Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On the Seventh Day

Last night Husband and I slept over at my sister and brother-in-law's place in anticipation of his flight back home in the morning.  We had another great double date, this time over sushi (and one of the best-tasting beers ever).  We returned to our room at Harvard, the scene of the crime (my ruptured membranes). Last time I was here, I had rushed off to the hospital, wondering what was next. This time, after a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and long shower, I got to snuggle my husband, whom I won't see again for two weeks or more.

Husband woke early to swing by the hospital and say one more goodbye to Tootsie en route to the airport.  My sister dropped me off at the hospital just in time for rounds and another go at breastfeeding.  I got some great new tips from today's nurse (breastfeeding a preemie is different), and we even tried a nipple shield, which Tootsie  rejected.

I held her for a long time afterwards, and Skyped into a work meeting for a while until she set the alarms off by going too long between breaths.  I caught a quick lunch and then headed back into Tootsie's room, but they were attempting to replace her umbilical central line (which was starting to look red) with a PICC line.  Because it was a sterile procedure, I needed to be out of the room, so I returned to the family waiting area and left behind my computer and Skype, my meds which were overdue, and the breast pump.  After about an hour, a nurse came out to let me know both attempts at a PICC line failed, so they would put in a regular IV, and come to get me.  After another hour of achey, ready-to-burst breasts, I asked if I could go back to the room.  "In a couple of minutes," a nurse reassured me.

But when minutes became a half hour and then another hour, I'd worked my tired and painful post-op body (and questionably rational mind) into a bit of a lather:  Why hadn't they come get me?  Why had the procedure taken so long?  I imagined her crashing.  I imagined her umbilicus was already infected.  I imagined other dire circumstances.  I looked at the family waiting area.  I'd never seen someone else wait so long here.  This is what you get, I scolded myself, for thinking her story was turning good and boring lately.

I wanted to be unemotional, but I wasn't.  I was by myself, feeling awful and inconsolable.  I texted my mom.  She said go ask someone.  I tearily called the nurse station an explained I'd been waiting here for three hours.  Someone will come, they said.   And then my nurse burst into the room, apologizing.  She'd told someone to tell me I could come back in...that person had gotten busy...when I didn't come back she thought maybe I'd gone somewhere...a big misunderstanding.

I was so relieved to return and find a super tired baby who'd been stuck with needles a few times and had to miss a feed.  I gulped down my Motrin and pumped my rock-hard breasts.  All was good, I reminded myself.  My nurse apologized again. She explained that they'd try and place the line again tomorrow.  That Tootsie was so tired and been stimulated all day that what she needed now was rest--no more holding or feeding.

Fine by me.  At least she was ok.  She hardly moved or fussed from dinner time to after midnight.

I put a ribbon on the Prayer Tree in the family waiting area.

She had a feeding at midnight, but at 1am my tired baby was wide awake, having kicked herself out of her swaddle.  We gave her a binky and watched as over the next hour she sucked in vain at her pacifier, rooted in her sheets, and cried, hungry again.  When I attempted to console her with sining or reassurances, the sound of my voice would send her rooting in the sheets again.  We've truly bonded, I recognized.

Tootsie was so wide awake and fussy and not due for another feeding until 3AM (which the nurse was considering giving her a little early), that she let me hold her.  At first she was calm.  But then she spent 30 frustrated minutes in my arms, angry at her non-milk-producing pacifier.  When the nurse said you know, you could put her at your breast, I leapt at the chance.  Finally!

And Tootsie went to town, filling her tummy till she had the mouth-agape-passed-out-look of a satisfied customer.  She slept calmly through to her 6 AM feed.

Lessons from today:
1.  It's never quite Smooth Sailing.  Pretty much ever in parenting.
2.  Before I assume, I should ask.
3.  I need my sleep and medicine to be in my best frame of mind and heal my body.
4.  It can always be worse; I feel that every day here in the hospital.
5.  Some time away from the hospital provides good perspective; I am going out tonight with my sister and her husband and mother-in-law and really looking forward to it.

Today is Tootsie's 7th Day of Life, as they say around here.  Happy little week-old wonder!

A note to friends contemplating a visit:  thank you for your support.  It's hard for me to predict days and times which are good for us, as things change daily.  More and more I will need to be present every three hours for feeds.  Because the NICU is not a place we can hang out for long with visitors, plan on a trip up here to meet Tootsie and a coffee break or meal with me.  We are so heartened by everyone's offers of help and support.  Tootsie's village is already in place and mobilized.  We love you!  

1 comment:

ellen said...

Hi Jenny, what a roller coaster. I am glad to hear she is nursing ... And I hope you feel better yourself each day. I am back in town and would love to stop by again. There is a great little French restaurant right down the street from the hospital that would be an easy place to take a break and refuel when the time is right for you. I don't have your cell number tho. Let me know how best to contact you so that I don't disturb the precarious routine. Deep breaths and I hope today is going well.