catching meteorites: a photo journal for the nicu parent

At his birth, we were given the option to let him die or try to resuscitate him because he came so incredibly early. I now know that this isn’t an option offered to most parents in our shoes. Quality of life is measured by how few complications a child will have outside of the womb. Choosing life for a micropreemie was great risk to our hearts being broken, but we more than anything wanted to love him on this earth. We wanted Isaac to know that his story was important. And we wanted everyone else to know that he had existed.

I have been told on multiple occasions by friends and strangers that I am brave for sharing my story. However, I don’t feel it was out of courage that led me to share my story with Isaac.

It was out of defiance.

Shortly after Isaac was born, I realized there was nothing but clinical or linear checklists revolved around the NICU experience. While I wanted to understand what doctors were telling me about Isaac’s status, what I really wanted and needed was something to help me process what I was seeing and feeling on the day to day in the NICU. I wanted a clean and simple way to explain Isaac’s story to him one day, but also to those who had a lack of understanding of what the NICU experience is all about.

My pregnancy journal suddenly became obsolete and was a painful reminder of not only an incomplete pregnancy, but also an introduction to parenthood that was not “normal”. Instead of the comfort of seeing Isaac surrounded by sunlight and stuffed animals and loving parents, I had to witness his upbringing with machines, wires, and tubes.

This was his first home and as bleak as it was, I did not want to forget what we went through in an attempt to bring him home with us. I needed something that took my mind off of trying to meet the milestones (even though that was important to me). Instead I wanted to focus on us being present with Isaac in his world. There was nothing in the market at the time that was a NICU equivalent of a regular baby book, and if there was, it had a lot of the goal oriented prompts that I was not looking for. I wanted something that would display our story in a powerfully unique way.

So, I decided to write and design my own.

I wanted to make a book that was broad enough to address the collective path of NICU parents despite their individual circumstances, but I wanted the book to act as a thoughtful guide through a parent’s experience in the NICU.


This book is filled with not only space to take notes, note achievements, and track a NICU baby’s weekly progress, but I wrote twenty-one prompts (ten photo prompts and eleven writing prompts) to help parents gain a new perspective on their NICU experience. I wanted there to be a map of more general landmarks achieved in the NICU rather than an overwhelming checklist of milestones that often become blinders to the bigger picture of just loving and enjoying the time with one’s child. We came up with a constellation map that corresponds with a few landmarks that most families will come across, without it feeling too linear.

Right now, I am trying to decide on which cover color to go with: a midnight blue or an onyx black linen cover. I knew I didn’t want a standard vinyl binder, but something more luxe and personal. As a NICU parent, we were inundated with folders and pamphlets that felt clinical and disconnected from our story. I searched for almost two years to find the right manufacturer and finally came across the company that created Artifact Uprising’s baby book!

We had Isaac’s doctor look it over the first draft of the book, and he was ecstatic to have it in the NICU. So we started applying for grants as well as reaching out for support from family and friends, doctors and nurses, and past NICU families. We are hoping to go into production by March 15th of this year so that we can start distributing what we hope to be a blessing to many an invitation for other families to one day share their experience with those around them.

This week, I would like to invite you to give, even if it is just $5 to our GoFundMe page and ask you to consider sharing this with anyone you know, especially former NICU families! If everyone Keith and I know gives $5 and then invites the people you know to give $5, I know we could meet our goal quickly!

Thank you so much for hearing our story and for your continued support!






Parenthood: chapter 7

I know I start every new month with i can't believe he is...  But seriously, I caught myself swiping through videos of his first months here with us and I am amazed at his metamorphosis!

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The battle continues for good naps and good bedtimes, but from here on, he is going through a ton of changes and I know that has played a part in his sleep. I am sure there is some cure  to this regression, but my kid doesn't want any part of it, and so I surmise that this is God's way of letting me know that he's got this. I need to relinquish control.

One of the biggest blessings we have received as parents is his laughter. Oh. My. Word. If you haven't watched my stories on Instagram, you are missing out on sweet giggles. It's the kind of laughter that fairies are made from.  sigh. Wish I could bottle it and wear it around my neck when he is inconsolable and I am exhausted. I need the reminder of how precious he is in those moments.

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he hasn't started to crawl yet although the Oksana baiul leg comes up every once in a while and I know he is getting pretty close. I have been doing my best to try and cheer him on without swooping him up the moment he gets frustrated. he can drag himself a few paces forward, but that's about it.

He seems pretty content with playing by himself while I am doing a few house chores. I have felt free at times in this stage, but I still find myself neglecting my own needs because i feel like I am on standby for any moment he may need me.

I don't think he is the primary source for self neglect, but he is definitely highlighting the struggle I have in general. I hope I can get the space to explore ways to truly care for myself in relation to others. 

resolution

my biggest qualm this year has been that i have far too much that i want to do, and when i try to do everything, i neglect a part of everything (even now as I am typing this up, i am checking to make sure I have made an instagram post which then leads to me looking at old photos and comparing how big the babe has gotten as i look at him laying on the floor attempting to crawl—uuuuugh so distracted).

but this year instead of committing to do more better, i have decided to dial it back to my bones, staying focused on one major task at a time until its completed. i would love to be able to do more at once, but being a jack of all trades tends to make me mediocre at a lot of things.

one of the things I have been pouring a lot of energy into lately is a book that I have been working on for the last year. not have i been writing content for it, but i have been designing it as well. i am now at the stage of getting quotes and hoping to get it printed soon. i will share more next month when i hopefully have more details to share, but i will say that I am mega proud of myself for staying the course and pushing through all the baby interruptions.

my blog has taken a back seat as of late due to mamahood, but also to technical difficulties that were supposed to make posting a little more convenient. content has been a little all over the place as i find my rhythm of what i would like to focus on. the truth is, there isn’t a whole lot going on most days because there is still so little i can do before babe needs to go down for a nap, or eat. as soon as we start making headway with vendors on this book, i will resume consistent posts, but until then they will be a bit scattered.

macrame is another area i have put on the back burner. i have so many ideas that i want to create, but it takes a lot of prep time, so until i get the head space for it, i am tabling it until the summer.

finally, i think the biggest reason i am so distracted is because i don’t really have a space to keep things organized and in its proper place. keith and i are looking to change that this year and i am really excited about it because its been a really long time since i have had a space for all of my office stuff and for me too.

DITL of a SAHM and 6 month old

it seems strange that anyone would even care to know about my day to day, but in an effort to get to blogging more, (#newyeargoals) i will overcome my own feeling of invisibility and write as though there is some amother out there who cares and appreciates the day to day. in all honesty, that is what this blog is meant to be about anyway, not the well curated moments that i can be guilty of posting. anyway, i’ll stop jawing about.

i would like to say that i get up at five or six am to start my day before he wakes up, but because he has been hitting all of these developmental and growth milestones back to back, i don’t get much sleep. so i usually get up closer to seven. and he just started teething this month, so there’s that.

i start my day by drinking at least twelve ounces of water. if i can get in twenty that would be splendid. the idea is that i can better hydrate before sticking food in me. i wash my face and brush my teeth and bird bath it—yes like i was eight years old again. mothers know at this stage you don’t have time to shower when its just you and baby, so bird bathing it is. then its time to put on a real bra. not the flimsy nursing bra, i’m talking about one that contours. i get dressed and i quickly make the bed before i grab a bite to eat.

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breakfast for me isn’t the greatest right now. i eat what isn’t going to wake up my son. that means no pretty smoothies. oatmeal and maybe a banana because those are quiet foods, right? my son usually wakes up when i am mid chew, i grab him, kiss him several times because he is so stinking cute even when he’s fussy in the morning. i change his loaded diaper and then i proceed to nurse him. his reflux is getting a lot better so i don’t have to hold him upright for half an hour anymore.

from the time that he first gets up, i know i roughly have an two hours before he’s ready to be put back down. i have started to let him have some play time in his crib or on a blanket by himself since he is not crawling yet. i then fix myself a real meal and then check all of my text that i missed from the day before or take pictures of him or i unload the dishwasher like a responsible human.

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normally i would give him solids after nursing, but with him teething, he hasn’t wanted anything but the boob. i read him a story, sing to him i have a playlist of five christmas songs presently in my head, then i put him down. i get some quiet things done like laundry or this graphic design project i have been working on more details on that soon! usually he gets a good first hour long nap in before he wakes up.

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once he’s up, i typically wait half an hour to feed him just because he had a shorter wake time. after that, i change him and get him loaded in the stroller to go for a walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park that doesn't take ages to drive to. this is good for both of us as we both need the stimulation. I am ok with letting him doze off for his second nap because it is so hard getting him down for his early afternoon naps with these stupid sleep merges.

If he is still asleep I will head to the grocery and do a little grocery shopping in the afternoon to get ready for dinner. we head back to the house I feed him and we play. I also attempt a decent lunch. His last nap of the day is the shortest, thirty minutes at most. then he is up for a total of three hours till bedtime that's three hours from the two he used to be because he is sloughing the fourth nap. 

during this time Keith gets home and plays with him and gets him ready for bed while I get dinner ready. on the rare occasion Keith and I get to eat together, but usually I am nursing while Keith eats and singing our boy to sleep. He wakes up twice, once for gas and the other because he needs a top off.

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lately he has been sleeping between four and five hours between his night feedings which has been awesome and nerve wracking because of the lack of consistency. but overall he is getting better.

I hope this helps some mum out there who finds herself having a difficult time. I know it was hard for me to read posts of mums who had it all together.