Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Get Back in the Water

Saturday September 1 - The night at the hospital sucked. I've never been a patient in a hospital before and I wasn't prepared for the every-2-hour interruptions. But, we made it through the night with only the smallest panic attack. At about 2 am when the nurse came in to check on us, I assured her we were fine and sent her off and then looked at Alison and thought for a moment that she looked blue. I picked her up immediately, heart racing, and she looked more normal. Maybe a little purple, but at least not blue.
At 9:00 am Dra S came in to check on me. She took my blood pressure, checked my bleeding and then told me she'd scheduled me a postpartum check up for September 20, when she gets back from the vacation for which she was about to leave.

Um, huh?

Did you just say you're leaving on vacation today?

Oh, you did. (!) So, I guess there was something kind of pressing in your schedule yesterday after all, and not just that it was Friday afternoon. You're leaving town! Wow. Hmm. Paint me completely shocked. It is all clear. My paranoia wasn't at all unjustified. That's why I didn't have 24 hours to muck around when you ruptured the membranes, you've got a plane to catch. Holy fucking shit!

A little later Dr. M the pediatrician comes in to check on Alison. He is a super nice guy, he's that sweet pudgy nerdy guy who manages to charm even the strictest cliques in high school. I really like him and I feel grateful to him that he has now been there for my two youngest daughters with kindness and sensitivity. I don't know if he realizes he's met my family before but that's okay. He checks her heart, finds a "whisper" but assures us it isn't going to be a problem, we'll keep an eye on it but it should close up by the time she's two or three on its own. He encourages us to get her the TB vax and suggests we come in for a well-baby visit in a couple weeks, tells us to call him day or night if we have any questions and departs. We head home.

Xoche, the official nanny dog of the family, is very excited to see her new charge. We start to settle in. Bedtime is the hardest. The Bunny is jealous and upset that the baby gets to sleep with me and dh in the big bed. We decide to give it a shot with her in bed with us all together, I'll just keep Alison on my other side. But in the middle of the night I wake with a start and again it looks like Alison is blue. I feel terrible, did I squash her? I hold her on my chest for the rest of the night and sleep fitfully.

Sunday September 2 - It rains all day. We rearrange the bed set-up so that the Bunny can be in her bed but right smack up against dh's side of the bed. I hope that that helps, it looks cozy anyway.
Alison's color is a little funny. She's a bit yellowy orange. And blotchy. And she's beginning to break out with whiteheads, all over her body. I remember the Bunny had some whiteheads a few days after she was born, I think it was supposed to be my hormones seeping out, not to worry. I prepare my placenta for future use. It's been frozen so I cut tiny little bite-sized chunks and put them back in the freezer, I slice some thinly and dry it in the oven for capsules, I offer a piece to Xoche, she declines politely, I admire the beautiful cord and stash that and the remaining chunk in the freezer, one of these days I'll plant it in the country. That done I realize I haven't eaten. Dh, Dad and the Bunny went out for lunch so I fix myself some leftover lasagna. I think bitter thoughts about fixing my own lunch the day after I come home from the hospital and decide I need a nap. Later in the day I snap at my dad about not helping out enough. I feel like a huge bitch immediately and apologize but the message has gotten through anyway. Now I know I need to work on asking for help before it becomes an emergency situation. Bedtime is easier, at least a tiny tiny bit. The Bunny only screams bloody murder for an hour tonight.

Monday September 3 - In the middle of the night I check on Alison's breathing, it seems a little too hard to sense. It must be very shallow. I spend over an hour trying to wake her for a feeding. I start to feel panicky. The afterpains have gotten intense and I'm torn between wanting her to nurse more and dreading the pain of the contractions when she does. Finally, close to dawn I decide she needs a new diaper and maybe that will wake her up. I get up and take a few steps toward the bathroom. Blood gushes down my legs and I lose it. I've tried waking dh up periodically through the night to no avail. Now I'm terrified, I kick his feet until he wakes up. He gets up, pissed. He changes Alison and takes her away. I clean myself up after deciding it's not a hemorrhage, just a long night of nursing. I fall asleep again for a little while until dh brings Alison back for a feed.
It's obvious he is very angry at me. I feel like I'd been left alone all night to keep this fragile person alive and I know that I'm coming off of a lot of hormones. I need to make him understand that we're back at the edge of a very dangerous cliff. I get him to sit down, I try to explain how scared I am in a rational tone but I can't. I start to cry. Hysterically. He finally puts his arm around me and I start to feel okay again. I'm exhausted though, I don't want to think about it but I know something is wrong with Alison and I feel like dh and I just had the nearest miss yet of slipping backwards toward that horrible place where we don't connect on any level.
Big Alison comes over later in the day. She suggests a sunbath for the jaundice, when she sees the whiteheads she's clearly concerned. After a while she suggests we do a respiration check. She tracks how many breaths little Alison takes in a minute. She is still concerned. At one point little Alison is nursing, she hiccups and farts at the same time and her whole body goes limp. We both try to act casual. That didn't just happen right? This baby of ours is fine, right? When she leaves I go to take a nap with Alison but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes I can't hear her breathing. I'm so tired that I keep trying for an hour. The phone downstairs rings and rings.
When I get up I'm very worried. I'm thinking apnea, I do a search online, the results are not comforting. Big Alison calls, it was her calling before. She is freaked. She tells me to get little Alison to the dr right away. I feel like an ass for waiting this long already. I call him, it takes a couple times to get through but he says come up right away. I wrap the baby up, throw on my contacts and we go, I don't even remember my bag. I'm so distracted that when I go upstairs to put my contacts on and change my top I put the contact lens on my nipple instead of in my eye. It is funny, but also a little scary.
At the doctor's he thinks at first it is hypothermia, Dh and I feel like complete asses. We've pooh poohed the Mexican obsession over keeping babies covered in 6 blankets since the Bunny was born. But the doctor does a blood test, just to be sure. He kicks me out of the office and the sound of her cries makes me cry too. The results are back in 30 minutes. Suddenly the doctor is all business. She has a blood infection, she has to be hospitalized. Tonight? dh asks. Yes, right away.
At the hospital she is taken away in the ER to be given an IV. Again, her screams make me lose it. I want to be strong and stoic but I can't. I feel so guilty. If I hadn't been so scared she could still be safely inside me. But I insisted on the induction and now, sepsis. The exact thing I was scared of happening in the hospital is happening.

Once the IV is in dh goes home to get our things. We briefly debated one of us going home to spend the night with the Bunny but finally decide that this is exactly why my dad is here and she is old enough to survive this setback. By the time dh gets home she is already sound asleep anyway.
For all my distrust of and disdain for hospitals I have to hand it to De La Fe, instead of making her stay in an incubator alone, they just made our private room into an incubator by pumping up the heat to about 95 degrees. It is far from comfortable for me and Dh but it is a lot better than being sent home at night. The first night is the worst. The night nurse bustles in and out. She says that Alison's temperature isn't high enough at one point so I kangaroo her for a couple hours. By 3:00 am I am so dehydrated I'm dizzy. Dh turns the heat down a bit and we try to switch places. Alison isn't pleased and dh can't quite get her settled. The nurse returns and is very upset that we've turned down the heat. She admonishes us saying, your baby's infection is very serious, she must be kept warm enough if she is to recover! Again, feeling like the weakest woman in the world I start to cry and this time, though I know the nurse is looking on disapprovingly, I cannot stop. I clench my eyes tightly closed but the tears spill out, I can't breathe. I am so afraid. Before I could pretend that it wasn't so bad, not so serious because Dr. M told me everything would be okay. But now this nurse has implied that her recovery is not a given and I am lost. The thought that Alison could actually die is more than I can handle and I sob and sob.

Tuesday September 4 - Dr. M comes in the morning. Not only does Alison have sepsis, she has a GI infection as well. How does a baby get these things? He assures us again that she'll be okay. There is nothing to do but hold her and sweat and wait. Nick heads home for a while, Dad comes over and brings in food that won't die in the heat, Alison comes by with some books, I keep breathing. Chiara comes by after school and I immediately regret it. She is complaining of a stomach ache! Here she is fresh from the germiest place outside the hospital and we invite her in to see this poor little infected baby! I feel terrible but I send her home. Late in the day the nurse comes in and gives Alison a bath. After her bath I notice a little bump on her head. A scab. In exactly the position that would have been lowest when Dra S ruptured the membranes. Everything makes perfect sense.
I figured that Alison got the GI infection by getting some excrement in her mouth on her way out since Dra S was so much more concerned with getting me on my back than on dealing with how things were. And now, here is the answer to how the sepsis got in. My poor little baby had an open wound on her head. How many internal checks did Dra S do after she ruptured the membranes? At least twice and then she wasn't attending to keeping the birth canal clean at delivery. So now we know.

Wednesday September 5 - In the morning I point out the scab to Dr. M but unsurprisingly he doesn't want to know. He suggests it is something that will wash off. I don't blame him. There isn't anything he can do but what he is doing and he wasn't the one who caused the trauma in the first place.
Dad and Nick and Alison all understand what it means and that it also means nothing. There is nowhere to go with that knowledge. It just is.

We continue to sweat and chug water. I have trouble waking Alison for her feedings so Dr M tells me to try only every three hours. It helps a little, at least I can take the down time to visit the Bunny at home. We go to the roof and can see dh flashing the lights in our hospital room all the way across town. But when I have to leave her before she has fallen asleep she is a wreck. I want to promise her Disneyland when this is over, anything to make it less hard. But I don't.

Thursday September 6 - Another long day. Dr M has suggested that we might go home today but I don't feel little Alison is ready. She is still on IV, the heat is still cranked up, I still can't always wake her to feed. Alison comes over and helps us make a list of questions that we are worrying about for Dr M. We think he might not be telling us everything since typically Mexicans don't want to know. But we are Americans and we need to know everything. When he comes in later he graciously goes through the list. He assures us again that little Alison is going to be fine. Her blood is clean, the abx have worked, we just need to wait for results on her GI infection in the morning. We all breathe a huge sigh of relief and turn the heat off.

Friday September 7 - Dr M comes in in the morning with more good news. She is infection free, we can go home. Her IV fell out of its own accord earlier in the morning and her temperature has been holding steady without the heat since the day before. He gives us a list of antibiotics and vitamins she'll need to take and off we go. In the evening we celebrate her return home with cake and champagne.


Kristin said...

I am speechless at the irresponsibility of the first doc. No wonder she was hurried. I would be so freaking pissed, livid, sad.

Those are seriously the kinds of stories that I hear and then I think "no, that doesn't really happen, does it?"

CherylAnn said...

(((Penelope))) That's just awful! Thank goodness for that sweet, Pediatrician. I'm so sad for the fear you have had to experience and so thankful that Alison is doing well now.