Wow. I have been absent for awhile! I have a good excuse though. On September 5 at 1:52am, I gave birth to a beautiful 7lb 9oz baby boy. His name is Rhone Nayin Manalo and he is absolutely perfect. Rhone means "that which runs" or river and Nayin is pronounced like Nigh in and means Bright Eyes in Indian. (It's also an obvious homage to Naya.) He's also very healthy. He's eating and pooping and doing everything normal newborns should do. He actually pooped within the first 6 hours or so after birth. A nurse was in the room with us when we opened that first poopy diaper and started crying with us. She told us that she had never seen parents cry over the first poop before and it was touching.
Speaking of the nurses, we had a wonderful and amazing birth experience this time around. My OB (gosh, I love her), had made sure that the labor and delivery staff knew our story and everyone went above and beyond to make sure that Rhone was thoroughly checked and that we were comfortable with everyone and everything. The on call pediatrician even called a Children's hospital to double check if there was anything he should be specifically doing to check Rhone's digestive system and make sure that his bowels were in working order. Every nurse took the time to check him thoroughly while taking vitals and treated us with so much love and compassion. I truly can't say enough good things about how wonderful everyone was. I am so thankful. It was amazing.
The only hard part was that Rhone had jaundice. He had to be brought to the nursery to be placed under the bili lights and could only spend feeding times with us. It was very tough to be separated from him for that 24 hours, especially because he was in a bed similar to what Naya was in while she was in the NICU. It brought back a lot of hard memories for us (PTSD is a bitch) and we had to keep telling ourselves that he was fine, jaundice is super common and he was in a nursery and not a NICU. Luckily, it only meant an extra day in the hospital and we were able to be released at the same time.
Physically, I am doing very well. Healing is going much more smoothly than it did for either Ty or Naya and I am ready to go back to the gym and start reclaiming my body. Mentally, I am doing well with some hiccups. I can truly say that I am feeling real joy again and the smile on my face is genuine rather than forced. My grief feels like it has changed a bit as well - it's still there, still intense but not constant. Perhaps I am just distracted with Rhone and the work and happiness he has brought or perhaps it's because it's almost been a year since Naya died but I do feel a change of some sort. I am feeling somewhat happy and excited about life again. I never thought I would be able to say that.
Not that the happiness doesn't come with a price. This whole experience with Rhone's birth and all the extra precautions taken have also made me cry. I wish I could go back in time and insist that Naya receive the same care. It has made me realize even more what a shitty deal she got and how much she didn't deserve the hand she got dealt. I wish I could have protected her better. I wish I knew then what I knew now. It makes it hard to fully enjoy my son without feeling guilty about the life my daughter was denied. I still miss her. I always will and I wish I could have both of them. Life can be very bittersweet.