If you haven’t read Junior’s Birth Story, Part I, click here…
By Monday afternoon, Mr. Caffeinated had returned to report that Junior was resting quietly. He had oxygen tubes up his nose, and a feeding tube down his throat to remove any extra air from his stomach that he might accidentally swallow. An IV had been put in his hand, and there were six different monitors attached to him for tracking his heart rate, blood oxygenation levels, breathing speed, body temperature, and blood pressure. He was under a heat lamp that constantly adjusted its output to keep his body temperature up to where the doctors wanted it.
In short, he looked heartbreakingly half-Borg, and had more holes with either things inserted in or blood taken out than a pincushion has pinholes. Mr. Caffeinated showed me pictures.
He also brought in our luggage, which included our suitcase, ice chest, my pillows (three of mine replaced the seven hospital pillows I’d been trying to build a nest with), laptops and library books. Rounding up what he needed for staying with Junior, he headed back to the NICU.
I was essentially on my own – with nurses – for the rest of Monday through Wednesday late morning.
I was given the use of a breast pump, with instructions to pump every three hours or so to get my milk to come in, since Junior wasn’t available. Twice, I was taken up to the NICU in a wheelchair to see him. The second time, he was enclosed in a plastic incubator with access holes along the side for us to reach in and touch him. The hospital air was so dry, my nose was bleeding by Tuesday morning. In the incubator, they could give Junior moist air to breathe, which helped.
Our dear friend S.S. arrived with homemade Indian food, and checked back periodically to make sure that all was, if not well, at least as well as could be expected.
The first few nurses who cared for me were wonderful. They heated up my food from the ice chest, brought me water and tea, plus did all the usual post-surgical nursing things that nurses do. One nursing tech brought in the hospital’s meal tray when she first came on shift.
“I’m embarrassed to even show you what the kitchen has sent up for you to eat for breakfast.” She lifted the lid to reveal two greasy sausage patties, a couple of congealing ‘crepes’ that looked like wet cement, a plastic cup of cranberry ‘juice cocktail’, and a covered cup of coffee.
“Is the coffee decaffeinated?” I asked.
“Nope,” she replied.
“Well, good thing I brought my own food. Would you mind giving that to someone else that can use it? I can eat from my ice chest there.”
With relief, she gave the tray to someone else’s husband that hadn’t already fended for himself at the hospital cafeteria, and returned to assemble my breakfast (homemade bread, cantaloupe, beef barley soup) from my supplies.
The next nurse was willing to do the same – although some of the labels on my food jars confused her.
“Goose with dressing and gravy,” she read. (I’d frozen some of our Christmas dinner leftovers.) “Um. What’s ‘Goose’?”
“Err… a bird that goes ‘honk, honk’.”
She wasn’t real thrilled with me the rest of her shift.
We had taken the results of the baking frenzy with us, and distributed them among the staff in the OR, maternity ward, and NICU on Monday and Tuesday.
A couple of things that freaked me and the nurses out:
While changing the dressing on the incision, the nurse took off one piece of adhesive and blood poured out all over my belly and leg. We were both freaked out – I thought maybe the incision had come apart, and it looked like she had the same thought. Turns out, blood had simply pooled in the hollow between the tape and my skin. Given my doctor’s response when he did rounds later (“Yeah, I heard about that…”), I suspect the nurse called and freaked out at him on the phone a bit.
Once the catheter came out, I started suspecting that not all was right in the state of Denmark. For one thing, there was a lot more blood in the toilet than I remembered from previous births. This ended up being significant later. I mentioned it to the nurses at the time, and no one thought anything of it.
Wednesday morning, things started getting tough.