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February 4, 2001
a year ago
two years ago
three years ago

Hospital Daze

Saturday and Sunday were a circus of hospital crew. John and I got very little sleep between the four daily checks at all hours on Jet, the doctors that came to look at me, the nurses bringing in trays, drugs, and nursing advice. Jet had his first bath, his hearing test, his newborn screening, pictures, and three check-ups with pediatricians. Finally, we handed Jet over to the nurses Sunday morning and John and I got about five hours straight before Jet was brought in rooting about and wanting to latch onto me.

A number of the checks were done at 5 in the morning, as the doctors were able to do their rounds then before their appointments, and the nurses needed to draw yet more blood from me.

My cold got worse. A lot worse, with the lack of sleep, the tremendously dry air in the hospital and all the things that were going on. By Sunday morning, I was coughing up hard green things. Bah. Even with all the water I was drinking, it just wasn't helping. The real lack I had was sleep. I did, however, have a shower Saturday, mostly to wash all the blood off of everything, but the steam felt so very good on my lungs. On Sunday the doctor said that if I was having that awful a cough for another two days, or if I had a fever any time, that I should get an antibiotic for the cold. Not that it would help a virus, but if it did go bacterial, she wanted it nipped in the bud. I kept that in mind, but never really did go for the medication.

One very good thing was knowing that antibodies from me were going directly into Jet, and since I'd had the cold first, he was going to be immune from it from the very beginning.

When they first moved me from the birthing table to try and urinate on Friday, I was spilling blood everywhere. It was mildly scary but the nurses said that it was normal. By Saturday, it was actually pretty much under control, still leaking a lot, but not too bad unless I coughed. Then I'd fill a pad in seconds, which wasn't reassuring. But it got better, gradually, as time went on. I grew to be very glad of the industrial sized pads for catching all that, and the mesh, temporary panties that just didn't care what got by.

We had only a few visitors in all that time. Ray and Joan dropped by and left Haley outside with the other parent as they came by in turns. Haley had a cold and they didn't want to give that to Jet, so they washed their hands and came in to see him. Joan was so pleased. They even brought us a bag of video tapes.

Boss Bill and his wife and baby girl came by as well. They just dropped by to see, and were amazed by Jet's smallness, as their girl was born bigger than Jet and at 6 weeks was much, much larger. It was very keen to see them, and Bill's wife said that if I was going nuts staring at the walls that I should come and visit. That was a very nice invitation.

John did his best to let me sleep, especially on Sunday, and he would take Jet off for walks while I turned over and went to sleep. The nurses got used to seeing the two of them wandering about the hallways, and they all thought Jet was the cutest little thing. They started calling him a Peanut, and I heard one of them saying, "Oh! There's the other half..." when I went on one of the small walks with them.

It was tiring just to walk around the ward. For me, at least. I was still breathless from the cold, tired and aching from the labor, and everything seemed to take more effort. But it was good that I got up and walked, or else I would have gotten even more stiff and getting my systems to move and flow a bit was very important in working some of the cold stuff out.

The one big concern we had was from the fact that Jet was so little and my nipples were so big. He couldn't get the whole thing into his mouth at first, and when he did latch on it was mostly to a part of it and he was obviously getting something from it, if only sucking comfort, but was not going to be able to stimulate all the glands so that everything would be producing milk in a few days. So the lactation expert recommended that I use a breast pump to make sure that I'd get the stimulous to produce milk and so that he could get something while he was still learning how to feed. So John and I got to learn how to use a breast pump, and I also learned how to make it stop working completely by getting water into some of the tubing. Oops. The first pumping got a few cc's of clear yellow fluid, the colustrum, and we fed it to Jet with a slender syringe the nurse found for us. She got all the collected droplets and fed them to him, a little bit at a time.

John and I were a little less successful with the second pumping, in part cause we squirted too much into tiny Jet's mouth and in part 'cause I messed up the tubing. The nurses got us another set of tubing and we learned, in the hospital, thankfully, how to work everything. It was far better that we learned that there than trying it at home and finding it all broken. We rented the pump for the first month, at least, we'll just have to see how things go as to how long we keep it.

The nurses were all very helpful with the breastfeeding thing and were all able to help figure some of it out and help Jet get onto my nipple as much as he was able. It was hard with his smallness, but we got more and more practice as the two days went on and finally I felt like I knew where it was we were headed, at least. That was very helpful and useful. All of the nurses were also really good about doing whatever we asked for them to do, wheither it was taking Jet away for a bit for us to sleep, or getting more ice water to drink. I think I went through about three quarts of water a day.

The doctors were all very happy with Jet himself. For all that he was so small, he was very strong, had very good lungs, and did really well with any and every test they thought to use on him. The one time he 'failed' a test was after I had cleaned up a really, really sloppy diaper and had taken a while to do so. He was too cold after that, so we tucked him under my shirt and let him sleep there. It was like he was in a warm cave, and I could just see his tiny, heart shaped face on my chest, and hear and feel his newborn, irratic breathing. He's still learning how to breath.

It was so strange to have him sleep on my tummy and feel his little motions and movements now outside of me. The same motions and movement he'd made while he was inside were now his outside, and they were so surprisingly familiar. Everything from the wiggle of his butt to the hiccups that shook his whole body and startled him every time they came.

Boulder Community Hospital has a nursery pictures section on their web page, and if you look at the February 2nd pictures, there's two of Jet. The lady that took them was a nurse's assistant that knew how to work the equipment, but wasn't the normal picture taking volunteer. One of the nurses was in the nursery when we were there and Jet was fussing while we were trying to get his picture taken, and she found a straight, non-orthodontic pacifier and popped it into Jet's mouth. He quieted immediately and just before the girl took the second picture (the 'a' picture), the nurse pulled the pacifier out. That's why you get that really great look of surprise.

The new pacifier proved to be a tremendous boon. Not so much for 'quieting the baby' as it was for the sucking practice it gave him. The pacifier got him, in one day, to learn how to suck hard on it to keep it in his mouth and not push it out with his tongue as he was pushing my nipple out. By learning to retain the pacifier, he learned to retain my nipple. He also, in one day, figured out a head wiggle to get the whole thing into this mouth, too, and he started using that on me as well. So much for 'nipple confusion'. Also, given that we were going to have to pump to feed him adequately, we weren't going to be allowed the luxery of making him learn how to breastfeed only, so he was going to have to figure it out anyway.

By the time Sunday came around, we'd pretty much learned what we felt we could from the staff and the nurses. John was also pretty tired of the lumpy, tiny visitor's bed, and both of us were wanting to see what we could do about sleep if we had a whole other room to work with. So one of us could be caring for the kid while the other could sleep deeply and uninterrupted. So we headed off into the sunny late afternoon and went home after getting all the paper work filled out and all the things done for the hospital's requirements. We'd be trading trays of food appearing every few hours for having the comforts of home. Hoorah!

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