Our tiny daughter now weighs under 5 pounds and I immediately think that is bad news, the nurse for the day (a big red head) tells me that it is very common for all babies to drop some weight in their first week outside of the womb- what we need to focus on now is her eating. There is no way she will be able to get released from the NICU if she doesn’t have “eating down”. I secretly want her to stay as long as possible to get the best possible care. I asked them what happened because she was doing so well with the bottle? Apparently this is also common in preemies but they are still hoping the feeding tube won’t be necessary. She tells me to try the breast now as I request for a lactation specialist to come see us (I really want to be able to breastfed her because I know that is what she needs and pumping is exhausting- I don’t know how some women do it for months-but naturally I will do whatever it takes). The read headed nurse sets me up with a rocking chair and pillows. A rush of adrenaline surges through my body when I pick up my little girl- so fragile and vulnerable with all the cords attached to her tiny body. My hands tremble slightly as I position her by my breast. I don’t want anything to happen to this little one-ever. With yesterday’s Brady fresh in my mind I keep a constant eye on the screen and my insides are in turmoil- I almost want to leave because I don’t want to experience that again. The nurse pulls the curtain around our little space with the baby’s bed and my chair but I really don’t want her to. I want to be out in the open so that everyone can notice and come to our rescue quick if something goes wrong. Baby is stirring in my arms and I hate to wake her. The monitor is looking okay so far. I stand up slowly and gently reposition her in my arms to get the tiny tube, nipple shield and syringe that will help get milk around my nipple and hopefully in my baby’s mouth- stimulating her suckling response and with any luck my milk production. Sounds complicated? It is! And I have to give up any notion of being able to handle this. I have to try to get the nurses attention which takes me a while and I manage to lose both the threading tube and drop the syringe – the nipple shield turned inside out on my boob! Baby is doing well though, cuddled up in my lap. She is so impossibly little. Since I only have a 30 minute window to feed her and am not assertive enough to get the nurses attention (she is far away and I’m not a yeller) I ask another nurse to get her. The right nurse smacks her lips and complains that my window is almost up (or closed or something…strange expression this “window”). She abruptly snatches all my feeding accessories away and tells me to go clean them, as I get startled by the alarms beeping, the nurse snickers, turns them off calmly (well, apparently that was “nothing”, grabs the baby and tries her with the bottle with not much luck. I don’t have time to wait for a lactation specialist and tell the nurse that. She tells me that she will get a feeding tube ready after all-she is not taking any chances-and I get fearful again. That doesn’t sound good and I don’t want to be here for that. I silently pray for baby girl to eat so we don’t need to “tube her”.
As I take the elevator back up to my room, I decide to remind them that I want to talk to a doctor, my throat really does hurt and it goes all the way up to my ears. To my complete surprise I don’t have to wait long. Twenty minutes later with a fresh bag of medicine and myself reunited with my friend the IV (we have gotten very attached over the last weeks) eating some cold food and watching Bravo a quick knock lets me know someone is here. Surprise number two is that it is not the cleaning lady, the nurse, an intern with a survey or a social working trying to “gauge” how I’m feeling but an actual real life doctor (white coat and everything!) not waiting for my response to enter (nobody does around here) As I start complaining about my whole body aching, my pounding head, my giant feet, my still big belly and sore ears and throat, he gently starts talking about sepsis and the body’s response to trauma, he even sits down! We discusses my infection and the possible causes! The main thing being “it’s hard to know” (man, have I heard that line before!) it could be the placenta pieces left or bacteria entering at any point during and after delivery, it could even have been an infection brewing before labor. He has sent my urine for further analysis telling me it looked “nasty” (where do these doctors go to school learning these medical terms for everything!?) obviously my urine sample from Friday night didn’t look good, “It seems that instead of having blood in your urine, you have urine in your blood” eh…what. Sound nice and healthy! He also wants me to get “anything that could have been left behind” out of me and explains that they will suction that out (ouch, sounds painful!) and then perform another ultrasound. Well, at least now we have a plan, and this doctor actually took the time to listen to me and my rambling questions. Not five minutes after he leaves a nurse shows up with a wheel chair. Hey wait, I’m still having a go at my cold food and show here and after that I was going to pump and call me mom (I’m sure she is desperate for an update) but noop, off to the dungeons of the hospital again! The nurse (black hair, big nose) smiles (what I interprets as an evil smile) and cheerfully exclaims “let’s go vacuum you out!”