My first week as a mom of three is complete. I'm not gonna lie, being a grown-up is hard. And loving three little people this much at times makes me feel like I'm going to explode.
This week alone we birthed two babies, put an offer on a house in my hometown that I swore I'd never return to, I was quarantined from my children and could not hold or touch them for three whole days, we learned of complications with Walter that scare the crap out of me and I took my first post-surgery poop. So, I'd call it a productive week.
I stayed in the hospital through Thursday morning. As hard as it was going to be to leave the twins, I was ready to be home with my boys and sleeping in my own bed. Somewhere that someone doesn't wake me up to take my vitals every few hours and only waking up to pump every two and a half hours feels like a luxury.
Thursday morning came and I got dressed in my amniotic fluid crusted dress that I had arrived in a week prior. While I had a hospital bag partially packed, I'd forgotten clean clothes for me to come home in, so I spent the entirety of my week in a floral robe and flip flops.
I walked over to NICU without too much trouble or pain. I was excited for a big morning of meetings. At 8 a.m., I met with the twins’ physical therapist and she diagnosed both kids with mild tortilcollis, a tightening in the neck muscles. In grown-ups, it’s called a crick in the neck. For babies, it’s something that goes away with movement. She assigned stretching and worked with me on bottle feeding the babies. At 10 a.m. on Thursdays, a "round table" is held where all the NICU nurses and doctors gather and you as the parents are invited to sit in and hear updates on how your children are doing. Next, at 11 a.m., I had a second appointment scheduled with a lactation consultant who the day prior had helped Mabel to latch briefly and nurse. Today was going to be Walter's turn. It was going to be a babylicious day!
To say the week had taken its toll on me would be an understatement. I was looking rough. Really rough. After scratching my face raw, I seemed to have one last adverse reaction and my entire mouth broke out in cold sores. This had happened to me a few times as a child, and as an adult I'd get one every so often. But I'm talking major breakout. Dan said it looked like I made out with all the guys from Foreigner. Like toured-with-the-band-for-an-entire-summer kind of bad. It was on our way to the round table that I was stopped by a NICU nurse and told that I would need to wear a mask while visiting, which I totally understood.
And that I would not be allowed to hold, touch or nurse my babies, at which point I lost it.
Five minutes later, and still trying to hold back tears, we were called out to the round table. I was looking and feeling my absolute worst, all while trying to act totally cool with the news of being quarantined.
To be honest, the meeting is a bit awkward. Everyone sits in a circle and somehow it felt like Dan and I were in the hot seat. After their assessments of how the twins were doing, they asked if we had any questions. I felt like I had to ask something, so in true Sarah fashion I said the first thing that popped to mind: "My child looks like a Klingon. And while I'm happy to embrace it as adorable, I just want to be sure having that ridge on his forehead is normal?"
So, to recap, my question both involved a Star Trek reference and was totally vain. But it's something I had brought up previously to a few different nurses and one of the doctors, all who assured me that heads come out all different shapes and it was nothing to worry about. But something about Walter's head just struck me as different. It was long and narrow with a strong ridge down the center. I joked with my husband that he looked like Dr Boostenfar, our fertility doctor.
After posing my question, I got a little chuckle from the nurses and was again reassured by the doctor that all head shapes are normal.
Fast forward to Saturday morning when I was sitting in the NICU, staring at my children that I could not touch, wearing a mask and trying to pretend like I'm Michael Jackson kind of cool. A nurse came in and told me the doctor wanted to speak to me about Walter's x-rays.
I wasn't aware Walter had any x-rays ordered. Apparently my question had spurred them to look a little further in to my son's possible Klingon relation. That's when the mood turned. They asked if my husband wanted to join us, but he was outside with our 3-year-old. She then asked me to sit down. Something I think that's intended to be comforting, but always immediately puts me on edge.
X-rays revealed Walter has something called Craniosynostosis. When babies are born, they have soft open spots around their skull which allows their brains room to grow and expand. Around the age of two the skull begins to fuse. However, with Walter, his skull is already fused in two places, if I understood correctly. The doctor told me she didn't know much about his condition but she would do some research and refer us to a neurologist at Children's Hospital. I couldn't think of a single question in the moment, but of course now I have hundreds. I’m doing my best to avoid Google but from the little I read, it seems that early detection is key. So maybe their coming early and me being a vain Star Trek fan will turn out to be blessings in disguise. We'll have to wait and see.
We also put an offer on a home three minutes from my parents’ house because we weren't doing enough this week. With the babies here and suddenly being a mommy of three, I realized that I really need my mommy. Especially if Walter and I will be spending a fair amount of time at Children's Hospital. This whole parenting thing is not for the faint of heart. I love my village of friends where we are but I suddenly have three separate people who have run away with my heart and we want to do everything possible to give them the best. And as we all know, Grandmas are the best!
Seven days down and many more NICU days to go. They still haven't discussed any possible going home dates, which I'm assuming means we have a long road ahead. But we will travel it together. If there is anything this year has taught me, it's that life, with its unexpected twists and turns, is never dull when you are with the Kriegs.