Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kanga & Little Roo, part 3

I tried so hard to keep a good attitude on my way to Children's that afternoon. "Maybe they'll just examine him and then send us home with the bili-blanket," I told my hubby. (That's the pad he had been laying on with the lights in it.)

As we pulled up to the Emergency Room entrance, I said hopefully, "You know, this all seems so scary and overwhelming now, but someday we'll look back on this and say, 'Remember when we had to take Roo to Children's? Why was that…? Something to do with… jaundice or something, right?'"

From the very beginning we were quite thankful for the nurses at Children's. As soon as we walked in the door with a tiny little newborn, they put us in a separate area so that we didn't have to keep him out in the waiting room with a lot of sickies. I was so appreciative of this little gesture. There was some confusion over Roo's direct admittance, but we quickly got it sorted out and were on our way upstairs.

It didn't take long to see that my hopes of going home were completely out the window. In fact, they already had the room all set up for us, complete with the dreaded isolette. The nurse was very nice and tried to keep everything as cheerful as possible. Bottom line: we were in there for jaundice—it was not the end of the world. She examined the baby and got him all set up under the lights. Then she explained some of the "amenities" for us—the complimentary meals for nursing moms, the play room if our big kids came to visit, the shower room, etc—but said she wouldn't spend too much time on those since we would most likely be headed home in the morning. Whew! That's a relief, I thought.

We called our parents with an update, and I encouraged my mom to go ahead with Easter dinner preparations. We weren't going to make it to church in the morning, but we should be able to have Easter dinner, even if we had to postpone it until later in the afternoon.

Then the resident came in. Have you ever met a resident in real life? On "Grey's Anatomy" they seem like actual doctors—in real life, they seem like teenagers who came in for "Take Your Kid to Work" Day. On top of that, I don't think the hospital was exercising its "A Team" on Easter weekend. It was not one of my favorite parts of our stay at the hospital. Anyway, our resident walked us through roughly 1,000 questions about Roo's medical history… all 72 hours of it. Then she explained that they were going to do some bloodwork—one more check of his bilirubin, as well as a few other routine checks—and then Roo would be under the lights for the night. She showed us the chart explaining safe bilirubin levels based on the newborn's age (in hours), the same chart I had already pored over at the first hospital. And then she left to order the bloodwork.

At this point, frustration set in. I was hormonal and exhausted, so I was already starting from a disadvantage. But now my baby was back under those awful blue lights… his eyes were covered… I knew this was not a major medical issue, but it seemed so hopeless. Every parenting book, website, and magazine out there tells moms to hold their new babies, bond with them, snuggle them as much as possible. Now the best I could do was stick my hand through a hole in the side of this acrylic bassinet—and the nurse had already warned me that the more time I spent covering his skin, the less he was getting exposed to the light he needed. Every 3 hours I could take him out for 15 minutes to eat, but that was it. My heart was breaking.

On top of that, I had now been asked at least 3 times if I had known he was going to be so small. Were there any indications that there might be a problem? I remembered all of the questions I had planned to ask at that 37-week appointment, questions that had been forgotten in the midst of intense contractions and excitement at Roo's impending birth. What if we missed something?, I wondered.

As if that weren't enough, breastfeeding—already something that I struggled with—was quickly becoming a huge issue. He hadn't latched much so far, so I was currently attempting to nurse him each time, and then pump and feed him from a cup. Yes, a cup. Have you seen the teeny tiny newborn cups that some hospitals use? It's actually really cool, and it helps to prevent nipple confusion. My hospital (where Roo was born) had been using them for years, and it was working quite well for us. The nurses at Children's, though, said they had never heard of such a thing and were wary of letting me use it. They eventually conceded, though, since they really wanted to measure how much he was taking in and I really didn't want to start using a bottle yet.

And that was another issue adding to my frustration level. The doctors at our first hospital were quite happy with how much Roo was eating. The doctor we had seen that morning at our pediatrician's office had been satisfied with how much he was eating. Suddenly the staff at Children's was concerned that he wasn't getting enough. How could one doctor think it was great and the other get such a concerned look when I told him how much Roo was eating? Why couldn't they just make up their minds??? (Remember, I was very hormonal and completely exhausted at this point. Everything was magnified by about 500%.)

I took a deep breath and settled in for the night. My hubby stayed as long as he could, but the room really only had space for one person to sleep. If that. The "bed" was a small couch that extended lengthwise, but didn't get any wider. It was efficient, but not designed for comfort or a good night's sleep. Still, it was just for a night, right? I stretched out, turned on a rerun of "Law & Order", and looked forward to Easter dinner at my parents' house the next afternoon.

No such luck.

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