If you’re starting here – you might want to read:
I know, I’m long-winded. It’s a problem. This is the last installment, I promise.
Back to our story…
In the meantime, the doctor had been trying to see if there was any way we could be moved to a private room. We didn’t really need the NICU anymore; the only thing keeping us there was Junior’s bilirubin level. He was a bit jaundiced. For two days, the nurses had been commenting on his levels rising, and we’d been asking if they could start light therapy. Unfortunately, Evergreen has bought into some chart put out by some health organization, which has the ‘crisis’ levels of bilirubin for various weights and ages of infants. Instead of acting preemptively when his levels started rising, they opted to wait for his levels to reach critical, and then treat him. So we were stuck.
Evergreen maternity center was utterly swamped that night. The NICU was full. Pediatrics was full. The maternity ward was full, and they were turning away mothers in labor and sending them to Children’s Hospital. Nothing was open. The doctor came back to tell us that our options were to either go home or stay awake; he wouldn’t buck hospital policy and let us nap in the room. He would, however, make a pump available for me to take home for the night, to keep up my milk supply. The joke was that they’d keep Junior for collateral.
Sometime in the midst of the chaos, S.S. had called to check on me again. I’d given her the brief rundown on what was happening, and she encouraged me to call her if we needed somewhere to stay. I called… and she came to get me. Mr. Caffeinated stayed behind, buttressed by I-don’t-want-to-know-how-much coffee, and she and I pulled out of the hospital drive at midnight.
That’s when I realized that I was eight hours overdue for my pain meds. Another brief delay ensued while she dug through the trunk for them.
At her house, she made me dinner, I took a shower (bliss!), cheered me up and tucked me into bed. About 4:00, I woke up freezing with a major case of the shakes. I woke her up; she checked to make sure I wasn’t feverish and my incision wasn’t bleeding or anything, loaded me up with blankets and socks and tucked me back in.
In the morning, we discovered that four inches of snow had fallen overnight! The temperature had taken a dive; no wonder I was cold.
Back at the hospital, I got a call from my OB’s office. I had a raging urinary tract staph infection. After collecting the antibiotics for that, plus the required post-partum ‘exit interview’, the day nurse informed us that we were finally being discharged.
Mr. Caffeinated’s first thought was, “Great! Let’s get him out from under the lights, get him feeding; I’ll get the van loaded up and brought around, and we can be out of here in half an hour.” He went over to the billirubin bed and asked, “Can I turn this off and get him out now?”
In her best junior-high sneer, the nurse drawled, “Really?? If it were me, I’d leave him there as long as possible.”
At this point, I could see that even my dear, mild-mannered husband wanted to smack her. They really should only have her working in rooms where the parents don’t show up much. After Mr. Caffeinated explained his rationale, she disclosed that we were not actually that close to departure. The formal written orders weren’t back yet. A billirubin home service was being contacted, so that we could continue treatment at home; they hadn’t called back yet either. All in all, it was another couple of hours before we finally pulled out for home.
I can’t tell you how good it was to be home. After we were all settled in, everything kind of hit me at once. I was behind on my pain meds again, and what with everything that had happened over the last week, I broke down and bawled for a good hour or more. My poor husband – he finally got us home, and then I turned on the waterworks!
We’ve now been home over a week. The rest of the kids are home from Grandpa and Grandma’s, and are enjoying their baby brother very much. Junior was able to come off of the billirubin lights before they all got home, so he’s getting cuddled pretty much every moment he’s awake and a fair number when he’s not. Lots of people have come by to see our newest addition. Our church family has been bringing us food, which has been wonderful. The first balanced meal I had since we left for the hospital was brought by one of my children’s Sunday school teachers. (Thank you, Mrs. G!)
Junior seems to be thriving. He’s eating like a trooper, and every time he’s weighed he’s gained weight. I’m done with the antibiotics. The pain meds were harder to get off of this time around, but my doctor assured me that given all of the complications I had this time around, it wasn’t cause for concern. I took my last dose two days ago and haven’t needed any since.
In looking back over the whole experience, the biggest emotion I feel now is relief. We survived; we got out intact; everyone is healthy or getting that way rapidly. Some of the attitudes we had to put up with were juvenile, but I’ve dealt with worse from some of my former piano students. I suppose that whenever someone is in a position of control over a potentially life-or-death situation, and they have to deal with parents that are not exactly conformists, it must be very easy to get snippy and frustrated.
Would I still recommend Evergreen to friends for childbirth? Yes, but with caveats. I don’t know of any other hospital in the area that does any better. For me, at this point, I’m moving on. There are so many things to do around here – I’ve spent all the mental energy I care to on Junior’s birth, and I’m refocusing on the spring and summer ahead.