The Beginning Draws Near

My initial thought was to title this “The End Draws Near” – but the arrival of Jalebi isn’t really an ending.  An ending to pregnancy aches and pains and (hopefully) diabetes and diet restrictions, sure, but really, it’s more of a beginning.  One moment we will just be Arif and Holly, and the next moment we get the biggest promotion of our lives: Dad and Mom.  Perhaps we are already there, but it will be more real in the moment we hear his cry.

I am simultaneously ready and not-ready for his arrival.  While we were in Iowa City for our last round of appointments on Tuesday (Yay! This means everything is looking good), they set an induction date for Tuesday, October 20th, at 8 pm.  This means the beginning of the beginning happens in just 32 days.

The normal first-time mom stuff (I assume, though this whole experience has been so far from “normal”): I feel I still have a ton to get done before he arrives.  We have the necessities – a crib, a carseat, diapers and wipes – but I have so many more things I want done.  Bookshelves in the nursery, cushions for the hand-me-down rocking chair that’s been in my family for generations, a side table, a lamp, maybe a rug…With the move happening when it did, our nursery is far from finished, though we have already painted, put in a new ceiling fan, put in new window coverings, and I have washed all of his bedding, towels, and 0-3 mo clothes….I still want to scrub the used toys and figure out a diaper changing station organization system for the family room….Not to mention, though I have his bag packed for the hospital and have started gathering things for ours, I still have a lot of packing to do. (Which is the not-so-normal new mom stuff – We are looking at a much longer hospital stay, and I want to be as organized as possible going into it)

Of course, in the midst of all of that, I am exhausted this week.  My energy is low, and it’s all I can do to take my walks as usual and eat every three hours as prescribed and just get the daily household tasks done.

I still struggle with wanting him to stay inside my belly where I know he is safe.  Where I can feel his kicks and punches to the ribs multiple times a day.  I feel him trying to roll around and get comfortable in there.  I know he is getting the oxygen he needs from me, and he is safe.  The other part of me, that has accepted the fact he will be coming out soon, is just ready to check into the hospital already.  I want him to be monitored; I want to know he is okay and know that I have a team doing everything possible to ensure his survival.  The limbo is hard, and a part of me wants to be able to stop worrying about everything we will be facing soon and Just. Start. Facing. It.  I’m ready to be thrown in the middle of it all, because in some ways, that will feel easier to me than the waiting, wondering, worrying.

Ultimately, it’s a beginning I have been waiting for since I can remember.  And it’s coming.

Food

I learned, early on, babies with heart defects often have trouble eating.  Many of them go home with feeding tubes in order to get in their daily calories.  They need to eat well and grow well, so they are big enough to handle the surgeries and procedures.  In our case, Jalebi will need his “permanent fix” surgery around the 6-9 month range.  He needs to get in his calories, and he needs to gain the appropriate weight.  I knew that.  I’ve been worried about the feeding tube.  We have no way of knowing if he will need it or not, but I know it is a very distinct possibility.

I also knew we would likely have to supplement breast milk with formula, for the added iron. (at least, I think that’s why – I can’t hold everything in my brain)  Again, we need to bulk him up!  I understood all of this.  I was okay with all of this.

What my brain failed to do was connect the dots of what this would all likely mean about breastfeeding.  Because we have to closely monitor how much he is eating, I will more than likely not be able to breastfeed my son.  I will pump (and pump and pump and pump) and will give him breast milk in a bottle, so we can measure how much he is taking in.  But we would have no way of knowing the amount he eats if we let him eat directly from the source.

Again, we don’t know this with 100% certainty.  Maybe Jalebi will like eating as much as his father and I do.  If he’s a total Rock Star and eats with a great appetite, we may be allowed to feed him the way I always thought I would.

But it’s unlikely.

Of course, his health is far more important than any idyllic dream of mine.  Of course, I will pump and do the best I can to give him the nutrition he needs…but man, I am grieving this one.  There are so many pieces that are so different from what I had always imagined – and this just adds to the pile.

I am remembering a lesson I learned a few years ago: I am allowing myself to feel what I am feeling in the moment.  I am not talking myself out of being sad about this.  I am just letting myself be sad.  I know it, too, will become a new normal for us – It is amazing how quickly we adapt to all of these new obstacles and realities.  I know my brain will firmly move me away from sadness with time, and I will focus on what I need to do for him.  That will be all that matters.

But for now, I’m incredibly disheartened about this.