to be a downer here... but I do want to be truthful. I'm beginning to think it's something you never get entirely over. I still worry like crazy. I am still afraid my baby will somehow be taken away from me. I am still overly sensitive to "everyday" problems.


    It is getting better. Much better. I'm finding a "new normal". I feel like I am still a member of the babyloss club, but it is different now with a rainbow baby. And I feel like I am a parent, but I feel different from most parents who have never experienced losing a baby.

    Where do we fit in?

    Anyways, like I said, I am feeling better these days. The bad moments and fears are fewer and farther apart.

    I'm certain having your little girl home with you will help you feel so much better. I hope that day comes soon!

  5. I've commented here before that I haven't been through anything like what you have and I can't say I've experienced exactly the emotions you're describing, either (though I will note that beyond the many other points you make about why you may be experiencing these, for you personally there are also the tremendous post-partum hormonal changes, which can produce these kinds of effects, too. PP hypothyroidism can also be an issue that goes undetected/treated and can contribute, may be worth getting your TSH drawn?). But for me there was still this big post-baby dawning that up until that point my life had been working toward an assortment of big goals ... college, graduate school, job, baby ... once he arrived it was sort of "what now?" (Mel of Stirrup Queens has recently written a post that sort of rang in this theme also). Now, of course you are still working toward bringing Kaia home from the NICU and while the particulars of that goal are out of your control, that's true of many of your other goals too (as was true for me also even though not to the same extent ... getting pregnant has proved my biggest hurdle to date but a darned elusive one and of course not one I could decide or have guaranteed). So I wonder if that may be some of it?

  6. I have not lost a baby, so I can not relate to you on that one. But my first baby was born at 34 weeks due to pPROm and after his two week hospital jaunt I was relieved to bring him home; that is until of course I realized I was bringing him home! Without monitors or nurses...and my first baby! Eee Gawd. The NICU journey is a roller coaster ride I would never wish on my worst enemy, but it will eventually get easier. My son is three now, speech delayed but wonderful.

    And I had my third baby, whose 9 months and with a congential heart defect! Kids offer so many rewards but also a lot of worry. So it's normal to cry, and fret, and get mad, and to smile through tears, and laugh and sometimes to hold every overwhelming emotion all at once (especially with wonderful but painful memories of your time with Aiden coming into the mix)! Life is never what you expect it to be, bittersweet mostly, so grieve the bitter appropriately, and savour the sweet.

    We're all pulling for you out here in bloggy land. Hang in there.

  7. Yes, this rings very true!

    I thought, or naively hoped, that with my rainbow baby every day I would just be thankful she's here that normal trials and tribulations of parenthood wouldn't phase me much, but alas, somedays they do. As we've all probably heard - parenthood is the hardest job you'll ever love. I think it's a different "job" after a loss, but there are still ups and downs. We're only human afterall!

  8. I don't comment here very often- haven't lost a baby as far along as wee Aiden so often I feel it's not my place.

    However, just wanted to send you a hug, and say that sometimes you need an outsiders view. You have only just had a baby! She is still in NICU, which is so stressful on it's own. You spent months on bed rest, in fear of losing wee Kaia. That also takes an unimaginable toll on your soul as well as everything else. On top of that, you lost Aidan and nothing will ever make that OK.

    What I'm saying is you have every right to have bad days. For the next ten years! It doesn't mean anything bad, it means you are human and have been through so, so much. I don't think you'll always feel as emotionally damaged, but a part of you both always will be, and that's OK :-) Think of it as scar tissue from what you've been through.

    BTW: Kaia is beautiful! Love the fuzzy hair especially :-)

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  10. This rings very true. Having a baby in the NICU is stressful. It can be easy to lose track of that because you've been through so many worse things, but on top of grieving and normal pregnancy fears, you and Brian had to go through a crazy scary pregnancy. Then, your grandma and a NICU scare. That's a whole lifetime of difficult events crowded into a very small space of time. Being emotionally exhausted, burnt out, and reeling from all you've been through is pretty normal, and doesn't at all mean that you aren't delighted that Kaia is here and doing so well.

    Sending love to you and your family and hoping that things move easily for a while so you all have time to catch your breath. Also, as Catherine W mentioned, you are rocking the pumping! Wow!

  11. I'm still a suck about so many things, even though in the "big picture" it's nothing. I think my emotions are shot, and I'm not yet in a place where I can control it all the time.

  12. I would consider going on a bit of medication, maybe a low dose anti depressant, it might make a world of difference both for you and for Brian. If that is not an option, then I would do counselling when thing settle down. We found both things helpful at some point in the past, and I must say you want to live the best life that you can at this point, both for yourselves and for Kaia. And you must be completely burned out. I know I would be. Many many hugs to all three of you, hope your little girl comes home soon, remember what a miracle she is.