Our Newborn's 1st Week in the CVICU: 4 Random Awful Things (other than the obvious)
On November 4th our darling lil precious baby arrived after a beautiful labor, and.... she was purple. I'm not sure why they call them 'blue babies' because she was definitely purple. This was quite obviously not right. They took her immediately and soon determined she had a congenital heart defect. (A rare one called Ebstein's Anomaly, that's a pretty big bad scary deal.) Our joyous occasion quickly turned to a surreal miserable hospital stay. Luckily I'm finally having a moment to post this 3 months later and thankfully she's ok. (She's still got a seriously messed up heart, but is basically ok).
At the time we had no idea though which direction it would turn and obviously were new to the whole hospital process. I started writing down my scattered thoughts in order to support fellow new mamas in the same bizarre situation. This was a surprisingly cathartic process and got me through the long dark hours. So here are some thoughts from that first week:
It obviously sucks having your little one in the hospital, hardcore down to the bones, it sucks. But who knew that there are also a million little things that make it even more miserable than you'd at first suspect. Thank you life for throwing that little extra salt in the wound, haha, you win, uncle already! Here's a short rant about all the mosquito bites of awful that come with the rest of it:
Cords. I hate cords so much and with a burning passion. I know they're keeping my baby alive and are necessary and thank goodness for them. I'm appreciative, I am. Really. I also hate them so much. I'm going to make a sculpture of a cord monster when this is all over to commemorate the ending of my feud with cords. There's the feeding tube and oxygen in her nose, which never stays in, and then the tape on her face, which has to be so annoying. Blood pressure on her foot, IV in her arm, pulse ox on the other foot, and monitor leads on her belly. They get tangled like your grandma's old necklaces on an hourly basis. Moving her around to hold her requires the skill of a bomb technician. Oh and try soothing a pissed off newborn when you can't walk, bounce, go outside or use any of the tricks in your normal soothing basket. Grrr! Cords! It breaks my heart that she is so tethered to the medical equipment and I can't just have her.
Pumping. When I returned from maternity leave with our toddler I pumped at work, and I hated it then, so I knew I was going to be in for it again eventually. However I hadn't mentally prepared for that crappy process to start on freaking Day 2! Again, there's that teeter totter dialectic of being grateful that my milk has come in and the baby is taking a bottle and it's so much better for her. I'm grateful for that, I really am. It also sucks. I'm having to get up every 3 hours to strap on a contraption that belongs in a dairy barn. Feeding at all hours of the night is difficult with a newborn, but at least you get the warm fuzzies that accompany it. Pumping is just a torturous reminder at 3am of how messed up this situation is. Also at midnight, and 6 am, and 9 am, and noon and on and on. Moo. So to you mamas out there who are getting up at night to pump to take it to the hospital in the morning for your baby, you are a rockstar. And if you wish you could do that but aren't able, you're still a rockstar. These days are long and dark, don't be adding judgment on top of the misery that's already there. You're a rockstar mama, end of story.
Toilet Paper. Particularly the sand paper variety of a public bathroom. Particularly after you've gotten stitches in your bootyboo. They discharged me 5 hours after she was born. (Again, I'm grateful that we didn't have to be separated for long.) But that meant I was sitting in shock and terror in a wheelchair for another five hours waiting on results. In this first postpartum week I've been sitting in a chair by her bed, sitting in my car driving the hour back and forth to her, and sitting in a public restroom in a hospital crying and trying to tend to the situation down there without all the necessary wipes and washes and comforts of home. Which leads me to my next issue...
Shoes. Why the hell am I having to wear shoes this week?! And real clothes! Uuugh it's so unfair and miserable. My beautiful postpartum plan was to wear one set of pajamas at night, and another set of pajamas during the day. I even had them all washed and organized and set out on a high shelf in case I had to have a c- section. (I thought I'd prepared for everything...!) But alas me and my swollen feet are wearing shoes and real clothes so I can see my lil precious nugget day by day. But you know what, whatever, I'll sleep in these puppies if it means I'm one step closer to my baby.
Now obviously I'm being sarcastic and flippant and complaining about the troubles of being a hospital mama. And obviously the terrifying horror of life and death situations with your new baby are so much bigger. But just because those big awful things are happening, doesn't mean that the little awful things aren't, and there's no reason not to acknowledge, validate, and make light of them. It takes the sting out just a little bit. To all you new mamas out there that are having to use awful toilet paper and fight cords and wear shoes when you really really shouldn't have to, I salute you. Keep your chin up strong lady. You're doing this, you're gonna get through it, and you're not alone.
P.s. Here's my lil Izzy girl at 3 months - no cords!