There she is, the stern looking nurse with the discharge papers (eh, wait just one minute…)….
I try to explain that I had a fever last night (no reaction), that my vitals were bad and that they wouldn’t even allow me to see my baby (this will surely clear things up).
The nurse doesn’t look apologetic telling me that “of course I can stay”, that she brought the wrong papers or that naturally they listened to the doctor’s recommendations for me to stay so they can keep an eye on a possible infection and so I can be close to my baby- at least another day or two.
No, this nurse starts talking “hospital procedures” and “lack of rooms”. They had told me the day before that they had hotels nearby that parents sometimes stayed at to be close to their babies- the only problem with that for me is that I’m not allowed to drive yet (plus I don’t have my car here) and I am still too weak and hurt to walk to the hospital from any hotel.
They then said that it would be possible to pay to stay at the hospital (in the same room) if they had rooms available. But this nurse is now telling me that that is not an option either (it’s apparently a “busy time” right now; lots of people having babies I guess…). Dislike (not people having babies but the nurse and her attitude).
But wait, of course she hasn’t heard the doctor’s recommendation yet, she couldn’t have, this will naturally change her tune…?
It doesn’t, she says she understands (not sounding like she is anywhere near understanding) and that the hospital rule is 2 days stay after a vaginal delivery (well mine wasn’t exactly a regular vaginal delivery) and that they have to send me home since I have no fever (well, what about last night?) DESPITE doctor’s recommendations (they are after all just “recommendations).
Really, they are really going to kick me out of a hospital? The hospital where my daughter “lives” and while I’m trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and the whole “producing milk thing”.
She leaves me with an “you have until 3 pm” (which is a very unreasonable time…3? Why not 5 pm like after a workday, 6 pm? or even 11 am or noon would have made more sense like check out times of hotels). I know I will have to call my husband back and explain this sudden change. I am going home today, it doesn’t seem like there is any way I can convince this nurse otherwise. Of course I am excited, I dreamed about this moment!
After over four long weeks, finally I get to feel, smell and breathe fresh air, hang out with my family in my own house, my home, my bed, yes, I can live with that decision; but what about the way I’m still not feeling healed and how will it feel leaving my baby girl here?
How can I go home without her??
I have (what I think is) my last lunch here before I head back down to the NICU to meet up with yet another lactation consultant.
This one is special, I can tell right away, she tells me she has a PhD in boobs! (I’m serious).
She also explains that my baby is way too premature to have mastered breastfeeding yet. She is watching us struggle for a while before telling me that not only has my baby not figured out the whole eating/breathing/swallowing thing (tons of alarms going off scaring me half to death every time) but she also doesn’t have enough energy or strength to get enough milk from me.
Verdict: I have to continue pumping, but it also means that it is NOT my fault that she is not getting enough or latching on properly (I had enough guilt when my son couldn’t latch on but instead butchered my nipples to blue and bleeding versions of themselves; let’s just say we were both crying).
This special Lactation consultant PhD also makes me feel better about not having enough milk, explaining that it just hasn’t come in yet… but it will. She tells me to trust her and she also gives me specific instruction on how to try to breastfeed; with a syringe and a little tube leading to a formula bottle attached to a nipple shield on my breast I feed my baby only for a minute or two before I give her the bottle. I always have a half hour window to feed her, otherwise she will get too tired and when preemies run out of energy they don’t gain weight. The way baby girl is not gaining weight is worrisome BUT what’s worse is, she is loosing weight and rather rapidly, despite the added calorie formula.
I instantly like this boob doctor and I trust her. She advices me not to talk to any other lactation consultants, at least not to take their advice (uh oh), they apparently have old school ideas (and no doctor degrees!) and also aren’t used to dealing with preemies (who can have very special eating issues).
The kooky lactation consultant who told me I hadn’t enough milk and made me feel bad had also made me feel bad about agreeing to supplement with formula, clearly she had NOT been trained by this very knowledgeable Dr. Boob in front of me. The other consultant was also wrong about the milk supply and about banning formula. This “Dr. milk expert” tells me that of course formula supplementing is okay before I get my milk in, the main focus being keeping my baby alive!!!
It makes total sense and I feel better with a new resolve to pump more, longer and “better” to be able to give my baby the good stuff, what they call “liquid gold” around here.
It also makes me question though, if the kooky one was right in recommending having my daughters tongue clipped because it was too tight…
Once I go to my room again to pack my things up before my husband arrives, I notice glancing down at my feet that they look twice their normal size. I sit on the edge of the bed (still sore, ouch!) pulling my socks off and…oh my goodness, my feet are extremely swollen, HUGE really.
I try to google that and everything between “it’s a normal postpartum symptom” to “its postpartum preeclampsia (postclampsia?) and could be serious” and of course, “its cancer and you will have to cut both your feet of right now…” pops up.
Slightly alarmed I call on the nurse, it’s the stern one and she is not too worried, saying there is water still in my body, hmm okay then, but why am I still not feeling well?
I sign that all the information for the birth certificate is correct, receive a newborn shirt with the hospital logo (my baby would drown in this) and a really ugly knitted hat. As I gather up my things I take a moment to think about what this means, the discharge papers are signed and the instructions for self-care at home have been read and explained.
Home; I am finally finally going home! No more nights in hospital beds for me, I get to be reunited with my family and my little baby will soon follow…
or so I think…