Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful

Birth announcement by my talented bro-in-law, Blake Heywood.

Happy Halle-ween! :)

I've slacked a lot with the blogging since baby girl arrived. And since it's the season of Thanksgiving, I would be remiss if I didn't take some time to write about the many things I'm thankful for in recent weeks.

I'm thankful for modern medicine. Olivia decided to stay in the comfortable darkness of the womb for four extra days. Friday, 10/21, I went in for my 41-week appointment. The midwives took pity on my frazzled mental and emotional state (an overdue pregnancy was torturing me) and sent me over to the hospital to be induced around noon. I checked in, started feeling some mild contractions in the early afternoon, gazed at a breathtakingly lovely view of Utah Valley out of my hospital window for a few hours, got my epidural before any major pain ensued, dilated to 10 cm by about 8:00 p.m., pushed through literally 2-3 contractions, and then welcomed my beautiful Olivia Juliet into the world at 8:53. 8 lbs, 8 oz., 20 in. long. The labor and delivery literally went about as smoothly as a girl could ask for. I was extremely thankful and relieved. Induction was something I wanted to avoid, but decided I needed to go for it in order to salvage my mental health. I was ready...and she was overdue...and my mind was obsessing about the potential complications of an overdue baby. Luckily, things worked out beautifully.

I adored my Olivia from the moment I saw her beautiful head of black hair and heard her continuous coos and sighs...even during her entire first night of sleep. She was a champ at nursing right away and stole our hearts with her big eyes and beautiful little lips (she has her daddy's mouth, for sure). The couple of days in the hospital were filled with visitors, hospital room service, and also some good alone time for me and Nate to bond with our amazing baby girl. She was, and still is, perfect.

The morning before we left the hospital, the pediatrician came in and said Olivia's bilirubin levels were a little high and I needed to bring her back for another screening in two days. I didn't think much of it. Halle had needed to do the same thing. I figured jaundice was common...nothing to stress about. A couple of hours later, the nurse came in and said Olivia had failed two hearing screenings...in both ears. That was not great news for a mother with obsessive thought patterns. I freaked out a little...OK, maybe a lot. Great. My child was going to be deaf. Never mind that all of the hospital personnel assured us that it's fairly common for babies to fail this test in the hospital--they often still have fluid in their ears and that makes it hard to get an accurate result. My child was deaf. I was sure of it. They instructed me to make an appointment with an audiologist in 10 days for another hearing screening.

Since it was Sunday, a couple of members from a local ward brought Nate and I the sacrament before we checked out of the hospital. It was greatly needed. I remember feeling an overwhelming feeling of love, warmth, and peace. Everything was going to be OK. I'm so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and the gift of the Holy Ghost to make our lives better and happier. I'm also thankful that we can always participate in the same gospel ordinances, no matter where we go.

Two days later, I took Olivia in for that second jaundice screening. I received a concerned phone call from her pediatrician's office a few hours later. Her bilirubin levels had literally doubled in those two days. Now was the time for genuine concern. They explained that they would deliver some bilirubin lights for Olivia to lay on for at least the next 24 hours and she was only to be removed from said lights to be fed and changed. The lights would help her work through the jaundice faster. SIX HOURS later, the third-party medical company who was short-staffed finally delivered the lights to a sobbing, worried mother. I feel bad for the poor guy who had to deal with the emotional mess I was in that moment. I finally got Olivia settled in to her personal little tanning bed (that's sort of what it looked like) and she stayed there for the next day. I hated every minute of it. I sat up right next to her, comforting her, holding the pacifier in her mouth. I didn't sleep a wink. I took her back for another blood test the next day and her levels had dropped some, but the doctor still recommended another day of lights. The lights didn't seem to bother her, but they bothered me—it was another day without any sleep. I took her in for another blood test and her levels had dropped out of the high-risk zone. We could officially take her off the lights. I had to do one more blood test the next day to make sure her levels were still going down on their own. Which, luckily, they were. I sighed a huge sigh of relief and tried to catch up on some Zs.

The next Monday was Halloween. We had a fabulous time with Supergirl (a.k.a. Halle). I tried not to worry too much about Olivia's impending audiologist appointment. She seemed to startle at some loud sounds, but not others. I couldn't tell what my sleepy newborn was hearing, if anything at all. In addition, I had a dermatologist appointment scheduled for the same day because of a yucky little mole on my arm that had completely changed color and had me worried. The day of both appointments arrived, and thankfully, it was a day of good news. Olivia's ears are both fine. She passed her test with flying colors. And after a biopsy, the dermatologist confirmed that my mole is benign.

All of this was followed by a scare at the optical center in which the doctor thought I might have glaucoma. Turns out everything is fine there, too. I got my badly-needed new eyeglasses prescription and, for now, everyone in our house is healthy and happy. Nate is the most wonderful father. As usual, he's picked up on everything so quickly, and he does so many things to help, without even being asked. He's become quite the expert diaper changer and Olivia is already enamored by him when he sings her to sleep. I love him so much and I'm so thankful for who he is.

In fact, I feel a depth of happiness I didn't know was possible for me. I don't care about material possessions, things I used to want, or petty unimportant concerns I used to have. I just want to be with my husband and our two girls. I want to take care of them and teach them and play with them and watch them grow. That's all that matters. I am so incredibly blessed and I know these blessings come from a loving Heavenly Father who answers prayers. I know we'll have challenges and trials as a family. But we're sealed together forever. And for the first time, I really feel the gravity of exactly what that means. We'll always have each other, and a Heavenly Father and Savior to help us through what's hard. How can I not be infinitely grateful and happy about that?