Un mois

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's been one month since my baby's been out of my belly and in my arms.  What a whirlwind it's been!  In this past month, I've learned that my baby girl sometimes sleeps with her eyes open (like mama), gulps down food like she's at a hot-dog eating contest (like papa), grunts and laughs in her sleep, gets sweaty under even the lightest of blankets, loves bathtime, still sucks on her hand and gets cursed with hiccups like she did in the womb, enjoys late-afternoon naps and lots of late-night feedings.  

She's changed a lot since we first met her, too.  Her full head of hair is thinning out (like mama's did when she was a baby), her long feet finally look appropriate attached to her meatier legs, and her eyes have only become more obviously blue.  She's also become more alert and pensive - allowing us to just stare at and talk to her while she bats her long, curly lashes in response.  I'm also proud to report that she's starting to look a little less like her papa and a little more like her mama (not that that's necessarily a good thing).  
Here are a few photos from this past month; it's hard to believe that's the same girl in every photo.

A petite update

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I know it's been pretty quiet over here, but this whole new mother thing...not an easy gig.  I'm happy to be done with my mandatory 2 weeks of rest, of which I spent getting to know my sweet baby and being waited on by my mom and step-dad at their house-turned-recovery-hotel.  But, instead of coming home to a nice, clean condo, Gui and I had the brilliant idea to move out and into our new, more kid-friendly place with a two-week old newborn in tow.  She's been a champ, but moving while being restricted from lifting more than 10 pounds has been the total pits for me.  And, forget about routines - with all the chaos of unpacking and searching for this or that, it's been next to impossible to get into a regular schedule with our new baby.  Thankfully, my family and friends came to the rescue and put a huge dent in our unpacking and furniture-building chores.  We're finally making some progress with getting things settled in, and if we keep up the pace, we could get some sort of a routine established in a couple more weeks.  

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to regain my strength from the surgery without over-doing it.  It's hard.  Especially when we have so much going on all at once.  I'm just looking forward to the day when I have my body back and can do all the things I looked forward to doing with my baby while I was still pregnant and daydreaming.  

This has definitely been the most challenging month I've ever had, but it's also been the most rewarding.  Nothing beats seeing our little creation smile back at me with her toothless grin and big blue eyes.  I love her and I'm so glad she's mine.  

It was the best day of our lives, it was the worst day of our lives

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our baby girl is already 8 days old.   She finally decided to make her entrance on June 26th (a full 10 days late), and a dramatic entrance it was.  My plan for a homebirth ended when after 7 hours of active labor and a few hours of pushing she wouldn't descend far enough to come out.  After being transported to the hospital, the doctor decided that a cesarean was needed because baby was in too much distress during contractions to merit any further pushing.  So, I found myself on the operating table within minutes and at 1:34 pm, Avienne was born and handed off to a very relieved papa who showed her off to me with more pride than I've ever seen a man have.  We were completely in awe of how perfect she was and how full our hearts felt at the sight of her.  It was the most love-filled moment of my entire life.

Sadly, though, our happiness was short-lived when 10 hours later, my doctor came in to deliver us the most shocking news. An HIV test that I had agreed to have in the recovery room only a few hours earlier, had come back positive and was going to need a much more reliable test called the Western Blot to confirm its accuracy.  My doctor tried to reassure us that the so-called "rapid" test that the hospital performs is not always accurate and has been known to provide false-positive results in pregnant women during their third trimester. Since the blood that was used for the test was taken when I was still pregnant, there was a significant chance that the test would be a false-positive, but we would not be sure until the results were in at least 48 hours later. Unfortunately for us, 48 hours turned into 5 days of the most torturous waiting that we've ever experienced. And, during this time, not only was I requested not to breastfeed my newborn, but as parents we faced the most terrifying decision of whether or not to administer a preventive medication to our 12-hour old daughter that would reduce her chances of contracting the disease from 30% to less than 2%. 

The first few precious days of our baby girl's life had now been tarnished by an unbearably heavy cloud of guilt and worry. At a time when we are supposed to be losing sleep over a crying, hungry baby, we were losing our minds with impatience. The guilt of what we had done to our child, the bonding I was losing out on because I couldn't breastfeed, the agonizing decisions we had to make, the shame of not knowing where I could have contracted the virus, all could have been prevented had I been tested earlier in my pregnancy as is standard practice for all prenatal providers in Texas. Very unfortunately my midwife never offered me this test and when my blood was tested, HIV was completely left off the slate. When the hospital nurse came into my recovery room to tell me that my chart didn't show I'd been tested for HIV during pregnancy, I didn't understand why the test had not been given nor the implications of getting a positive result now that my baby was born. 

But, this isn't a story with a sad ending. While waiting to see a pediatrician at the Infectious Diseases office, I got the call with the results that I was definitely HIV negative and was told that the rapid test had indeed produced a false-positive result like it had done for many other pregnant women. The worst waiting game of our lives was over and we can finally get on with our lives as new parents to the most precious baby girl we could have ever hoped to call our own. 

This incident, as tragic as it was for us, will forever be a part of our first born's birth story.  My hope is that by telling it, I'll help prevent it from happening to other unsuspecting parents who may not have been given the option of a test early in pregnancy.  It's the one and only thing that could have been done to prevent the horrifying week we spent in limbo. Now that we can move on with our lives, we're doing so without taking any single moment for granted. We're putting this behind us and doing everything we can to make up for lost time.

A few photos from this first week.

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.