On November 5th 2012, my wife gave birth to our first child. During the pregnancy I decided that I would write about the experience. Every week since I have documented all of the events that took place throughout this time, along with my thoughts on them. Now that I can confirm that our baby is happy and healthy, I will share those thoughts with you.
Week 40 – The Waiting Game
It has now been two full weeks since my son was born and he is still in the hospital. The first week I spent with Jessica in her room. She got a comfy recliner bed (as she should of course) while I was relegated to “sleeping” on a small bench right along a giant air vent. That thing sucked. There is very little control over the thermostat in the room, so you either have the vent blasting extreme cold or extreme heat continuously. At night I am choosing between either freezing or burning, so my best option is to take one of the two pillows they gave me and wedge it in front of the vent, blocking the air. The air is so powerful that it only partially blocks it, but I can’t complain.
The week in the hospital flew by and dragged on at the same time. Nurses would periodically check on Jess and give her medicine, we ordered lunch and dinner through the hospital, and one or two relatives came by each day. As for Alex, he is not allowed to leave the NICU. He is in a plastic box with an oxygen tube is his nose because he has trouble breathing and an IV in his arm giving him sugar because he isn’t producing enough on his own. In order for us to see him, we have to call the room, and they let us know if it is okay to see him. Just see him. It would take a couple of days before we were actually allowed to hold him. Sometimes, they’d have to say no because they are admitting another baby or a procedure is taking place. Imagine being told you can’t see your baby right now? That’s what we’re going through. Our second day there a doctor comes to us in the middle of the night to have us sign letters of consent so that they can transfuse plasma into him because his platelets are low. If you see one of those letters, don’t read it. Just sign it. Seeing all the possible outcomes we are allowing them to put into play essentially put Jessica into tears.
Other than that, my son is fantastic. He eats, he sleeps, he poops. That’s about it. I changed the first diaper of my life, fed and burped him by the end of the week. It all felt so natural by the time I was done. Having your child open his eyes, look right at you, squeeze your finger and nuzzle into your chest is one of those feelings you can’t really describe. I barely know this person and he means everything.
We held out hope that he would be able to come home with us when Jess was discharged but it was not to be. Leaving the hospital was incredibly difficult. We are allowed to be in the hospital as long as we want, but if you stay too much you start to go crazy. I was happy to go to work the next day because I just needed the escape. Jess didn’t have that ability. She is set to be away from work for another five weeks or so with her paternity leave, and couldn’t go back if she wanted to due to the operation. She is in rough shape. Physically she is mostly sore (and lighter, as she lost 20 pounds two weeks after he was born). But mentally it is all taking a toll on her. She wants all of the experiences of having a newborn baby. The touching, the playing, the feeding. She can only be at the hospital for a few hours a day and that is not enough. She yearns for that connection she had with him while pregnant. Now some stranger (albeit a professional) is doing all of those things. I can see how new moms go through depression now.
I on the other hand am just running myself ragged. On the days I have off I go to the hospital twice a day. We specifically aim to make it to his feedings (3 hours a day, all day and all night). I go at 3:00pm, come home and then take Jess at 9:00pm. When I work, I tried going every day at first but it caught up to me. Working all day, then going to see him everyday is leaving me exhausted. I skipped a couple of days and felt like the worst parent ever. The whole process is two steps forward, one step back. He is breathing without assisted air but he has low potassium. His potassium is better but his platelets dropped. Thankfully he seems to be better than he started at the end of each day. It just takes time. It’s hard to be patient though. Some days we feel okay. Other days we definitely don’t.
I want my son home.