Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sept 5, 2012 - A THANKS to the OBGYNs of the world.

I had told Jonathan's OBGYN to stop by. I had given her my number at my post-operation check up, and told her that my baby was still alive, and that if she wanted to, she could come see him.

I was pretty sure she'd rarely delivered a baby that small.

I knew from the look on her face as she sort of said congratulations and sorry at the same time that this was not something she wanted to have happen.

And I needed her to see that he'd survived, that he was now over six weeks old and still alive.

As a side note, my post-op appointment itself wasn't all that great. They really need to change the forms you fill out after delivery. Here are my quick examples of how wrong that post-delivery appointment can be for NICU moms or moms in bereavement.

  1. The nurse called my name and greeted me in the waiting room. "You didn't bring your baby with you?" she asked (still in the waiting room). --> DEAR NURSES: check the charts and NEVER ask this of a mom of a baby born before 34 weeks. Please. Never.
  2. I explained he was in the NICU. Secretly I was glad that I could explain that, that I didn't have to say he hadn't made it. I also (guessing she hadn't checked my charts) explained to her that he was born at 23 weeks.
  3. The next thing that came, after the blood pressure and weight check, was a questionnaire. "Do you breast feed or bottle feed your baby?" the nurse asked, cheerily.
    "Um... I don't know how to answer." I said, "What do you mean?"
    She paused, trying to unravel my riddle of misunderstanding. How could I misunderstand?
    "I mean, neither," I said, "I mean... um... he doesn't breast feed or bottle feed. When he's fed, he's fed through an NG tube, but he's NPO [medical speak for "not eating"] right now because he's just had surgery.  Um... but when he's fed, he's fed my milk, not formula. If that's what you meant."
    There. Now I'd covered route and what sort of milk. I think I answered her question, though I still didn't know what she'd really been asking. She scribbled down my answers and proceeded with the exam.  Thankfully my OBGYN was much more gracious, understanding, and sensitive. She even offered to always be available to me if things got too tough. "I had post-partum depression with two of my three pregnancies" she told me, "it's not a sign of weakness, it's a chemical imbalance. With all that you've gone through, it would not be surprising if you had some post-partum anxiety or depression, even six months to a year out. Keep me in mind, call me if things start to feel off."  She also advised me to have Steve (loved that she knew my spouse's name well) also keep an eye on me, if I felt comfortable having him do so, and let me know if he noticed behavioral changes. She stressed the normalcy of it.

I was so grateful, so grateful at that appointment, that my son had lived. What a horrible time that necessary medical appointment would have been if he hadn't.  If you work for an OBGYN or know someone who does -- pass this along. At the very very least, nurses should check for the gestational age at birth for their clients before calling them back.

... Now, back to the Jonathan story. ...

J resting before central line placement
By September 5 of last year, Jonathan was still putting on water weight. But he was running out of IVs, so the nurses kept saying, and we all were looking forward to the time when we wouldn't have to worry about sticking him again.  So they agreed to have him go back in to surgery to try, despite the edema, to place a central line again. As a bonus, if successful, they could draw blood off the central line port, which means he wouldn't have to always get a heel stick each night to check vitals (like blood gas and the like).

Not that he minded the heel sticks.  He actually preferred them to having tape taken off his skin. Replacing his NG tube was much more invasive, as far as he was concerned, than having his heel poked.
Soon this IV would no longer be needed, and the heel pricks
would become less frequent.
(Still such tiny toes. But they'd grown so much!)

It was at this time -- as the nurses were preparing Jonathan for transport and surgery -- that my OBGYN came by.  She saw the transport vehicle and the general chaos. She looked worried.

"Oh, no" I said, "It's not a big deal, just a central line placement."

Yes, it was surgery, but to me this was a minor one.  His life wasn't hanging in the balance. Third surgery in three weeks, and first one that didn't have us afraid for his life. I guess I was getting a little too used to this.

She didn't get to see him that day. In fact, she never got to see him as anything but a  1.25 lb baby.

Post-up and not feeling great.
But he has a cute hat, thanks to
his great-grandma
We're going to remedy that next week, finally. I'll take him to my annual.  She needs to see that the baby she so carefully delivered is okay, is thriving.

And I know that to credit her with his good health now would be to imply that any baby who didn't fare as well was her fault ... and I don't want to imply that... but I do have to thank her, really truly thank her, for the care she took removing him from me. Such very careful hands opened me up, scooped him up, cradled his head, and transported him to the neonatologists in waiting.

And he had no brain bleeds.

That's nearly unheard of for a micro-preemie, with such a small skull and everything still developing.

They found one very small sign of a possible bleed at discharge, but nothing else.

And that means better cognitive chances in the future.  I know all doctors try their very best, and their very best is sometimes not enough. But in this case, it was. And I want to show her that, to thank her for that.

Thank you, doctor, thank you for your remarkable hands.

Oh, by the way, even though my OBGYN didn't successfully see Jonathan, the central line was placed successfully, up on his right torso. Now we needed to watch diligently for infection, but he no longer needed to be poked for IVs.

This week, last year, also marked another important surgery for my family. Remember how they'd found cancer in my dad the day we got back from Europe?  This is the week when they were to go in and remove that cancer surgically.

I am pretty sure, looking at how my dad talked Jonathan, that J inspired him a bit. He rarely cried, but I saw tears come to his eyes the last time he and mom visited.

"Don't cry," my mom chided dad, "you'll see him again." He's not going to die, she willed it. So there's no need to cry at goodbyes.

"I know" dad said, "That's not it. He's just such a fighter. Such a brave little guy."

Now it was my dad's time to be brave, too. And that's hard, no matter your size.

Jonathan today. Chillin' with a teether.
(Sorry, after posting all the bad pics of him so sick from a year ago,
I feel obliged to end with a happy, healthy pic of him today.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from readers. Please post your comment below or contact me at