Note: Photographs below might not be suitable for those sensitive to blood or extreme cuteness.
Today marks a very important day in our family. One whole year has passed since Enzo’s birth. I don’t know why I haven’t written down the details of his birth until now. It’s hard to compile facts and emotions that are so close to my heart, but I don’t want to forget. So here I go.
Travis and I, always talked about having a handful of kids. But when we discovered I have a bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus, we quickly realized that none of this is in our control. Pregnancy wasn’t easy with Lucia, but she came to us full-term and perfect. So we didn’t anticipate the roller coaster ride we would be on this time around.
My third trimester was when I started to feel well enough to go on walks and exercise at the gym. I really enjoyed being pregnant. I was keeping busy with client meetings, crafts with Lucia, nesting and enjoying the sunshine we would get after days of rain.
At 33 weeks, I was fairly certain my water broke (7 weeks before my due date). We went to the hospital late on a Wednesday night, and after doing an exam they determined I was fine, and sent me home. I spent all of Thursday at home taking it easy (as easy as you can with a busy 2-year-old). I was absolutely positive my water broke and decided to wait until Friday morning. I didn’t want to be sent away again! On Friday morning, I drove myself to the hospital, and they admitted me. Finding out that my water actually broke, and that my baby would be coming much, MUCH sooner than we expected or planned was terrifying news to get when you’re all by yourself. It was a slow enough leak that they wanted to wait until I went into active labor before delivering, ensuring our baby had the most time possible for growth and development in the womb.
I had so much to do — spring cleaning, organizing, emails — but all I could think of was all the time I was losing with Lucia. I was losing the time I planned to better prepare her for the arrival of her brother. It all became very scary and real to me. I wasn’t prepared, mentally or emotionally. I was losing nearly two months to prepare! Fear and doubt were creeping in.
Later on that day, Travis brought Lucia to see me. Seeing them made all my fears disappear for a moment. I wanted Travis to be with Lucia as much as possible so she could still have a little bit of normalcy. So I was alone most of the time in the hospital. When we let family and friends know what was happening, phone calls and messages came flooding in. So many prayers and positive energy were sent our way. I was so grateful and felt so loved. It was very difficult for me to talk to anyone other than Travis, though. I felt so vulnerable, and I just tried to hold it together, as I prayed our little boy would stay in for just a bit longer.
Being on official bed rest at the hospital (a possibility that loomed over both pregnancies), meant that I had a lot of time on my hands. It was so weird to not be cleaning something, getting work done or playing with our girl. Doctors and nurses were in and out of my room all day, so it was hard for me to actually relax.
Saturday was supposed to be my baby shower, so my loving and thoughtful girlfriends threw me onein the cafeteria at the hospital. My dear friend even came to do my hair beforehand. Because you know, sitting in a wheelchair, in a hospital gown isn’t the most glamorous look. I wasn’t up for visitors that weren’t close family the rest of my hospital stay, but my baby shower was a huge bright spot during those dark days. (Literally and metaphorically. It was so rainy and yucky outside!)
The days seem to blend together. I received two steroid shots to help the development of the baby’s brain and lungs. They also gave me two ultrasounds to ensure I had enough amniotic fluid for him and to check his weight. They were pretty sure he would weigh between two and a half and three pounds. They talked about the NICU, breathing tubes, and a myriad of concerns premature babies can have.
All I could do was pray, drink a ton of water (amniotic fluid can regenerate!), and try my best to not let stress get to me. I received a blessing that comforted my heart. Comfort I so desperately needed. We had to hope for the best, but we were prepared for the worst. This helped clear my mind.
I had contractions for a couple of days, but they were not progressing. Late Monday night, I realized they were becoming much stronger, but was so tired, I tried to sleep it off. The nurse came in to check me at 2:00am, and she could feel his leg coming down. Within a minute, my room was filled with half a dozen nurses, prepping me for surgery, asking me questions, and moving me to a gurney. I called Travis in shock and sobbing, hardly able to get the words out. I told him to hurry. The on-call doctor was ready to put me completely under and perform the surgery without my doctor or husband. I cried as silently as I could and told the nurse I wasn’t ready. When the nurse contacted my doctor, he told them to have the anesthesiologist give me a spinal block, and to WAIT. He was going to be there and they were going to wait for Travis, too. He was out of town when I was admitted to the hospital and came home from his trip a few days early. What a saint.
It wasn’t long before I was on the O.R. table, getting my spinal block while laying down. The anesthesiologist said he hadn’t performed one in this position for a long time. My previous experience was horrible, so to hear him say that wasn’t comforting, at all. A couple minutes passed, and my doctor walked in. I had been crying, and when I saw him, he held my hand, looked me in the eyes and told me that everything was going to be alright. Immediately, a calmness swept over me. The doctor that delivered Lucia, was on his sabbatical, and his son (my current doctor) took over his practice. I am so grateful to those two men that safely brought my babies into this world, with such care. I’ll always have a soft spot for both of them.
Travis walked in the O.R. just as they started, and I finally accepted the fact that our boy was going to be delivered. It would be ok, because he was by my side. There were still so many unknowns, but I knew we would be ok. This whole pregnancy, I kept reminding myself that no two pregnancies are alike. Neither are the babies. I am grateful for this, because I knew our son would be whisked away, and I wouldn’t have that same bonding I had with Lucia in recovery.
When our doctor announced our baby was about to be born, I held my breath. Often times, preemies don’t cry when they come out of the womb and have to be hooked up to oxygen. But just a split second later, we heard a loud wail. I caught a glimpse of him, and through my tears, I could tell this child was not as small as we had anticipated. They cleaned him up and let me touch him. He was crying, and when our cheeks touched, he calmed down, immediately. It was magic. This child was ours. He was a miracle from God (in many ways). I couldn’t be happier, in that moment. Travis looked at me and said, “Enzo?” and I said, “Sure.” We had a hard time coming up with names, but that one was the only one we both liked. We hadn’t even talked about it much, because well, we thought we had more time! But knowing him now, it suits him perfectly.
It wasn’t long before they took him up to NICU. Our doctor walked Travis up to check in on Enzo while I was taken to recovery. Because I had a bad reaction to the medication after giving birth to Lucia, they gave me something that wasn’t as powerful, which made recovery much worse. I was in excruciating pain, and the medication just wouldn’t work fast enough.
Travis came back after what seemed like a decade. He was holding up an index card that read: “5#5oz 18in”. I could hardly see and was confused at what he was showing me. After Travis asked if I could read it, I quickly realized what it was. Our baby that was measuring normal for 33 weeks was actually the size of many full-term babies (on the smaller side of the spectrum). Lucia was 7lbs 10oz, so it seemed odd that he would be this huge baby, considering they carried almost identically. We both just cried tears of joy and tears of gratitude. It truly was a miracle.
Enzo stayed in the NICU while I was at the hospital. I was so eager to see him and to be physically able to care for both of my children. I quickly started walking around my room, then the hall, and then the wing. The quicker I got moving, the quicker I would be able to care for two children. We would walk to the NICU to deliver the tiny drops of milk I pumped and spend hours holding him, skin to skin. I left the hospital a day early, because I so desperately missed my Lucia and only saw Enzo a few times a day, anyway. So we made plans with family and friends, to arrange babysitting, and rides for me to be with Enzo in the morning, returning in the evening with Travis.
From the first day, Enzo was able to nurse, which was somewhat surprising to us because he was so small. When I wasn’t there feeding him, I left milk for them. He got stronger and stronger by the day, and we prayed fervently that he would come home with us, very soon. They warned us it would likely be a month, at a minimum. But he was only being monitored. There were no issues with his development or how is body functioned. They simply wanted to be sure his heart and lungs worked and that he could put on weight. After a couple of days under the lamp his bilirubins went down, and they were able to put him in the intermediate care nursery. After a day, he was able to maintain his temperature, so he was able to come out of the incubator, and into an open-air crib. Every day was an answered prayer.
We were told on day eight that he would likely be able to go home the following day. We were shocked and happy (and maybe a bit nervous) to bring him home. We called our dear friend, Jeff, to see if he would be able to capture Enzo coming home and meeting Lucia for the first time. This all had taken such a toll on Lucia, but true to her sweet nature, she was so thrilled to meet him for the first time.
It was agony for me to have my children separated for this period, but I am so grateful we have their first meeting on film. It is easily, one of the most special moments of my entire life. They are truly best friends, and watching them grow closer every day, is my favorite part of being their mama.
This past year has been beautiful. It has been filled with so much joy, some heartache, trials and challenges (as life is and should be for our growth). I wouldn’t change it in any way. The journey to motherhood has not been easy, and I have left many of those very personal challenges out. But I realize, how fortunate I am to have these two beautiful, healthy, thriving children. I have written these words because I believe there is power in sharing our stories with each other. I am a visual person, but sometimes photos don’t tell the whole story. I want our Enzo to know, from the very beginning of his life, he has been a fighter. There was a time early on when we were pretty positive I was no longer pregnant. In every way, he has surprised us, time after time. He’s one tough little guy, and I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to nurture and love him.
Happy first birthday, my sweet Enzo Travis. We love you so very much.
You love to say: papa, mama, bubba, hi, bye, dudu (Lulu). You give the most generous kisses and hugs. You’re so close to walking, and I know it will be when YOU want to. For now, you would probably win an Olympic medal for speed crawling. You’re super stealth and a master of getting into things and creating messes in less than a second. You have 6 adorable teeth that are razor sharp and a super strong grip. You’ve been strong your whole life. You are rarely displeased, and you love to growl and squeal when you’re happy.
You love to observe your surroundings and clap. You are simply a happy baby. I’m pretty sure the only time you cry are when you are hungry and mama just isn’t fast enough, or if you close your fingers in a drawer. You love any type of ball, and your favorite hobby is slamming your Nerf baseball bat on the floor. Sissy is your best friend, and you two make each other laugh constantly. I love to hear you when you’re both going down for a nap or bedtime, and you laugh and giggle with each other. No one makes her happier and vice versa. You are a great blessing to our family, and we’re so happy you’re ours.