This is a picture of Josiah looking at Justine as she sits in her swing. Let me tell you about it.
The days have been hard in the Trumpower house. On Justine’s first night here, she slept in the Pack’n’Play in our room. Rotating through her care schedule every three hours was demanding but doable. What was not so doable was sleeping through the EXTRAORDINARY amount of noise she makes when sleeping.
In addition to normal newborn noises, she has a wet noise in the back of her throat that terrifies us every time. What if she stops breathing again?
She cried, as babies do. When she cried, I cried. Between the light pollution in our bedroom and her noise, I was not a rational person come 5 am when she woke us up (again). We decided to move her to the nursery. In the transition, I could not remember how to turn on the ceiling fan with the smart switch.
I totally lost it. Josiah, bless him, had more sanity left and turned on the fan. She had no objections to her new space.
Saturday followed at a deceptively easy pace. We dressed. Ate breakfast. I put makeup on. We tended to her every three hours. Took naps. Things were going so well, I even suggested we play a round of Josiah’s favorite game.
Nighttime with a newborn feels like a totally different game from daytime.
That night turned into one of the most challenging nights of my life. Feeds became increasingly difficult. Grunts and soft cries turns into sharp wails. She strained, pushed, grimaced. We knew she hadn’t pooped for two days, so it was clear she was constipated. We could find nothing to calm her except having her lay against us in the recliner, and even that wasn’t a perfect solution.
After a while, Josiah encouraged me to go to bed because he was not tired and could stay up with her. A few hours went by and her distress continued. I googled “constipated baby relief” for ideas.
We tried everything on the list. Bicycle kicks got the job done. After a few minutes of movement, he witnessed an outpouring of poop that was greater than what her body should be physically capable of storing.
We rejoiced. We figured out the problem! She was relieved and we were granted a reprieve.
Until we weren’t. Barely any time had passed at all until she started fussing again. More sharp wails. More distress. She was wide awake—abnormal—and very unhappy.
I tried to take a turn. I gave her food. She sucked on the bottle and then stopped, angrier then before and crying even louder. Josiah gave up on attempts to sleep and tried to help. By the time 4:30 am came, she was shrieking, I was crying, and Josiah was running out of ideas.
“She’s allergic to her food,” we thought.
I called the NICU charge nurse for advice because I wasn’t sure who else to call. More time, more attempts. I sent five frantic SOS texts to friends and family, begging for help ASAP.
Her shrieking got worse. She was red in the face. I was panicked. We were going to take her to the emergency room when Josiah realized all the feeds were done with the new brand of bottle we’re trying. He ran to make a bottle with the tried-and-true left over hospital supplies, which we know work but we have a limited, dwindling supply.
It worked. She sucked the bottle down in record time and calmed. She was so hungry she had gotten nearly hysterical. I thought she was eating fine on the new bottles, but upon review of our records, we saw that she had been taking progressively less than normal.
So I was starving my kid.
That makes you feel good on the inside. That night, we learned what it feels like to be ready to hurl ourselves off a cliff.
Because she’s Mom, my mom came running to our rescue the next day. She is with us for a while and gave us a much needed break for a few hours on Sunday.
Now it’s 2:40 am on Monday morning. Justine slept like a rock all day on Sunday, exhausted from the night’s ordeal. We, too, slept a lot on Sunday. To our dismay, tonight has not been great. No shrieking from constipation, though she still strains and grunts. Also no frantic starving cries.
But after taking her full 60 ml at midnight, she woke an hour early at 2 am needing more. She gets comfy for a while but then I guess the gas pains start. We’re in the recliner, her on me, so she can get some sleep. My saving grace is the knowledge that Mom is downstairs recovering from her day shift and ready to take over at the 6 am feed.
Sitting in the recliner, I feel one bad moment away from puking. I’ve had an anxious ball of adrenaline churning in my gut all night. I am so scared. I could post cute updates about how happy we are to have her home, but then this might as well be an Instagram feed. I started this blog to work through real family life, and here it is:
I’m so happy she’s here, safe, and away from medical devices. I want the same for her brother. Yet the thought of him possibly coming home later this week has been burning in my mind like a fever. I stress about it as I go to sleep. I dream about it when I finally drift off. I legitimately feel like we will die when he comes.
Justine has been an all night event since she got home, requiring almost two people to survive. She is bigger than when she was born but still small. How on earth can we do this with one more? My head knows we will survive but my heart and soul are so scared. I could cry. I could puke. I want to curl into a ball and pretend it’s not real.
All day I have been thinking about the verse that says tomorrow has its own troubles; God only gives you today what you need for today. I have prayed and prayed for Him to make that click and take the anxiety away, but so far we’re still in the puking danger zone.
These three days have been a immersion by fire into the necessity of accepting people’s help. I am officially saying yes to all offers. I have one friend scheduled to babysit this week so we can sleep and a list of others to make arrangements with. We are ridiculously blessed with support. Others have had to survive with less. I am grateful.
But where is the line of social acceptability? How many times am I allowed to ask for help? How long do people make allowances before expecting us to figure it out? How do I ask for help without going too far? These are not normal babies. We are not just normal first-time parents. These kids are tiny. They are intense. This is hard.
In the days since Friday, I’ve learned again how deeply I love Josiah and how deep his character goes. This is a hard season of life we have entered. With it comes new opportunities to say “I love you,” and those gestures mean more now because they cost so much more.
Taking Justine for me when she’s shrieking and I’m crying. Me staying up most of tonight because my anxiety would keep me awake anyway and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his work last night. A quick back rub even when we’re tired. Making sure the other has time to eat food.
I never knew such basic life things would become gold with our premie newborns, but there you have it. The harder the trial, the stronger our relationship becomes. I’m not going to say that’s a fun process, but it is something special. Alongside the anxiety, the fear, the tiredness, the joy at having her safe, I am so deeply in love with this man in a way far more gritty than when we sailed through our honeymoon vacation or dwindled lazy newlywed evenings away without the thought of who was taking the midnight feed.
I know we will be okay.
I don’t *feel* like we’ll be okay.
I’m glad she’s safe.
I wish she slept.
We need help.
There is no one I could do this with other than Josiah.