Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Nate!

It is Nate's first birthday today. It's currently 11pm, which means that exactly one year ago I was getting my nethers stitched up while watching my new baby get suctioned and slapped due to his "grunting." Nate enjoyed a long, leisurely stay in my womb, but when he decided he was ready to come out he got all in a hurry. Thus my 2-hour-long labor (total!). The short labor gave him a nice round head but a puffy, red face -- bruising due to him slamming into my pelvis after they broke my water at the hospital. The rapid labor and delivery also meant that Nate's lungs didn't have the typical period of squeezing whilst in the birth canal, so he was born with some fluid in his lungs. That's what caused the "grunting," which, although it freaked out the doctors, actually sounded a little like purring or cooing and was not at all unpleasant.

It took me a while to get over the labor. I kept having flashbacks to the pain of it. I didn't have PTSD, exactly; more like I had to process a truly extreme physical experience. I had no pain medication and barely made it to the hospital before giving birth (they broke my water upon examining me and seeing that I was ten centimeters dilated; I was pushing about 2 minutes after that.) Very different from my labor with Tallulah, which took about 24 hours total (about 12 in the hospital) and involved a miraculously effective epidural.

But, look what a year can do! Now I have a baby who can smear frosting on his own sweet cheeks. He's a great baby, so mellow and curious and cuddly and playful. His favorite game right now is Close-the-door-so-Mommy-opens-it-and-I-can-close-it-again, with Chase-Mommy-down-the-hall-with-my-little-slapping-hands-and-giddy-smiling-panting-sounds
a close second. He's so sweet and cute that I forgive him his frequent night wakings and his nap resistance. That's a lot of cute. Happy birthday, baby.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There was a pox upon our house.

Not an actual pox but a nasty virus that gave Lula a high fever for several days and then colonized Nate's lungs to such an extent that he ended up in the hospital. It's been a rough couple of weeks. The Tallulah thing was fairly bad; she had to stay home from school for three days, she was a bit more sleepy than usual, lost her appetite, had the runny nose and cough combo, etc. But she never got alarmingly ill. Nate, however, demonstrated the true crappiness of the baby immune system. He got the fever, runny nose, and cough, and upped the ante with rapid breathing, wheezing, and a scary floppiness. The day I took him to the doctor Nate was so lethargic that he would immediately fall asleep whenever I picked him up.

The doctor sent us to the emergency room, where they eventually decided to admit us for a lovely overnight stay. Ever since this experience a rant has been festering in my head, and the title of the rant is, "Hospitals: Why You Gotta Be Like That?"

Hospitals: Why You Gotta Be Like That?
Hospitals, what is your collective fucking problem? People who are staying in you are sick, right? There is something wrong with their bodily health that needs mending. Their bodies need medicine, or surgery, whatever, and then they need sleep. As much sleep as possible, so their bodies have the chance to heal. And here's the thing, hospitals: you have set yourselves up to PREVENT THE SICK PEOPLE FROM SLEEPING. What the fuck is wrong with you? Can you not get your shit together enough, maybe just have a monthly meeting or something, to tell the respiratory nebulizer specialist and the temperature-taking nurse practitioner and the gaggle of non-fluent-English-speaking residents-in-training and the security-tag checker and the blood-oxygen-level metering lady and the I.V. line fiddler and the heel-poking blood-sugar-meterer to somehow coordinate so that there is not a different person coming in to do something invasive to my poor sick baby every five fucking minutes?

So there's that. Add in an inevitably tragic roommate (in this case, a slightly older child who sometimes moaned in pain and whom was moved to intensive care at what was, to the hospital's mind, the reasonable hour of one a.m.) receiving a mystery treatment involving unrelenting beeps and some kind of whooshing/pumping noise and who is (thus) watching TV at an elevated volume, PLUS florescent lights designed to stay on all day and night; and, well, I'm surprised that hospital patients don't simply die from sleep deprivation. I bet they do all the time, and it's just covered up for insurance purposes.

By the way, hospitals, why is "intravenous" the default way for you to deliver various fluids and medicines? If you are dealing with a person who can still drink water orally and who is not severely dehydrated, why not just try giving them a beverage? Why immediately jump to sticking a thready wire-tube into a person's actual bodily veins? I have my own theory. I think that giving fluids intravenously is easier because treating the patient like a piece of meat is easier. Using an IV means you don't have to worry about the patient messing up the incredibly tricky water-drinking thing. Also, using an IV line involves technology, and that always makes medicine seem more science-y and official, something you hospitals seem to like.

Before we were admitted to "upstairs" on Wednesday the ER doctor sent Nate to get a chest x-ray. We waited outside the x-ray room in a chained row of chairs next to an elderly lady in a wheeled gurney. Every couple of minutes an orderly would come and wheel another elderly person behind the first. When we left, there was a string of wheeled beds holding patiently waiting elderly people that stretched out into the hallway. An assembly line, if you will.

Because the hospital, as an institution removed from the scale of humanity, necessarily treats sick people as pieces of meat on an assembly line. Note how difficult it is to be admitted -- to be inserted into the never-ending medical treatment assembly line -- and how hard it is to leave. A person has to assert that she's ready to go, and then push and push to receive the proper instructions and paperwork so she can actually go home. To be "discharged." Jesus.

I won't even go into the cleanliness issues and the corresponding and terrifying infestations of germs. The mystery spills and dried puddles of
unknown effluvia on exam room walls and floors. The steel bars of the hospital crib that are smeared with previous occupants' fingerprints. And I don't have time to get into the staffing problems, the wildly uneven levels of competence (and civility) demonstrated by various doctors and nurses, and the numbingly high number of different nurses and doctors that a person can see during a single 24-hour period. And I'll even give a pass to the cliché that is the woefully unhealthy and inadequate hospital food. (Not that I got the chance to taste any; the sick child's parent isn't fed by the hospital.) Because in the end it all boils down to this: hospitals, you have to remember that your sick people are actual human beings. Have a little compassion, fer chrissakes. A little mindfulness. You're hurting people. Hell, you're KILLING people.

Rant over.

The takeaway is that Nate didn't have pneumonia or the very contagious RSV but rather just a nasty unnamed virus. So his symptoms were treated, first at the hospital and then, more successfully, at home. And he has gotten better. The floppy, wheezing Nate is gone and the sweet, curious, grinning Nate is back. I am very much relieved.

EDITED TO ADD: Scott feels I've been unfair. He pointed out that there were many caring and helpful doctors and nurses at the hospital. A few people in particular made the discharging process smoother than I rather hysterically described here. He also received some food at lunchtime (though it remains true that I never received one for the preceding dinner or breakfast.) So take what I've ranted above with a grain of salt. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some snippets.

Tallulah has become aware that she can put in requests for birthday gifts, and shhe has been enjoying asking for anything and everything she sees. And because she is my daughter she enjoys browsing catalogs and exclaiming, "I want THAT for my birthday!" at every turn of a page. I picked up the Playmobil catalog at the local toy store and it's like a map to her dreams.
Today at the playground there was almost some me-on-children violence. (an aside for future historians: note that we were at the playground today, January 8th, in New York City, because it was pushing 70 degrees. IN JANUARY.) We bumped into these three kids Lula used to go to school with, and they immediately and smilingly started shouting, "You can't play with us! You can't come to my house for a playdate, ever!" We will never play with you!" The kids were boys and Tallulah is not, which I believe was probably a factor; it was like they were ganging up against a girl as a male bonding ritual. Tallulah seemed not to care, but I was inwardly seething. Worst: one of the kids' mothers witnessed the shouting-at and DID AND SAID NOTHING. WTF?

Anyway whenever I witness a child being socially unkind to my child a huge tsunami of unresolved issues re: my own social history, self-esteem, shyness, and parenting skills rears up inside my head, and I seriously should probably go to therapy about it. Or at least buy a few books on the subject. (Surely it's too early for the Queen Bee one? or Ophelia? Really, therapy is probably best.)
Whilst walking home from school the other day Lula created some imaginary walking companions. "This is my dog, Prairie, and my cat, She-Debbie," she explained. She had me hold She-Debbie's leash while she held Prairie's, occasionally guiding Prairie away from chewing on garbage and the like. All I can say is: She-Debbie! Hah!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hippo Gnu Deer

So this is just a little post to wish y'all a Happy New Year. It's been so long that I feel a little tugging coming from this blog, like, hey, haven't there been a lot of holiday times that have happened? Shouldn't I catch everyone* up, so I can start writing pithier posts? But it turns out the holidays can be summarized very quickly, thus: happy family timez, way too many presents, not enough sleep. There! And now it is 2008.

I leave you with the newest verses Tallulah has written for Oil in My Lamp (for older ones, see here.)
Give me letters for my mat, make them alphabetical**
Give me cats for my bed, make them purr-y purr-y purr-y
Bring my kittens for my bed, make them Mew! Mew! Mew!***
Stick cat stickers on my wand, make it magic magic magic****

* Ha. "Everyone." I hope I didn't miss anyone! There are so many!
** She made this up out of the blue one night, and it must relate to something from her school, because I have no idea what she's talking about.
*** This one is her favorite, since I actually stop singing and cutely meow the "mews."
**** This relates to a craft we did at a birthday party, and BTW happy 3rd birthday to Rose.