Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons from the PICU

So, when I decide to have an emergency, I am not content to merely have one or two major incidents. Anyone can have an emergency c-section leading to a preemie baby and a painful recovery. I like to step things up a notch and have another child admitted for a rare random disease, just for the bonus points. As I was being prepped for my surgery my cell phone rang, and since I was on scared-out-of-my-mind auto pilot I answered it. Mia's pediatrician was calling to tell me that she needed to be admitted to the hospital IMMEDIATELY. My hysterical laughter alarmed both of us so I handed the phone to Charlie and let him deal with it while I went to my happy place in my head and started humming The Girl From Ipanima.

Long story short, Mia wound up on the other end of the hospital while Claira and I were there recovering. I guess she doesn't like to be left out of things. She somehow managed to get osteomyelitis in her hip. Honestly, who does that? So here's what I learned from that whole experience:

PICU nurses deserve hazard pay. NICU nurses are saints, I'll give them that any day. But the PICU nurses have to deal with the kids when they are old enough to fight back...and be bored...and try to escape. Not that my perfect angel of a daughter would do any of that. Mia very quickly learned that if she pushed the pretty red button on her bed, a magic fairy would answer and grant her every desire. Another movie? No problem. Mint brownies at 2 a.m.? Brilliant idea! New sheets and jammies because you managed to spill paint all over, again? Don't even worry about it, I am here to serve you. At least that is what Mia heard. I'm sure the conversation sounded a whole lot different from the nurses station.

Numbers are hard. Ok, put yourself in my place for a minute. There is a special code to get into the NICU, a special code to get into Pediatrics, and a special code to get back to my room, which is where I have to be in if I want my drugs. I know I could probably handle that for a short period of time when I am focused and wearing my own clothes. But put me in a hospital gown, ply me with hormones and sleep deprivation, and it was like they were making me do quantum physics in order to pass through any doors. After a couple days the nurses knew who I was and the tale of my improbable adventures in family health care were whispered in reverence in the hallways, so they would let me struggle for a minute trying to remember where I was and who I was trying to visit then they would chuckle and just buzz me in, shaking their heads in pity. OH! And the security bracelets! By my count I had 5 of them semi-permanently wrapped around my wrist by the time I crawled into bed that first night. As I am not a jewelry type of person that was a massive irritation.

Kids adjust pretty quickly to anything. Now, if I had to have a PIC line in my right arm with a tube leading to a medicine pump in a giant fanny pack around my waist and was told I would be wearing that for over a month, I would probably throw at least one or two massive tantrums...a day. But not Mia, she just shrugged, then figured out how to accessorize her pump with massive amounts of glitter and self-fashioned arm warmers. I kind of want to be just like Mia when I grow up.

And finally, mother-daughter bonding can take place in the strangest of circumstances. It's been a couple months but Mia still cuddles up with me and talks to me about how cool it was that we had matching IV's. And she would call my room phone every couple hours to see if my magic red button was working properly yet (she was very upset that the only thing the nurses brought me when I pushed it was more pain meds). She would call and we would discuss what we would order from the cafeteria for lunch, then when our food trays came I would call her back and we would talk on the phone as we ate. I have a lot of memories from that whole experience, but listening to Mia giggle on the phone as she figured out that she could make her bed go up and down will stay with me forever. And sitting in the chair next to her bed and watching her patiently show her little sister how to work the buttons to Eliza's amazement and delight is one of my favorite moments ever

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lessons from the NICU

I recently spent some time in the NICU with my baby, Claira. She's just fine, but was a month early and had to be taught to do normal newborn things like breathe and eat. Luckily she was a quick study and got to come home after a couple weeks. I was delighted by that (and maybe just a twinge regretful since that meant I no longer had a room full of nurses to take care of her while I blissfully slept ALL NIGHT LONG. Seriously, when does a new parent get to do that?) (I also went out to movies and to dinners as much as possible during that two weeks. Does that make a horrible person? I know I should have spent all my time by my baby's bedside fretting and worrying, but that got old really quick, and my kids at home were not happy with that arrangement.)

I did spend some hours there every day, holding little Claira and doing whatever mom things the staff would allow me to do. Mostly I sat in my appointed rocking chair and observed. I learned great tricks from the nurses, such as a rice bag on a sleeping baby's stomach is magic, theirs were actually elbow length gloves filled with rice and sewn shut so that it looked like disembodied hands were holding the babies. Awesome, and creepy. Also, the nurses there are human and have to do whatever they can to make their day more tolerable. One nurse had a picture collection of babies with ridiculous hair (yes, Claira has the same male-pattern-baldness curse her sisters had, so she made the collection). One nurse liked to make molds of all the newborns hands as gifts to the parents, or more likely, it was a devious way to play in the mud while keeping a technically sterile environment. Hmmm...more disembodied hands...I'm noticing a theme.

I also learned some things about the other parents, and myself. First off, I am totally able to control myself and not point and laugh when the young parents of the infant in the next door bassinet sang I Can Show You The World in harmony at regular intervals. It was difficult, but I managed to keep a straight face, that is something I never thought I was capable of. Secondly, I learned that at some point parents are way too comfortable talking about breast pumps and bowel movements with complete strangers. And news of a good bowel movement can make cheers erupt through the whole nursery. Parenthood does strange things to a person.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Signs of a stroke?

I think my brain has finally broke. I have a secret addiction and I am so ashamed to admit it I can only talk about it here...on the internet where only my closest friends will read it. I've started to do crafts.

I blame this.

Apparently the postpartum hormone swing has lead me to glue gun abuse. And spray adhesive...that stuff is awesome. How come no one ever told me about it's magical powers? I almost feel the same way about it as I do my Shark steam cleaner, I practically get giddy when it's time to clean my faucets and I get to spray all the gross gunk out from under the tap and watch it fly all over the mirror...Sorry. I'll try to focus.

So, this new obsession is alarming on many levels. When Charlie came home from work to find me covering old diaper boxes with fabric and ribbons he immediately started calling a neighbor to watch our kids so that he could take me to the emergency room for my obvious mental breakdown. But, I explained to him that I was NOT crafting. I was simply getting around to decorating the house (yes, we've lived here over 4 years, what's your point?) since the magic decorating fairies were obviously not ever going to show up. (I'm calling their union rep.) This got him to put the phone and his car keys down, but he still eyes me suspiciously whenever he sees me attempting to make a roses out of bits of ribbon I find in the girls room as I clean.

Now here's my problem. I have no clue what I'm doing. It's like I skipped the multiplication table of the crafting world and skipped straight to mod podge algebra. So I need lots of advice. For Valentines day I have issued Charlie a challenge: Only homemade gifts, and only spend 10 bucks. Since the medical bills of our past couple months have started pouring out of our mail box I decided this was a reasonable challenge for us...well for me anyway since I have Pinterest. He has no clue what to do.

So, here's what I want to do. Decorate my bedroom (Yes the walls are still bare after years of being here, lay off man.) I want to frame sayings that are meaningful to us and hang them artfully above the bed. I know what those of you who know me well are thinking and no, I'm not a pod person, there are mushy sayings like "Eye you(that's how Mia used to say I love you and Charlie still uses it on a daily basis) but there are other sayings like "So's your face" which is an integral part of our ongoing courtship. The good news is that I do have a bunch of frames laying around empty because for some reason Charlie's students keep giving him them as end of year gifts, I guess a lot of mom's figure it's the only male-teacher-appropriate gift in their teacher-gift arsenal.

OK, so how do I go about this? Is there a computer program that makes pretty things? Do I go find scrapbook paper (and where would I find such a thing?...stop laughing, I told you I have no idea what I'm doing.) What other ideas can I incorporate? And where does one get vinyl sayings to put on the wall? And how does one put it on the wall?

Maybe I'll just make him a cell phone charging station out of an old lotion bottle.