Last night my husband, Nick, and I spent some time trying an exercise suggested by our therapist. We were supposed to look for the happy moments during my hospital stay and Ben’s NICU stay. It was a challenging exercise to say the least.
We started out talking about the day we arrived at the hospital, March 18th. It had already been a busy day; we had an OB appointment in the morning, and since the baby shower was that weekend, his parents were arriving and heading to their hotel. I stopped by to pick them up from the hotel about lunchtime and we spent the remainder of the day chatting and catching up.
At my doctor’s appointment, my OB had found some unsettling measurements in both my blood pressure and in baby’s measurements. Typically during an ultrasound, the technician or doctor will measure the head, abdomen, and thigh for gestational growth. Ben was already tiny, and we were borderline intrauterine growth restriction because of my hypertension. She opted to send us to a high risk specialist the following week.
We’d never make that appointment.
We upped the dosage of my labetalol yet again as we had each visit over the last several months; I was to start taking 1800 milligrams that evening. Despite taking the amount – which was far over the usual prescribed limit – when I measured my blood pressure that evening as I always did, it was hovering at 190/120. We phoned the on-call line; fortunately it was my own doctor who was on-call. She advised us to head to the hospital and be prepared to stay a few days.
We joked on the ride in that we’d be leaving with a baby.
We didn’t. Well, we did eventually, after his seven-week NICU stay, after several ER visits for complications with the c-section I had, and after a week long hospital stay much of which I don’t clearly remember.
So, finding any happiness in that time is difficult, to say the least.
But there was some. We were glad Nick’s parents were already in town for the baby shower – they helped to take care of our retired greyhounds (who I was disproportionately concerned for as I lay in my own hospital bed) and offered enormous amounts of comfort. My own parents and my sister were able to come quickly, and everyone was there for me. My sister, in training to become a nurse, was my advocate and personal heroine, even going so far as to give me a bed-bath while I was immobile from the magnesium sulfate.
I had a charming interaction with actor Clark Gregg over Twitter, really quite the delight when things were so unsure and scary.
Even the hospital food, once I got to eat some, was pretty good. And all my loved ones were there for Ben’s birth. I was present for his first cry, and in reply sobbed out, “His name is Ben. His name is Ben.” We’d managed to keep his name a secret until the moment of his birth.
So we came to find a great deal of beauty, joy, and happiness in the most frightening time of our lives. And the brightest of all of those, our tiny boy who is now healthy and beautiful. His name is Ben.