Yup. That’s where we are.
Someone is celebrating in true Husband Hausfrau fashion (no, not booze, costumes, and careless treatment of dignity): a big fat nap.
Apparently the GI doctor was miffed that the pulmonologists let him go without anyone from GI checking in on him. I’m beginning to sense a rivalry similar to that of the cardiologists and neonatologists at CHONY. The pulmonologists clearly felt that they had everything in hand, however. And we like them better than the GI docs (with apologies to our friend, Dr. Huxtable, who thinks he wants to be a GI. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate, Cliff?).
In more good news, the echocardiogram was the same as or better than the previous one, and Dr. Rhein, Das Baby’s fabulous pulmonologist found it reassuring. In fact, Dr. Rhein was pretty pleased with Das Baby in general, and is eager to see him fatten up. “By spring, I want him to be the size of a contestant on The Biggest Loser,” he quipped. Yes, I said quip. Dr. Rhein is a quipper. But a four hundred pound toddler sounds frightening. Imagine the tantrums.
The nutritionist hopes he’ll be fatter, but not Michelin Man fat, which suggests she has somewhat different goals than Dr. Rhein. We’ll see who wins.
So far, it seems the whole fam gives the G-Tube a thumbs up. Theo’s appetite for solids is as strong as ever. The tube doesn’t seem to interfere with his comfort/movement one bit. We’ve seen crawling, pulling to standing, and tummy sleeping. It’s easy to manage, and it’s a relief to know he’s not going to pass out from dehydration-slash-weigh thirteen and a half pounds for the rest of his life.
Of course there are still worries: how long will he need it? Will he learn to eat as much as he needs to grow? What if it gets infected? But overall, I think if we revisit the Pity Party, we’ll see that things have gone far better than I worried they would, that many of my anxieties were exaggerated.
But don’t try telling me that next time I freak out. I can guarantee it won’t go well.
Thanks for all of the support and love and good energy, everyone. It’s working!
Das Baby’s surgery went well, and we’re now in his room. His pulmonary status is being closely monitored and looks good so far. We’re waiting to start feeding him. He was definitely in some pain post-op, but he got morphine (whoa!) and Tylenol, and they’ve calmed him down.
The tube seems less scary than it did on the tiny model doll, and it would appear that Das Baby doesn’t feel too hampered by it yet. He’s already rolled onto his tummy and briefly got up on all fours.
He wants to be snuggled (and who wouldn’t want to snuggle him?), but he wants his snuggler to stand and bounce. No sitting allowed. So our arms are falling off and our backs are stiff, but it’s so worth it.
So, so worth it.
Many thanks again to all! We’ll keep you posted!
7:30 tomorrow morning. Das Baby’s G-Tube surgery. We have to be at Children’s at 6.We’re glad it’s early, because we won’t have as much daytime to spend worrying, and a full day in the hospital tomorrow might mean an earlier discharge. We’re “booked” through Sunday, but are hoping we might get out on Saturday.
While he’s under, they’ll also be doing an echo-cardiogram to look at Das Baby’s pulmonary hypertension, which means extra time intubated and under anesthesia. Yikes.
I’ll do my best to let y’all know how things go.
Thank you so much for the love and support.
Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the day my water broke.
It was Labor Day. We’d had brunch with friends and walked the High Line. When we got home, I noticed some wetness, then lay down on the couch to take a nap while John watched the US Open and packed up our bedbuggy apartment. When I woke up, I leaked more. I was scared, but scared in a way I’d been so many times during the pregnancy. I called the doctor on duty, and he told me to come in, just in case. Even though it was likely nothing.
I remember saying to John on the Brooklyn Bridge, “I’m sure I’m just being paranoid. Sorry. But it’s better to get things checked out.” He agreed.
I’ve never been back to Brooklyn.
I waited forever in the triage room, because apparently lots of women think their water is breaking. They hooked me up to a monitor, but it couldn’t tell us anything because I wasn’t having contractions and Baby Muda (as he was then known) was too small for his heartbeat to be heard.
The first time they tested me for amniotic fluid, it came back negative. Cautious relief. But when I got up to pee, I gushed fluid.
Then the residents came. The first one tested me, did a digital exam (which one should NEVER do on a suspected PPROM case), and left. She brought back another resident. I thought I was going to like her because she had tattoos. I was wrong. Her name was Lori Spoozak, and I use it here not to be vindictive, but because I honestly think it might help her as a physician to know how I felt in that moment. I want her to know that statistically, she may have been right, but in actuality, she was very, very wrong. I want her to see how much joy Das Baby has brought us. That our love for him dwarfs everything else.
“Okay, your water has broken,” she said.
“What does that mean? What are my options?”
And this was when she told me to terminate the pregnancy. I felt like I’d lost everything, like the whole world had been sucked away. I said I’d read of cases in which membranes resealed, in which babies survived. I said, “Look, I’m pro-life, I mean, pro-choice, but this is a very wanted baby.”
She said, “What kind of baby do you want to have?”
And I said, “I’m not prepared to have this conversation with you right now.”
So she left, and Herr Husband and I broke down. I’ve never heard him cry like that. When I mentioned it yesterday, he said he didn’t remember. He remembered my crying, worrying about me. “And then I went into shock,” I reminded him. “I felt unearthly and cold.”
So the attending returned and told us that sometimes residents overreacted. That I had some fluid left (essential for lung development). That we could do expectant management: antibiotics and wait-and-see. The baby wouldn’t be viable until twenty-four weeks (at which point exactly, it turned out, the last of my fluid would dissipate). Maybe my membranes would reseal. We could see how far I could go.
They put an IV in me and wheeled me to the antepartum floor. Our nurse was Grace. My teeth chattered as she asked me questions, set up my room. She told us about a woman who’d had her water break early and who’d walked out of the hospital with a term baby. We clung to that, even though it wasn’t to be our story.
I thought I would never sleep. I worried about the moment I would wake up and remember, and have to feel the shock all over again. But I didn’t have to wake up and remember, because it never left my consciousness, even when I was finally asleep.
But can I be honest? I didn’t spend much of yesterday reliving that awful day, which vies for worst in my life, but may lose out to the time Das Baby almost died (but that can’t be the worst day of my life because it is also the day he was born), and the day he was left unplugged from his oxygen source at the hospital and took 30 minutes to stabilize.
Instead, I marveled at how far we’ve come. I watched him sit on the kitchen floor, crawling around, picking up toys with his busy little hands, and I thought about how a year ago he was a fetus who stood the slimmest chance of survival. And now he’s a baby doing all of his typical baby things. Yes, he still needs medical support. But that medical support is enabling him to live a full and happy life.
Really, I spent most of yesterday enjoying my son and not thinking about it too much at all.
But I do hope that when terrified women are Googling, “membrane rupture baby survival” and “21 weeks PROM” and “21 weeks PPROM outcomes,” they find my story. It might not be everyone’s story. We know how incredibly lucky we are. But I’d love to offer just a glimmer of hope.
Because so much can change in a year.
A fetus who squirms away from the heart rate monitor becomes a baby boy who crawls towards his toy box to pull up on it, or who crawls back and forth on the kitchen floor, from his mom to his dad and back again, laughing the whole way.
Looks like all someone needed to pull to standing was the right motivation.
Here’s hoping that this weekend, you find plenty of whatever it is that makes you want to get up on your feet.
Last night for dinner, Das Baby ate more than a full serving of oatmeal (that’s 4+ tablespoons of oatmeal powder) prepared with an ounce of breast milk, plus a full four-ounce jar of pears and mangoes. (I admit it, I feed him jarred food. It’s organic though. And sometimes I make my own baby food and I swear he prefers the jarred stuff. Now I know how my mother felt. Mom, I’m sorry.)
So what was the secret to getting him to snarf down so much food?
I offered him chicken first, of which he ate three bites before starting to spit it out. An improvement over the last time he was offered chicken (with apples), to tell the truth. (Naturally, last time I offered chicken (with sweet potatoes) it was homemade. And who can blame a guy for not taking to ground-up boiled chicken thigh?). So once last night’s chicken was rejected, I wanted to confirm that it was the chicken he was rejecting, not food in general. And then Das Baby went to town on the oatmeal and fruit, as if to say, “Okay, okay, I’ll eat! Just don’t ever try to make me eat that chicken again!”
Of course, I’m sad that Das Baby won’t eat chicken because it’s healthy. But I also think it makes sense, given that babies like the taste of foods they’ve had before, either in amniotic fluid (of which Das Baby got sadly little), or breast milk. So Das Baby is predisposed to the vegetarian palate. And then I got nervous that because we’re both dairy-free, he’s been protein starved. So I force fed myself an egg this morning. Those of you who know me know what a challenge this was, even though I scrambled the egg with cumin and put it on a corn tortilla with salsa. I still wound up using water to swallow most of it, like an amorphous, spongy, fart-scented pill (an image which I think can do double duty as a marvelous insult).
I am a relative late comer to grown-uphood. I’ve always been a late bloomer (I didn’t get boobs until I was seventeen). And I was no different when it came to becoming an adult.
“But, Hipster Hausfrau,” you say, “You bought a condo when you were twenty-six. You got married when you were twenty-eight. You taught high school English for six years.”
In response, I offer exhibits
But having a baby, especially a medically needy baby, kind of turns you into a grown up, like it or not. The secret is, most days I like it. In fact, whereas acting like a grown up used to alternately bore or terrify me, now I find it rather soothing.
I think we can all agree that I’ve had lots to be anxious about recently. (Das Baby’s early arrival, feeding problems, and impending surgery, for starters.) And what have I turned to (other than Das Baby and Herr Husband, and my other longtime love, literature) to settle my jingle-jangle brain?
Grown up behavior.
That’s right. Not booze, not hiding in bed, not even 90210 reruns.
Instead, I registered our car in Massachusetts and switched our auto insurance accordingly. I made appointments for Das Baby to see the audiologist and the ophthalmologist, and reminded his pulmonologist to schedule Das Baby’s echocardiogram for while he’s sedated for the G-Tube (so he doesn’t have to be sedated twice). I selected a doctor for myself, and went to see her to get referrals for: an OB/GYN (to see if I should ever try to get pregnant again, or if it’s a crazy idea), my old endocrinologist (whom I love and secretly wish would be my friend), and an ophthalmologist (because I have this weird but apparently not uncommon thing called lattice degeneration which I’m supposed to have monitored every year, but haven’t because, well, I’ve been a little busy with other medical problems).
Boring as hell? Abso-fucking-lutely. But getting things settled is a wonderful thing. Controlling the things I can control functions as a balm (not a potent one, but still) for some of the many things I can’t.
The very thing which I spent far too long trying to avoid actually makes me feel better. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t see my generation’s prolonged adolescence as the harbinger of social decay that some old fuddy-duddies might. But it turns out acting like an adult can help you feel more in charge of your life. You know, like a grown up should be.
I know, I know. A world of duh. What did I tell you? I’m a late bloomer.
And because you don’t pay to see pictures of my former questionable decision making: