Welcome to the world Mills Harry Thompson, our precious preemie

Our sweet Mills is 5 weeks old today (4 days shy of his due date) and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by!

Mills Harry Thompson joined the world 6 weeks early on Monday June 4th at 1:35 am weighing 4 lbs 12 oz and measuring 18.25 inches - our precious little preemie. Giving birth at 34 weeks was definitely not a part of our move-across-the-country-buy-a-house-have-a-baby master plan but I am learning that life doesn't go according to plan and parenthood certainly doesn't. Mills' entrance into this world was absolutely nothing like what we expected but we are so glad to have our little doodlebug here in the world and it sure makes for a great story...

When we found out we were pregnant and due in July, the same time that we would be moving to Birmingham for Max's new job, we knew we had to be strategic about timing to ensure we were all set up in Birmingham before baby boy joined the world. We moved into our new home at the end of May and Max returned to California to finish out a few weeks at his job there. He would officially move to Birmingham on June 18th giving us the final three weeks of my pregnancy to have our baby showers, prepare our home, take birthing classes and read the baby books. It was certainly not ideal to be on opposite sides of the country that late in my pregnancy but it was important to get me and baby safe and settled in Birmingham. As long as Max didn't miss the birth...

To be safe, as my due date drew near we planned for my mom and dad to alternate staying with me all but a few days until Max moved back. The night of June 2nd, one of the few days I was by myself, I laid in bed writing up my birth plan and decided that it was time to get serious, to pack the hospital bag and get all the baby clothes and gear washed and ready. I woke up on June 3rd, pulled out the baby stuff to get started and noticed something unusual. I called Max and said "don't be alarmed, but my underwear were wet with a clear liquid when I woke up and it seems to be getting worse." (don't panic, don't panic...) "Why don't you just go to the hospital to get checked, just in case" he said - (only later to confess he knew that meant my water had broken but didn't want to send me into a panic.) Fast forward a couple of hours, and I am at the hospital alone and in labor at 34 weeks with my husband across the country. Max booked the first flight out of California and frantically called all of our family and friends trying to get someone to me as soon as possible until he could get there. My mother in law got here first, then my aunt arrived from Atlanta, my mom and brother happened to be together in Tampa and hopped on the first plane out and my dad drove here from Texas. As my family arrived over the next few hours, the doctors and nurses assured me that they would do everything they could to keep the baby put until Max got there. I was so consumed with the idea that Max might miss the birth that it didn't really hit me I was HAVING A BABY until I started pushing! Finally around 11pm Max arrived and my contractions slowed - the doctor decided they would induce me in the morning. Minutes later I had two huge contractions and we knew, once again, that baby boy had other plans. About an hour and a half after Max arrived the nurse came in to check my dilation and said "girl, we're having this baby!!" - daddy was here and baby boy was ready to join the world! I pushed for about an hour and a half before our precious tiny boy was born with a full head of dark hair. I have never felt more overwhelming joy, love and gratitude than in that moment as Max was there holding my hand, cheering me on and helping bring our boy into the world. Mills was tiny but healthy - max got to cut the cord, I got to hold him in my arms and our family got to see him as they whisked him off to the NICU.

Since Mills was born six weeks early, he is a preemie and spent the first two weeks of his life in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and CCN (Continuing Care Nursery). Seeing our child in the incubator, hooked up to wires and monitors, struggling to regulate his temperature and weight was heart wrenching. Instead of the joyful birth experience I envisioned, ours was full of worry and uncertainty. Instead of leaving the hospital with balloons and flowers and a baby in my arms we left empty handed, as our baby lie alone in an incubator. I mourned the abrupt end to my pregnancy, felt cheated that I didn't get the baby showers and the "this is it" moment with my husband, was frustrated at how unprepared I was and then the overwhelming guilt for such selfish feelings over such superficial things. So many emotions flooded my heart but more than anything was my gratitude that he was healthy and strong, that it wasn't worse and that Max was there. I have never loved that man more. It was a rollercoaster of emotions but we are beyond grateful for the incredible nurses and doctors who guided us, taught us, and consoled us every step of the way.

So here we are, this Friday is my due date and instead of anxiously waiting to go into labor I am wearing this baby boy on my chest, listening to his rhythmic breathing and kissing his sweet head full of hair. He is the most precious, expressive little peanut and being his mama is the most incredible gift. We are so happy to see him growing, gaining weight and changing rapidly before our eyes (so many tears!). Our birth experience, in retrospect, was the perfect initiation into parenthood. Mills is teaching me that life doesn't go according to my plan and what's important is to live in the moment, surround yourself with those you love, and always be grateful - God has a bigger plan than I can ever have for myself or this family of mine. I am so excited to see what other wild stories and broken plans this sweet boy will bring.

A huge thank you to all of our amazing friends, family, nurses and doctors who showered us with love and support in the toughest time of our lives. The gifts, the meals, the encouragement, love and support is what got us through this. We could not have done this without you and are forever grateful.



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