| I was a little upset. No one had told me I
could ride with Max down to Children's in the ambulance. That would have
been cool. Instead I went home to grab a couple of hours of shuteye. Gita
decided to stay at the hospital for a while and rest. One great advantage
to using a mid-wife is they want you on your feet in a couple of hours.
So getting Gita discharged to go see her new daughter was not a problem.
When a doctor drugs you up to deliver, they are not letting you out until
they're good and ready.
We got down to CHOP and the fears that we had felt on our first visit were starting to resurface. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) consists of about six large rooms with about six beds per room. In addition, there are some isolation units and they always seem to find a way to squeeze in another crib or two. Basically a population of about forty babies. And only babies. The oldest one in there is three months in most cases. Exceptions are the 'long term' residents. It is not unheard of for a newborn to spend the first year of life in the NICU. Add to the mix two parents per child, one nurse per two infants, and the usual assortment of doctors and other hangers on; and you can see it is a very busy place. They had placed Max in the back room, which in hindsight is one of the nicest since it is a corner and you get two walls of outdoor light coming in.
She was in a warming crib, which has a heating element to keep her at a comfortable temperature without using any clothing. Easier to deal with the lines and tubes and whatnot. She was so small. And scrunched. Her face had this look of a flower that was not quite open yet. Max had emerged into this world with a full head of hair and it was a mess. A lot like her dad in that respect. I wish I could tell you how much I loved her at this point but the truth is I was not sure of whether or not I could love this wrinkled little daisy.
We learned at this point that her surgeon was off for the weekend and she would be getting his sub. What was with this girl? Couldn't she get a first string starter for anything in her life? (As it turned out, I would not have traded either her mid-wife or surgeon for any other, including the ones who were supposed to do the job.) She went into the operating room around dinner time and came out around ten.
Her doctors informed us that everything had gone well. Duodenal atresia is a blockage between the stomach and duodenum. In the old days it would have been diagnosed by a baby constantly vomiting and never having a bowel movement. Because of its proximity to the bile duct and other important fixtures, it is not removed. Instead a bypass is formed around it.
We met Maxine back in the NICU. Now my daughter was looking scary. She had a line to her spine to carry the epidural, an NJ (naso-jejunum) tube for feeding, another next to that for drainage, a broviac line for meds, a nasal canula for oxygen, and the usual assortment of wires to monitor her. It made it difficult, if not impossible, to hold her. To top that off, she was asleep most of the time. While it may have been good for her, to bond with a child that you cannot hug and almost never sees you is a difficult task. In a real world context, watching a baby heal is lot like watching paint dry.
Over the next couple of days, we began to start to fill a little more at ease in the NICU and with Maxine. Her doctors said she was pretty much on schedule for healing and were pleased with her progress. The nursing staff was incredible. They did everything they could to get her into our arms and make us comfortable. I cannot begin to tell you how much we owe them. It was also about this time that I realized I was falling in love with this crumpled wad of flesh and tubes. Holding a child can work miracles. We actually started to think of going home. If only she would not breathe so fast.