Saturday, December 22, 2007

Life in the Hospital

The continuation:

Once Co was deemed well enough, she was transferred from Labor & Delivery upstairs to Maternity. All along, we had decided we would spring for a private room if one were available, so I could stay with Co and Jo. The only private room available was the deluxe -- ouch. But we took it. Up we went to room 441.

(I'm still not 100% sure what made it deluxe, because I never saw the non-deluxe rooms; I'm told the food was better [and it wasn't terrible!], I think it was bigger, and there was a separate family waiting room *only* for the two deluxe rooms, which ended up being just us since the other wasn't occupied. I would never have paid for that on purpose but it was an awesome perk; my mom and stepdad spent a lot of time at the hospital, which was incredibly helpful, and/but having a room next door they could hang out in? Priceless. Well. I could tell you the price. But.)

I will say, with a room that big -- and it was huge -- why couldn't they have put in a second bed?? There was a pretty hard fold-out chair -- more comfortable than it looked, or maybe I was just that tired -- for the partner.

We were thrilled to be out of labor & delivery and set up in our new "deluxe" quarters. We'd heard from a number of sources that the maternity nurses at this hospital weren't as nice as the labor & delivery ones (and we loved our L & D nurse!), but we didn't have that experience (with one exception that I'll get to later). The problem was the parade of medical professionals. They came to check Co's vitals, which was acceptable. They came to take Jo, repeatedly, and that was not acceptable, but turned out not really to be a choice. They wanted to do a CBC on him, because he was born 22 hours after C's membranes ruptured (rather than 18 hours). They wanted to do a blood culture, for the same reason. They did a PKU test, which is state law, but taking him away from us for another hour wasn't necessary. They checked bilirubin. He had no signs of fever, jaundice, or anything else. It felt like every time we settled down, someone came to take our baby. It was an awful feeling. The nursery was only around the corner, now that we were upstairs, so I would go and check in, and he'd usually be returned to us right away when I stuck my nose in. The nursery nurses clearly didn't return babies immediately when they were finished. (I'm not complaining about them, per se, because I imagine they had a lot to do and most of them were nice to me; I'm just complaining about the system.)

A quick note: I know we could have refused some of these procedures, and I called our midwives to ask about whether/how to refuse, but their advice was that since we were trying for an "early release" (the hospital's term for under 48 hours), and since the odds were likely that the tests would prove him to be perfect (which they did), it was better to let it go.

One of the times he was taken, I think for the CBC, they told us he would be gone for an hour maximum. At the 90 minute mark, I got up to fetch him once again from the nursery, only to meet the resident (I think he was a resident?) who kept stealing our baby in the hallway. He explained that while they were trying to find a vein in a less than 24 hour old infant, he became cold, so of course he had to be put under the warming lights. My mom (who heard from her family waiting room), came out and said, if a baby is cold isn't it better to wrap him up and put him in his mommy's arms? The resident hemmed and hawed and finally conceded that mom had a point but the nurses had their protocol. I went to the nursery, where I found my boy sleeping sweetly, buck naked, under the stupid warming lights. The nurse he could "probably" go back now and handed him over.

We saw two of the staff pediatricians, one man who seemed to be "family" and thought Jo looked great and all but promised we could go home the next day. Then the next morning, a different ped. was on call, who looked at Jo's chart and said he hadn't peed enough. This was at eight or nine in the morning; he was just over twenty-four hours old, and he'd had one wet diaper. Well, said Co, isn't it true that you should expect as many wet diapers as days of life? Yes, said the doctor. Well, said Co, this baby was born yesterday at 7:31 a.m., and he has peed once. Isn't that right on track? Well, yes, admitted the doctor. Okay then, she said, if he pees two more times by 4 or 5 o'clock (i.e., the time she leaves for the day) I'll let you go home tonight. Of course, that wasn't fair to Jo's clock at all, because he had almost twenty-four more hours to produce two pees, and she was only giving him eight. While she was there, she changed his diaper; Co thought she saw a yellow streak, but the ped. said it was clean.

The lactation consultant had been working with Co when the ped. came in and she listened to all this without a word. Then after the doctor left, she fished the diaper out of the trash and showed us how to tear it open to see if it was wet (the P@mpers are really absorbent). Sure enough, the diaper was wet. So the LC recorded that diaper on his chart, then helped Co through a mammoth nursing session that all but ensured another wet diaper. Which he did produce shortly, though the doctor backpedaled later and said one more wet diaper was enough (the one being the one that LC recorded). So we were freed between six and seven that evening.

The one fun part about being in the hospital was that Due Date Buddy was there. As we shared with you all, she went into labor on Saturday the 8th and gave birth on the 9th. Because of some complications (that are now resolved, she and Baby L are home and healthy) she, her husband, and the baby were still all hanging out in the hospital by that Thursday and Friday when we were there. So we got to visit with them (which completely befuddled the staff, who chastised us for being in each other's rooms during non-visiting hours and didn't really know what to say when we all produced armbands). It was really amazing to have actual friends/peers around.

So, the one nurse I will call out (I would even do it by name but she never offered it), I will call her Evil Nurse: there was a rule at the hospital that you couldn't hold the baby in the hallway, you had to wheel them in the plastic box. I did not know about this rule (I think it is stupid, but initially, I didn't even know about it). So I left the room carrying Jo to introduce him to Auntie Due Date Buddy, and got chastised and sent back for stupid plastic box. At some other point, Co decided she really really wanted a shower (her first since the birth). We couldn't find a towel in the room, but after searching finally found one. But of course then forty people paraded into the room to ask if we wanted professional baby pictures or bring food (well, that was okay) and whatever else, and one of those people was a nurse who collected some extra bedding. Including, it turned out, the precious towel, because it wasn't in the bathroom after everyone left and we couldn't find it anywhere. When you are functioning on little to no sleep everything is a bigger crisis then it needs to be, and for both of us, the obstacle of procuring another towel seemed almost insurmountable. We both had this crazy, well-bred little girl idea that the nurses call button was only for bleeding-to-death emergencies, and the idea of standing up and walking to the nurses' station made us both want to cry. Of course, having not just given birth, and being clothed, I got up to go. I was holding Jo, and I knew about the rule by then, but I couldn't bear putting him down in the box and hearing him scream until I could settle him again. So I snuck out to the nurses station, which was really just steps away, I figured I'd say "towel" and disappear. But Evil Nurse took one look at me and started yelling. I got kind of teary and said "I know, but we can't find a towel and she really wants a shower and..." but I didn't really get a word in edgewise between her shrieks of disapproval. So I gave up, and retreated back to our room, explaining to Co that I would go back without Jo now, since I had found a nurse but I didn't think she would bring us a towel because she was too busy reprimanding me to ask what room we were in. Unfortunately, Evil Nurse came in with a towel and probably heard my whole complaint. I thanked her and she just left brusquely. Not too long after that, I went to fetch Jo from the nursery after yet another of those infernal procedures after which he was missing longer than they said he would be. I knocked on the door, as I always did. There were several nurses inside. Evil Nurse turned her head, saw me at the door, got a look of distinct displeasure on her face, and waved me away. It was the only time at the hospital that I was ever turned away from the nursery, and it scared me to death to think that my behavior had influenced someone who had power over my son. Seconds after I returned to the room, he was wheeled in by a different nurse. Clearly he'd been ready to go, but Evil Nurse wasn't going to turn him over to the likes of me.

A final note is that my mom and stepdad W. were really amazing, wonderful supports. They brought us snacks and V*tamin Water and whatever else we asked for, caravaned us home and made sure we got Chinese food for dinner. Even though my mom married W. just a few years ago, his warmth and kindness, especially around this life event, have really made him feel like another parent.


Emory Student Midwife said...

I'm glad you guys enjoyed the deluxe room!! So sorry to hear about Evil Nurse. I don't understand why people like *that* stay in the profession. ((sigh)) I'm never going to be Evil Nurse :)

Glad all the tests, etc. came back normal. And congratulations again :)

Anonymous said...

ugh- Evil nurse sounds like such an ass!

I totally grinned at Co using her brilliant math logic regarding the pee ratios!

Sooooooo glad you guys are home and with each other.

indigoscot said...

we had "i can't believe you said that nurse" right after baby indigoscot was born. she stood there and told me, as i was attempting to breastfeed him for the first time, that another mom had suffocated her baby while nursing because of her large breasts. which of course i have. talk about freaking out a new mother? thankfully we didn't get her again because she was a weekend nurse....!!!