Sunday, December 28, 2014

Oberon Christopher: 11/24/14 - 12/28/14

Even though we knew it was coming, we don't know what to do or say.  It feels both real and surreal, both devastating that we can't hold or kiss him and relief that he isn't struggling anymore.

We said goodbye to our son, Oberon Christopher, at 12:50 a.m. on Sunday, December 28.  It was clear that he was going to pass soon in the early afternoon on Saturday, December 27.  Obie was taking long breaks between breaths, sometimes going for a minute or two.  Then he would start again, sometimes with a sharp shake.  When he would start breathing again, color would return and sometimes we got a few minutes of open eye time.  At first, he was crying a little, but we were able to console him by holding him and increasing his medication.  After that, he was very sedated and was not crying or in distress.  When he stopped breathing for the last time, it was similar to what he had been going through the last ten hours... he just simply stopped.  After a few minutes without restarting, we checked his heartbeat and confirmed that it had stopped.

 Loving our Obie on the evening of 12/27/14.

We were (and are) amazed by his resilience and how many times he started breathing again after being stopped for so long.  We kept trying to soothe him and tell him to relax, that he didn't have to fight anymore.  Once it was apparent that the end was near (about 2 p.m. on Saturday), we alternated holding between Chris and Elizabeth.  The only times he wasn't in our arms were diaper changes.

We find solace that we were with him and loving him as much as we could when he passed.  We are also so happy that he was peaceful and not struggling.

The hospice nurse came shortly after 2 a.m. to confirm that Obie was no longer with us.  After that, we waited for the mortuary to send someone to pick up Obie's body.  We gave him lots of kisses, and he was taken away around 4 a.m.  We've interacted with a lot of people since Obie was born, and thankfully the three people we dealt with in the wake of Obie's passing were sensitive and tactful.  This was not our experience with everyone, but the hospice answering person, the nurse, and the mortuary person were all empathetic and gentle.

Chris and Elizabeth are not sure how the next days and weeks will go.  We'll have to take it day by day and try to be there for each other as much as possible.  We already have some messages of love and support from close friends and family, but we honestly don't know what would be helpful right now.

One thing we've found helpful so far is talking to each other about all of the amazing memories we have with our son.  We will be sharing these on the blog from time to time.  Without completely transferring pictures from our phones, we have nearly 5,000 pictures of our little family.  We'll be using these to remember and share our wonderful 33 days of Oberon.

Please remember that we are not religious.  Messages of prayers, heaven, etc. are not comforting to us.

Photo shoot with Abby Alger, 12/10/14

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One Month Old!

Obie turns one month old on Xmas Eve.  We're so lucky he has reached this milestone.  We get to snuggle him on the night before Xmas (and we'll need to look up the words to that story to read to him after this gets posted)!

Our little ham.  Posing for Abby Alger on 12/10/2014.

The past month has felt like both a lifetime and no time at all.  It's been full of practically simultaneous highs and lows, but the one constant through it all is our precious Oberon.

To celebrate, we wanted to post a picture and a sentence from each day this month, and the day before.

Sunday, November 23
Awesome ladies keep Elizabeth company in the hospital - since they were supposed to be hosting the baby shower, they had no other plans!

Monday, November 24
Oberon arrives!

 Tuesday, November 25
Daddy gets some holding time with Obie.

Wednesday, November 26
Presents for the beastie, from the shower that wasn't.

Thursday, November 27
Chris telling Obie about how the Lions play on Thanksgiving every day (and for once - they won!).

Friday, November 28
Breaking rules started early - visiting with Grandma F.

Saturday, November 29
Holding hands with Daddy and getting some rest.

Sunday, November 30
It's never to early to start loving apple pie (made by Grandma F)!

Monday, December 1
We don't have any pictures from this day.  This was the day Obie got his MRI, so we didn't get a lot of visiting time.  We were also very emotional with all the extra testing that was going on.  So instead, here is the latest picture we have from Nov 30!  Check out our fancy hospital bracelets - the magic tickets to see our Obear.

 Tuesday, December 2
Things changed quite a bit - Obie got the leads in his head for the EEG, but he still needed diaper changes from Daddy.

Wednesday, December 3
A little bit of skin-to-skin with Mommy was a big challenge with all the tubes and wires (but totally worth it).

Thursday, December 4
Grandma T meets Obie.

Friday, December 5
Grandpa F reads Obie a story about dinosaurs.

Saturday, December 6
Obie had a lot (a LOT) of visitors, but I just love the shots of his profile.

Sunday, December 7
Obie takes a field trip to the hospital courtyard and has a very special photo shoot.

Monday, December 8
Auntie Megan reads Obie a copy of Pat the Bunny from 1984... the smelly flowers sure were smelly!

Tuesday, December 9
Come home day, also known as Obie Xmas (we'll explain that later).

Wednesday, December 10
Enjoying much easier skin-to-skin time at home.

Thursday, December 11
Obie isn't sure about bathtime, but now that he's home we get to do it every few days! 

Friday, December 12
4a.m. selfies... because what else are we doing?

Saturday, December 13
At Obie Open House, our son proves to be quite the ladies' man! 

Sunday, December 14
Holiday pictures are hard work. 

Monday, December 15
Hanging with Grandpa T while Daddy reads Mother Goose. 

Tuesday, December 16
JJ checking out his little brother.

Wednesday, December 17
Relaxing in my dino towel after yet another bath. 

Thursday, December 18
You gotta stretch.

Friday, December 19
Now that's a duck face.

Saturday, December 20
Once again, holiday outfits tire Oberon out!

Sunday, December 21
Aunt Sandy gives Obie a kiss while he keeps warm under the blanket she made.

Monday, December 22
Mommy and Obie, goofing around.

Tuesday, December 23
Obie's third big trip - to Christmas in the Park!

Wednesday, December 24
ONE MONTH OLD!!!  A rare picture of Obie's left cheek while we were changing the tape.  Happy 1 Month, Obie!  Mommy and Daddy love you a hundred a hundred. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear Obie, Love Mommy

My darling son Obie,

I love you very much.  I tell you that a lot, but I want to be sure you know (as much as a newborn baby can).  I am trying as hard as I can to surround you with love, but not smother you.  I'd rather cuddle you all the time, but sometimes you seem more content in the sleeper or laying down on a blanket.  It's probably nice to have a change of pace from time to time.  Right now you look very peaceful, so I'll let you sleep and I'll write you this letter.

Obie right now, having a 2 a.m. snooze.
December 19, 2014

I want to say thank you, Obie.  Thank you for making me a mom.  I really like being your mom.  I liked it when you were growing in my belly, and I love it now that you're here.  When you were in my belly, you gave me so many happy moments - finding out about you, telling friends and family, hearing your heartbeat, seeing you on the sonogram, feeling you kick, and preparing for your arrival.  These were all special moments that you gave to your dad and me.  Now that you're here, your cry holds so much power over me and I'd do anything to soothe you.  Even though I hate when you cry, I'm so happy to hear you make your noises!  I know that you can tell me, at least a little, when you need something.  I'm thankful for that.

Thank you for making my husband a daddy.  He's a really great dad, but you know that already.  Watching him take care of you and love you has made me love him even more (and I didn't think that was possible).  It's bittersweet to watch how amazing he is with you, but mostly sweet.  If there were any doubts about whether your dad would be good with babies, those have been completely wiped out.  I can't decide whether I prefer holding you close to me or watching your dad hold you close.  We'll just have to take turns.

Thank you for letting my love for you grow.  I didn't see you a lot on your birthday, and at first it was a little hard to believe you were really mine.  I'm not sure if that's because I wasn't with you or because it was a brand new experience - having MY child here.  I was scared that I wouldn't feel the over-the-moon love other parents talked about.  Then, when we found out you wouldn't be with us that long, I was even more scared that there wouldn't be time for my love to grow.  But it did.  Every day I love you more.  That will be true every day you are here, I'm certain of it.  Probably some days after too.

Thank you for being so brave.  You have gone through so much already, and I am so sorry for that.  You have handled everything so well.  Too well, maybe.  You don't have to be brave anymore, Obie.  We just want you to feel safe, comfortable, and loved.  We'll do our best to make that happen, every day.  We are so happy we got to meet you, introduce you to family, and take you home.  Thank you for being strong enough for those things to happen.  We will all keep the happy memories forever.

You have also showed your dad and me how amazing our friends and family are.  I never would have expected your family to drop everything to come visit you, during the busiest month of the year!  I never could have imagined the love that has come in from near and far in the form of kind words, meaningful mementos and presents for you, food for your dad and me, and offers of support.  And your party!  With less than 24 hours notice, you had so many visitors - again during one of the busiest times of the year!  Your dad and I feel the love, and we hope you do too.

When I get sad - which happens every day - I remind myself that I don't have to be sad for you.  I should be happy for you, that you have such a loving family and caring friends.  Your dad and I are working with the doctors and nurses to make your life as comfy and loving as we can.  I think we're doing a pretty good job, since your cries are usually tied to poopy diapers (either needing to make one, or needing to get out of one).  Obie time is happy time.  The sadness can wait.  It isn't for you anyway, the sadness is for your dad and me because we will miss you so much.  And when I miss you, I'll remember the happy Obie times.  I'll remember how lucky we are.  Lucky to have you as our son, lucky to have our family, and lucky to have so many wonderful ways to remember you.  We have beautiful photos, videos, handprints, footprints, ornaments and trinkets with your name on them, and of course our actual memories from all the time we are spending with you.

I'm letting go of the dreams I had for you growing up.  They were mine, not yours anyway.  You'll be my perfect baby forever.  I'll never yell at you, get frustrated with you, or disappointed in you.  And that makes me a pretty lucky mom.  You'll never be alone.  You'll never be teased or disappointed in yourself.  You'll be surrounded by love your whole life.  Pure, simple, unconditional love.  Uncomplicated.  While I never would have wished for this life for you, I'm learning to accept that it is what's best for you and it doesn't have to be sad.  At least not all the time.

I love you very much, Oberon.  I love you because you are my son.  I love you because you made your dad and me parents.  I love you because you are perfect.  I love your little nose, and the fact that you have your dad's hairline.  I love your noises and stretches.  I love your tiny hands and feet.  I love your plentiful, soft hair.  I love your smell.  I'm so thankful that your dad and I get to dedicate this time to you.  We get to focus all our attention on our first little beastie.

You're still sleeping peacefully, so I won't disturb you to hold you yet.  But I will give you kisses.

All the kisses.

All my love, forever and always,

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Obie Bonus Time!

We've been home with our amazing son for over a week now (!), which is longer than either of us were expecting.  The NICU doctors were working hard to get Obie home, and everything else we consider Obie Bonus Time!

What have we been doing with this time?  We're trying to be the best parents we can be, enjoying the time with our son while making sure Oberon is as happy and comfortable as possible.  Most of what we do is close to normal...

Taking hundreds of photos and videos capturing the many expressions of Obie...

Snuggles with Mom and Dad...

Visits with the grandparents...

Reading time...

Nap time...

Baths and diaper changes...

But Obie is a fancy guy.  In addition to all these normal things, he's had a party...

Posed for both a photo shoot and video shoot in his room...

 And he only cried a little bit when Mom and Dad made him pose for holiday pictures...

Most of the time, we're all smiles because our son makes us so happy.  Of course we are also unbearably sad, but for the most part we're able to experience the joy Obie brings us.  We're sure all parents go through a surreal feeling with a new baby, but I'd wager ours is a bit heightened.  In all honesty, we don't want to get into it too much right now, because Obie is being alert and cute - so we have better things to do!