Note: I promise that future installments of these posts will be shorter. The goal in general will be 800-1000 words, give or take. But I'm tired and don't feel like editing much right now and these first few entries have gone long. Please don't leave! Now that you've all come around so much over the first two weeks I physically need your attention. Carry on. Whew. At the time of this writing, the entire family (including the blasted beagle) is home together and unless things go horribly, horribly wrong in the next few hours (always a possibility at this point) we will have been home for five full days. I had never really given the process of getting out of the hospital post-delivery much thought before this last week. In my mind, as I prepared for the biggest life event ever, I thought a lot about the day of the delivery and I thought a lot about what life would be like back at home with a baby but I skipped over the hospital stay without a second thought. Whoops. Today I bring tale of the stupidest two weeks Lindsey and I have ever gone through for the best reason possible.
ACT I – In Which We’re Having a Baby and Then We’re Not and Then We Are and Then… If you haven’t seen Lindsey over the last month or you don’t know us personally (hi, my name is Brian, pleased to meet you), you may not know that at the end of her pregnancy she was the most swollen human on the planet. If her skin turned blue she would have become Violet Beauregarde. It was sad. Because of this, the very second that our doctor broached the subject of inducing labor, Lindsey jumped on it. We were tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 25th, assuming there was a bed available. We used the weekend to enjoy a movie and started prepping for the big day. But come Monday, Lindsey was informed that there was no bed available on Thursday but we could bump it up to Tuesday if we wanted. I was sitting in my optometrist’s exam chair when Lindsey called to say that we would be heading to the hospital in 15 hours. Okay then.
Now here’s where things get tricky. We were originally told that Tuesday wasn’t an option because you have to be 39 weeks along in your pregnancy in order to be induced (barring an emergency more impressive than swelling up into a blueberry) and Tuesday was 38 weeks, 6 days. But the nurse who scheduled us said it was cool and Lindsey certainly wasn’t going to argue so great. We both ran home and manically tried to put our things together for the following morning and then I went to play basketball because I just went from, “You’re going to be a dad in a few days” to “You’re going to be a dad tomorrow” and, you know, STRESS WAS TAKING OVER MY BODY AND I NEEDED TO WORK SOME OF IT OUT. But just as I was finishing up, Lindsey called in tears because our doctor’s office had made a huge mistake and scheduled us before the aforementioned 39 week cutoff point and the hospital wouldn’t allow us. Our doctor (who is AWESOME, by the way) apologized profusely and scheduled us for the following Monday. I don’t have to tell you that it was not a pleasant night in the Gill household. Because if there’s anything you want to do with a seriously pregnant woman, it’s play with her emotions.
On Thursday we went in for Lindsey’s weekly checkup and suddenly some of those key signs our doctor was looking for previously started to pop up, meaning the new Monday induction date might be too far away. Lindsey did some blood work and we were told to expect a call after lunch in regards to whether or not we would come back in later that day for the induction. We went home and waited patiently. I’m just kidding, we were both pretty much worthless all day and I paced a lot. FINALLY around dinner the call came through and our doctor told us to be at the hospital at 5:30 the next morning for the big event.
Act II – In Which We Have the Baby and Such I’ve already written my Pulitzer-caliber account of the events of the actual delivery day in the post found here. If you haven’t read it, you should check it out now because it’s much more entertaining than this post is turning out to be. By the time all of that was finished and we cleared everyone out, it was midnight and after saying goodnight to literally the most adorable baby ever in the history of ever, we settled into our hospital room to crash like college students at the end of finals week. I don’t remember much about that night except that at some point our incredible nurse woke me up ever so gently to drape a warm blanket over me which was just the bee’s knees. I’m considering hiring her to come to our house this winter to provide freshly laundered and warmed blankets for us in the middle of the night but I can’t figure out how to request that without sounding creepy. The next day was filled with visitors and getting to know our new little buddy while catching little naps here and there. It was definitely the best day of the week, all things considered.
Act III – In Which We’re Going Home Except No We’re Not By the next morning, Lindsey and I were starting to get restless in the cramped hospital room and with the okay from the doctor, we requested our discharge papers. There is a LOT that goes into checking out of a hospital. Approximately 27 different doctors and nurses came by to check on both Lindsey and Cooper (not a single one of them asked about me, strangely enough), then a nice man in a suit came around demanding money in a very pleasant but, “You’ll be stuck here like the Hotel California if you don’t pay up now” sort of way, and finally the nurse came around with the discharge papers. My parents came up to help load all of our stuff and even took it home to unload for us so we wouldn’t have to. The problem was, by the time I got back up to the room after loading (literally a span of 15 minutes tops), the nurse had done a last second check on Cooper and decided she needed to run another test for jaundice. Fine, we thought, but bear in mind we’d already signed the discharge papers for both parties. The test was conducted and we were told it would be 20 minutes to get the results. 90 minutes later, the lab tech came back to say that, haha, she hadn’t really warmed our baby’s foot up enough to draw enough blood so the test hadn’t worked and as such, and this is hilarious, she would have to stick his foot again. So another hour or so passed and finally the nurse came back to say everything was fine, she was just waiting for the doctor to call back with to grant the release. Fine again.
A while later (I lost track of time due to sheer boredom) the nurse came back with a doctor’s order to let us go but first we had to talk to the doctor on the phone about making an appointment for the following day. At the end of this conversation the doctor told the nurse to weigh Cooper before letting us go (maybe do this BEFORE telling the parents they can leave for the fifth time in the span of three hours). When his weight came back lower than they expected, we were held over for another night so that Cooper could spend some time under the bili light, which is probably the saddest invention ever. This whole process took about six hours and we weren’t able to reacquire our bags until after 11 pm, after which we just had to try to sleep while laying 10 feet away from our little boy who was being tortured under a tanning bed light. It wasn’t the best. But he was fine the next day and mercifully we were granted our release. We got home late on Monday afternoon and attempted to settle into our new life. Ah, but it didn’t stop there.
Act IV – In Which We Had So Much Fun at the Hospital the First Time We Just Had to Go Back Again We’d been home for about 24 hours when Lindsey started to feel sickly. Her blood pressure had been an issue during labor and it spiked that night. My parents came over to watch Cooper and I took Lindsey back up to the hospital and into the emergency room. (Side note: I believe there’s a market for emergency room services provided for people who just have high blood pressure and haven’t been involved in a massive car wreck, aren’t going through a heart attack, and have never taken place in a fight at a strip club. I would pay more to go to an ER where I was 100% positive I wasn’t going to get hepatitis. I’m just saying.) The first doctor said he’d get her on a drip and have her out of there quickly, the second nurse/doctor said it might be a couple of hours, and the final doctor decided Lindsey needed to be admitted for 24 hours of observation. It took four hours to reach this decision and in the process we started out in a hallway, witnessed an old woman wretch a half dozen times, had a nurse miss on sticking Lindsey’s IV four times because she’s “never been that great at finding the vein” (please die, Nurse Ratchet), and basically lost the will to live. Lindsey was taken up to her room at 2:30 am and by the time I got back with a change of clothes, toothbrush, etc. it was 4:30 and we’d been up for almost 24 hours. And yes, our first night away from Cooper was when he was four days old and it was spent in a hospital room. That’s not scarring at all.
In typical emergency room fashion, Lindsey’s real issue went completely unnoticed until the following afternoon when someone finally figured out that she was super anemic. Apparently you lose a lot of blood when birthing a seven pound football but I wouldn’t know because as I discussed in the previous post I was doing everything I could to stay north of the mythical sheet. At 5 pm that day (I think it was Wednesday but honestly you could have told me it was a Saturday and I would have believed you at this point) Lindsey began a blood transfusion that almost immediately brought her back to the land of the living. It was not unlike the photo of Marty McFly’s family that suddenly went back to normal when he insured his parent’s romance. (That’s two Back to the Future references in two posts and I don’t plan to look back any time soon.) This was great and all, but the 18 hours it took to get some real results wasn’t so great.
At this point, the real cabin fever/frustration set in. Lindsey felt and looked fine by the end of the transfusion but of course more tests had to be run so we were stuck for another night. This time, though, Cooper stayed with us in the hospital, all three of crammed into this sad little room that looked like the inside of a FEMA trailer. The nurses continually told us they’d come back to do this or that by this time or that time and then failed to come through on that to the point that we finally decided no one was coming back to check on Lindsey until the morning. At 3 am we all turned in, which was apparently the signal for every nurse, doctor, and lab tech in the building to come in and out of the room, turn on the lights, and slam the door on the way out in order to insure that our five day old infant would wake up and demand food.
It goes without saying that, come the next morning, we were all on edge. We had packed for one day of hospital living that had stretched into two and a half, the weather had dropped by 40 degrees since we arrived and we weren’t dressed for that, and Cooper was out of both diapers and formula which you would think would be easy to come by in a bloody hospital but since he wasn’t a patient anymore that wasn’t the case. So when the new nurse came in to tell Lindsey, essentially, that everything was fine but no one would be around to yay or nay her release until after business hours, the thought of at least 15 more hours of sitting around in a hospital room took its toll. Lindsey was borderline distraught, Cooper was fussy, and I was exhausted, having pieced together something like five hours of sleep in the last 60 hours. Both of us went after our new nurse a bit (apologies to that poor soul) and made our displeasure known. Through the use of nagging, aggressive facial expressions, and threats of physical harm, we eventually got the nurse to work the phones until finally, mercifully, our doctor gave Lindsey a clean bill of health. We got home late Thursday afternoon, meaning Friday was the first day in over a week that was spent entirely out of a hospital.
Over the course of the week, we were seen by (by my count) 15 nurses, 12 lab techs, six doctors, and countless other hospital employees including the poor women who kept bringing us cafeteria food that we never touched. Some of them, like Sarah of the Warm Blankets, were incredible, people who will always have a special place in our ridiculous story. Some, like the aforementioned Jane, we’d just as soon forget if she wasn’t plastered into our collective memory. But all of them, in some way or another, helped get us home in relatively good condition. For this we are thankful even if it was just about the most round-about, idiotic way in which to get to this point. And in the end, the perfect little bundle of joy and farts (DO NOT pull this kid’s finger) currently sitting in my lap makes it abundantly clear that all this would have been worth it even if he wasn’t the most adorable kiddo on the planet. Or maybe not, I don’t know, I’ve never had an ugly baby so maybe that would change everything. Kidding. I think.
They should serve beer in hospitals, Brian