The birth announcement that never was.

We are so excited to welcome our new bundle of joy! Baby and mama are healthy, happy, and resting peacefully after a wonderful labor. We’re over joyed!

Expectation versus reality.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I started fanaticizing about all the things that would be: the next 9 months, the birth, the milestones, and beyond. I even thought about how we would tell people the little man had arrived. Would there be a lot of people in the delivery room? Would we call friends and family first?

How would I share our news on social media?

Call me a typical millennial (I’m not), but I actually had thoughts about this before Jackson entered the world. How would we share his big debut? I fanaticized about the perfect post and the perfect picture, a clearly staged candid of me smiling at my baby while he slept peacefully and Zach looked on, beaming. I also imagined myself with a full hair and make-up team on hand which, come to find out, was about as realistic as the picture of the announcement I had.

Instead, Jackson was born with a number of challenges and the initial skin-to-skin and baby cuddles I longed for never were. Instead, I had a doctor updating me on the failed attempts at intubation, the plan for an emergency tracheostomy, and the fact that he was born with more than just a heart condition. I had a look of panic instead of a smile and Zach was less beaming and more attempting to push through 37 doctors to get a look at our new son.

Expectation versus reality.

After the madness died down and Jackson was wheeled away, I posted this. No photo, no explanation; just a check in to the hospital and a generic note:

‘Baby Jackson is here! Jackson Anthony Stewart was born at 10:41am weighing in at 5lbs, 8 ounces. We’re so excited to welcome him into the family!’

Sure, sounds good enough, but it tugged at my heart and was my first true experience into my trip to Holland. What I really wanted to say was that things didn’t go as planned, we were scared, and our expectations of a healthy birth and time with our baby turned into the scary reality of the NICU and multiple surgeries.

As time has passed and I’ve talked to more and more moms, I wish I had had the courage to post a true welcome note to our little man, something that shared our excitement and joy along with our fear and confusion. So much of this world – the world of the NICU and the CVICU and the hospital in general – is lonely and isolating. Maybe an open, honest post would have encouraged other parents to hold out a bit of hope and know they weren’t alone. At the time, I don’t know if I had the mental capacity to understand that or the experience with this world to show me how important it would be. But now, 8 months later, I feel like I’m in a place to do just that and, hopefully, encourage other new complex-kiddo moms to do the same. Here is the birth announcement that never was:

Jackson Anthony Stewart was born this morning weighing in at 5lb 8oz, a whole pound higher than his expected weight due to his diagnosis of IUGR. After only 10 hours in labor, Jackson was born with more challenges than we expected, but is being taken care of by the amazing team at the Texas Children’s Hospital NICU Level 4. Mama and dada are happy to welcome their little man, but are terrified, confused, and learning how to navigate this world of special needs parenting from the beginning. Jackson is doing all we can ask of him – fighting to survive and leading the team of doctors while we set up his plan of care.

(Well, at least I was tan.)

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