Re-Post from Facebook:
5/25/14 Melissa and West Update
(Note: This post is lengthy. I may not be able to post again for days since I am exhausted and overwhelmed.)
My son, West Nathaniel Lande, made it to us. I have him laying next to me, swaddled up on a pillow. With West's arrival so much of what has become familiar has disappeared. The world looks brand new again. When Melissa slipped into her coma, I felt like I had lost everything important to me—my wife, our home, even our dogs, Henry and Padget. West's arrival is the beginning of a fresh start for Melissa and I. My life, rather, our lives, are still going to be hard. But with how unsettled and unmoored our lives had become we are, ironically, now unencumbered by our past. And West, my boy, you are the eraser that leaves us with a clean sheet of paper to start sketching a new, very different picture of our lives.
As my father in-law has written, Melissa has come back a bit to us since Thursday. Just hours before West was born, I was with Melissa and telling her how much I love her and trying to allay what I could best discern as her anxiety. Melissa's eyes were wide open, she was chaotically moving both her hands. But then Melissa reacher her right hand up to my face, for the fist time in 10 weeks, touched my check and pulled me close. I psychologically was not able to take in that this had happened until later, several hours after West was born, and Lawanna and Melba (Melissa's grandmother) ratified that they had watched Melissa's deliberate effort. Last night, after West had breastfeed with his mother, I stayed with Melissa to talk with her while West went to the nursery. I told Melissa how much I missed her and how much her empathic touch had meant to me. Melissa opened her eyes again, looked at me and puckered for a kiss. I could not help but kiss her and cry.
Since Thursday, Melissa has persisted in maintaining a higher level of wakefulness and movement. This is encouraging but also comes with difficulty. Melissa also, unequivocally, experiences much more pain and discomfort now. She is seems much more confused and terrified by what is happening to her body as she recovers from giving birth. More than ever, I think she needs emotional and psychological support. Of course her family and I try to provide the best comfort we can. I don't know what, professionally, can be done to support her psychological well being, but if she continues to recover I feel that this must be attended to as much as her physical therapy.
West, my boy, he is so healthy and strong. He sleeps, he eats, and gives me diapers to change and a little guy to swaddle. He does skin-to-skin time with me several times a day. What a pleasure it is to feel him. The UCSF staff, Melissa's family, and I, work hard to give Melissa the opportunity to nourish West. This is a challenge, but one we, and Melissa are up to. I ask that people respect our privacy on this matter and understand the medical and logistical complexity of helping Melissa be a mother. What we and Melissa can safely do changes daily and ultimately, Melissa and West are the final arbiters of what we can do. That said, watching West get "blissed out" after a session with mom is the high point of my day. I could spend hours watching West look so peaceful and content, with a full belly, and his cheek on his mother's chest.
Of course, I am relieved West joined me as a healthy little guy. While that abates my worries about his being ill, it does not change the fact that now life is much harder and complicated. I have to care for two loved ones instead of just Melissa. I hate having to "choose" how to spend my time with Melissa and West. It is profoundly unfair and painful.
Yesterday, one of the pediatricians asked me, "How is it that you still have a smile on your face everyday?" The past 10 weeks have been terrible, and I have missed Melissa so much, and I have lost so much sleep worrying about whether or not West would live or come to me gravely disabled. But with all that said, I have been happy the past 10 weeks. I have been happy that I was injured at work to the to the point of being placed on medical leave. This has meant that I could take care of Melissa every day. Taking care of Melissa, advocating for her, soothing her, and above all, loving her gives me not greater satisfaction. At the end of every day I go to sleep (when I can) knowing that I have done everything I can for Melissa and my then unborn son, and as competently as I can. I try to love her well. I am happy because as difficult as my life has become, I get to share the daily struggle with John and Lawanna who have shown me not only what the unconditional love of a parent looks like, but have shown me what amazing family, friends, and roommates they are. I enjoy the relationship I have with John and Lawanna. They are fun, humorous, emotional, strong, fearless, and responsive. I am thrilled to have my little brother Kevin by my side so much of the time. His humor is much appreciated and his tenderness with his nephew is a reward in and of itself. I miss my family and now, because of this tragedy, have them much more fully in my life and now, as I had always hoped, in West's life. How could I not be happy about this?
And maybe, being deputy sheriff has had a protective effect by giving me perspective. In my daily work I see so many individuals and families in the midst of personal and emotional crisis. I have bee blessed and cursed to see families that have lost everything. But this background just thrusts to the foreground how lucky I am for my family and the support I have received form others.
I also am just so relieved and so happy to have my boy West with me. I get to love him now too. And part of the love, so much of why these past days I smile, that is because I get to be the one to share West with his amazing mother and to introduce West to a wondrous, complex, and changing world. I am not religious, but to borrow from Carl Sagan, "For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love."
West, my boy, I am your dad, and I love you. We live in a magical world where, somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. And I am so happy to share this world with you... Let's go exploring!
Brian (Melissa's husband and West's father)