Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane Part 7

Less than a week after our 4th anniversary, we were off on the best journey of our lives!  Our dream of being parents was just a couple days away, but first we had to journey 28 hours away on an airplane. Oh and did I mention I was about 9 week pregnant at this point and miserably sick.  The journey wouldn't be easy but I knew it would be worth whatever I had to endure to get to my son.  

Last family picture before becoming parents! 

Peter was a huge support for me on that plane.  From the odd Italian man next to me who didn't understand personal space. To one whiff of the airplane food and begging my husband to remove the trays from my sight.  We were one row behind first class and the constant stench of food being served up in front of us was tough to endure! 

But we made it!  I couldn't control the tears in my eyes as we landed and I knew we were in my son's beautiful country!  We got settled, tried to rest up and find anything to eat that was familiar and would agree with my sick tummy.  I ate a lot of french fries and coke on that trip! 

We got in a day early and I just about couldn't contain my excitement as we waited. Our luggage had been lost on the way there and we literally had nothing but the clothes on our back, but even through all the difficulty nothing could take away the joy and excitement we were feeling!  Peter had spent some time checking on our luggage with one of the drivers from the orphanage and they explained our son as the "fat baby" and we marveled in that idea as we went to sleep together on our last night before becoming parents!

I woke up far too early in the morning as I did for the whole trip because of the time difference.  The hours slowly ticked by and finally the team from the orphanage arrived to help us through the last bit of paperwork before we started on the short drive to the orphanage.  There were four of us families together and as we pulled in they told us that the family with the older children would meet their kids first.  My heart was ready to leap out of my chest as we waited and watched in excitement as they met their children!  Then before I could even finish taking pictures for this family, I heard them calling for "Segni's parents".  THAT WAS US!  

I still remember it so clearly. We walked across the courtyard, took our shoes off at the door to the baby house, walked up the stairs and around the corner into the room that was his room, shared with seven other babies.  He had his back towards me as I walked around the room, trying to hold myself together as I locked eyes with him for the first time.  My sweet baby boy was FINALLY right in front of me!  I remember his crazy hair and how big and heavy he was for a three month old!  We just stared at each other for a long while as we got acquainted.  There are no words to describe that moment, after the journey and the years of waiting for this specific littler person who was meant to be ours! 

They gave us a tiny bit of time to spend with him there. They asked us to head downstairs into a quiet room to get to know him a bit better alone.  And there we were, just taking it all in together. It was almost unbelievable that we were together, touching and holding him in person, finally a real family! He completed a part of our hearts that had been longing for so long!  

The time passed quickly and before we even knew it, they were telling us it was time to take him back to the hotel, he was all ours!  Here we were, first time parents, we had no idea what he liked or needed or how often he ate.  By the time we were settled in the hotel it was evening so we decided to try a bath and see if he liked that. He lit up and loved everything about his bath!  Yay, we were on the right track! 

Then we tucked in for our first night as parents. I remember how nervous Peter was as he had limited experience with kids. I relied on him a lot as I was not feeling well. He was a fast learner!  We had to work together and lean on each other! 

It was a dream come true to have that sweet baby boy in our bed!  The nights were long and exhausting, even more so than we had expected. He was used to eating every 1-2 hours and he let us know his expectations right away.  Caring for a crying baby in a hotel room with thin walls was nerve wracking. Trying to put together bottles in a hotel, in the middle of the night, using bottled water was tricky too. But we all survived our first night! 

I also hit 10 weeks pregnant!

We had Embassy appointments and a passport to take care of before we could come home.  And while things were going as good as could be expected, our travel group was looking a wee bit tired as the week wore on.  I remember walking through the grief for the first time with Malachi. We were strangers, and he was in an unfamiliar place and it was very scary for him!  I snuggled him close to me for as long as I could handle, listening to him cry and crying right along with him.  Then Peter took over and walked and walked and walked around the room with him - for hours.  We had no idea how to console him and in that moment we couldn't make his struggle any better. All we could do was be there for him and love on him as we started creating those bonds with him.  We ALL were exhausted and scared and in someplace foreign to us.  We all just wanted to go "home".

Then the emotional rollercoaster continued as we took him back to the orphanage one last time, to say goodbye to the only home he had known and the people he loved.  It was so hard to see how he just lit up around these people who were familiar but he was still so guarded around us.  He handled all the transition like a champion but I wished it all wasn't so abrupt and hard for him to process in the moment. He was so dearly loved by these special woman over the months we waited for him. 

And then we were off. I was surprised with the mix of emotions I was still experiencing (hello hormones and emotionally charged situation). Part of me never wanted to leave.  This country was a part of us now!  I wanted to get home and back to what was familiar for us, but I had to take him away from everything he had ever known.  This was not as easy as I had expected!  

The trip home was even longer than the trip going. I was still pregnant and still sick but now we had a baby to take care of too.  Malachi literally shut down from the stress on the way home. He slept for pretty much all 32 plus hours of it!  We also could hardly keep our own eyes open. We passed him back and forth between each other every couple hours.  We were exhausted and not in the best of spirits but the teamwork still prevailed. 

And then we were home!  The long journey was over!  Our new life as a family had just begun!  Nothing felt better than stepping foot in our own home airport and knowing that all the waiting, all the travel, all the paperwork was done!  He was ours and he was home! 

The first few days and weeks were a complete blur.  We were exhausted from all the travel and still had a child who was waking up about every hour in the night to eat!  He would eat a tiny bit and then fall back asleep only to wake again seeking that comfort.  He was stressed and we were stressed. On top of all that, Peter and I became terribly ill to the point we couldn't even take care of him and had to call in the reinforcements to care for our son who was still trying to just get to know us.  This was NOT how we pictured things going. We were super sick, like couldn't even scrape ourselves up off the ground for 5 days.  Peter even had to take a trip to the ER for care.  

Finally we came up for air!  Malachi had adjusted to not needing to eat every hour, Peter was still on his paternity leave, and we were all getting to know each other and getting comfortable in our roles as a family. Now parenthood could finally be everything we had wanted it to be!  All those things we had dreamed about with children were finally coming true.  It was so fun to experience things through our son's eyes!  

I was still plugging along in the pregnancy, still struggling with morning sickness but the weeks seemed to be flying by as we were so distracted with our sweet boy being home!  15 weeks came and went!

We enjoyed all our favorite parts about fall.  Life was just genuinely better and more fun with a baby in it!  Our lives were surrounded with anything and everything Malachi. Peter was back at work after an amazing 6 week paternity leave and I was settling into my role as a stay at home mom. I loved waking up to my baby boy every day! 

Then we were 20 weeks pregnant and the morning sickness that had plagued me for half of the pregnancy was finally easing up! I was able to eat and put on a few baby pounds! My normal clothes were finally not fitting and I was enjoying feeling that sweet baby kick!  The second trimester was treating me well! 

Of course one of the greatest joys we looked forward to was taking our kids to our favorite place! What a fun and memorable trip that was with our baby boy! 

Our first family trip to the proposal spot!  Malachi was 6 months old and I was 20 weeks pregnant! 

We came home to Halloween and boy were the holidays more fun with a baby!  

He kept growing and so did I! 25 weeks and then 30 weeks! Peter was my rock and I fell so much more in love with him as I watched him become a father. My kids won the daddy jackpot!  Being pregnant and taking care of a baby was more difficult than I anticpiated. I was surprised at how hard it actually was but Peter tackled his job and took care of his little growing family so well!  

Then it was Malachi's first Christmas!  What a joy that was!  Having kids has definitely made Christmas so much more fun and joyful!  We were all a bunch of fools making the day special for him!  He was so spoiled! 

And then the new year and I just kept growing and getting all of the aches and pains that come with the end of a pregnancy. I wasn't due until early March but it felt like we had spent the whole part of the new year in baby #2 prep mode!  A new adventure was about to start! 

 Even though there were aspects of pregnancy that I didn't enjoy I still really appreciated the opportunity to experience all of those things for myself. I loved knowing that a life was growing and kicking and moving inside of me!  It is a miracle in every way! I never reached the miserable stage of pregnancy, I think I was just about approaching it when we hit 35 weeks! 

And then we were 35 weeks 6 days. We had no idea the roller coaster we were about to embark on.  After a nice date night out with my boys, we came home and were watching some Thursday night Grey's Anatomy.  I had to go to the bathroom, which was a frequent occurrence these days.  Only to stand up and feel a pop and realize my water had just broke! I kind of went into panic mode because it was so unexpected. I had literally just started reading the labor and delivery parts of the books!  Fortunately I had my rock in Peter there with me to help me keep it together. I ran around in a frenzy to call my mom to get Malachi and call my doctor and throw a hospital bag together really quick.  I was all of a sudden so scared!  

We drove the quick drive to the hospital and I was thinking how I all of a sudden didn't want to have a baby anymore. Guess it was too late to change my mind. I know we were both super nervous. After we got ourselves settled into the hospital and dealt with the reality of what was to come, we calmed down a bit and tried to get some rest for the night. Morning brought pitocin and painful contractions, an epidural and waiting.  It was such a special time as we waited to welcome our second child into the world.  Once they told me it was time to push I got really nervous again but it has always been reassuring for me when I've had Peter at my side and I had confidence that it would all be okay!  

Then out came our second baby boy!  We rejoiced for a quick second I knew something was wrong.  We knew there were risks with him coming so early but I just kept my faith that he would be born okay.  He was quickly whisked away from me as the team started evaluating him and caring for him.  

Before long he was leaving the room and I didn't really understand why, but I wanted Peter at his side at all times. He had to be there for Eli when I was still in recovery and trying to get my legs back from the epidural. Eventually I was well enough to get into a wheelchair and be with them for a short time. But the time was short before my nurses sent me back to my room to rest for a bit.  Peter was great about coming back and giving me updates every so often., the nurses tried to keep me informed too.  Everyone tried to reassure me that he would be okay but I was still really scared.

Before long they made the decision to transport him to a bigger hospital. I knew it was coming but knowing the special team was coming to transport him felt like a nightmare. This was just not the way I had pictured this birth going. They came and said a quick goodbye, I was a wreck of course and then my boys were gone.  I wanted Peter by his side of course but the loneliness of being without them was really hard. Of course I had a few visitors to cheer me up as the evening wore on but the day was miserably exhausting and I was completely out of steam, emotionally and physically.  

Eventually Peter came back for the night with pictures and reassurance that our boy was doing much better already. We didn't know what the next few days would hold but I just wanted to be with him. My medical team knew that I needed some rest though and helped me out with some medication to help me sleep the night away before joining my baby in the morning. 

The next day was quite busy as I discharged from the hospital with strict instructions to try and take it easy. Ha!  We quickly went home and got cleaned up, I had talked with the doctor in the NICU on the phone and got the news that they were thinking 1-2 weeks in the NICU. I was hoping for just a few short days so that news felt devastating in the moment. Then it was off to see my baby. This was not all that long after I had just given birth and I was still very tired, weak, and in quite a bit of pain. It would have been much more pleasant to be chilling out at home with my newborn but I had to just toughen myself up and endure as many other women have had to do because our babies in the NICU need us.  

My heart broke into a million little pieces the first time I saw him. It was definitely a shock to my system to see so many tubes all over him, but they were all doing an important job and quite literally keeping him alive!  There was nothing I could do to make it all better for him.  I know seeing him like that was incredibly difficult for both of us as parents and this was one of those very real and raw times that I NEEDED my husband to just help me get through the moment. He was amazing and strong and level headed, as he always has been.   

The next several days were hard. Between trying to be in the NICU as much as possible, recover from having a baby, and continue to be there for Malachi who was not with us but at a grandparents most of the time - he needed us there for him too. We were tugged in so many directions. My heart felt like it was breaking in two every day that we had to leave Eli in the hospital, it is just so unnatural to have your baby away from you! Peter was amazing at taking care of all of us. I know he was completely exhausted too but he never complained or let it show.  It is one of his most amazing qualities. Even when times are tough he just sucks it up and continues to endure. He spent as much time at the NICU as he could, he would take me home when I needed to rest and tuck me in, and then he would always make sure everyday that he had spent some time loving on Malachi too!  

After what felt like an eternity, but was only about 5 days, Eli had improved enough to get off all the breathing intervention.  It was amazing to get to snuggle him without all the tubes and wires and alarms beeping.  We were through the worst of it. He was eating like a champ and just needed a few more days of monitoring before he could come home to us!

And then it was time to bring him home.  Nothing is as exciting or as terrifying as bringing your tiny baby home from the NICU with strict instructions to keep him healthy so he doesn't end up back in there with his weak lungs!  Eek!

We were so grateful and so blessed with both of our miracle baby boys! The days were long and busy and overwhelming with a newborn and 9 month old, but the days were wonderful!  My dreams had come true and I was a grateful woman! I had the family I always wanted!


Before long we were in the midst of spring. Our days were completely consumed with our children and being a family together.   Our first baby boy was having his first birthday and we were so excited!  I remember us being so eager that morning to celebrate with him that we went up to his room and woke him up early to celebrate the joyful occasion!  He had no idea what was going on but we had enough excitement for all of us!

And then it was summer and we were loving our life with these babies!  I felt like we were the most blessed people in the world!  Our days were filled with simple joys but that was enough for us!

 We closed in on our 5th anniversary! What a blessed year indeed, the best yet!  A marriage evolves and changes with the addition of children but by the time we had become parents we were so ready and the transition went very smooth. Especially with having two so close together!  I grew so much more in love with my husband watching him be a father to our sons. I know wholeheartedly that they have the best role model to teach them what it means to be a man and what more could a wife and new mother want in life!