Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Part the third: the ickiest of the NICU

When my son was spirited away, it was done by the head neonatal nurse, Mary Anne. She had entered the room after being summoned by my midwife when the baby's heartrate began to fluctuate and/or disappear from hearing. I was dimly aware of her presence behind my left shoulder, but she felt like nothing so much as a cigar store Indian or somewhat lifelike mannequin in my primal birthing state. However, she became much more real to me after she prevented my son from leaving the NICU. At first we were told he'd be returned to us after "an hour or two," once they'd made sure he was OK. His initial APGAR score was a bit low; the second was in normal range, but the blue hue of his arms, legs and lips had them concerned. I had wanted to breastfeed him within an hour (two at the latest), so their time frame was all right with me. What I didn't know was that the NICU's time frame promises are pretty much always bullshit.

About an hour after the birth, I was readied for a short journey to the Maternity Ward to start recuperating in earnest: I was given a haphazard wipedown (much needed after the placenta incident, which had left me awash in blood right down to my toes), and my crotch was outfitted with a coldpack, a belt-ready maxi pad, and a huge disposable seat pad, which was folded in thirds and intended to catch the copious flow of junk from my insides. All these accouterments were stuffed into a lovely pair of stretchy nylon boy shorts. Good times! Then I was wheeled down to my new room (getting up out of the bed was no picnic, I assure you), where Booby took me down to the NICU to see our boy.

That's when we found out that he wouldn't be back with us in "an hour or two." He was fine, but he wouldn't be coming out until "later that afternoon." He'd had some fluid in his lungs (which he'd horked up), and he'd had acidosis due to the stress of his birth: part of the reason it took him so long to come out was that my pelvis is small and strangely-shaped, kind of like an upside down V (thanks, Mom!), resulting in a lack of oxygen to the baby. He was on a glucose drip to get him hydrated. Blood tests were being done, and he had band-aids all over his heels from being stuck with needles. All the machines that go ping were there, going ping. There is no more upsetting sight than that of your kid in an isolette, even when you've been assured that he's fine, because if he were fine, would he be in an isolette, for crissakes?! Better safe than sorry was the motto of the day, it seemed. But the nurse in charge of him (not Mary Anne, who was mysteriously unavailable) allowed me to try to nurse the baby, at least, and get some bonding time in.

After that, we slept. Glorious, glorious sleep. Sleep, I love you.

The baby didn't come out by late afternoon, and we were told more tests had to be done - one at 12 hours post partum. He'd be with us at 8. We were also told that I wasn't allowed to nurse him, as per Mary Anne. The lactation consultant I spoke with didn't see anything wrong with this, nor did she think I should bother pumping (!). No reason given, and a fight ready to erupt between us and them because they were so concerned about his fluid intake and were itching to give him formula. We had to repeatedly instruct the staff (shift by shift) not to give the baby formula or a pacifier, because Mary Anne refused to pass the message on (I don't blame the staff - how were they to know if she didn't tell them?). At 8 we went back to the NICU, only to find out he was staying overnight. Thank God, the night nurse allowed me to breastfeed, hold him as long as I liked, and agreed to cut his IV at midnight so he might actually be interested in feeding the next morning.

We finally got our hands on him at 10 a.m. Looking back, I understand why they wanted to observe him, but I do wish they had communicated to us why a bit more, and come to us with information rather than forcing us to track them down and drag it from them.* I found that I easily let them do what they wanted without questioning them, and that surprised me - Booby was the one who pushed for more information and pushed for our son's release, and I love him for it.

*The whole experience made me wonder how Christian Scientists actually manage to refuse medical treatment for their kids without the NICU running roughshod over them. Do they arrive at the hospital with an ACLU lawyer, or what?

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7 Comments:

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous wordgirl said...

I remember the nylon mesh shorts. Oh, the indignity! But on to more important things...pictures???

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Jess said...

I'm not surprised you were a little dazed and going with the flow . . .you had just given birth.

I second the request for more pictures.

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Arabella said...

I actually loved those nylon mesh shorts--I couldn't wear any other underwear after my C-section!

What is it with having to pull teeth to breastfeed babies in the NICU???? Everybody knows it's the best thing for them! Booby was wonderful to push for the info.; Ty did the same for us. It must be very, very hard to have a baby in a hospital without an advocate.

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous TB said...

It's amazing how different all of our birth experiences are. I'm so impressed and proud of you. Great job!

About the mesh boy shorts... I remember thinking in the hospital that they must be one size fits all and for a lot of women they probably aren't shorts at all.

And the Bun is beautiful. He does look like an old soul. I hope you all are having a wonderful time getting to know him.

 
At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your baby is beautiful!
I am a nurse and you really need to be an advocate for your baby and do what You feel is best. I don't do L&D or NICU but you have to fight sometimes to get the best care to make sure you get the best care ever. Don't be afraid of looking like a bitch. If you want to breastfeed or pump DEMAND it. Nurses can get lazy and it's just easier to use formula and give the binky. You need to stay ontop on them EVERY moment! It's your baby do what you feel is best.
Best of luck and I hope he comes home soon! And there weren't any serious complications!

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger mamatulip said...

Congratulations!! He's beautiful!

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Bliss said...

what happened to patient advocates? maybe every hospital doesn't have them? or maybe they're only called out in certain situations?? no one should have to think so hard after giving birth or watching it happen.

 

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