Not only did he miraculously fatten up to the size of a full-term baby despite being born five weeks early, but I feel that I ordered him to be born finally that night. That was the thought, at least, that I hurled through my head every couple minutes as I listened to his heart rate drop alarmingly low with each contraction. Slow and slower, it went till it seemed like his heart that typically beat 130 to 160 times a minute would only pump every second or two. I didn’t remember a heart rate that slow during the births of my other two children. I didn’t remember doctors pumping water back into my uterus to help cushion contractions for my other two children. I didn’t know if that should have been concerning or not, medically. But it was to me. And I just remember thinking, as his heart rate dropped more and more, ‘You must be born. You must be born now.’
And then he was.
Not that I knew it till the doctor informed me that he was crowning – my extremities were so pumped with the epidural that I was paralyzed for hours after he was born – because that is the way I like to roll at birth… on drugs and happy.
In fact, once Kilian decided to listen to me and just be born, the birth was remarkably easy. I might have tried to push once. But I was so relieved to hear he was coming that I laughed at the smallest, slightly humorous thing the doctors said and out Kilian came. In the end, the doctors joked that I giggled him out.
Kilian never visited the NICU and only spent one night in the warming, incubator-like baby bed before the nursery let him venture a stay to warm on my chest instead.
This method of warming preemies is called kangaroo care. It was developed by doctors in Columbia who did not have adequate resources to care for all premature babies born in their hospitals. Apparently a mother’s body will act like an incubator when a newborn is placed on it – warming as they need warmth and cooling as they get too hot. The warming allows the babies to rest faster, conserve energy for feeding and helps them regulate their breathing and heart rate.
This care has been my homework for the last couple of weeks, which will explain why I’ve answered almost no one’s emails. After getting the bigger kids to bed every night, I strap Kilian into this baby wrap and kick back. Not only does it put Kilian to sleep, but it nearly puts me in a sleep coma as well with barely enough energy to watch some tv. As a result, I’ve seen lots of parts of tv shows in the last few weeks but rarely whole episodes at a time.
(BTW I did enjoy reading everyone's comments on Facebook. Thank you for all your kind words and support. I will get to emails soon).
Kilian is a good little sleeper so far – too good, in fact. I think if we had let him, he might have slept himself to starvation. But between waking him up every two hours to eat and gulping down his aunt’s breastmilk (and her sister-in-law’s), Kilian got back up close to his birth weight last week.
I think the breast milk helped him a lot. Kilian seemed to digest it faster and wake up wanting to eat faster. On top of the very generous donations from family, we were very grateful to receive close to 300 ounces of the frozen liquid from the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Ohio. I feel like our freezer is full of liquid gold. Thank you to everyone who is helping with that.
It has been a happy couple of weeks. Up until a few days ago when I started chemo again, I considered myself on vacation from cancer. With Kilian born, I felt like my body finally recovered from that last dose of chemo back on January 24. Steve took some time off. We took the Naomi and Henry to just about every kid-oriented museum in the area to celebrate their new little brother.
I can’t wait to take the permanent vacation from this journey. Just another four or five months to go.