The babies... Perfection. Sheer, heavenly perfection. I have no words. I am blessed beyond words. I feel so guilty because I wanted to hold them inside for so many more weeks (today would be 29 weeks...) but at the same time, I am so overwhelmed by their strength and health. They are increasing on their feedings. They are both making beautifully messy diapers. They trace with their eyes as we talk to them and, when they are frustrated and we talk to them, they calm. They hold us when we hold them. Their hearts sound great and their little lungs are functioning so well on their own. They are doing well with their temperature control. They may be moved into the next level down of isolettes. Maya is on her way to joining Bobby off the lights. I know the road is so long and I wait to go in and have bad news delivered, but it hasnt yet come. Will it come once I feel we are safe?
Yesterday morning was a lovely visit. We only really spend about 20 minutes with each baby during their care time. We take their temps, change diapers, hold feedings, and then get to cuddle feet and the tops of their heads through the doors of the isolette. Then, it is time to close it up and cover them with the blanket so they can go back to sleep. In between babies (Maya is done one hour, say 11am, then Bobby the following, noon), I go to the pumping room and do my half hour and clean up. Afterwards, we've been grabbing lunch and then heading home, where I pump again (an hour ride plus lunch... I usually get home around the 3 hour time frame). Then I take a nap. I am usually just so worn out (I think some of it is getting up to pump in the middle of the night but part of it was being awake with the babies inside during the night and being used to sleeping in patches of a few hours... I have to retrain my body...). After a few hours, I'm up to pump again, then it is time for dinner, and back to the hospital for our kangarooing.
And this, dear friends, is where our story picks up for last night (day 8).
For kangarooing, we are to arrive at 15 minutes before the scheduled care time (so that care can be completed and the baby's feeding schedule not thrown off). So, at 7:45 last night, I walked into the pod where Bobby and Maya are kept. Dropping off breastmilk, one of the nurses introduced herself as Bobby's nurse but said that he and Maya had been seperated for the night. (I dont like this, by the way; I prefer the same nurse for each of them. But, they have gotten some really sick babies, including their pod mate, and the nurses seem to be dividing the easy babies so that one gets an easy and a hard. As much as I dont love this arrangement, I do love that my babies are considered healthy enough to be easy. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, too, and I worry that they arent going to get attention that they need... But let me get back to my story). I liked Bobby's nurse. She was very outgoing, talked to the babies, and was very involved. At this point, I still havent seen Maya's nurse. I make conversation, that, yes, we are kangarooing tonight. That we do Maya first and then Bobby, etc. Still waiting. By now, it is 8pm. The nice nurse offers to go find our nurse, who makes a brief appearance and says she's busy and will back to get us started. Long story short, her temp and diaper were done at around 8:10 and then the nurse was gone (given, she was helping another nurse get an IV in- very important but are you the only nurse on the floor???). 8:40 rolls around, Maya still hasnt eaten and is getting frustrated, even as we are holding her feet and head (which is uncommon, both babies usually relax when we touch them and talk to them). Finally, she comes back and takes Maya from her bed, to which her depositing of my sweet daughter on my chest could use some work. She didnt give her a hat. She laid one blanket over her. And then she was gone. I was wearing a thick open front sweater, which I wrapped around her head and body and she was warm against me. Peter fed her (thank goodness before she left, the nurse gave him the syringe of breastmilk) and we talked to her and loved her. She was wide awake, which was good and bad. We love to see her alert, but her sleep cycle usually has her asleep by 8:40. Not last night.
And then the fun really began. Remember how I said that their pod mate needs a lot of attention? No sooner had Maya been wrapped in my arms, than the alarms sounded. And loud. And often. And he was screaming bloody murder because the nurse, who was interceding, was also in the midst of changing his bedding and feeding him, neither of which he was digging. It was the loudest night we've ever had. As Maya was dosing off, an alarm would sound and she would open her little eyes wide. I kept a hand over her exposed ear, which helped some I hope, but at some point, Peter and I were discussing limiting her holding and putting her back, just so it would be quiet. Of course, our nurse was gone, so that wasnt too much of an option! At 9pm, it was time to start Bobby's care, so Peter really got jipped on Maya-time (I was holding her but we sit together and spend time with the babies). So, he did our son's care and even postponed holding him for a few minutes, but we didnt want to screw up his schedule so we asked Bobby's nurse, amid the loudness, if she would put Maya back. It was the hardest thing. I'd only held her for 40 minutes and, in NICU life, that extra 20 minutes means the world. But more than anything, we wanted her comfortable and the loudness and the lights... She wasnt going to be able to really rest. Not to mention, her care would start again at 11pm, which would mean maybe 90 minutes of rest if I put her back early before she was bothered again instead of 75 minutes.
So... the nurse comes back, announces she doesnt know how to use the isolette to weigh the baby (REALLY???) so Bobby's nurse, who was kind enough to change Maya's bedding before saying that she'd be happy to put her back, says that she will do it. Peter has helped with this before (these beds weigh the baby by weighing the bed with the baby then you lift the baby and it weighs again and subtracts appropriately). Well, Maya's nurse looks upset when Bobby announces that Peter will be helping her weigh. I wanted to reach out and smack her. Handing my tiny daughter, who was reaching for me and crying back to the nurse I couldnt stand was horrible. She put her back in her bed just fine and Maya settled down and fell back to sleep quickly, but still... It was horrible. The only saving grace was that Bobby's nurse told us that Maya's nurse was only an 8 hour and was leaving at 11pm. Otherwise, I dont think we would have functioned leaving. As Peter said, we would have slept in shifts and just stayed all night. I dont think she was incompetent (although maybe) but she wasnt the caliber of nurse we have been used to in the NICU.
Peter went to do Bobby's holding and, because it was so late, I went to pump at the beginning rather than the end of his kangarooing. When I was finished and came back, we spent some time together before it was time for Bobby to go back into his isolette.
Both of us were quite verbal on the way home about the nurse we didnt care for. We'd never seen her before and are hoping she was just a per diem (which makes some sense since when we were there for the afternoon, I heard some of the nurses say that several nurses had called out for the evening). On our way out, we saw one of our favorite nurses coming in and told her we hoped she had Maya for the evening. She is sooo good with the babies. So good. Unfortunately, you cant choose the nurses for the babies. You can say you dont care for them but unless they are negligent, you cant say "I dont want X caring for my child." Thank goodness the other nurses step up and the nurse practitioners are always near by in the event of an emergency. All that being said, if either of the kids is assigned this nurse again, I plan on saying something to the nurse practitioner on duty, along the lines of I'm not comfortable with this particular nurse. Perhaps it was all the stress of last night. They seemed very harried with the babies who needed a lot of help and perhaps that set the mood, but it was a rough night.
Well, my pumping is over, which means it is time to close up. We leave for the hospital in 25 minutes. I am way behind on blog reading, but am doing it as I am pumping to try and catch up. I'm still here! It's just taking me a bit!