Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asher's Birth Story Part 3: Falling In Love

I was discharged from the hospital first thing in the morning. Adam filled me in on all the details of Asher's first night and news from the doctors as we made the 30 minute drive to Children's. I was feeling numb and nervous.

Asher had been on oxygen since he first entered the NICU. Sometime in the night they weened him off and he had done fine on room air since then. He was on the antibiotics and was halfway done. Adam and I were thinking he would just finish that up and we'd be home tomorrow. The doctor had informed Adam that Asher was dealing with textbook DS symptoms but we wouldn't have the chromosomal study back for 72 hours. We prepared ourselves for a positive result, meaning he did indeed have Down syndrome. I was prepared for a very short stay.

Coming into Asher's room and seeing him hooked up to all the equipment with the iv in one arm and that hand all bandaged up, all my emotions from Caedmon's hospital stays came flooding back. In fact, it was several days before I quit calling him Caedmon by mistake.

More importantly, seeing him, being able to touch him and smell him and hold him, did what a night by myself could never do: see Asher as a baby, my baby, my sweet boy, and not a diagnosis.

The next morning brought the doctor and it quickly became apparent Asher would not be discharged that day and probably not for several days more. His problem was he was too sleepy and had no interest in eating, again textbook for a large baby with DS. I gave my consent for a tube to be placed down his nose into his belly so he could be force fed small amounts in the hopes that the milk would give him the energy to wake up and eat for himself.

The days turned into a week and then more. Nurses kept saying to me things like, 'I'm not scheduled to work again until next Friday. I'm sure you'll be home by then.' At first I would get really excited about the prospect but as time kept going on I started to grimace and say, 'I certainly hope so but I'm not betting on it.'

Amazingly, as the second week started I began to be more positive, not that we'd be discharged but just about life in general. I credit several things to this change.

First, my very aware husband told me I needed a break from the hospital. I had not even been outside for a week and did not realize how much this was effecting me. He said he wanted time with Asher too. Since we were focusing more on bottle feeding, he could trade off with me, taking every other night, so I could go home and be with my older two boys and get a little more sleep.

Second, we had so many people praying for us. I sensed it with Caedmon's journey and now with Asher. This overwhelming peace and Presence even when we had no strength or energy to pray for ourselves.

Third, every time I held Asher and we worked on nursing or bottling or we just cuddled and napped, my heart grew, like the Grinch on Christmas Day who realizes Christmas is so much more. I loved the moments when he would open his eyes and look at me. I anticipated seeing him when I had been away for a night. I loved how his body would sink into me when I would hold him. I started to let go of the future, even the near future of when we would finally get to bring him home, and try to enjoy the quiet of the hospital room where I could focus solely on him for this brief time without the cacophony of noise that comes with siblings.

In short, I fell in love with my son.

It was an amazing realization when our second son was born and we worried that we could never love him like we loved our first, yet our love just multiplied to cover him too. The same was happening again, diagnosis be damned, and our little Asher took our hearts by storm.

By the time we got the okay to head home, exactly two weeks after being admitted and on his due date, I was ready. I was ready to bring my son home, ready to introduce him into the family, ready to face whatever his journey would bring, ready.

This doesn't mean I am completely through grieving or totally okay with everything. I am not disconnected from my emotions! I know that every developmental stage will bring fresh grief and new opportunities to grow and let go but with a deep basis of love and trust I have learned I can make it through a lot.

So on we go.


  1. oh the nicu...such a hard place to be. :( i remember when the only thing keeping Nora from coming home was her ability to take a full feed. iliterally had to stop mysel from dumping half tje bottle down the drain & telling them she drank it all if it meant she could come home faster. ;) i didn't, btw.
    thank you for sharing your story. my heart was so heavy for you & while our experiences are different it brought back so many emotions. i remember when jack was around 3 months old & we got test results back about a bleed in his brain. i had spent the first 3 moths of his life worrying about his outcome (hello google) that i never saw him as a baby, my baby! i can tell you the exact moment that i started seeing him as my son & not a medical condition.
    anyway, i'm rambling.
    those kids sure put us through the wringer from the moment of doctoring, dint they?!

    1. Thank you! It helps to hear other people's stories too. Life is always full of the unexpected, especially with kids. :-)

  2. oh auto-correct from my phone! that should be "moment of conception."