If you want to read Tornado E’s birth story, go here.
I don’t think I ever mentioned that Tornado E was in the hospital for a week after he was born. My heart always goes out to those parents whose babies are in the hospital for months. It was heart breaking, and every pregnancy you end up thinking about the ones before. . . .
“Hmmmm,” said the pediatrician, but she stayed bent over Tornado E in his fish bowl, or at least that’s what I called it while I watched him sleep last night instead of sleeping myself.
Finally she stood up and looked at us, The Husband, my mom, and me.
“Tornado E’s heart rate is a little high. It should be slowing by this time. It could be nothing. But there is the faint sound of fluid in his lungs. I can’t hear it all the time, just once in a while. It’s usually common for C-section babies to have this problem. But you didn’t have him C-section, right?”
“No,” I said.
“Hmmm. When you push the baby through the birthing canal, it pushes out all the fluid from the lungs. It’s one of the reasons pushing takes so long.”
“She only pushed for fifteen minutes,” my mom volunteered.
“Hmmm. Well, we’ll monitor him. I want to make sure everything is fine.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s possible that he’s already picked up an infection which is why his heart rate is so high. I’ll let the nurses know. I want someone to check on him in eight hours.”
Eight hours went by, and Tornado E’s heart rate was still high. They took him to be monitored in the nursery, bringing him to me when he needed to be fed. I never felt so alone.
The next morning the pediatrician was back.
“His heart rate is still high. It still sounds like there is fluid in his lungs. The tests are coming back negative on an infection, but that might mean we’re still early. I want to give him an IV with meds. He’ll need to stay for another ten days, unless he gets worse, and then we’ll send him next door to the children’s hospital.”
“TEN DAYS! Is there any way to bring him home earlier?”
“Well, maybe. Somewhere in those ten days his IV is going to need to be changed. If it’s changed and he’s doing well, I’ll let him go home in seven. But I’m not promising anything.”
At that moment, I hated his pediatrician.
“What about me?”
“Oh, you’ll be discharged at noon. You’re fine.”
Yup, I hated her.
She left, leaving me alone with Tornado E, but the nurse came in to wheel him away for more monitoring and to get his IV. No one had showed up to visit me yet. The Husband HAD a meeting. My parents and brother were picking my aunt up at the train station because she happened to be in town visiting my other aunt. I wanted to cry.
“It’ll be ok,” said the nurse as she walked into the room. She sat down on my bed and looked me in the eye. She rubbed my arm as she spoke. “It’ll be just fine. You’ll see. I’m going to work it out so you can have your room until five. Then you can come as much as you like to visit your baby. You’ll be able to stay as long as you want. You can come and breastfeed him every meal. And I know this sounds crazy, but this will be for the best. Look on the bright side, you can let us do the 2am feeding; while you go and get the sleep you need. You’ll need to sleep. And when it’s time to take him home, you’ll get to be wheeled out again and get your homecoming. Can I get you some more water or juice?”
I nodded. And cried when she left.
Everyone arrived at lunch time where I told them the news. The Husband was just as upset as I was, but my parents and aunt assured us everything would be all right as only parents of older children can. We hung out at the hospital until 5pm, and we only were able to have Tornado E when it was feeding time. They were now monitoring him for jaundice.
To cheer me up, my dad took us out for hamburgers because hamburgers are one of my absolute favorite meals. Then we went shopping for a hand held pump. Then it was time to race back to the hospital to feed Tornado E.
That was the worse. Tornado E was sleepy from the meds. (Only after Tornado S I learned for the first week or so ALL newborns are sleepy.) He didn’t want to feed. He wanted to sleep. But I couldn’t be there if he decided to eat later, when he felt like it. And stupid breastfeeding, it’s so damn hard. But later that night, I learned that hand pumping was harder. Stupid hand pump.
The next day I rented a motorized breast pump from the hospital. I figured if I liked it I could go buy one. It might come in handy. The next day or two we rushed back and forth for feedings. It wasn’t until my dad and brother left for home while my mom stayed (as she had planned for the next three weeks) that my mom and I realized we could spend the whole day at the hospital. They were giving us free parking after all. The nurses let me wheel Tornado E done to the waiting room which we had all to ourselves. We cooed at him. We held him. We let him sleep as we read our books. Our days revolved around the hospital.
But when we came home, I always felt my heart break. There was the stroller my brother and mom put together for me. There was the pack-n-play all ready with diapers and wipes. There was the bassinet at the foot of our bed made up with a blue sheet. There were all the flowers people had sent to me to congratulate us. But there was no baby. He was in the hospital.
The day the IV fell out, The Husband and I were there trying to feed Tornado E. Two nurses rushed over and snatched Tornado E from me. They placed Tornado E back in his little hospital cart and started to put the IV in. Tornado E thrashed and cried. I waited. The Husband was tense, shooting visual daggers at the back of the nurses. Finally one of them turned and asked us to wait in the waiting room. Once there, The Husband paced and railed at them hurting our child. I tried to calm him down but soon realized that he would have to hold Tornado E before he calmed down, so I went to check on the progress. They were still working on Tornado E. I got it. Tiny veins + Tiny needle + Trashing infant = Fun times. Finally they gave Tornado E back to us with a fresh IV sticking from his head.
A week after my talk with the pediatrician, the doctor came and gave the OK to come home. Several doctors from the children’s hospital had been through to see Tornado E. Never did they suggest sending him next door. The tests kept coming back negative for the infection. The tests kept coming back negative for jaundice even though that kid turned an alarming shade of yellow. Tornado E’s heartbeat slowed and the fluid in his lungs disappeared. But there was still two more days of antibiotics, but Tornado E could come home and have nurses come and administer the doses.
I dressed Tornado E, humming him a happy little tune. I placed the button up clothes that I picked out on him, thanking the advice that all newborns should be dressed as such since new parents get nervous about pulling things over the heads of newborns. Besides Tornado E’s IV would have snagged. My mom snapped thousands of pictures of Tornado E and me as we were wheeled out of the hospital. The Husband pulled up in the truck, beaming with pride. The nurse, my mom, and I watched The Husband with suspicion as he put Tornado E into the car. (Apparently no one trusts a new dad with a fragile infant.) I slid into the car next to Tornado E, placing rolled swaddling clothes on either side of his head to keep it from sliding. Wouldn’t you know, he was just a slight too tiny for his car seat.
We pulled away when Tornado E started crying because the sun was in his eyes. I began to panic.
My mom turned around from the front seat, “Give him the pacifier, Fae. Hmmm. Guess we’ll go buy some shades for the truck tomorrow.”
I placed the pacifier, the one I told my mom I would never use, into Tornado E’s mouth. We were going home.