Monday, November 25, 2013

The NICU, part 2

Due to hospital by-laws, I was transported by wheelchair to the NICU to see our beautiful, if not bouncing, baby boy. I would have done better going by tortoise, so slow was our progress. Eventually, we did get there, at which point I was left to my own devices. (I could have walked the floors, for all the nurses would know.)
There was a cheerful sign adjuring all parents and visitors to scrub at the scrub sink in "Bay 2".I don't know how it works in other hospitals, but Cedars-Sinai's NICU is divided into six large rooms, each called a Bay. See, I'm teaching you important things already. Like how to speak "Overstaying-our-welcome-in-the-hospital-ese". I spent my minute or so scrubbing my arms and being sprayed by the super soaker that is the scrub sink in Bay 2. Next stop was Baby's bedside. 
Baby's NICU home
If this was a typical sick baby log, I would invite you into my hysteria and shock on seeing the little awesomeness wired up and surrounded by glass. BUT . . . I am nothing if not atypical :). Instead, I'll let you in on a secret. This was not my first time meeting an unwell baby in the hospital. As a teenager, I helped out a neighbor by spending the nights with her baby while she was home with her other children. I even rocked him in a rocker and fed him. So, no shock factor here.
Still, a friend's baby and our Baby are not the same. Our baby had an IV dripping into his arm. The tubing was as thick as his fingers. He had another, thinner tube - reminiscent of a colorful Crazy Straw - in his mouth. This was there to relieve his stomach of any waste buildup, as of course, it had no place else to go. He also had a cannula delivering oxygen to his nose. Oh, and multicolored strands of wiring hanging from his foot, monitoring everything and anything the doctors could think of tracking. I sat and sang quietly to him- for lack of anything to say- while I waited for "his" nurse to come introduce us.
My eyes wandered the room, checking it out. That phrase sounds familiar; I hope I do not plagiarize. It was dimly lit, hushed (except the occasional rhythmically beeping machine) and sterile. The nurses wore a hodge-podge of hospital attire. The duty list of nurses was written out in a bold black hand on the whiteboard in the corner. There were 8 beds in our bay, only four of which were occupied that Thursday afternoon. Just across from us a ventilator hummed, keeping one of our room-mates oxygenated. I thanked G-d for all the healthy babies - mine, yours, hers- who were not confined to glass cots and ward procedures. 

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