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Rainbow baby Eve
It’s been more than two years since my last post. I thought I would post an update a year ago, when Eve was born, but that didn’t go very well, and the uncertainty about how things would turn out with her made it difficult to rally around her birth as some celebratory point from which to start moving on. I feel at once as if I have lost two years of my life, making no progress, and yet that my life has completely transformed in that time. But I know things have gotten better because I am usually free of the sadness and fear that still filled me a year ago, around Dez’s first birthday.
Candice was six months pregnant by then, with a girl. That should have been one more positive in a life full of positives, but it didn’t feel like it. I remember thinking at the end of 2015 that it shouldn’t feel like the worst year of my life, or that even if it was, I still had everything I had before: my (other) boys were fine, Pololu was getting by despite Candice and me basically being checked out all year, and I still had this wonderful setup where I got to work with my best friends.
There were things to be optimistic about, but the main thing I remember is fear. Every passing week meant one less week of waiting, but it also brought us closer to the final phase of the pregnancy; every week she grew meant she would have a better chance of making it, but a greater loss if she didn’t. I’m sure Candice was experiencing it much more intensely than I, so it was easy to support her, without even getting too nervous, when she decided to go to the hospital one night just to be sure, because she felt like maybe Eve was moving less. They kept her there overnight, with the generally comforting feedback that things seemed fine but they would keep monitoring things a little longer given our history. That was with six weeks to go in the pregnancy, and I remember thinking, how are we going to make it for six weeks constantly wondering if we should go to the hospital?
In the morning, Candice let me know they were going to keep monitoring her, because some of the readings weren’t quite what they wanted. Something like, a good reading is in the range of 100 to 200, and they were getting 102, so it was just barely okay, but they would feel better if it were not so close to the limit. It was slightly disconcerting, but it seemed much better to stay there out of an abundance of caution than to discharge her with any doubts.
Around noon, Candice called me to tell me I should go to the hospital right away if I wanted to be there in time for Eve to be born. Eve’s heart rate wasn’t stable, and given what happened with Dez, the doctor decided it was safer to cut her out than to leave her in. That turned out to be a good call, because there was a blood clot in the umbilical cord. If the hospital staff had sent Candice home, as they were close to doing several times, or if she had not gone in the night before, Eve would have died.
3-day-old Eve looking out from her incubator.
So we were spared the six weeks of waiting for Eve’s due date, trading it in for about a month of visiting her at the hospital. At least everyone seemed confident that she would be fine, so it wasn’t especially scary. Candice had to do some heroic pumping every two hours, which meant she basically did not get to sleep for more than an hour at a time, and she visited Eve every day. I kept being sick around then, so I did not get to hold Eve until about three weeks after she was born.
It hasn’t even been a year since she came home, yet it seems so long ago, and I’m having a difficult time remembering it. I do not remember it being particularly joyous, though I’m sure there was some new mix of relief and fear. I also don’t remember how long it took for Candice to realize that there was something wrong with Eve’s feeding, though it must have been pretty quick. Eve wouldn’t eat, and what little she did, she would usually throw up. It doesn’t make for fun reading or writing, so I’ll just say Candice spent most of the past year trying to feed Eve and taking her for various tests to find out what was wrong with her digestive system. And since she didn’t eat, Eve didn’t grow as she was supposed to, which led to all kinds of other worries.
Eve turned one last month. We did not feel like celebrating. Eve had at least gotten to the tenth percentile for weight, but she wasn’t talking, didn’t seem to recognize her name, and generally seemed developmentally delayed enough that the doctors recommended we start getting her evaluated for that and into some kind of special intervention programs. It’s good my sister happened to be visiting then and pushed us to at least get a cake and celebrate Eve’s birthday.
I still flinch at the thought of celebrating, because of the birthday party I had a few days before Dez died, and maybe also the festive Christmas and New Year season right before that. Something like if I let myself be too happy, I might be blindsided again. In general, though, I think my basic optimism is still there, even if I’m more emotionally fragile than I used to be. I like to think that Dez would be cool, and I wouldn’t want my parents to be sad the rest of their lives if I died, so I figure he wouldn’t want me to be sad the rest of my life about him, either. It’s kind of working, and I was definitely able to enjoy his second birthday a lot more than his first. I think it’s more difficult for Candice, though. She has been out of the office for over a year now, which can’t help with getting life back to normal. I think whatever relief she had from noticing something was strange with Eve and getting to the hospital in time is offset by guilt or at least regret that she did not do the same for Dez.
I think I have bigger swings in my mood now, and there’s more variability in how I react to the troubles and tragedies others face. Hearing about some other parent’s loss triggers more sadness than direct memories I have of Dez now. As I write this, I am in a very good mood, maybe the best I have been since Dez died, and completely different than it was a few weeks ago when I finally started writing this blog post. I had various other sadder or darker thoughts or observations about the past two years that I thought I might include, but I don’t feel like getting into that and would rather stay in this positive, happier state. The nice thing about that kind of state, when it’s for real, is that I can’t get myself to be sad even if I try, but I don’t really want to test it.
Eve starting to eat.
It’s extra easy to be optimistic now because of how much Eve has progressed in the few weeks since her birthday. She’s finally eating better, so maybe whatever medicine we’re trying now is working. She started saying things and repeating sounds, responding to her name, and she even started waving when she sees me, so it’s easy to imagine that she’ll catch up to where she should be and eventually be a normal, healthy girl.
I am grateful for all the people in my life who helped me and Candice make it through the past two years. I would like to again thank everyone at Pololu for their support and understanding and for keeping the company running smoothly. Thank you also to everyone in the broader Pololu community who opened up to me about their own experiences with loss or otherwise shared their lives with me. I am looking forward to a great year. We have a lot of new products in development, and I am excited about getting back to more typical writing for the Pololu blog, but please feel free to continue talking to me about everything else in life.