Sunday, July 1, 2012

We're Working On Healing

More than once in the last few months I have threatened to quit blogging.
At times the threats have been serious.
The reasons vary.

"No one reads," I'll say to Jason.
"That was the best post I've ever written and I only got two comments," I'll say.
"I don't have anything to say..."
"I've lost my ability to say anything clever..."

And on and on I list the reasons why I swear I'm going to stop.

But every time I consider it seriously something will happen.

I'll get an email from someone thanking me for being honest and open.
I'll get a comment from an anonymous reader who tells me they love Emily.
I'll run into someone who says to me, "I read your blog and I really love it."

This weekend, all of those things happened and I got a package in the mail.
The package was filled with the most adorable owl sugar cookies.
The sender had seen the pictures of Emily's bathroom, and sent cookies to match.

Apparently I was nominated on another blog as someone who deserved to get a treat in the mail.
The sweet lady who sent the cookies signed up on the same blog as someone who would be willing to make the treat.
She was given my information and the result was cookies in the mail.

THANK YOU to the mysterious person who nominated me and THANK YOU for the cookies!!!

I won't lie.  When I opened the box and read the note I teared up.
It had been a long day and the thoughtfulness of a stranger made all the difference.

I don't tell you that to suggest that I need more cookies, or more comments or more of anything...
I promise.

I am just grateful, and I want you to know that.

Some of the emotion of the first few weeks and months of Emily's life is just starting to catch up to me and I have had some pretty hard days.
Let me give you an example of just one thing that I've been hit with.
It's personal...and it seems trivial...but trauma has a funny way of messing with an otherwise stable person.

When we learned the extent of Em's heart defect we were told that I couldn't deliver at our local hospital and that my doctor wouldn't be doing the delivery.
At one of my appointments he told me, "You need to be aware that the hospital where you will be delivering is 100% for nursing.  If there is even a possibility that you don't plan on nursing, just know that they will really pressure you."

What he told me ended up being the world's biggest understatement.
I hadn't even seen my baby and the nurses started in on the pressure.
"Here's a pump..."
"If you need a lactation specialist just say the word..."
"Are you going to nurse?"
"Your baby needs you to nurse."

Every nurse that came into the room said something about it.

I was still recovering from a horrendous 36 hours of labor that ended up with a c-section; I had not been mentally prepared for that.
One of the doctors who was working on Emily right after she was born took a picture of her on his phone and brought it into the operating room where they were still stitching me up.
That picture was the only glimpse I had of my baby until the life flight team wheeled her past my bed on the way to the other hospital.
Jason was with Emily, and I was alone in my hospital room...for a couple of hours.
I didn't know if my baby was going to live.
I was scared and tired and hurting.

And every nurse that walked into that room said something about nursing.

I gave it my best effort.
I listened to the lactation specialists.
I used the pump.
I did what I could.
But my body didn't work.
I didn't have any milk.

And after three days of trying I gave up, both mentally and physically.
The nurses in that hospital made me feel like I was the worst mother on the planet because I wasn't nursing my baby.

It didn't matter to them that my milk never came in, it didn't matter to them that my baby was fighting for her life, that she couldn't eat anything anyway, and that it took every ounce of strength I had to walk to the other hospital to visit her.
They didn't ask about my baby.
When they would come in the room at night and find me awake crying they wouldn't ask me what was wrong, they would simply give me pain medication and leave.

It's been almost a year, and I still feel like I let Emily down.
You know the ironic thing?  Even if I had been able to nurse, or at the least been able to pump, Em probably wouldn't have been able to use the milk because of her infection.
And if I had been even a little bit emotionally stable, I wouldn't have allowed the nurses to treat me the way they did.

I told my mom all of this the other day and she said, "But why is it still bothering you now?"
It's a good question she asked me.

I think I have just told you all of that to tell you again, that when I say I'm grateful for what you do for me, I really truly am grateful.

The thoughtful things so many of you do are like a soothing balm on the less than perfect days.

I won't quit my blog.
I need all of you too much.

And to show you that I have no restraint...and no's what I got for Emily's birthday, and opened the day it came in the mail, even though her birthday isn't until August 5th:

My husband is sleeping peacefully next to me.
He will finally be home for longer than 20 minutes.
This is me sighing a contented sigh.


Plattfamily said...

Do not quit blogging! I know you said you weren't going to....but I need to tell you how much I love your blog! I am BAD at commenting...most of the time because I can't come up with anything "original" to say that hasn't already been said. Just know that I probably check your blog every other day and it makes me so happy when I see a new post. Can't believe that Em is going to be 1!

Mom on a Line said...

I love Emily's present!

And I understand on so many levels. Your nursing story resonates with me as well. Hospitals should know new moms with sick babies don't get milk or lose it. And they should do more when their patients are hurting. And, it does stick with you no matter how much you want to will it away. In time though, it will lessen and eventually most of things will go away. Some won't. I know they won't, but they don't hurt quite as much.

Sending so many hugs your way and I'm so glad I found your blog, you, and Emily.

Nessa said...

She looks pretty impressed by her new toy.
I hope you don't stop blogging. I like any and all of your stories, and I would be sad if I didn't know how Emily was doing.

Kathy T. said...

Noelle: I am the sender of the cookies and am now a follower of your blog. I'm so happy that they brightened your day a bit. You sound like an amazing mom! Don't let the insensitive comments of others cause you to doubt that fact. Happy Monday!

Shan said...

In my experience, having a traumatic experience involving the birth of your child inhibits milk production in some people. It is one of life's cruelties, much like women who've lost babies, but can't get their milk to stop flowing.

I totally understand why your husband was with Elimy. Just like I know why Tom went with Madelyn. But was there no one else who could stay with you? Our problem came as a surprise right at the end of labor, and although things weren't perfect when she was born, we didn't know for a couple hours how sick she was, so my people left to recover from the long overnight labor. It makes me sad to know you spent those hours alone.

And then all that time with those nurses, ugh! People need to learn balance! It was my lactation consultant who told me "a fed baby is a happy baby," when it became clear that there was no way to avoid giving formula. I wish she could have been there for you.

PS Have you seen your site counter? It's over 100,000 hits. People read. Most of them don't comment. I don't know why.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop blogging! I love to read what you have to say. In fact over the past week I have started reading your blog from the very beginning. You are a great writer!

elizabeth said...

Keep blogging. I stop by everyday to read your journey!

elizabeth said...

Keep blogging. I stop by everyday to read your journey!

elizabeth said...

Keep blogging. I stop by everyday to read your journey!

Kristyn Monaghan said...

Your daughter is gorgeous! In that picture, she looks like she is saying "hi, I'm Emily. I hope you don't mind but we are going to be GOOD friends."

Thank you for continuing to blog! I love reading and yours is one of the first I check for a new post! You are a gorgeous person which must be where your daughter gets it from. She is so lucky to have such a strong mother to look up to. I seriously don't know how you do all that you do! Thank you for sharing your life and your daughter with all of us!

Anonymous said...


You are doing fabulous! And Emily seems like such a happy sweet girl.

I saw a mother with her child at church Sunday. She has a child with Downs syndrome. The child looked so happy and loved her mother so much. She was making faces at us. They were so sweet.

Emily seems just adorable, and I hope that soon she will be healthy enough so that she can get out more and we can know her better.

Anonymous said...

I feel I need to add to my comment about the mother with the child who had Down's syndrome. I had seen her before and I had felt sorry for her. But this time I didn't feel sorry for her. She seemed blessed. And the child was just so cute you just wanted to love her and make her smile.

Joann Mannix said...

Oh my girl.

First of all, I LOVE Em's face. She is seriously checking out this new creature in her life. And that thing is almost, almost as darling as that little girl.

Second, so sorry I haven't been around to boost you up. I've been traveling and now, sigh, doing laundry.

And third, most importantly, third: A huge ARRRGHHH! I wish I'd known that about your nursing trauma. I was a lactation volunteer for many years at our local hospital. I trained and took that task on after I had my first baby. Nursing is not as intuitive as it is made out to be. In fact, it's hard, incredibly hard, and when I had trouble nursing Olivia, I called a certain league, the only resource available to me at the time. They came to my house and pretty much chastised me the whole time, making me feel like a total failure as a new mom. As if new moms don't have enough to feel insecure about as it is. After a few hours of their "help", both my baby and I, frustrated and angry, I asked them to leave. I finally figured it out myself after a long, long frustrating night. But I vowed right then to help other mothers. The nurses at the hospital always told me they preferred me over the certain league ladies because I made sure every single mother knew that if nursing didn't work for them or if it just didn't feel right, than it was perfectly OK to bottle feed. That our feeding choices did not determine our good motherliness. That bottle-fed babies were not going to turn out to be serial killers. (That statement always got a laugh from teary eyed, frustrated new mommies.)

I hate that you were made to feel that way. I hate that women try to make other women feel less over their choices in motherhood.

And the reason that it's bothering you now is because you haven't had time to think about it in this whirlwind of a life you have going on. That was no inconsequential thing you went through. Your first days as a mother and you were made to feel like you weren't living up to good mother standards.

You, my dear, are the best kind of mother. Look at that little girl. There's the proof in that sweet, cuddly pudding right there.

TortugaRachel said...

Ok Noelle. I have 3 things to say.

1. You MUST post a video of Em when she is in that thing. No excuses, it is an absolute necessity.

2. After Bean was born, I couldn't nurse either. One of my breasts wouldn't work and the other wasn't enough to sustain her. Our son was adopted, so I already knew how to do formula and knew the baby would be just fine on it. That didn't stop those nurses from harassing me about nursing. There is no other word for it, it was sheer harassment. I wanted to punch them in the face I was so mad and frustrated and upset at them, but mostly I felt betrayed by my own body. How could it work so hard to create and nurture this tiny angel and then not feed it? There are still days I have regrets, and it's been 12 years. I realize though that it just wasn't part of God's plan. It's hard to accept sometimes, but He has the blueprints, not us. I know this doesn't help ease the suffering, but just know you are not alone.

3. You are an inspiration. Don't ever forget that. You have been through so much and kept it together. I know it's hard, especially when those little things eat away at you and you just want to live a "normal" life. This is the life God gave you, because He trusts you and He knows you will come through it. I admire you, Noelle. I admire you immensely.

Allison said...

I for one love your posts but rarely Commet just Bc I'm lazy :).
I think you should write a sternly worded letter to those nurses. Then send it. Or burn it. Regardless it's cathartic

CK said...

LOVE the birthday gift that you got for Emily. And NO - you can't stop blogging! :) Emily has become a part of my life now...and so have you!
So glad to hear that Jason is home for a sound like you need a break Momma!

Baby Sister said...

Is that the thing you bought from zulilly?? It's so cute!! It fits her personality perfectly.

Sara said...

Just because I don't comment doesn't mean I don't read! Keep blogging, I look forward to it everyday. :)

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

I think that I love Joann Mannix. She said it perfectly.

That sweet little girl is who she is...because of you.

Keep on trucking' Hermanita. Keep on trucking'!

Lalis said...

Noelle, yours and bunny blogs are the only blogs I read religiously. Please, never stop blogging. You may not be witty, or funny, or creative every time, but you certainly are real. People like me need that.

Christina said...

I do not comment much, but I read your posts on my google reader! Keep writing. I love keeping up to date on other heart families.
heart Momma to Jacob

Kristin @ Simply Klassic Home said...

Well, you got the comments on this one!! Please know that I read each and every post. As soon as your blog comes up in my list, it's the first one I read, so please don't stop! I feel so connected to you, and when you're sad, I'm sad. I had never before considered visiting Utah until I met you! :)

As far as the nurses, write them a letter and let them know how you felt. Might make them take notice as to how they treat people.

That little rocker is sooo cute! I agree, post a video!!!

love ya my sweet friend!!

Anonymous said...

So sorry, my friend! You can't go anywhere without ALL of us!! You stop blogging...we start calling you daily to see "what's happenin' today, friend??" Man, that would be a lot of daily phone calls, and that ringing phone would make you TOTALLY CRAZY!! Do you see my point?? Not a good idea! We love you guys, we DO care, and it's all your fault! The first two entries on your blog MADE us love you. So, there is no backin' out now. Soooo sorry!! ;0D Not to worry, folks! I'll be the one in charge of passing out the correct phone number

-stephanie- said...

Thank you for not stopping your blogging. I would miss all of you.

Such cute little bugs... Em and her new friend.

Dazee Dreamer said...

Because I'm mean, I would like to march right into that hospital and give them a piece of my mind. Honestly, that is just wrong. And your mom is too nice and wouldn't have said anything to them either. Gosh I wish I would have known, they would have never said another word to you about nursing, believe me. ok, calming down.
Looks like Emily loves her birthday present. And I'm glad you aren't going to stop blogging. I usually don't get very many comments either, so I know how you feel.

Traci Bulkley said...

Hugs. I wasn't able to nurse Maddox either, and after 6 weeks of pumping milk that they wouldn't even give him yet I gave up. I felt bad about that for awhile too. There is something about that first birthday that makes the trauma come back. In my case I think I'd pushed it away for a year and when the anniversaries started coming I couldn't help but think of all the stuff that happened and I swear it's some version of PTSD. After all of the first anniversaries it did get somewhat better. I hope it does for you too.

Elizabeth said...

For the longest time I felt like I took the easy way out because I had a c-section after hours of labor and then chose a c-section the second time rather than go through what I did the first time.

For the longest time I felt like I had dome something wrong when I had a miscarriage.

I still feel like if I were somehow better, my husband would come to church.

So, I get what you're saying about not being able to nurse Emily.

Emotional trials are so much harder than physical trials. Everyone is always so awed by the things the pioneers went through, but I'd rather cross the plains five or six times than have the emotional trials I have. Seriously.

It has taken me 12 years to make peace with the fact that I wasn't superwoman, delivering a baby without an epidural and needed a c-section. I have my boy; we're both alive and that's what matters.

I finally realized, after five years, that the baby I miscarried needed to be sealed to me so that he or she could be assigned as a guardian to help me deal with my husband not coming to church.

I still blame myself that my husband doesn't come to church. It's been 13 years. Hopefully I'll come to terms with that someday.

I'm working on being enough, but I feel guilt that there are weeds in my garden, there is a layer of dust on my furniture, my kitchen floor needs mopped and I haven't cooked the last two days because of migraines. It is hard to believe I am enough when I lack so much.

Emotional scars take the longest to heal. I hope you find healing soon. Also, if you want, I will send a bag of poo to each of those nurses who didn't give you the care you needed.

Love you and your sweet Emily.

xo -E